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Durham University

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Publication details

Lawrence, D, Bradbury, J & Dunford, R (2012). Chronology, Uncertainty and GIS: A Methodology for Characterising and understanding Landscapes of the Ancient Near East. eTopoi Journal for Ancient Studies Special Volume 3: 1007-1014.

Author(s) from Durham


Modern archaeological research is confronted with a legacy of projects which stretch back
to the early 20th century. Alongside this, massive amounts of disparate data are being
generated by on-going excavation and survey. Scholars are also beginning to use satellite
imagery to interpret and re-interpret archaeological data-sets both old and new. In the
Near East this disparity is compounded by the diversity of dating schemes and interpretative
frameworks used by archaeologists studying the region. Faced with these issues,
how is it possible to combine such data into a coherent and comprehensive format, adding
value to both old and on-going research projects? The Fragile Crescent (AHRC) and Vanishing
Landscape (Leverhulme) Projects (Durham University) aim to draw together data
derived from archaeological surveys and satellite imagery analysis into a single analytical
framework. The projects have developed a methodology for understanding, analysing
and presenting disparate chronological, morphological and methodological data across
the Ancient Near East. This paper will illustrate how researchers have been able to revitalise
old data, adding value through new approaches towards archaeological sites and
landscapes via satellite imagery, remote sensing and spatial analyses. We will examine how
integrating multiple chronological systems and concepts of ‘uncertainty’ into a single
GIS/Database framework can allow for a robust and detailed multi-scalar archaeological
landscape analysis. Using case studies from the Fragile Crescent/Vanishing Landscape
Projects we will discuss how this methodology has led to new interpretations of urban
and non-urban landscapes of the Ancient Near East.