The Archaeology and Anthropology of Landscape: Shaping Your Landscape

By Peter J. Ucko; Robert Layton | Go to book overview

6

A historical interactive landscape in the heart of Europe: the case of Bohemia

JAROMÍR BENE

AND MAREK ZVELEBIL


Theorising landscapes

The 1990s have seen a resurgence of interest in landscape archaeology. Traditionally, archaeological investigations of landscapes took the form of aerial photography or of investigations of field systems and standing monuments within the landscape (e.g. Fox 1932; Caulfield 1978; Riley 1980; Cooney 1983; Reeves-Smyth and Hammond 1983; Fleming 1985, 1988; Cooney and Grogan 1994). More recently, the growing awareness of the limitations of site-oriented archaeology (e.g. Foley 1981; Dunnell and Dacey 1983; ReevesSmyth and Hammond 1983; Rossignol and Wandsnider 1992) has resulted in the development and application of field surveys in order to collect information about human behaviour beyond the notional limit of an archaeological site (Dunnell 1992). At the same time, others have attempted to interpret historical and prehistoric landscapes in terms of social relations, relations of power, identity and appropriation, and as a reflection of our own modern beliefs (e.g. Fleming 1990; Cooney 1991; Bender 1992; Chapman 1993; Ingold 1993; Tilley 1994). The integration of these approaches is instrumental in the development of landscape archaeology.

So what is Landscape Archaeology? And how do we define landscape? Perhaps we should first make a distinction between 'scenery', to which we can all react aesthetically, and 'landscape', examined with a trained eye (Allison 1976). Next comes a much debated distinction between cultural and natural landscapes, a point much stressed in earlier writings (Fox 1932; Haggett et al. 1977), but which by now has lost much of its meaning. In contrast, Vidal de la Blanche (1902) sees landscape itself as an imprint left by the image of its people. Others still see landscape as text waiting to be deciphered (Tilley 1991) and as 'a setting in which locales occur in dialectical relation to which meanings are created, reproduced and transformed' (Tilley 1994:25). Operationally, landscape could be defined as a set of real-world features, natural and cultural, which give character and diversity to Earth's surface (Roberts 1987). Yet the reading of landscape is in the

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