Landscapes (including the natural terrain as well as the products of human activity) have been of interest from the beginnings of our discipline and the days of the antiquarians. They continue to be an important object of archaeological study that offer potential for distinct archaeological approaches. Tim Ingold’s 1993 seminal article ‘The Temporality of the Landscape’ has been inspiration for many scholars who have emphasized the active part landscape and human agents as the producers of the archaeological distributions have in theory building. This includes the work of the organisers of this session, with their concept of ceramiscene, ‘a landscape that is defined by the manufacture, use and discard of artefacts made from fired clay’.

This is not the only recent attempt to use archaeological material innovatively by combining geographical and archaeological concepts and methods and developing frameworks that have their origins in archaeological practice. Nor is Ingold’s contribution the only interdisciplinary or intradisciplinary source of inspiration.

This session will aim at discussing the ways we archaeologists interpret landscapes and use archaeological distributions within different theoretical frameworks. The session will focus on all –scapes and –scenes defined by archaeologists, and different theories and methods we use to make sense of material culture and landscapes. The papers can include evaluations of landscape, heritage and material studies and incorporate examples from across the Nordic countries and further afield.

Wednesday 23 April, 09.00-17.00, Room Spelbomskan
Contact: Ulla Rajala:

Paper abstracts

09.00-09.05 Organizers: Introductory words

09.05-09.30 Tiina Äikäs, Oulu: Soundscapes and long-term ritual practices at Sámi sieidi sites

Sieidis are offering sites that were part of Sámi world view in which livelihood and ritual practices were intertwined in the landscape. Archaeological material from sieidi sites that have been investigated in Finland between 2006−2010 has shown that these places have been used for a long time period. Earliest offering material dates back to 11th century AD but there are also marks of contemporary use. During this time period there have been different traditions related to these sites. Also the soundscapes associated to the activities at sieidis have changed. Sounds have nevertheless always been an important part of ritual practices at sieidis. This paper shows have different methods including soundwalks, analyses of historical records and acoustic measurements combined with GIS analyses can help us to study soundscapes and their meaning for the changing ritual practices.

09.30-10.00 Joakim Thomasson, Lund: Landscape, urbanism and towns

During roughly four hundred years, from the 10th century, a growing number of places in Scandinavia are recognised as towns. The 13th century particularly stands out, when a great number of coastal places are permanently and densely settled. The common denominator is that during the Middle Ages they are labelled as towns in written records.

Research has focused on the individual places provided with charters, rather than the landscape settings. The narratives created are that kings or other lords founded towns as a part of state formation, establishing feudal power structures.

It is history written by and about the issuers of written records, which creates a top-down narrative and prevents a wider understanding of urbanism and towns. This paper analyses how non-agrarian resources are structured, displayed and combined in landscapes, enabling the identification of other actors and structures and thereby also providing another meaning to towns and charters.

10.00-10.30 Arja Karivieri, Stockholm: Cityscape as landscape   – delineating religious activities through topographical boundaries in Late Antique Athens

This paper will discuss the changes of topographical boundaries in a cityscape and taskscapes in movement. In Late Antique Athens, activity borders were redefined when a new city wall, the Post-Herulian Wall, was built soon after the Herulian destruction in AD 267, and the city centre was moved from the Agora to the area north of the Acropolis. Previous activity spots were abandoned and new scenes for religious rituals and activities were created. But how did the new topographical boundaries reflect the changes in activity zones?

This period provides important aspects to be considered: the changes in religious interests of Athenian people, the popularity of Neoplatonism and theurgy, and the new official role of Christianity. These changes are reflected in the archaeological material, in architecture and small finds. Thus, the distribution of standing structures, religious artefacts and inscriptions provides the possibility to define diachronic changes of religious zones.

10.30-11.00 Coffee break

11.00-11.30 Ulla Rajala, Stockholm, and Philip Mills, Leicester: Interpreting a ceramiscene: characterising an Imperial landscape

We define a ceramiscene as ‘a landscape that is defined by the manufacture, use and discard of artefacts made from fired clay’. In this paper we will explore how Lynch’s Elements, presented first in the 1960s as basic units for characterising an urban landscape in human geography and town planning, can be transposed onto an archaeological rural landscape and used in a more general characterisation of human landscapes. We will discuss the different ceramic markers for Early Imperial and Imperial period in order to define Nodes and Districts by applying a combination of GIS applications and statistical methods. We will also look for natural and human boundaries in a case study landscape around Nepi in central Italy. Finally we will explore how the villas and other settlements created a socially structured economic landscape where different pottery types act as proxies for human action allowing spatial legibility.

11.30-12.00 Pirjo Hamari, Helsinki: The roofscapes of Roman Petra

Roof tiles were introduced in Petra sometime in the 1st century AD, during the last period of the Nabataean kingdom, before the annexation of the kingdom by the Roman Empire in AD 106.  At the same time, large scale monumentalization was taking place within its civic centre.  Roof tiles as roofing material are an element in this new monumental landscape. The tiles from the excavated house of Ez-Zantur IV present a selection of the material that has been in use in this landscape. The picture this material presents is in line with the Hellenistic-Roman tradition, but at the same time it contains a strong and varied element of local variation in style and output. The tile roofs emphasize the vision of Petra city as an international Hellenistic-Roman metropolis. They also underline the built environment as meaningful in the construction of identities and its impact on cultural conceptions.

12.00-12.30 Anne Drageset, Bergen: Meaningful landscapes during the Iron Age and present: A case study from Odda, Hardanger, Norway

In 1906, Odda smelting plant began operating in Hardanger. When the director’s villa, later known as Brucevillaen, was constructed a year later, an early Iron Age burial mound was removed to clear space for the new residence.

Topography and environmental conditions seems to have played a decisive role of where religious practices, such as burials, were expressed in the landscape during the Iron Age. The location of burial mounds should be seen in conjunction with what the mounds are addressing, and other ways they communicate with their surroundings. Meanwhile, during the 20th century class divisions were strongly present in Odda, something which manifested itself in the settlement pattern of the simple workers and the officials.

Which landscape elements were considered to be meaningful when constructing the early Iron Age burial mound? Could some of the same landscape characteristics be said to have been exploited also in more recent times?

12.30-13.30 Lunch

13.30-14.00 Georgie Peters, Cambridge: The regional diversity of Iron Age hillforts in Britain realised through the direct relationship between man and land

The assumption is often made that British Iron Age hillforts occupy one classification of site-type, and can all be included under the same general banner. Although the case for regional diversity has been heard in recent years, the extent to which this is based on both people and nature has not been fully realised. Using case studies from East Anglia I will tell the narrative of the hillfort landscape in a region where hills do not exist, which tells a very different story to the classic interpretation of hillforts based on examples from the south-west of Britain. Using concepts from philosophical and archaeological theory, I will illuminate how regionality is the manifestation of both humans and nature combined, which affect each other in a symbiotic relationship, repeated throughout time and space.

14.00-14.30 Jan Magne Gjerde, Oslo: Temporality of landscapes in Stone Age rock art

Rock art is generally studied during summer, although much of the Stone Age rock art is and was “available” throughout the year. The coastal rock art has been snow free during the winter months being placed in the tidal temporality zone. The vertical rock cliffs, mainly with rock paintings, are more visible during wintertime, and also more accessible. The seasonality in the rock art and the snowscapes of rock art has implications for the interpretation of rock art and its landscapes. Rock art and rock art sites can be seen as part of a larger Stone Age geographical knowledge. Based on fieldwork in Fennoscandia, studying the rock art, rock art sites and their location, it is argued that temporalities has implications for the interpretation of rock art, rock art sites, landscapes and geographical knowledge in the Stone Age of northernmost Europe.

14.30-15.00 Antti Lahelma, Helsinki: A landscape in upheaval: change and continuity in the rock art of Lake Saimaa (SE Finland) during the Middle Neolithic

The majority of rock paintings in Finland are located across the Lake Saimaa basin - the fourth largest lake in Europe. Almost without exception, the paintings were made onto lakeshore cliffs, and can thus be dated by the shore displacement method between ca.  5200 and 1500 BC. Throughout its 3700-year long history the rock art tradition seems to have changed relatively little – even if the most rapid event of the formation of the River Vuoksi fundamentally altered the landscape around 4000 calBC. This paper uses shore displacement dating in exploring whether this abrupt change and a sudden drop in the water levels had an effect on the rock art tradition. Were sites abandoned or revisited after water-levels dropped and did new sites emerge? Is the Vuoksi-event somehow recorded in the rock art repertoire? And how did people ritually respond to the landscape changes?

15.00-15.30 Coffee break

15.30-16.00 Astrid J. Nyland, Oslo: The significance of taskscapes of lithic procurement in the Stone Age of southern Norway

There are regional variations in the strategies of lithic procurement in the Stone Age of Southern Norway. Variations and distribution may to some degree be explained by natural preconditions. However, describing the rocks’ physical qualities is not always enough. It does not explain why some quarries or rock types seem to have been more important, and more enduring, than others. The world of ethnography have shown that procuring rock from a specific place in the landscape can be a way of tapping into the land itself, into a world of myths or origin. To identify such use of the Stone Age landscape, I have examined practices of raw material procurement and taskscape organization. The concept of taskscapes assigns significance to the spatial and temporal dimension of human practices and lived-in landscapes as well. I demonstrate how variation in taskscapes may demonstrate regionality and social strategies in a changing world.

16.00-16.30 Aikaterini Glykou, Stockholm:Seal expoitation in Baltic Sea during the mid- and late Holocene

Harp seal, grey seal and ringed seal were apparent during different stages of the Holocene in the Baltic Sea region and intensively exploited by prehistoric humans as is evident by the presence of seal bones at numerous prehistoric occupation coastal sites. Harp seal is now extinct in the Baltic Sea region and therefore the occurrence of this cold adapted species during a warm climate phase in this region has led to controversy in the interpretation on why it was present and why it disappeared. The alternative explanations to a change in seal population dynamics are related to palaeoenvironmental changes affecting their ecology as well as interaction between man and environment. To solve this middle and late Holocene issue in the Baltic Sea we undertake a systematic interdisciplinary study on the exploitation patterns of seals, in particular harp seals by applying up-to-date archaeological, geochemical, and archaeozoological methods.

16.30-17.00 Final discussion