School of History, Classics & Archaeology  
The University of Edinburgh School of History & Classics

School of History, Classics and Archaeology
Unlocking Historic Landscapes in the Eastern Mediterranean

Photo of terraced fields

Terraced fields with oak and olive trees near Danakos, Naxos, August 2007


This website introduces a research programme and methodology whose aim is to adapt and test a fairly new kind of landscape archaeology developed in Britain in two eastern Mediterranean study areas. Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) is a method for mapping, presenting and understanding the landscape with reference to its historical development (Fairclough et al. 1999). Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) we have integrated data from historical, archaeological and other sources to create HLC-based models of our case-studies on Naxos (Greece) and around Silivri (Turkey).


The website includes a brief introduction to HLC, and describes how we have mapped the historic landscape character of each of our study areas.


We have investigated:

  • how to adapt and use the cost-effective HLC method in the eastern Mediterranean
  • whether we can map historic landscape character in our two case-study areas
  • how to identify the principal periods of change in each historic landscape

Understanding the development of the cultural landscape is a crucial issue for academics and policy makers alike . Its importance goes far beyond this, however. Cultural landscapes form the backdrop to all our lives and provide a key element in our sense of place and identity. It is essential that we understand them so that we can manage them effectively and develop them sustainably. By revealing the value in regional landscapes and the real nature of the similarities and differences between regions, this type of research can have important implications for ordinary people, planners and policy-makers from the local to the international level.


The importance and relative merits of different landscapes have been contested throughout history, and we continue to argue over them today. Particular interest groups clash over the best way to use, conserve or change landscapes depending on their aims. Archaeologists’ responses to these new problems need to be quick and flexible. To meet these new challenges, we need to develop new ways - like HLC - to present and analyse the whole historic landscape. The way we understand and value landscapes directly affects how we change them (this is just as true today as it was for people in the past). Landscape archaeology should have something to contribute not only to understanding how people lived in past landscapes, but also to managing landscapes today and planning them for the future (Turner 2007, 154-65; Turner and Fairclough 2007).


See bibliography for publications associated with this project




Prof. Jim Crow, University of Edinburgh
Dr Sam Turner, Newcastle University


with contributions by David Alderson (Newcastle University) and Dr Athanasios Vionis (University of Leuven)

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School of History, Classics and Archaeology
University of Edinburgh
Doorway 4
Teviot Place
Edinburgh, EH8 9AG

Tel: +44 (0) 131 650 6693
Fax: +44 (0) 131 651 3070
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