Confronting Complexity: Interpretation of a Dry Stone Walled Landscape on the Island of Cres, Croatia

Doneus, M., Doneus, N., Cowley, D., (2022). Confronting Complexity: Interpretation of a Dry Stone Walled Landscape on the Island of Cres, Croatia. Land 2022, 11, 1672, s

Dry stone walls are a worldwide phenomenon that may shape entire regions. As a specific form of vernacular agro-pastoral practice, they are expressions of the culture and history of a region. Dry stone walls have recently received increased attention in Croatia, primarily due to research in landscape architecture and (historical) geography, though archaeological research on such remains is rare in part due to the challenges of undertaking such work in areas covered by dense evergreen maquis vegetation. In this paper, this type of landscape has been studied in detail for the first time using Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) based digital feature models as a basis to articulate dynamic dry stone wall landscapes in a diachronic archaeological interpretation. Using a case study from the Mediterranean region of Punta Križa, Croatia, we show that what superficially appears to be a simple system of dry stone walls contains a wealth of information on a complex sequence of human activity. The systematic, detailed, and diachronic interpretation applies a transparent workflow that provides a tool for all those undertaking interpretative mappings of archaeological prospection datasets and has proved highly effective when working with ALS-derived visualizations. The capacity to develop spatio-temporal interpretation within the framework of GIS and a Harris Matrix is especially powerful and has the potential to change our image of any region. While the case study presented here deals with a small area in Croatia, the methods described have a broad application in any areas of complex landscape remains.


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