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3.5 Interpretative framework

The particular way through which this article explored the connections between the human use of particular areas (simulated through diachronic economic GIS models) and the social agency present within (asserted from the resulting maps), involves the concept of taskscape. Within this research, taskscapes are seen as representations of the dramatic enterprise that is human life itself, including play (behaviour), theatre (environment) and stage (utilisation of space). Because taskscapes are impossible to simulate as such, as there are too many influencing factors for which the spatial geo-referenced data are absent (necessary to input in a GIS software), what these diachronic simulations attempted to do instead is to effectively define the stage set in which the social drama can be discussed (3.6 and 3.7). The results of the economic land-use simulations define a backdrop (or stage), which is not particularly human, social or dynamic in itself but a necessary part when imagining human social behaviour within a landscape. I emphasise that the simulation results, the diachronic land use maps, do not represent the social interpretation per se but demonstrate a basis from which to play out the consequences of a variety of theories experimentally, in this case economic strategies and potentials, accumulations of human land use and exhaustion of plots over a specific time frame. By attempting to understand this part of taskscapes more fully (the stage), and with this backdrop in place, social interpretations can be 'acted out' within potentially more accurate conditions, without the predefined biases inherent to the specific research frames involved (cf. southern Italian Neolithic research: e.g. Barker 1975; 1981a; 1981b; 1985a; Cremaschi 1989, 339-55).

This concept of 'stage set and play' could potentially provide a novel picture of Neolithic society, and suggests a new template from which to start imagining taskscapes and dynamic landscapes of experience. It is how the land-use models in this article are envisioned, as a basis from which to start exploring social interpretations. This establishes a careful expression of the union between the economic/functional GIS and social practice theory. It shows how a functional, mechanistic, economic, intellectual exercise can be connected with agency-based thinking within a hypothetical reconstruction of Neolithic Calabria (2.1, 3.6 and 3.7).

All simulation exercises suggest a strong linkage between agency, action and effect and allowed for more humanised GIS models to be constructed. These propose that economic choices at particular locations also have implications for invested time and related experiences. They further support the discussion of a landscape of meaning over a particular time period and the linking of different scales of action. Even though it would be impossible to prove what exactly people did in certain places throughout the chosen landscape, it might be possible to discuss an abstract but long-term landscape as the result of human choice at a particular point in time (2.1, 3.6 and 3.7).

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