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1.0 Introduction

The interpretation of past human behaviour and its material culture over time and space is fundamental to the archaeological discipline. Increasingly, spatial aspects of human activity have been discussed through the theories and methodologies that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have brought to the subject. GIS is typically used to provide a series of hypothetical scenarios of, and alternative perspectives on, the spatial inter-relationships that exist between people and their worlds (Harris and Lock 1995, 349-65; Verhagen et al. 1995, 187-209).

Unfortunately, data fed into GIS software, models constructed using GIS methods, and even more so interpretations made from GIS output have often been environmentally deterministic (e.g. Wansleeben and Verhart 1997, 57-59). However, GIS as a technology should not be regarded as essentially or necessarily inherently so. Rather, 'this determinism is the product of our interpretation as reflected through the way we use our information' (Llobera 1996, 613, my emphasis). Firstly, it is the particular assumptions implicit in GIS model construction and interpretation that tend to undermine its utility as a more generic explanatory device (Gaffney and van Leusen 1996, 367-82; Jensen 2003). Secondly, the need for geographically referenced data in GIS modelling often restricts inputs to environmental domains. GIS models therefore often focus on the relationships between environmental variables and the regional distribution patterns of human behaviour (e.g. early predictive modelling in Cultural Resource Management contexts; cf. van Leusen 1995, 27-41; Maschner 1996, 303; Kvamme 1997, 1-5; Wheatley 1998, 2-7; Witcher 1999, 13; see also Whitley, this volume). It has been argued that such models are mostly only poor representations of past and present realities, as they exclude political, social, cultural and cognitive factors with importance to site locations (Kohler 1988, 19-22). However, the false distinction made between physical-environmental and socio-cultural components of a human landscape, as a result of the difference in scale between these information sets, creates a danger of 'preferring' ecological data within GIS research (van Leusen 1995, 27-41; Kvamme 1997, 1-4; Witcher 1999, 15).

It has long since been accepted that environmentally biased research does not do justice to how humans make decisions regarding their behaviour within a wider landscape and that we need to push harder for better classification possibilities, in geo-referenced terms, of the dimensions of social space. More recent archaeological GIS research has, therefore, emphasised the need for an integration of anthropological, cultural and social values within ecological variables (cf. proxy variables, Whitley, this volume) and for a careful approach to (environmental) assumptions (Behrens 1996, 55-77; Loker 1996, 19-43; Van West and Kohler 1996, 107-31). More importantly, because it is true that people use their surroundings in particular ways not solely because of the spatial properties of the latter but also because of the histories formed within these environments, it can be argued that what is needed most is an inclusion of time in GIS models. This is rare in current research but nevertheless crucial to modelling and understanding archaeological trends (cf. Worboys 1995, 302-3). It is time that creates truly 'lived' spatial behaviour and associated landscapes, including a feeling of socio-cultural experience, as expressed through dwelling action (Ingold 1993, 155-56). The methodology to achieve this goal can involve temporal GIS (TGIS) sequences, but the benefits of diachronic simulations within more traditional spatial GIS packages can also be explored, integrating an idea of time into the effects of human action.

This article in particular focuses on the potential of discussing cultural landscapes based on the simulation of a wide range of economic uses of particularly chosen human surroundings, by integrating 'socially experienced time' within GIS models on land use during the southern Italian Neolithic. By examining the consequences of the implementation of a range of economic strategies through space and time, land-use patterns of daily activity became the backdrop for an imagination of Calabrian Neolithic society on a different level. The article first presents a theoretical discussion of how human land use involves agency and taskscape, and then briefly explores how these concepts featured within a GIS analysis of economic land use in southern Italy. Owing to the length of this article, full details of all theoretical concepts involved and of the technical aspects of the GIS methodology used are excluded (but can be further explored through the references given), yet it is hoped that the ideas presented here will nevertheless spark further discussion.

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