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Title: Travelling through past landscapes : analysing the dynamics of movement during Late Prehistory in Southern Iberia with spatial technologies
Author: Murrieta Flores, Patricia A.
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2011
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Movement is integral to all aspects of human life. It allows us to carry out tasks ranging from the basic act of obtaining food to travelling long distances to trade goods and engage in social dynamics. Studying the complexity of human movement is instrumental in understanding the development of crucial social aspects such as identity, technology, territoriality, political complexity, and even social inequality. Movement is therefore of central concern to archaeology and anthropology. Archaeological approaches to movement have traditionally focused on the distribution of traded goods or raw materials as evidence of long-distance contacts. As such, “static” evidence has been at the heart of these studies, which often focus on objects’ points of departure or destination. Fewer attempts have been made to investigate what happened in between these points, including the processes of travelling, the mechanics of movement, or the archaeological evidence on a landscape scale related to long-distance journeys. Interestingly, no previous research has specifically looked at the detailed process of how prehistoric people navigated through the landscape while traveling within and beyond the usual limits of their local economy and social demands. Looking to tackle these issues, this thesis develops a robust theoretical framework for the study of human movement on a landscape scale investigating, through an interdisciplinary approach, the possible physical, environmental and social variables that influenced or affected this activity during prehistory. Using this framework, novel methods of spatial analysis are developed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and High Performance Computing (HPC) to explore and identify particular spatial patterns related to this phenomenon. Using a combination of spatial analyses, a series of methodological tools are created (1) to identify potential prehistoric pathways and (2) to investigate the influence of natural corridors in the establishment of symbolic and funerary sites, the most significant variables behind the creation of prehistoric path layouts, the use of monuments and symbolic places in orientation while travelling, and, finally, their potential role of said monuments in territorial definition. Taking as specific example the late prehistoric groups of south western Iberia, the thesis investigates the particular materialization of human movement in the context of Copper Age (c. 3100-2100 BCE) and Bronze Age (c. 2100-850 BCE) societies. In the case of the Iberian Peninsula, there has been a severe lack of discussion in the discipline regarding the possible practice of mobility and sedentism as joint strategies during prehistoric times. This is the first study in Iberia exploring the degree of residential mobility that prehistoric societies exhibit. In addition, using physiological and psychological research, it also constitutes the first attempt in archaeology to build a theory on how humans navigated through their landscape before the existence of maps, testing it through robust spatial methods. Drawing on a range of available archaeological evidence from traditional pathways and the location of symbolic sites and habitats to the material culture products of trade and exchange, the research sheds light on the social meaning of long-distance movement and the importance of this activity in the development of collective identities and territories during Late Prehistory.
Supervisor: Wheatley, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: CC Archaeology