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Topoi Lab, Topoi and the BerGSAS at the Landscape Archaeology Conference in Rome

From the 17th until the 21st September there was the 3rd International Landscape Conference (LAC2014) in Rome.Logo LAC2013

More than 300 scientists from many different countries came to Rome to present and discuss their work on landscape archaeological questions.

The Topoi Lab hosted an own session, together with Wiebke Bebermeier and Oliver Nakoinz, entitled "Bridging the gap - integrated approaches in landscape archaeology" (session abstract).  The contributions (15 talks and 24 poster) covered theoretical issues, methodological developments and specific applications of landscape archaeological practice in the light and spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration. Some of the contributions are going to be published in the edition-topoi aiming to provide a concise collection of essential aspects of integrative research and practice in landscape archaeology.

Topoi contributions:

Talks:

Poster:

Short review of the 4th meeting "Mensch im Raum - Probleme an der Schnittstelle von Geistes- und Naturwissenschaften" [in german]

An die bisherigen Diskussionen anknüpfend, haben wir während des vierten "Mensch im Raum"-Treffens begonnen uns vertiefend mit unterschiedlichen Begriffen der Komplexitätsforschung zu beschäftigen. Den Anfang machte der Begriff "Emergenz" und als Beispiel diente uns ein Text von Cordes aus einem gleichsam benannten Sammelband (Quelle unten). Nach eingehender Lektüre und Diskussion des Fallbeispiels blieben wir etwas ratlos zurück, da der Text sich wenig um den von uns gewünschten begrifflichen Substanzgewinn bemühte. Vielmehr ergaben sich diverse offenen Fragen zur Methodik und die Erkenntnis, dass neben einer nun notwendigen Betrachtung des Konzepts/Denkmodells "Reduktionismus" auch scheinbar universelle Begriffe wie "Emergenz" zerbrochen sind - mit Scherben in der Welt der Natur-, Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften.

Die Erklärungssuche von Begriffen für den Weg einer integrierenden Betrachtung von Wissenschaft geht also weiter. Dies wird bereits Anfang September der Fall sein, wenn wir zwei weitere Beiträge aus erwähnten Sammelband diskutieren wollen (Quelle unten).

Wenn Sie Interesse haben an unseren Treffen teilzunehmen, zögern Sie nicht mich zu kontaktieren.

Quellen:
Bedau, M.A., 2011. Schwache Emergenz und kontextsensitive Reduktion, in: Greve, J., Schnabel, A. (Eds.), Emergenz - Zur Analyse Und Erklärung Komplexer Strukturen. Suhrkamp, Berlin, pp. 59–83.
Cordes, C., 2011. Emergente kulturelle Phänomene und ihre kognitiven Grundlagen, in: Greve, J., Schnabel, A. (Eds.), Emergenz - Zur Analyse Und Erklärung Komplexer Strukturen. Suhrkamp, Berlin, pp. 346–371.
Sawyer, R.K., 2011. Emergenz, Komplexität und die zukunft der Soziologie, in: Greve, J., Schnabel, A. (Eds.), Emergenz - Zur Analyse Und Erklärung Komplexer Strukturen. Suhrkamp, Berlin, pp. 187–213.

Short review of the 9th "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology"

The 9th meeting of the colloquium was a collaborative one. Thanks to the initiative of Martin Schumacher (in context of the LAA zu Gast lecture series), John Wainwright (Durham university, Geography department) visited Berlin and Topoi to present his research on human-landscape interactions and to introduce us into his agent-based model. We had nearly a day to analyze, discuss, and test the agent-based model in its NetLogo version. In this context we talked about the many different aspects, chances, problems and misunderstandings about the scientific method/concept of "modelling". In the end it is, as always, a matter of the question, the data, and the ultimate aim, whether the development of a quantitative, computational model is useful or not. It is a fundamental and crucial question because it dictates whether it is possible to integrate the results of differently designed studies or not and it shall definitely get more attention.

So, with these thoughts everyone of us is going somewhere to excursion and excavation. We'll have our next meeting at the end of August as a warm-up for the Landscape Archaeology Conference that will take place from the 17th to 20th September in Rome.

Finally, here are the references to two John Wainwrights papers that we read and discussed:
Wainwright, J., 2008. Can modelling enable us to understand the rôle of humans in landscape evolution? Geoforum 39, 659–674. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2006.09.011
Wainwright, J., Millington, J.D.A., 2010. Mind, the gap in landscape-evolution modelling. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. doi:10.1002/esp.2008

Short review of the 3rd meeting "Mensch im Raum - Probleme an der Schnittstelle von Geistes- und Naturwissenschaften" [in german]

Das Treffen stand ganz im Zeichen der "Komplexitätstheorie". Die Diskussionsgrundlage bildete ein Text Beate Ratters über die Grundbegriffe komplexer Systeme sowie deren potentielle Anwendungsfelder in einer integrierten Geographie.

Die Diskussion drehte sich vor allem um die Begriffe Evolution und Trajektorie, Emergenz, Skaleninvarianz und Selbstorganisation. Wie werden sie verwendet? Welche Beispiele lassen sich im Kontext der Schnittstelle von Mensch und Raum, Natur- und Geisteswissenschaft finden? Wir kamen auf viele Ansätze aber wenig Konkretes. Das steht nun auf der Agenda für unser kommendes Treffen: Die Suche/Untersuchung von Beispielen, in denen die Überlegungen der "Komplexitätstheorie" Anwendung finden und zum Erkenntnisgewinn beitragen.

Ein weiterer wichtiger Punkt in der Diskussion war der Modellbegriff. Zwei Sichtweisen kristallisieren sich dabei heraus. Zum einen "repräsentalistische" Modelle, deren Ziel ein möglichst wirklichkeitsgetreues Abbild der Welt ist [was auch immer darunter verstanden wird] und zum anderen "instrumentalistische" Modelle, die durch ein hohes Maß an Abstraktion selbst zur Schaffung von Erkenntnis beitragen. Im Hinblick auf die niemals vollständige und unbekannt lückenhafte Quellenbasis in der Archäologie scheinen dabei letztere Modelle gut geeignet - auch um eine Brücke zwischen Natur- und Geisteswissenschaften zu schlagen. Warum? Weil Vorannahmen, Determinanten und Kausalitäten a) aus dem Modellkontext erklärt werden müsssen und b) nur im Modellkontext erklärt sind. In der Anwendung des Modells und dem Abgleich mit dem empirischen Befund kann nun die permanente Umwandlung, Erweiterung und Transformation von Begriffen und Hypothesen stattfinden - was eine Notwendigkeit der Analyse von dynamischen Systemen ist. Dies ist wiederum die Basis dafür, dass die Empirie in und durch den modellierten Prozess beschrieben wird und somit ein tieferes Verständnis des Forschungsgegenstands möglich wird. Das Elegante daran: es gibt keine Dichotomie; wenn überhaupt, müsste diese erst in das Modell "hineingedacht" werden.

Wo stehen wir im Kontext der Forschungsfragen der Research Area A? Die "Komplexitätsforschung" gibt uns Methoden an die Hand [welche noch dezidiert zu benennen wären] mit deren Hilfe wir das "Wie?" der Verkopplung von Systemkomponenten beschreiben können. Diese Komponenten gehören autopoietischen Systemen an, die z.B. auf Basis von Luhmann definiert bzw. konstituiert werden können. Nun haben wir die Möglichkeit das gefundene "Wie?" aus den von uns definierten Systemen in den Kontext der sozialökologischen Modelle zu stellen und unsere Antwort auf die Frage nach der Interaktion von Gesellschaft und Natur zu geben [der letzte Schritt wirkt artifiziell und ist im Grunde nur deswegen notwendig um der Dichotomie der in Topoi beteiligten Disziplinen gerecht zu werden und deren notwendige Integration zu offenbaren].

Ich bin sehr gespannt auf das kommende Treffen und hoffe, dass wir nicht nur neue, interessante Methoden finden werden, sondern auch weitere Schritte dahingehend unternehmen unsere fachspezifischen (Sprach-)barrieren zu überwinden.

Referenz:
Ratter, B. M. W. (2006) ‘Komplexitätstheorie und Geographie - Ein Beitrag zur Begrüdung einer anderen Sicht auf Systeme’, Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft, 148, pp. 109–124.

Weiterführendes:
- Der Grund, warum ich Komplexitätstheorie stets in "" setze: Gershenson, C. (2008) Complexity: 5 questions, Automatic Press/VIP.
- MOOCs zum Thema Komplexität vom Santa Fe Institut: http://www.complexityexplorer.org

Short review of the 8th "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology"

The 8th meeting of the colloquium on modeling in landscape archaeology focused again on spatial statistics, in particular the application of tools for point pattern analysis on a database of settlements from the Chalcolithic period, as published by Winter-Livneh et al. (2010).
We had a very vital discussion regarding the suitability of the methods to answer the research questions stated by the scholars. Furthermore, we saw how important it is to state ones methods clearly, because otherwise the reader (in this case our group) will not be able to reconstruct the line of argumentation - and hence follow your interpretation. The same holds true for the process of method selection or parameter derivation.

In the end, we were left with an interesting research question/approach but were not satisfied with the presentation and acquisition of the results achieved by the authors. But what to take home? Well, spatial autocorrelation methods are an interesting tool for first insights in global as well as local characteristics of the data; tests on and investigations of complete spatial randomness complement the first; generalized linear models are a useful tool to indicate relationships between your different data sets and especially to link environmental to societal data.

If you want to learn more, you can have a look at this interesting review: Waller, L. A. (in press) ‘Putting spatial statistics (back) on the map’, Spatial Statistics, [online] Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211675314000207 (Accessed 22 April 2014).

I am looking forward to the next colloquium that will take place at the 30th of June.

Reference:
Winter-Livneh, R., Svoray, T. and Gilead, I. (2010) ‘Settlement patterns, social complexity and agricultural strategies during the Chalcolithic period in the Northern Negev, Israel’, Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(2), pp. 284–294.

Short review of the 2nd meeting "Mensch im Raum - Probleme an der Schnittstelle von Geistes- und Naturwissenschaften" [in german]

Anhand des Textes von Heike Egner wurden wir mit Grundbegriffen der Systemtheorie Luhmanns vertraut gemacht.

 

Dabei diskutierten wir zum Einen die Sichtweise der Beobachtung zweiter Ordnung: Wenn der Beobachter den Beobachter beobachtet. Das meint in unserem Kontext die Beobachtung, wie wir als Forscher den Topoi Gegenstand beobachten und bearbeiten. Unsere Betrachtung zielt darauf ab, wie sich die Wissenschaftler selbst in der Beobachtung des Gegenstands organisieren. Dabei ist es nicht wichtig, ob der Gegenstand in Form eines Naturdeterminismus oder, wie in unserem Fall, anhand des sozialökologischen Interaktionsmodells, betrachtet wird.

 

Eine unserer Aufgaben ist es also die Art und Weise der verschiedenen Beobachtungsformen und -perspektiven zu analysieren.

 

Doch soweit sind wir noch nicht. Zunächst geht es um die Explizierung dessen was eigentlich betrachtet wird – einen Schritt zurück also zum Gegenständlichen.

Eine mögliche Sicht auf unseren Forschungsgegenstand ist die des autopoietischen Systems vom Kulturwesen Mensch im (Natur/"verkultürlichtem")Raum - dessen Organisation und Konzentration, dessen Entwicklung, dessen Veränderung.

Wir sind Archäologen und Geographen. In Folge unserer Wissenschaftstradition und unseres methodologischen Handwerkszeugs nähern wir uns der Frage bzw. betrachten das System eher von der natürlichen bzw. der kultürlichen Seite

  • Wie aber bringen wir diese Sichtweisen zusammen? Im Modell der sozialökologischen Interaktion dient der Metabolismusbegriff sowie diverse Pfeile als Hinweise auf wechselseitige Beeinflussung.

  • Somit werden, unabhängig von der Art der (natürlich/kultürlichen) Betrachtung, diverse Elemente deutlich, die interdependent an dem autopoietischen System vom Kulturwesen Mensch im "verkultürlichtem" Raum, Anteil haben.

  • Je nach der Richtung der Beschreibung und dem gewählten Beispiel treten immer wieder neue Verbindungen, Notwendigkeiten und Abhängigkeiten auf, die nur schwer zu überblicken sind.

Um diese komplizierten wechselseitigen Verhältnisse und Abhängigkeiten analysieren, verstehen und kommunizieren zu können – um sich dem Forschungsgegenstand zu nähern – scheint die Komplexitätsforschung Hilfestellung anzubieten...inwiefern sie uns von nutzen ist, dass möchten wir in der kommenden Sitzung diskutieren.

 

 

Referenz:
Egner, H. (2006). Autopoiesis, Form und Beobachtung - moderne Systemtheorie und ihr möglicher Beitrag für eine Integration von Human- und Physiogeographie. Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft, 148, 92–108.

Short review of the 7th "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology"

Our 7th meeting focused on integrative aspects of spatial statistics. Based on the paper of Knitter et al. that investigates the centrality of Aleppo, we discussed how point pattern analysis are applied and how this could be of value for our own research questions. In the paper the distribution of Bronze Age tell locations is characterized using tests for complete spatial randomness and methods for spatial density calculations. The results are used to explain the location and role of Aleppo as a central place on the local scale.

What got obvious was the tension between the available data and the research question which requires in general more data. Accordingly, one has to struggle with a simplification of the research subject to hypotheses that can be tackled using the available (or selected) methods. This might seem as a shortcoming, but on the contrary it forces us to state our questions as explicit as possible, to interpret our results always in (methodological) context, to show the need for further data collection and analysis, and finally it enhances our understanding of the interdependent elements of our research subject [this might seem obvious...Nevertheless, our previous meetings and discussions showed that this ideal is seldom reached].

Regarding the next meetings: We will stick to the structure of an introductory talk by one of the participants and a related paper that everyone of us will read. We are, as always, open for new participants that want to present their work and ideas. If you are interested, just contact me. And for all the other participants: please check our foodle (yes, foodle) and sign on the date, where you want to present.

I am looking forward to our next meeting, at the 12th of May.

Reference:
Knitter, D., Nakoinz, O., Del Fabbro, R., Kohlmeyer, K., Meyer, M., & Schütt, B. (in press). The Centrality of Aleppo and its environs. eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies.

Summary of the "Winterschool on Modelling in Landscape Archaeology"

From the 26th of February to the 7th of March the "Winterschool on Modelling in Landscape Archaeology" took place at the GeoCampus Lankwitz. It is the continuation of the successful summer-school, organized by Oliver Nakoinz and the Graduate School "Human Development in Landscapes" of the university Kiel, the took place last year in Noer (see blog entry).

Together with Oliver Nakoinz we presented modelling approaches for landscape archaeological questions and their application to 17 participants from the Berlin Graduate School of Ancient Studies (LAA), from different projects within Topoi, and also from other universities in Germany and Europe. We brought together scientist from archaeology, architecture, and geography.

After introducing the theoretical background of modelling in archaeology and geography we demonstrated how to apply the following techniques using the open-source software R:

  • Trend and regression analysis
  • Interpolation techniques
  • Point pattern analysis
  • Significance tests (presented by Undine Lieberwirth)
  • Boundary detection and evaluation
  • Network creation and analysis

Besides R we also used the open-source GIS software GRASS. After an introduction in the software by Undine Lieberwirth the participants learned how to analyse digital elevation models, derive geomorphmetric parameters and perform simple fuzzy analysis and their created data.

To get an idea of data organization and the power of its structured collection, Dominik Lukas introduced the group into the basics of databases and brought us to the point, where we build a very simple first version of our own database using the open-source software PostgreSQL.

It was a pleasure to have two days lectures on agent-based modelling using the open-source software NetLogo. On the first day, Kerstin Kowarik and Gabriel Wurzer from Vienna presented us their agent-based model on mining at Hallstatt (Kerstin Kowarik also gave a talk about this in the Key-Topic Lab lectures series (link) where we had the possibility to discuss parts of the complex model). After the general introduction by Kerstin Kowarik, it was Gabriel Wurzer's part to guide the group through the first steps in the NetLogo software and to assist in building their own small agent-based models (Gabriel Wurzer has also very nice tutorial videos on how to use NetLogo to create an agent-based model: hosted on youtube.)
The second day on agent-based models was focused on dynamic and deterministic systems as well as gradient adaptive systems. Thanks to the lectures and exercises presented by Carsten Lemmen (Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht) the group was introduced to another way of thinking about human in space and time and most importantly the link to complex systems science, non-linear dynamics and chaos got obvious.

The last days the participants continued their work in small groups that aimed to achieve results to themes like geomorphometric analysis, route system, point pattern and their organization as well as "vegetation dynamics".

After ten days of intensive work and a journey through the different areas of modelling directed to landscape archaeological questions one has to admit that the time was way too short. Accordingly, we already started to plan the next collaborative summer/winter-schools that aim to develop new approaches in landscape archaeological modelling using open-source tools.

But one does not have to wait for the next workshops. On Monday the 31st of March will be the next "Colloquium on Modelling in Landscape Archaeology" (link) this time focused on point pattern analysis and its value in the analysis of centrality. A good opportunity the continue the discussion on the tools yet learned.  

I want to express my sincere thanks to

  • Topoi for financing the winter-school,
  • to Oliver Nakoinz as co-organizer,
  • to Undine Lieberwirth, Dominik Lukas, Kerstin Kowarik, Gabriel Wurzer, Carsten Lemmen for sharing their knowledge on modelling/software/technique
  • and of course to all the (young) scientists that participated and invigorated winterschool with questions, problems and discussions

To stay in touch, we created a google+ group to share code and interesting papers, discuss new approaches and problems, and of course to help us with problems that arise during our work (interested? here is the link).

Short review of the 1st meeting "Mensch im Raum - Probleme an der Schnittstelle von Geistes- und Naturwissenschaften"

I looked very much forward to the 12th of February, where the first meeting of "Mensch im Raum - Probleme an der Schittstelle von Geistes- und Naturwissenschaften" took place. Together with Werner Kogge, philosopher and Topoi Lab coordinator of the Area B, we invited researchers to discuss with us the social-ecological-interaction model as a means to a better understanding of human and environment, culture and nature.

As a starting point we discussed an article of Wardenga and Weichhart, who introduce the ideas of social-ecology and their potential in order to integrate human and physical geography. Besides this, Werner Kogge gave us a concise overview into the "two cultures", the philosophical background of dichotomous science, and - most importantly - introduced us to the ideas of Stephen Toulmin whose approach might be a new way of looking to old questions, with the possibility to overcome old dichotomies.

There was a vital discussion between the participants on how the model of social-ecological thinking might be applied. It is not our aim to just copy the model to our research questions. Rather, we want to discuss its implications for integrative research, for our science specific and interdisciplinary work. We want to extent and improve it, to be applicable in (landscape) archaeological context. A second look on the discussions between the researchers from the different subjects already showed that we are on a good way.

I am looking forward to the next meeting at the 2nd of April, 13:00 - 15:00 in the Topoi house Dahlem.

References:
  • Toulmin, S. E. (1969). Einführung in die Philosophie der Wissenschaft. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
  • Wardenga, U., & Weichhart, P. (2006). Sozialökologische Interaktionsmodelle und Systemtheorien - Ansätze einer theoretischen Begründung integrativer Projekte in der Geographie. Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft, (148), 9–31.

Short review of the 5th and 6th "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology"

The 5th (27.01.2014) and 6th (24.02.2014) meeting of the "Colloquium on Modelling in Landscape Archaeology" touched quite different subjects.

In January, Emmanuele Russo introduced us to his climate/vegation/biome modelling approaches that continue the climate modeling initiatives of Topoi's first funding phase.  The area that will be covered by Emmanuale's model, that couples a climate and a vegetational model, covers nearly all projects working in the Area A of Topoi 2, hence we had a vital discussion on how the different projects might get use of the data created throughout Emmanuele's work. Furthermore, we discussed the paper by Claussen and Gayler (1997) in order to get a better understanding of the theory and functioning climate modelling and its potentials for archaeological questions.

In February, Undine Lieberwirth presented us a concise report of the results of a workshop on "Spatial Analysis and Social Spaces - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Interpretation of Prehistoric and Historic Built Environments", whose proceedings are being published right now within Topoi. The workshop that took place in 2010 was organized by Undine Lieberwirth, Silvia Polla and the former Topoi fellow Eleftheria Paliou (profile on Academia). The book (and Undines presentation of it) gives a nice overview on the application of the different spatial modelling techniques, its possibilities, and problems. Within the group we discussed the introdutory chapter of Bill Hillier on the potentials of Space Syntax theory in archaeological context. Though the method was developed in architecture, we found different applications in archaelogy as well - further investigations may even be able to utilize the methodology to landscape archaeological questions.

References:

  • Claussen, M., Gayler, V., 1997. The Greening of the Sahara during the Mid-Holocene: Results of an Interactive Atmosphere-Biome Model. Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters 6, 369–377
  • Hillier, W.R.G., 2013. Spatial analysis and cultural information: the need for theory as well as method in space syntax analysis. In: Paliou, E., Lieberwirth, U., Polla, S. (Eds.), Spatial Analysis and Social Spaces: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Interpretation of Prehistoric and Historic Built Environments. De Gruyter, Berlin.

Short review of the 4th "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology"

The last meeting of the "colloquium on modeling in landscape archaeology" in 2013 was held at the 16th of December. We discussed a very serious question: How to link GIS methods and phenomenology. Besides the text of Rennell (2012) that was used as a baseline for discussion, Helen Dawson gave a talk, where she presented her ideas, approach and problems in order to connect (island) GIS and phenomenology.

After a vital discussion that profits from the expertise of archaeologists (as representatives of humanities) and geographers (as representatives of sciences), we agreed on the necessity of both approaches in a holistic research framework - the foundation of landscape archaeological research. Nevertheless, regarding the specific methodology we were less certain. Ongoing fieldwork will give new insights regarding phenomenological questions; furthermore, the winter-school on modeling in landscape archaeology (26.02. - 07.03) will introduce modeling approaches, whose results are valuable to continue the discussion we started. It is our task to integrate these in our research.

Thanks to all the participants to the insightful meeting. I am looking forward to our next colloquium at the 27th of January.

Reference:
Rennell, R., 2012. Landscape, Experience and GIS: Exploring the Potential for Methodological Dialogue. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19, 510–525.

Announcement and Invitation to the Winter-school on modeling in landscape archaeology - 26.02. to 07.03.2014

From 26.02. until the 07.03.2014 there will be a winter-school on modeling in landscape archaeology. It is organized by the Topoi Lab A and the Topoi Geodata Forums in collaboration with the Graduate School "Human development in landscapes" of the University Kiel. Funding for this event comes from Excellence Cluster Topoi - thanks!

What can you expect?
Specialist of different disciplines will present and apply various quantitative methods aiming to analyze data of landscape archaeological significance. In the mornings there will be a theoretical introduction, while the afternoons are "hands on" exercises, where you will learn to apply and modify the methods on your own or exemplary data. It is our goal that you will not just learn new methods but also produce useful results for your own research.

The software that we will use is ultimately open source, since an open science does not stop at the methodological level. Look forward to learn and apply the powerful R, different GIS systems (GRASS GIS, SAGA GIS, gvSIG), PostgreSQL (including PostGIS), and NetLogo.

A preliminary outline of the topics that will be covered:

  • Databases
  • Significance tests
  • Point pattern analyses
  • Density analyses
  • Interaction analyses
  • Geomorphometric analyses and the link of GIS to statistics
  • Agent-based modeling

What do we expect from you?
If you are interested, please send a request to lab-a@topoi.org until the 11.01.2014.

In your request, you should clarify the following things (in very short words):

  • Why do you want to participate?
  • What are your main research interests, or your current project objectives?
  • What data would you like to investigate - meaning: What data do you want to provide for your modeling tasks?

Since the places are limited: Do not wait too long. First come, first served.

We the organizers hope to read from you soon.

Short review of the 3rd "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology"

The third meeting of the "colloquium on modeling in landscape archaeology" at the 25th of November focused on the question: How to analyze and locate the routes interactions between settlements? For this purpose Katrin Kermas presented her work that aims to reconstruct the roads between pre- and protohistoric settlements in southern France in order to apply network analyses (link to the project page). The talk of Katrin was complemented by our discussion of Irmela Herzog's short review on different methods to conduct least-cost path analyses (link to paper).

As it got obvious throughout our discussion: There seems to be no method that is able to perform a realistic least-cost path reconstruction that implements the necessities of network related features, like e.g. the integration of Steiner points. Furthermore, the question arose, where to measure interactions: along the paths or at the sites? In general it seems necessary to attach segment-specific attributes to the reconstructed paths, for instance regarding their quality. This again points to the need of more advanced approaches that are (a) capable of finding the "cheapest" path, (b) are flexible enough to adapt to the surrounding conditions, and (c) are able to implement the network relate characteristics they aim to establish. A difficult discussion that needs to be continued.

Below are some further references regarding this topic:

  • a network approach that is dynamic in that sites can grow due to the number and intensity of interactions (check also Evans' website http://netplexity.org/): Knappett, C., Evans, T., Rivers, R., 2008. Modelling maritime interaction in the Aegean Bronze Age. Antiquity 82, 1009–1024.; Evans, T.S., Rivers, R.J., Knappett, C., 2012. INTERACTIONS IN SPACE FOR ARCHAEOLOGICAL MODELS. Advances in Complex Systems (ACS) 15, 1–17.
  • an example of social network analysis: Fulminante, F., 2012. Social Network Analysis and the Emergence of Central Places. A Case Study from Bronze and Early Iron Age Central Italy. Babesch 87, 1–27.
  • an agent-based approach regarding our purpose that is even able to develop new sites: Graham S., Steiner J.: TravellerSim: Growing Settlement Structures and Territories with Agent-Based Modeling (link to paper); here is their Netlogo model: http://www.graeworks.net/abm/Travellersim.html#INTRODUCTION

Our next meeting will take place at the 16th of December (as always from 2pm to 5pm in the library of the Topoi house Dahlem). This time, Helen Dawson will present aspects of her work on island GIS and phenomenology. The paper for this event is: Rennell, R., 2012. Landscape, Experience and GIS: Exploring the Potential for Methodological Dialogue. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19, 510–525.

I hope to see you at the 16th of December.

Topoi Lab on Tour at the conference "Digital Geoarchaeology" in Heidelberg

On the 7th and 8th of November, I was invited to attend the academy conference "Digital Geoarchaeology - New Technologies for Interdisciplinary Human-Environmental Research" in Heidelberg. The conference brought together nearly 90 young scientists from the fields of archaeology and geosciences in order to explore the possibilities of new (digital) technologies to answer questions of geoarchaeological importance.

The participants of the conference in front of the Heidelberg academy of science Happy organizers after their exciting conference (left Markus Forbriger, right Christoph Siart)


The great variety of subjects that were covered in the different talks and poster presentation showed the dynamics in the field of geoarchaeology (book of abstracts).

I talked about first results of a small project analysing megalithic graves of the funnel beaker societies that resulted from my visit at the Summer School on Modeling in Noer (slides as pdf) ...It is not that I avoided to look at my slides, but, actually, they had two beamer...

 

Thinking of Topoi's area A and the geodata forums, the meeting unfolded many new ideas that are worth to be tried in our own research projects, since we have the necessary scientists, tools, and devices; some of them will be directly applied in the winterschool on modeling in February (circular forthcoming).

(all images are taken from http://digitalgeoarchaeology.wordpress.com/dga-in-retrospect/)

Topoi Lab on Tour in the Hungarian Bükk Mountains

Panorama view on Cserépfalu and the surrounding countryside

 

From the 6th until the 13th of October the Topoi Lab attended a field trip organized by Martin Schumacher, Ph.D. fellow in the Research Group A-4, to the Hungarian Bükk Mountains, North of the city of Eger. One might ask what this trip has to do with his research project, that aims to investigate the impact of the mid-Holocene spread of the wool-bearing sheep? But the link is easy and I will describe it in short, very easy words: The introduction of the wool-bearing sheep points to a change in the production of clothes. To acquire a reasonable amount of wool, the amount of sheep has to be reasonable as well. Sheep need to graze. It is obvious that grazing has an impact on the vegetation, be it directly by browsing and subsequent degeneration of vegetation cover, or be it by wood clearance in order to obtain productive pastures. In turn, this can affect the landscape dynamics and can lead to erosion. Accordingly, Martin's hypothesis is, that an enhanced introduction of the wool-bearing sheep should be visible in the sediment archives of his research area (more information here).

Map of the study area (cartography: Martin Schumacher)


With the help of Stephanie Bachmeier, a Master student of Geography at the Freie Universität Berlin, and Gerhárd Golen, student assistant at the Eger university, percussion drillings were conducted to collect proxy data. During field work Dr. Anna Dobos from the Eszterházy Károly College of Eger, who worked for many years in this area, supported our team which lead to important insights regarding the geological history and (pre)-Holocene development of the area as well as to fruitful discussion regarding potentially useful archives.

Martin and Anna investigating the drilled sediments

Before a drilling is after a drilling...discussion between the participants regarding the question which landscape processes produced the drilled sediment record

In the end we collected ca. 30 meter of sediments from alluvial fans, colluvia and the alluvial plain. Now, back at home, the main work will be done in the laboratory of the Physical Geography at the Freie Universität Berlin, where the sediment is analyzed regarding its physical and chemical characteristics. Furthermore, we were able to find charcoal remains for radiocarbon dating what gives the opportunity to develop a sedimentation history of the area. In a second step this landscape reconstruction will be set in the archaeological context of the study area where particular information on the introduction of wool processing economy will come from within the Research Group A-4 (see Ana Grabundzija). Whether it will be possible to find the period of sheep introduction in the sediments- at least theoretically – still remains to be seen.

 

Any questions? Or do you want further information? Do not hesitate to ask me or the persons mentioned above.

Short review of the 2nd "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology"

At the 28th of October the 2nd colloquium on modeling in landscape archaeology took place. Our group grew to 15 people from archaeology and geography ranging from Master candidates to PostDocs. This time Tina Michel gave a talk about her Ph.D. project where she investigates the visibility characteristics of circular enclosures. Besides this talk, two articles of Gillings and Wheatley (references below) build the base for our discussion of the topic and the associated challenges. As it got obvious throughout the discussion there are many theoretical and practical issues not just regarding the application but also the theoretical background of visibility analysis. A wide subject that we will discuss further throughout our next meetings.

Our next meeting will be on November, 25th from 14:00-17:00. Katrin Kermas will present her work on network design and modeling of spatial relationships. The paper for the session will be circulated throughout this week. If you want to participate, please contact me.

References of the used texts:
Gillings, M., Wheatley, D., 2001. Seeing is not believing: unresolved issues in archaeological visibility analysis. In: Slapšak, B. (Ed.), On the Good Use of Geographical Information Systems in Archaeological Landscape Studies. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, pp. 25–36.

Chapter 10 of Wheatley, D., Gillings, M., 2002. Spatial Technology and Archaeology -- The Archaeological Applications of GIS. Taylor & Francis, London.

Short review of the 1st "Colloquium on Modeling in Landscape Archaeology" [former Reading Circle]

At the 1st meeting Master and Ph.D. students as well as PostDocs of archaeology and geography discussed about models and modeling. It was a nice experience and the joined discussion will be continued. We will meet once a month, on the last Monday from 2pm (s.t.) to 5pm in the library of the Topoi house Dahlem. The dates are also stored in the Topoi calendar.

The modeling topic is - as expected - very broad, therefore the structure is adjusted as follows:
Selected participants will present their research objective regarding modeling to the audience (in a style of a working report and not as a polished presentation). In addition, all participants will read a selected text that covers the specific topic of the meeting (in practice and theory). Furthermore, the organizers will prepare a handout of the main terms covered in the text or that are hitherto discussed, respectively. For a list of dates and topics please check our doodle.

And what are the "results" of our 1st meeting regarding modeling? Well, a bunch of questions emerged e.g.: a) How to face the fact of a changing face of the landscape? b) How to select an appropriate model, i.e. an empirical or a theoretical/physical model? c) How to define or formulate appropriate hypotheses for the model? d) How to select appropriate data - and how to define what is appropriate? e) last but not least: How to create a holistic model? A model that integrates human and nature from the very beginning? I hope that we will be able to answer (some of) these question in the course of our meetings.

And finally, here are some links to topics or tools that were discussed yesterday:

Any questions? As always: do not hesitate to ask.

All the best,
Daniel

PS: For those who read this and want to join our colloquium: just write me using the contact form

Announcement: 1st meeting of the "Reading circle on modeling in landscape archaeology"

Starting from the 30th of September 2013 there will be a reading circle on modeling in landscape archaeology. The aim is to discuss different quantitative approaches that are intended to answer questions of human and environment in the broad scheme of landscape archaeology. We will discuss published papers as well as own approaches in dealing with these questions.

In the 1st meeting an exemplary paper will be presented and the general structure of the circle will be discussed to meet the needs and desires of the participants. The selected paper of Barton et al. (2012) integrates a broad spectrum of modeling approaches, ranging from erosion and land-use modeling to agent-based modeling. We want to critically review their application of the different methods in terms of their suitability to answer questions of human affairs within the society and the landscape. (Reference: Barton, C.M., Ullah, I.I.T., Bergin, S.M., Mitasova, H., Sarjoughian, H., 2012. Looking for the future in the past: Long-term change in socioecological systems. Ecological Modelling 241, 42–53.)

If you are interested in attending our circle please write me an email. I will send you the paper for the 1st meeting in exchange.

If you have further questions or remarks please do not hesitate to ask.

With kind regards and hopefully until the 30th of September,
Daniel (on behalf of the other organizers Brian Beckers and Jonas Berking (A-3)

Topoi Lab on Tour at the summer school "Modeling Human Behaviour in Landscape"

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The Topoi Research Area A was invited to attend the summer school "Modeling Human Behaviour in Landscape" organzied by the former Topoi fellow Oliver Nakoinz and the Kiel graduate school "Human development in Landscapes lasting from the 30th of July 2013 until the 8th of August. It took place at Noer Manor, north of Kiel.

The summer school covered theoretical aspects of models and modeling and showed different methods to solve these. The open source software tools R, for statistical analyses, as well as Maxima, aimed to solve mathematical equations, were used for this purpose.

noer main noer summer school building
The main building of Noer Manor The workshop building

 

Throughout the summer school different model approaches were discussed and applied to a broad spectrum of questions that are related to humans in space. The main topics were:

  • Trend and regression analysis of one- and two-dimensional data including interpolation
  • Point Pattern analysis
  • Boundary detection and definition
  • Network analyses for the local and regional scale
  • Analysis of interactions
afternoon discussion outside

 

Afternoon discussions (from left to right Arne Windler, Daniel Knitter, Elisa Dalla Longa, Oliver Nakoinz, Cătălin Popa, Jan Kolář, Hendaya Serrano Gil, René Ohlrau; not in the picture but behind the camera: Luise Lorenz)

External experts of different fields were invited and gave talks on their specific subjects, covering predictive modeling (Martin Hinz), model theory (Bernhard Thalheim), archaeobotany and -zoology in settlement context, as well as regional exchange models (Jutta Kneisel).

The PhD and Post-Doc projects of the participants were discussed and specific themes were selected that were solved using the methods learned throughout the summer school. Since this worked out quite well, several publications with different participants are planned.

morning lectures lectures and talks in the morning...
...gave enough material to work until the late night... Late Night work
Kernel Density Estimation of Settlements Locations ...to produce first promising results.

 

The attendance at the summer school was a very nice experience with much new input not only because of the methods learned but also because of the discussion between the participants that come from five different countries and seven different universities, hence having a very different views on humans in space. All of them are looking forward to continue this kind of joined work in the future.

It is my pleasure to announce that such a workshop will take place again, thanks to the funding of Topoi. It is organized by the Topoi Research Area A Lab in collaboration with Oliver Nakoinz and will take place in the winter term 2013/2014, apparently in February here in Berlin. We will enlarge the frame a bit and will also integrate GIS related modeling approaches as well as some basic aspects of agent-based modeling. We think that these different approaches are able to create a holistic framework where human, society, space, and nature are integrated - and interrelated.

If you are interested in attending the workshop please stay in touch using the newsletter or check this blog again. As soon as we have a preliminary program we will let you know. And: Do not wait too long, since the number of participants is limited.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to ask.

With kind regards, Daniel

 

Besides the first and last, all pictures by Luise Lorenz (all rights reserved); the first and last picture by Daniel Knitter are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Topoi Lab on Tour in the Ore Mountains

sign Glashüttenweg

From 21st to the 23rd of June 2013 the Topoi Lab A attended a short field trip to the Ore Mountains where the remains of medieval glass production in the soil are investigated. Based on soil sampling using a Pürckhauer percussion driller the heavy metal content of the sediments is analyzed. Prior analyzes showed that the glass factories had a devastating influence on the soil characteristics with heavy metal contents several times higher than the critical threshold (further information and first results in: Seidel et al. (2013): Historical Eco-Audit of Glassworks---a Case Study of the Eastern Ore Mountains in Central Europe).

Hidden from the eye are the remains of glass production place from the Middle Ages only accessible via soil and sediment analyses

 

Though the focused time period is relatively young---in comparison to Topoi's general focus---the results of the Topoi affin project are important since they help to understand (a) how local production influences and changes the landscape from a natural state to a quasi-natural or even artifical state; (b) how human reacted on these landscape changes; and (c) whether the deterioration of the soil characteristics influenced succeeding generations and lead to long-lasting changes. These questions are also important within the Topoi group A-5 "Iron as a raw material" (see also the PhD project of Michael Thelemann "Man and Environment Interactions in the Environs of Prehistorical Iron Smelting Places in Silesia and Brandenburg"). An integration of the results of these different projects will lead to important insights in questions of human-environmental relationship.

discussion with experts

Interview and overview excursion with local historian Dr. Albrecht Kirsche

 

The Ore Mountains, where the project is conducted, offer the necessary resources needed for the production of glass: quartz (as basic necessity, present in large quantities within the gneiss rocks), iron (to color the glass), and of course wood. Until now, two main study areas are focused: One within present day forest, several kilometers away from human settlements. It comprises of two glass factories that were used one after another after local exhaustion of the limiting resource wood. One factory lasts around 30 years, clearing approximately 50 ha of wood. Hence, glass production throughout the centuries lead to a significant decline of wood resources, an increase of soil erosion and an accumulation of heavy metal due to the smelting process within the soils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sketch of the glass factory around 1816

Similar conditions can be expected at the other study area. It is located in a small valley in direct vicinity to the city of Seiffen, where glass was produced at least from the 12th to the 19th century. It can be assumed that throughout the centuries the production places shifted between different locations within the valley. Their final configuration can be seen in the sketch. Today the valley is used for agriculture and pasture. The exact location of the glass factories---the approximate location is known from written sources---is determined based on a dense raster of drillings and subsequent heavy metal analysis.

 

view on the remains of the glass production place

Picture of study area “Glashütte”. The “Hütte mit Schmelzofen” (imagine it at the right edge of the picture) and the “Glasmachwohnungen” (imagine them next to the white bus) are completely gone

 

Curious? You can get further information regarding the topic and the project by contacting the project coordinator Johanna Seidel or me

 

all pictures by Daniel Knitter and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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