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Archaeology of Cultural Lanscapes and Natural Environment


Prof. Dr. Vladimir Stissi & Dr. Liesbeth Smits

Members of the research group

Anne Versloot
drs. D.J. Biesiekirska
dr. C. Cavallo
J. Eerbeek MA
prof.dr. J. Eidem
prof.dr. J.H.G. Gawronski
prof.dr. M. Gnade
dr. S. Heeren
dr. J.R. Hilditch
drs. M. Hogervorst
dr. A.M.J.H. Huijbers
dr. A. Kotsonas
drs. C. Beestman - Kruijshaar
dr. H. van Londen
dr. P.S. Lulof
M. Merlino MA
dr. C.W. Neeft
dr. R.G.A.M. Panhuijsen
drs. N. Pieters
dr. W.D.J. v.d. Put
dr. E. Smits
prof.dr. V.V. Stissi
dr. L.L. Therkorn
dr. A.A.A. Verhoeven
dr. G.J.M. van Wijngaarden
S. Ximeri MSc
J. Waagen

External Members:

S. Rückl

The research group will cooperate closely with colleagues from VU University at the Faculty of humanities and the faculty of Earth sciences.

Description of the research programme of the research group

The research in this research group is closely related to that in the groups titled Material culture and the past and Archaeological heritage & contemporary society. This particular research group focuses on the spatial and ecological aspects of archaeology, including both cultural and natural environments, and the interaction between past and present in cultural landscapes. Since the 1970s and 1980s, archaeology has developed from a discipline strongly focused on cultural objects to a more interdisciplinary field of research in which spatial and environmental aspects (in their widest sense) play important roles. This has stimulated research on ‘eco-facts’, human use of organic and inorganic raw materials and the technologies involved, and the development of new fieldwork methods and approaches, particularly field survey. Developments in ICT, especially of GIS software, remote sensing and automated mapping and positioning have further stimulated spatial approaches in archaeology. Over the last decade, the AAC, which already had a strong tradition in ecological archaeology, has also developed several lines of research involving cultural landscapes, both urban and rural ones.
An important theme in this research is human impact on the landscape in diachronic perspective, viz. the ‘biography’ of the landscape. This involves tracing, mapping, in some cases excavating and explaining the complex historical layering of landscapes and foci of human activity they contain – or looking at the human activity that formed complete landscapes. Of particular importance is the ways in which people through the ages have created meaning in the landscape through interactions of natural, material and immaterial landscape elements.
Development and use of research methods and ICT infrastructure (online and offline), both in research and in management and education play crucial roles in this field, just as methods of scientific analysis of artifacts, eco-facts and remains of living beings which involve environmental aspects – from isotope analysis of bones to petrography of ceramics or reconstructions of production and use processes of objects. Likewise, research of landscapes often involves remote sensing, geo-archaeology and cultural anthropology. A particular aim of this research group is to stimulate approaches which combine and integrate various methods of analysis, and relate them to the archaeology of the landscape more generally, but also to the archaeological research focusing on material culture and aspects of heritage, as covered by other research groups.
The work in this research group will focus on landscapes and societies in the Mediterranean and north-western Europe. Interdisciplinary approaches with links to planning, history, social sciences and of course natural sciences and ICT are a self-evident part of the research of this group. In particular, four fields will be central to the group:
• Human and animal bones in their natural and cultural environments
• Production of pottery from raw materials to firing (this has some overlap with the Biographies of pottery section in the Material Culture research group)
• The biography of landscapes (this has some overlap with the Heritage and contemporary society research group)
• Theory, methods and technologies in landscape archaeology

Envisaged results

Development of research methods and tools, including ICT-applications, related to field work and analysis of materials
Maintaining a survey archaeology website (in cooperation with national and international partners)
Publications in peer reviewed journals
Fieldwork publications
Lecturing series at the Amsterdam Archaeology Centre
Applications for individual PhD research and small projects involving education, research and/or documentation or data-processing
Programmatic research application at NWO (VENI, VIDI and Vrije Competitie) and at EU or other international funds

Work plan and time schedule

The research group is part of continuing research at the Amsterdam Archaeological Centre. A coherent programme of lectures and applications will be formulated for the period 2013-2018.

Societal relevance

Archaeological remains play a substantial role in the identity of people on a local, national and international level, and the spatial aspect plays a crucial part in this, both directly, regarding the visibility of the past, and indirectly, because most research is organized in a spatial framework and archaeological objects exist in environmental contexts, from their production till their retrieval (and beyond). The results of the archaeological research from this group will be disseminated not only in academic publications, but also to a wider audience through popular books and journals, interactive websites and through exhibitions in museums.