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5.0 Conclusions

This article is an attempt to move beyond negative critique of visualist approaches to landscape and to construct an approach to alternative sensual experiences – in this case sound. The central theme of the article is a theoretically aware engagement with technology, description of a process of building archaeological tools to re-create past soundscapes.

Although sound are transitory and probably the most temporary and fragile artefacts, I argue that past sounds can be studied in a form of past soundscapes, which are patterns of human activities which shaped and are shaped by particular kind of sounds, soundmarks.

Aural perception is, in many ways, different from vision and therefore requires a different theoretical framework. A core concept of the article is the soundscape, which was originally invented by R. Murray Schafer but is – in this article – recontextualised within a wider theory of direct perception by J. Gibson.

Tools presented in the paper, which are still in their infancy, can enable us to start 'listening to' past landscapes and explore the role of sound in the reconstruction of past landscapes. However, much caution is required in interpreting the results such tools present. There is much space for improvement, but however sophisticated they may become in the future, they should be used as heuristic tools rather than exact prediction models. Sound propagation is an extremely complex process as it depends on a range of ill-defined variables and therefore it can never be precisely re-created. This fact and individuality of perception is incorporated in the model by representing soundscape by fuzzy sets. Source code of the model is provided with the paper, so that the wider archaeological community can benefit from and contribute to the development of the model.

However, the digital model of a soundscape should not become 'yet another' module in the archaeologist's GIS toolkit, but a step forward towards a real multisensuous approach to past landscapes. 'Looking, listening and touching are not separate activities, they are just different facets of the same activity: that of engagement with an environment' (Ingold 2000, 261).

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