Claiming the sea: Bronze Age fortified sites of the north-eastern Adriatic Sea (Cres and Lošinj islands, Croatia)

Published in: World Archaeology 49 (3) [pages not attributed yet], 2017 doi: 10.1080/00438243.2017.1341331

Author: Zoran Čučković

Abstract: More than 1,000 Bronze and Iron Age hillforts can be listed for the eastern Adriatic region. These constructions left a mark on the landscape which is still perceptible today. In some cases, such as the island of Lošinj, this density is challenging to explain: almost thirty hillfort (or simply hilltop) sites were recorded on a rugged island with an area of 74km2. Different factors potentially involved in the formation of this settlement pattern are discussed (territorial control, surveillance, control of maritime networks), only to show that without considering some kind of symbolic display a plausible explanatory model cannot be devised. A new reading of the coastal seascape is proposed, inspired in part by costly signalling theory. Hillfort construction is interpreted as a discursive practice geared towards assertive display in fron…

Passé composé : réutilisation des lieux et des objets de l’époque Néolithique à l’âge du Bronze

(communication presentée lors de l’assemblée annuelle de l’Association de recherche et d’étude des sites archéologiques comtois, février 2017)
L’étude du passé, historique ou archéologique, présuppose le plus souvent un découpage du temps préalable, par siècles ou périodes (pré)historiques, c’est-à-dire une grille prédéfinie dans laquelle sont répartis les objets, les événements et les récits. Les spécialités (ou les affinités) des savants se déclinent le plus souvent par période, mais cette optique chronologique – bien que fondamentale – peut obscurcir un point crucial : tout moment historique comprend des morceaux du passé, souvent dans des combinaisons hétéroclites, comme par exemple l’architecture disparate d’une ville historique.

Ce phénomène de temporalité multiple n’est pas seulement issu d’une survie mécanique, par inertie, d’objets, constructions et aménagements à travers les époques, mais il provient également du rapport qu’entretient toute société avec son pass…

Visibility analysis, release 0.5.4: modelling the horizon

Visibility analysis plugin for QGIS is prospering quite well. As of writing, it counts some 20 000 downloads and a bunch of « votes », which means that at least several thousand people are using it. (Although, it does feel uncomfortable knowing that any potential error would risk a blame-storm ….)

The new release brings a more polished algorithm and two options for horizon analysis. Horizon detection was, and still remains, rather problematic. On the conceptual level, the skyline has to be understood in terms of perception and not as a fixed terrain parameter. Consider the image below: there are many skylines in the mountainous landscape, progressively dissolving into the atmosphere. The most distant skyline might not even be visible at all, even if it would be rendered as “true horizon” by GIS. Sometimes we may be able to see a chain of mountains at distances above 100 or 200 km, but such views demand exceptional weather conditions. A book was recently published by Will…

Pebbles, faces and landscapes: the archaeology of simulacra

Several weeks ago I stumbled upon an amusing article on a museum displaying pebbles and rocks resembling human faces, situated in Chichibu, Japan. The stones are called jinmenseki (珍石) and one should be able to recognise human faces in their naturally occurring dents and holes. The founder of the museum, Shozo Hayama, spent some 50 years collecting these specimens, the only criterion being that human hand did not interfere with the work of nature. There are some 1700 rocks on display, carefully arranged in museum vitrines and sometimes labelled with suggestive interpretations: Elvis Presley, Gorbachev or Donkey Kong. More on the museum can be found in articles listed below.

The word on Chichubu pebble museum spread over the internet through oddities columns, together with museums of torture, toilets, bad art, broken relationships etc. I find that the pebble museum (or Chinsekikan in Japanese, which means “the hall of curious rocks”) open some curious questions for landsc…

To see or to be seen concepts, analysis and modelling of viewsheds in archaeology

Vendredi 18 novembre 2016

De 10h à 13h et de 14h à 17h -107M salle de conférence de l’UMR Chrono-environnement, UFR ST, la Bouloie, 16 route de Gray, 25030 Besançon

Séminaire Thématique organisé par Laure NUNINGER, CR CNRS et Zoran CUCKOVIC, Doctorant à l’Université de Bourgogne Franche-Comté au laboratoire de Chrono-Environnement, en collaboration avec la plateforme GeoBFC (MSHE C.N. Ledoux) et le réseau ISA (Information Spatiale et Archéologie)
______________________________________________________Voir et être vu dans un territoire : concepts, analyses et modélisation de la visibilité en archéologieTo see or to be seen over space: Concepts, analysis and modelling of viewsheds in archaeology______________________________________________________Programme : la matinée sera consacrée aux concepts, méthodes et techniques de l’analyse de visibilité appliquée en archéologie tandis que l’après-midi sera consacré à la présentation de cas d’étude protohistorique, médiéval et moderne à …

QGIS visibility analysis algorithm

It took me long time to develop an algorithm for the visibility analysis which would be comparable in terms of speed and quality to those available in other packages. And then some more time to tweak it for the type of analysis the QGIS visibility plugin is intended: higher volume calculation of multiple viewsheds over standard (coarse) elevation models. But here it is - an implementation which is faster than previous ones by a factor of 10 (at least).
1. Performance test There is a set of data files in plugin’s repository for testing purposes: a shapefile with several hundred observer points (462 to be precise) and an elevation model extracted from SRTM DEM, with 90 metres resolution (see resources below). All analyses were made using following parameters: a radius of 5000 metres for each point and eye level of 1.6 metres above ground. For ArcGis the standard viewshed module with multiple points was used (ref. below), and for QGIS plugin the cumulative visibility option…

QGIS viewshed plugin: a tutorial

I’ve had a remark recently that some kind of tutorial would be welcome for the visibility plugin. So here it goes…

The data which will be used can be downloaded from the plugin’s GitHub repo (link below). It comprises a DEM extracted from publicly available SRTM data (90 m resolution) and two sets of points (let’s call them A and B) which mostly correspond to archaeological sites I’m working on. The area in question is Istria (Croatia and Slovenia) and the projection is MGI Balkans 5 (EPSG : 31275).

A most basic use for the visibility analysis would be exploratory: would someone be able to see point B from point A? Such a query can be made by any viewshed algorithm available - but what about many observers from a number of points? In fact, when studying ancient landscapes we are often interested not only of what people could see, but also whether visibility influenced their preference for particular locations. For instance, is visibility a factor in the choice of settlement…