Archaeological space -- concepts of space and time in archaeology

Abstract

Methods provided by archaeological sciences - in the first place by archaeological prospection – enable the spatio-temporal analysis of archaeological evidence at the scale of landscapes. These datasets represent the archaeological record of observed phenomena initiated or influenced by human activity in relation to other environmental parameters. Based on these datasets, landscape archaeology is a rapidly evolving sub-discipline of archaeological sciences. For the traceable and reproducible analysis and interpretation of these observed phenomena a clear definition of spatial and temporal relations and the respective characteristics and attributes of spatiality and temporality are crucial. An axiomatic definition of the four-dimensional archaeological space is fundamental and must include the necessary theoretical framework. This space consisting of three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension has to be defined and constructed in order to enable the spatio-temporal analysis of archaeological landscapes. For this purpose the correct synchronization of various observed phenomena is within the focus of research. To synchronize events manifested within the archaeological record and observed at different localities, the speed of interaction between these two sites is a necessary parameter, whereas each event is represented by a time interval. This speed - the propagation velocity - can be derived in applying the laws of diffusion theory. In combination with network analysis the interval-based temporal superposition of observed events can be determined similar to the spatial superposition of stratigraphic units. All this information can be displayed by a stratigraphic sequence respecting spatial and temporal relations at any scale.

Matthias Kucera
Matthias Kucera
Vice Director, Senior Researcher