Copper Age settlement patterns in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains A GIS approach to site and territory analysis
Whitlow, Raymond Braxton
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This dissertation develops a GIS framework for studying Eneolithic Cucuteni-Ariusd settlement patterns in the Eastern Carpathian Mountains and Moldovan Plateau in northeastern Romania. Many GIS predictive models have been criticized in recent years by archaeologists wary of atheoretical and deterministic model mechanics. To address these issues, I introduce a new approach to GIS modeling, termed the "Site/Territory Characterization" (STC) approach. This approach is based on a reading of structuration literature in anthropology and geography which shares a common focus on the role space plays in organizing and structuring the practice of past agents. From this literature I develop a number of criteria for the representation of the locations of prehistoric settlements in a GIS environment. This becomes the basis for a review of the archaeological GIS literature, with a specific focus on the mechanics of archaeological location models (ALMs). Based on these reviews, I suggest the atheoretical nature of GIS modeling can be addressed by shifting the emphasis from prediction to characterization. The Site/Territory Characterization approach is an attempt to characterize the relationship between an archaeological site and the landscape by modeling physiographic--e.g. slope, prominence, ruggedness--and "embodied"--e.g. visibility, movement--aspects of the area around a site at multiple scales. In place of correlative and regression analysis, in this case study the STC approach tests a number of hypotheses derived from the archaeological literature. The case study examines 19 Cucuteni and Ariusd settlements located in the Transylvanian depressions, Eastern Carpathian Mountains, and Moldovan Plateau in Romania from 4,700 to 3,500 B.C. When analyzed in relation to their immediate region, these sites demonstrate a variety of settlement practices utilizing different environmental affordances. While many sites share a preference for elevated locations--the trait most frequently associated with Cucuteni settlement--there remains a great deal of variability in topographic prominence, visibility, accessibility, defensibility, and proximity to water or regional pathways. Although the STC approach suggests Cucuteni settlement patterns are more varied than previously believed, new patterns in the data are evident. Sites belonging to the same phase share common preferences for specific aspects of the local environment. However, phases strongly correlate with geographic macro-regions. Also, shared characteristics within a region may seem counterintuitive. For example, populations in mountainous regions avoid prominent locations, while populations in the Moldovan Plateau seek them out. This interplay between geography and human preference is explored through the application of the geographic affordance (Gibson 1986 ) and dwelling perspective (Ingold 2000). Then, I suggest that the Cucuteni and Ariusd settlements can be classified based on the relationship between site and landscape. The largest and most intensively occupied Cucuteni settlements all share a specific set of relationships to the landcape, which I argue can be linked to the increasing importance of community living in the late Cucuteni A and later phases.