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J Archaeol Method Theory. 2016;23(4):1285-1306. doi: 10.1007/s10816-015-9264-9. Epub 2015 Oct 26.

From Environment to Landscape. Reconstructing Environment Perception Using Numerical Data.

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Excellence Cluster Topoi, Freie Universität Berlin, Topoi Building Dahlem, Hittorfstraße 18, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.
Excellence Cluster Topoi, Department of Earth Sciences, Institute of Geographical Sciences, Physical Geography, Freie Universität Berlin, Malteserstraße 74-100, D-12249 Berlin, Germany.


The paper introduces a method that links environment to landscape. The environment-landscape divide appears because of epistemological differences: since studying the landscape involves describing the world as it was perceived by humans, it is difficult to access this dimension through the numerical data that we employ when studying the environment. We approach the issue of non-correspondence between environment and landscape knowledge using fuzzy logic. The numerical data describing two geomorphometric parameters, slope and modified topographic index, are split each into three classes with overlapping borders. The classes are then fused into four qualitative categories: flat wet, steep dry, flat dry, and gradual moist. These four categories have direct correspondence in the real world and can be observed by people through simple perception. The correspondence of such categories to peoples' perception is checked against evidence of past human settlement in three areas coming from Turkey, Serbia, and Syria. The identified qualitative categories resemble the way people categorized their landscape in all but the second case study. Humans were able to perceive and choose areas which correspond to gradual moist in Turkey and broadly to flat wet in Syria. However, for the Serbian example, the results are inconclusive.


Environment; Fuzzy logic; Landscape; Perception; Statistical modelling

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