5. Conclusion

This article has demonstrated the need for a more formal analysis of urban space and has introduced a suitable methodology. This methodology, a combination of town plan analysis and space syntax, has been tested on the town of Utrecht and yielded very promising results. Based on the results it appears that, as in modern times, integration and choice patterns correlated strongly with economic space in the medieval period. Space syntax is therefore a very useful, but more importantly, an objective technique to analyse historic urban spaces. Using this technique raises questions about medieval urban form and urban space that otherwise would have been left unanswered. These questions can provide a useful insight into the way in which medieval people experienced their medieval towns.

In those cases in which the medieval street grid is partially known it becomes possible by using this technique to predict the location of the economic spaces and to mark these areas as archaeologically significant. However, following on from this first case study, it is important to continue to test this hypothesis on several other towns to create a wider corpus of data and to discover whether there are any limitations, for instance in the choice of town, and particular urban forms. This case study alone has already raised some questions that will be the subject of further publications. Waterways are important, especially in Dutch towns, and it should be investigated whether and how waterways can be incorporated into the integration patterns. Moreover, the availability of primary evidence, archaeological evidence in particular, will aid the creation of more complete town plans. However, this research has already shown that local analysis can be used in those cases in which the town plan is not complete. Even though global analysis can still be carried out, in most cases the results are not as accurate as those achieved with the local analysis.

The questions that have arisen will aid the applicability of space syntax in archaeology. Even though the application of space syntax to archaeology is relatively new, there are some other archaeologists working with this techique in their current research. For example, at Leiden University's classical archaeology department there are various research projects underway which make use of space syntax (Stoeger and Van der Zande). Moreover, a session at CAA '07 in Berlin was dedicated to the use of spatial analysis in archaeology. It is therefore envisaged that more articles as well as more conference sessions will be produced as a result of these studies in the near future, all of which will aid the discussion and the creation of uniform methodologies and a wide corpus for the analyses of urban form.


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Last updated: Wed Aug 8 2007