Time and Experience: Taskscapes Within GIS

Doortje Van Hove *


Within the archaeological discipline, the agency debate has re-emphasised the importance of human volition within the archaeological landscape. Human action is influenced by how groups perceive their worlds and, more importantly, structured by the accommodation of affordances, created by the dynamic interplay between humans and their animate and inanimate surroundings. This conceptualises the notion of 'taskscape', in which different interpretations of space, time and accumulated experience generate a variety of potential pictures of past human lives. Human taskscapes are dynamic and built upon the historicity of human action, emphasising that spatial patterns of human practice are not static but contexts reflecting back on past and predicting future behaviour.

For archaeological analyses of the spatial structure of past human activities, the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has mostly been restricted to the recognition of spatial patterns in one-dimensional space and time. Static GIS therefore yields only an ahistorical picture of the past. Dynamic or temporal GIS includes the possibility of looking at dynamic taskscapes over time, enabling them to become both medium for and outcome of human action.

My current PhD research theorises the implications of the implementation of taskscapes for past human practice, through land use modelling within the southern Calabrian (Italy) Neolithic, using temporal GIS. This article will specifically discuss outcomes of dynamic simulation models and interpretations of results to emphasise an alternative approach to southern Italian Neolithic culture.

Keywords: GIS, Neolithic, land use, Calabria, agency, taskscape, socio-economic landscape

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* Laboratorium voor Prehistorie
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Redingenstraat 16
3000 Leuven
Email: doortjevanhove@yahoo.co.uk

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