Seaward Landward : Investigations on the archaeological source value of the landing site category in the Baltic Sea region

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: There is a tendency in archaeology dealing with watercraft landing sites in a wider context to assume a direct relationship between sites in coastal and shore-bound areas and the practise of landing, without any deeper practical or theoretical exploration of the reality of any such relationship. This problem has its origins in the poor archaeological and conceptual definitions of watercraft landing sites obstructing any real understanding of the role of these sites in the maritime cultural landscape. Landing sites are taken for granted and they are undervalued as an archaeological source of explanation; notwithstanding, the concept of the landing site is readily used in archaeology in order to underpin archaeological interpretations on the maritime activities of past societies.In order to break away from the simplified understandings of past water-bound strategies based on the undefined concept of the landing site, this dissertation suggests a definition of watercraft landing sites in a wider social sense as water-bound contact zones; places of social interaction that can be archaeologically identified and investigated. This perspective integrates the understanding of the intentional character of human activity related to watercraft landing with the remaining archaeological traces. Archaeological definitions of landing sites that can be tested against the archaeological data are provided, and thereby, the dissertation contributes with the possibility to archaeologically evaluate and approach the social function of watercraft landing sites. This dissertation demonstrates that there can be an archaeology of landing sites.

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