Showing posts from May, 2016

Topographic networks: a new approach to topographic position analysis and modelling of topographic ontologies

(abstract of a conference paper presented at TheoQant conference held in Besançon, 20 - 22 may 2015 [abstract book here])

The Earth’s surface or terrain is most commonly represented in Geographic Information Systems as a gridded matrix, the raster. Somewhat less often, so called triangulated irregular networks (TIN) are used as well. These two data structures are ideal for efficient local calculations (e.g. slope, aspect etc.) but they are less appropriate for the simplification of the overall structure of the terrain and the extraction of units which are closer to human understanding (e.g. a hill, a crest, recessed valley etc.). In the proposed communication a representation of terrain in hierarchical trees, i.e. as a special case of directed graph, will be discussed. This data structure lends itself naturally to graph-analytical approach which is particularly effective for analysis of structural relationships in complex surfaces and, eventually, the development of terrai…

Natural places and archaeology

First time I heard of something like “natural places” was some ten years ago at a conference in Slovenia. Several, mostly young researchers were proud to demonstrate an existence of non-man-made features on their sites, features that apparently gained a symbolic value before or during human habitation. For instance, trees that were incorporated in Neolithic ritual arrangements (henge monuments, if I recall correctly) or rock outcrops that seemed to have attracted special attention in the past. At first sight, such a concept does not seem particularly groundbreaking: we have always known that natural features inspired a wide range of symbolically charged responses in ancient societies, such as mountaintop sanctuaries (e.g. on Crete), depositions of artefacts in springs and rivers (e.g. the source of the Seine), or sacred forests that are well known from literary sources. I got intrigued, nevertheless, by an opportunity to introduce the concept of nature in archaeology, a concept which …