Excavating the Digital Landscape : GIS analyses of social relations in central Sweden in the 1st millennium AD
Abstract: This thesis presents a number of GIS based landscape analyses that together aim to explore aspects of the social development in Iron Age Västmanland, central Sweden. From a perspective where nature and culture are seen as integrated in the landscape, differences in the relations to the physical landscape are interpreted as reflecting social organisation. Thus, hydrological modelling of watersheds is used for understanding the development of territories and regions that are recognisable in the outlay of the medieval hundare districts. Statistical modelling of burial grounds together with variables describing their situation in the landscape is used to calculate an estimated chronology for sites that have not yet been excavated. This information is used to analyse differences in how the setting in the landscape can tell of different trends in claims to land and property rights. An extensive renegotiation of property rights is suggested to have taken place after climatic catastrophe in AD 536 and the years after. This is interpreted as having caused a substantial population decline in parts of Scandinavia. The social development after this includes an increasingly stratified social hierarchy in the Late Iron Age, which is reflected in the construction of grave monuments. New GIS methods for analysing how to interpret the perception of different locations of the landscape, in terms of local topography and soil are discussed in relation to this. How to make the best use of large datasets of archaeological information in combination with other sources of geographical information is a central theme. Geographically Weighted Regression is used to predicting the representativity of the registry of graves for the whole landscape. It is suggested that the increasing availability of archaeological information in digital format, together with new analytical techniques has the potential to introduce fruitful new research perspectives. This will make it increasingly rewarding to work with the large amount of data produced from rescue archaeology, and it is important that this information is managed in a structured manner.
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