Archaeology and the Palimpsest of Landscape: Developing Theoretical Frameworks and Geographic Information Systems Applications Toward Diachronic Landscape Analysis at San Giuliano, Italy
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Landscape archaeology studies past people and their relationship to space by regarding observable modification of the natural environment as a palimpsest recording cultures across time. This study aims to assess the San Giuliano landscape as such a palimpsest through a variety of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) applications. To address criticisms of disjointed landscape archaeological theory, this paper suggests a multi-faceted theoretical framework that draws upon the ideas of Human Behavioral Ecology, Phenomenology, and Spatial Syntax. The utility of this framework is demonstrated using spatial data collected by the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project. Site suitability models of Southern Etruria are used to evaluate specific environmental variables and their respective weights toward regional site location patterns. Generated experiential models showing intervisibility between the San Giuliano plateau and necropolis demonstrate Etruscan inhabitants’ cognition of space. Finally, network analyses of caves comment on social structure during the medieval period. Overall, these applications highlight the strengths of combining processual and post-processual approaches and GIS technology for nuanced interpretations of archaeological landscapes.