Connecting landscapes with built environments: visibility analysis, scale and the senses

Wheatley, David (2012) Connecting landscapes with built environments: visibility analysis, scale and the senses In, Paliou, E., Lieberwirth, U. and Polla, S. (eds.) Spatial Analysis and Social Spaces: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Interpretation of Historic and Prehistoric Built Environments. Berlin, DE, De Gruyter (Topoi Berlin Studies of the Ancient World / Berliner Studien der Alten Welt).


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This paper reviews some of the main theoretical critiques of spatial technological approaches to the past, particularly of visibility analysis. It considers the extent to which methodologies for both the built environment and for wider landscapes might either reject or respond to these issues considering in particular (a) the claim that such work is based on a culturally-specific concept of space (the map) that is unlikely to have been shared by other cultures in the past and (b) the accusation that analysis of visual structure perpetuates a western bias towards vision over the other senses and "privileges" the visual over other aspects of perception and bodily engagement. The paper concludes that, although much of this critique can be contested or moderated in various ways, we should accept that vision is not easily separable from other senses. To respond to this challenge, it is suggested that we should seek a framework to understand the link between space and all the senses while at the same time seeking to bring together the traditions of spatial analysis for landscape archaeology and the built environment. One possible way forward maybe to combine the sensory/spatial framework used by proxemics for smaller scales with that defined by Higuchi for landscapes because they share some useful concepts. It is hoped that responding positively in this way to postprocessual critique may ultimately enrich formal methods of understanding ancient urban environments and landscapes.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: to be published August 2012
ISBNs: 9783110266436 (electronic)
Related URLs:
Keywords: viewshed, gis, visibility graph analysis, senses
Organisations: Archaeology
ePrint ID: 209977
Date :
Date Event
2012Accepted/In Press
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 11:51
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 00:28
Further Information:Google Scholar

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