Chapter Three
Theoretical and Methodological background

Landscape, material culture and society are the three major components of this research, as well as the microregional aspects of such a study. Landscape, material culture and society are three of the possible objects of studying the past and each suite of studies has multi-dimensional research potential, a solid theoretical background and a powerful interpretative framework of its own. Most often they are applied separately or in pairs and only in recent years have they become unified as a complex approach to archaeological data (Chapman 2000). The current chapter does not aim to summarize the variety of applications of three approaches but to emphasise those aspects of landscape, material culture and society that are relevant for the current study.

Material culture study is the only one among the three that has been a research focus in Bulgarian archaeology, mainly in the identification, recording and naming of material culture, rather than its explanation and interpretation.

3.1 Landscape archaeology

3.1.1 What is landscape archaeology?

In the New Oxford Thesaurus Dictionary (2000), there are 14 meanings or usages of the word landscape – countryside, topography, country, terrain, environment, outlook, view, prospect, aspect, vista, panorama, perspective and sweep. It is not a surprise, then, that recent landscape studies in archaeology usually start with what landscape is (e.g. Crumley and Marquardt 1990) or is not (e.g. Ingold 1993). A general review of the landscape literature reveals a certain degree of tolerance for the possible approaches of studying the landscape. An attempt to systematize the rapid diversification of landscapes in the recent years has been made by unifying them as constructed, conceptualised and ideational landscapes, within which four themes had been recognized – landscape as memory, landscape as identity, landscape as social order and landscape as transformation (Ashmore and Knapp 1999). In brief, constructed landscapes imply some physical form of human participation in their interaction with the surrounding landscape; in conceptualised landscapes, certain natural features are given meaning through social practices; and ideational landscapes cover the broad range of landscapes as sacred, symbolic, embodying power, etc, that constitute, approve and perpetuate the inherited or/and achieved meaning of encoded and constraining landscape. There are many cross-references and links to be found between these systematized landscapes and the four themes. Such cross-references are possible insofar as the major concept in LA is accepted as - the landscape is an active element of the human past (and present), with multiple meanings for its inhabitants.

Although too general, this statement summarizes the various approaches in LA seeking for long-term human/landscape interrelations. In the following pages, it is my intention to extract the issues within the extended LA interpretive framework that have some relevance for the current study.

First of all, we need to discuss the so far unsettled interrelation between landscape and environment. An arbitrary referent in distinguishing between the two is the human seen as exploiter, actor, participant, perceiver, dweller, constructor, controller, etc. There are three options that modern scholars have recognized in their studies of landscape and environment with regard to humans – landscape is environment, landscape is not environment and the landscape/environment link is objectified by humans.

The idea of landscape understanding as environment dates back to the period of the mid-1950s - late 1970s, when the bulk of archaeological studies treated the environment in terms of certain ecological conditions. These were the early settlement patterns studies that later evolved into what is now called the eco-systems approach in archaeology (Clark 1953). These were also the palaeoeconomy studies initiated by G. Clark (1939, 1953) but usually connected with E. Higgs and his followers (Higgs 1972). Both approaches have been heavily criticized for their deterministic nature, identifying the environment as the major force shaping cultural development and social change.

The second trend, in which the landscape in not the environment (a set of ecological variables), has been developed in England and America after the pioneering works of Hoskins and Jackson (Hoskins 1955, Jackson 1970). It is considered as the beginning of the real landscape archaeology in which the idea of the landscape as a cumulative palimpsest is central (Chapman 1997). At present, this trend follows the notion that landscape can be (and is) designed, manipulated and controlled and it is studied as such in archaeologies of landscape as power, sacred (ritual) landscape and social landscape (Thomas J. 1991). A crucial breakthrough in recent landscape studies in archaeology is the increasing consideration of vernacular or non-monumental landscapes (Chapman 1997, Van Dommelen 1999) that questions the so far prevailing sacred orientation in LA.

The development of the concept of landscape archaeology was enriched by the progress of studies in human geography. In the context of Tuan’s and Cosgrove’s rethinking of landscape (Johnston 1998), the landscape/environment link in archaeology was to be reconsidered in the terms of human comprehension. Tuan’s claim that the environment is a given piece of reality that is simply there, while landscape is a product of humans’ cognition (Tuan 1979:90,100) introduced humans that transform environment into landscape. In LA, this idea evolved in two approaches in the landscape study – the explicit, where cognition is a key element, and the inherent, that claims no difference in real and perceived landscape (recently defined as such by Johnston 1998). The common attribute of both approaches is perception. In the explicit variant, it assumes subsequent preferences and decision making while, in the inherent variant, the lack of perception assumes a more intimate link between the humans and their surroundings.

My own starting point (see next section for discussion of some particularities of the Bulgarian language) is to envisage landscape and environment as an entity, in which a landscape with its encoded meanings and symbols does not lose its environmental characteristics. This statement challenges the English language division between landscape and environment as being universal and questions the role and nature of perception in human minds that do not share such a kind of division. In the original formulation of the explicit and inherent approaches, experience is opposed to cognition (Johnston 1998:64), while, to me, experience leads to cognition and hence to some kind of action within the landscape (as already pointed by Renfrew 1994).

These possible actions are the second issue within landscape studies on which I shall focus – the practices that have taken place within the landscape that subsequently led to the naming of landscapes as sacred, social or embodying power.

All of the landscape studies share one general understanding - it was the humans that gave meaning to their surroundings either through constructing or conceptualising the landscape. This process of giving sense was highly contextual and it was to (re) produce, (re) negotiate or maintain the social and/or cosmological order. The landscape within which people are born, live and are buried is the arena through which its inhabitants constitute, mediate and transform their worldview(s). Social practices are practices through which (re) shaping of the world could be achieved. These practices can be named as feasting, deposition, pilgrimage, enchainment, etc, and can be seen in examples such as Barrett’s redefinition of the horizon through burial mound construction (1999), Bender’s empowering of the stones (1992) or Tilley’s walking within the landscape (1994). Hence, the major task of LA is to identify these practices insofar as they are inscribed onto the landscape. The modern perception of past landscapes can only be valid if archaeologists remain fully aware of their own cultural or historical configuration or mediation (Ashmore and Knapp 1999:20) and if archaeologists seek toreanimate" a past world, and in the process to identify the ways in which it differed from our own" (Thomas 2001:181).

Another word that enjoys much attention and various definitions in LA theory is place. Akin to the environment/landscape interrelation, the space/place relation is made by humans. The majority of LA archaeologists develop their concept and interpretation of place in regards to Tuan’s (1977, 1978) insight that spaces are transformed into places through the acquisition of definition and meaning (Chapman 1988, Tilley 1994). Recently, another notion of place was suggested by Thomas (2001) as " a place is always disclosed, or comes into focus, as a place, following Heidegger’s claim thata place is always a place of something(Heidegger 1962: 136 cited by Thomas 2001). Whatever the concepts for initial constitution of place, all of them seemed to agree that place has a meaning. In archaeology this meaning has been mainly discussed in its relation to sites and monuments (Chapman 1988, 1989, 1991, 1994, Tilley 1994, Barrett 1994, 1999). The approaches of studying thelandscape meaning" of the sites vary significantly. For some, the human/landscape relation cannot be inferred from the sealed moment of the construction of certain community site/monument and advocates looking at the historical process which through the framework of tradition interweaves community and landscape and thereby creates the cultural landscape (Evans 1985). For others, settlement study reconciles landscape and settlement archaeologies, as long as a) a settlement cannot be interpreted regardless its landscape and, b) a settlement as being a (focal) place of various territorial and social practices may contribute to studies of other places within the landscape (Bruck and Goodman 1999). C. Tilley favours the phenomenological approach (1994), in which personal experience is central to the understanding of landscape. By contrast, Frazer seeks for the strategies by which narratives of place and biographies of the landscape itself are implicated in the making of the self and the perception of being in place(Frazer 1998:206).

A more complex interpretation has been attempted by Chapman, who incorporated a number of approaches from human geography, social theory, anthropology, culture studies and landscape history in a series of studies of prehistoric settlements and cemeteries in the Balkans. Chapman has argued that, through being a landmark and/or a time-mark, a place accumulates meanings and hence achieves and increases its place-value. The specific place value governs the link between people and places that leads to patterns of (re) use, abandonment or avoidance of certain places. These patterns are an integral part of a wider strategy of being and legitimising self in the world in regards to the past. In the case of a site or a monument, the link people/places is reinforced by the link people/objects where the ancestral things and places form a powerful combination, which presences the past. Hence, any action in community’s social reproduction within an area that once was the ancestral area refers to or incorporates the past sites and monuments and constitutes them as arenas of social power. The time-space sequence of arenas of social power as evidence for successful social reproduction or social change is related to the form of the (past) site and monument, as well as the overall design of the landscape. The spatial order within a site and within a landscape reveals the changing or recurrent patterns of social reproduction (Chapman 1989). In the case study of the social construction of prehistoric landscapes in Eastern Hungary, Chapman (1997) explores the dialectical connection between vernacular and political landscapes, as defined by Jackson 1984. The former is the landscape of the inhabitants (re) ordered and (re) negotiated through time, the latter is the landscape of social power created by humans for humans. The vernacular landscape can be seen as landscape in flux, while the political landscape has a highly formalized spatial order and meaning. According to my view, Chapman’s approach is more flexible then Barrett’s inhabitation concept in which the inhabited place is known with reference to past experience and by action at that place which are played off against a widerreality" of social continuity and order(Barrett 1999:259). This is not to deny theinhabiting" or dwelling perspective in LA that has been broadly discussed in the recent landscape studies (Ingold, Johnson, Barrett, Thomas). Rather, it is to advocate a cross-referenced approach in which tensions between different landscapes can be traced and explained in terms of the ever-going social transformation of the landscape.

Finally, one more contribution to social construction of the landscape, which is going to be considered here is recently developed idea for enclosing space (Ingold 1993). According to Ingold, there are three major forms of social spaces. The first one corresponds to places in the landscape that are one-dimensional, as dots on a map. The second one is two-dimensional and linear, taking the form of a path between places. The last form of social spacing is three-dimensional because it includes tenure over the space. These are usually fixed territories mainly related to sedentary type of societies. The first two forms of social spaces are more common for mobile societies and currently very few examples of such a concept of space are left in the landscape. For such an understanding of space, returning to places and the repetition of the annual cycle are crucial. In the third form of spatial organization, the concept of boundaries and enclosing space is the most significant development.

3.1.2 Is there landscape archaeology in Bulgaria?

Landscape is not a word that has a proper equivalent in the Bulgarian language. In Bulgarian usage, there are two terms: either the German Landschaft, which refers to the physical expression of a geographic unit, or the French paysage, referring to the visual insight of a certain area. Hence, it is very difficult to suggest the use of the LA concept in Bulgarian archaeological theory and practice. Several additional problems have prevented the development of LA in Bulgarian archaeology, three of which I am going to discuss briefly here. The first one is the common interpretative framework in Bulgaria, which follows one and the same pattern of precise description of the sites, features, artefacts, etc. and their location with respect to the surrounding geographical or archaeological features, followed by interpretation in terms of chronology, function, parallels and cultural affiliations. The lack of a tradition of employing or developing theoretical models which aid understanding of archaeological evidence leads to the presence of scattered hypotheses that stand on their own and do not form a coherent framework for interpretation. In terms of LA, this means that if, for example, a visual connection between certain monuments was observed, the interpretation stops there with registering the fact of visibility. The second problem is, without a word for a landscape, it is very difficult to divide landscape from environment and very often (if not always) what a Western landscape archaeologist would accept as a structuring element in a social landscape (e.g. an outcrop) is treated by Bulgarian archaeologist as an environmental/natural feature towards which the site might have been oriented. In the last few years, some concept of cultural milieu is breaking though in Bulgarian archaeology that seeks a connection between archaeological sites within a given area, leaving, however, the landscape as a passive recipient. The third general problem in embracing the LA concept is the heavily employed idea of continuity in Bulgarian archaeology. Continuity is when a Roman barrow appears on the top of a tell; continuity is when mixed materials from late prehistory to Medieval times are found in a rock cut sanctuary; continuity is what Western archaeologists would call cultural memory, continuity is everything which has more than one archaeologically documented period. Although never defined or explained, the continuity concept is broadly reproduced in Bulgarian archaeology, within which the interpretation of certain facts simultaneously starts and ends. This practice prevents the introduction of alternative, and more flexible, approaches for the explanation of the diversity of sites and inter-site relations.

Given these serious limitations, Bulgarian archaeologists have provided some evidence for the existence of a structured landscape but without such a terminology. In the following section, I have summarized this evidence, which, once again, is not inherent to any particular interpretive mode except culture history.

The first and to a great extent the only, monuments that were considered as oriented to the landscape are the megaliths. They are standing stones, dolmens, rock-cut tomb and sanctuaries, rock niches, etc. mainly spread in the mountainous regions of Southeast Bulgaria and traditionally connected with Iron Age human activity in the region. Some Medieval traces have also been reported, thus leaving pre-Iron Age and Roman times empty of such kind of activities. This chronological sequence is disputable on two points. First, while I should agree with the relative chronology of the monuments containing dateable materials, the subsequent transfer of the same chronology upon empty or looted monuments is dubious. Second, if Iron Age dating is accepted as the beginning of megalithic activity that was not renewed before Middle Ages, it contains the implicit notion of lack of perception of the megaliths during the Roman period. I make these comments on megalithic chronology not because it has any particular relation to my study area and period but as an example of how a Bulgarian interpretative framework functions in relating a group of monuments and hence producing, if not false, then fairly dubious general interpretations.

Groups of standing stones are distributed around the Old Bulgarian capitals in North Bulgaria and are consequently related to the proto-Bulgarian tradition of erecting stones in memorial services, most probably in honour of dead warriors (Rashev 1992, plus the full reference there).

The general interpretation of megaliths as an expression of sacred activity connected another group of sites to the circle of landscape-oriented monuments. These are multi- or single layer sanctuaries located on a peak or other prominent natural feature.

Since the Skorpil brothers - the first investigators of Balkan megaliths - up to now, megaliths and peak sanctuaries have attracted archaeologists’ attention as non–utilitarian and hence ritual monuments. The main research emphasis was on their distribution, chronology and function and no attention was paid to their spatial relations within the landscape. Apart from the fairly rare observation of a visual connection between some sites or between a site and a natural feature (Domaradski et al.1999, Nekhrizov 1999, Borislavov pers.comm.), there was no attempt to interrelate the sites or a site with its surroundings beyond the level of description and material culture parallels. The landscape was never incorporated as a structuring element in the sites’ interpretation or at least not in the terms of the contemporary Western concept of LA.

3.1.3 LA and GIS

At the dawn of GIS applications in archaeology, there was no clearly stated difference between landscape and environment in terms of the aims of investigation. Although theoretical, methodological and practical aspects of landscape, society and space in GIS were broadly discussed in almost all chapters of Interpreting Space (Allen at al. 1990), there was no trend either to divide landscape from environment or to explain what their relation in terms of the GIS analysis might be. It was claimed that the combination of LA and GIS is one of the most profound and stimulating combinations in archaeological theory and method in the 20th century (Green 1990, 5). This not very well grounded LA umbrella of early studies was easily seen as a result of a mechanical combination of the initial GIS design for the investigation of the physical background and the concept of the interpretation of space in landscape theory. However, the criticism of these early studies was towards their implicit eco-systems approach. For this reason, Wheatley attempted to bring GIS together with an LA body of theory arguing against the notion of GIS theoretical neutrality (Wheatley 1993). The introduction of perception and context as two important issues in people/ environment relations was a breakthrough in incorporating GIS into a broader interpretive framework (Wheatley 1993). The apparent side effect of this article, however, is the constant contradiction between what one may call landscape and environmental application of GIS.

In this study, landscape and environmental aspects are also divided in two different sections following the logic of the statement. But I have to underline that such a division in the interpretation of a certain site or a region is not meaningful. Although separated in the theoretical chapter, the landscape and environment GIS analysis in chapters 5-7 will be presented as an entity for each site case study. A similar understanding of GIS studies was summarised by Witcher, who pointed out the concept of the mental map (after Downs and Stea 1977, Gould and White 1974) as a proper theoretical base for such applications (Witcher 1999). The basic issue in these studies is the link between perception and preference in which the latter is an active response to the former. Preferred areas can be investigated via GIS quantitative tools in terms of the value of the variables within these areas, not the variables themselves. Together with the presumed degree of agency, the latter distance this model from the heavily criticized simple causative link of environment-human adaptation. However, the concept of the mental map has its limitations. Defined as both an abstract map of the surrounding landscape inherently held in the human mind and its material expression as a sum of individual responses to spatially defined units, it contains the implicit notion of an universalist perspective (Witcher 1999). Having in mind the limitations of studying possible asymmetries patterned in the landscape - not just with the means of GIS but in general, as well - one may characterise the human/environment relationship on the basis of certain classes of evidence (such as environmental variables, cultural memory, social tension, etc.) and leave the door open for any new data and interpretations.

Unlike other mapping tools, such as CAD, for example, GIS have the ability to place us within the landscape (Witcher 1999). Perception is a key issue in exploring the social landscape, the landscape of power and the cultural landscape, terms used in GIS literature to distinguish GIS from its implicit environmental orientation. Another important category in these structured landscapes is the spatial patterning that has taken place in the successive organization of the landscape. Perception in terms of visibility and movement across the landscape, as measured by cost-surfaces, are routine operations in each GIS package. The limits of exploring perception with GIS are more or less the same as those which every landscape archaeologist encounters while studying perception. Following Rodaway’s definition of perception as both reception of information and mental insight (Rodaway 1994:10), Witcher (1999) has pointed out the capacity of GIS to cope with the perception of information but with its lack of success so far in studying mental insights.

Since Wheatley’s pioneering article, the number of case studies that have applied the landscape approach to GIS has gradually increased. Three of them that, according to my opinion represent the best trends in landscape-oriented approach, will be summarised here. They are selected, also, as an example of how differently formulated research aims, including the social (Llobera 1996), the cultural (Boaz and Uleberg 1995) and the spatial (Wheatley 1995), are all dealing with the active perception of the landscape that simultaneously constitutes and is constituted by the socially structured landscape.

Social theory was incorporated in GIS practice by Llobera, who had employed concepts such as Giddens’ structures and Gibson’s affordances in his study of Wessex Linear Ditches in the Salisbury Plain (Llobera 1996). Affordances are understood in this particular case as an individual perception of properties of a real environment through action; they are investigated by GIS’ ability to calculate and correlate measurable variables (angles, distances, etc) in order to explore the distribution of certain landscape characteristics, while moving within the landscape. The affordances linked to structures via Bourdieu’s concept of practice are expected to explore how mechanisms of social reproduction and transformation play a role in an individual’s environment (Llobera 1996:614). However, these mechanisms were not very explicit in the otherwise coherent human/landscape relation study. GIS analyses were used to show that Wessex linear ditches were constructed in respect to natural topography (aspect, hillcrests) and being informative markers, segmenting rather then enclosing the space, thus providing freedom of moving within the landscape and avoiding the insider/outsider opposition (Llobera 1996).

Another trend in landscape-oriented GIS analysis puts the emphasis on the concept of cultural landscape (Boaz and Uleberg 1995). In their investigation of the Iron Age site distributions in eastern Norway, Boaz and Uleberg introduced Keller’s definition of landscape rooms as a method of studying changes in the cultural landscape. Being topographically consistent bounded parts of a landscape, landscape rooms are constituted of a set of environmental variables and a number of structures integrated by some socio-historic and economic factors. A key point in the concept of landscape rooms is that the structures are planned and interrelated by their creators according to specific meaning and /or value - in other words, they carry a cultural burden. Changes in cultural landscape are believed to represent changes in the understanding of these structures (Boaz and Uleberg 1995: 253). In the case study of eastern Norway, GIS were used to design two different chronological phases of landscape rooms around burial mounds in one and the same hypothetical landscape. Differences in visibility from a barrow and towards the same barrow are believed to be crucial in the comparison of the different landscape rooms that, together with differences in environmental variables of these rooms – another routine GIS property, might give relevant information about the specific value of these bounded areas for their inhabitants. Boaz and Uleberg were aware of the difficulties of connecting landscape rooms with settlement units and suggested their interpretation either as settlements or ritual areas on the basis of previous investigations supporting each one of the hypotheses (Boaz and Uleberg 1995).

The problem with this kind of approach is that, without a test against real archaeological evidence, the concept of landscape rooms remains highly speculative and not very well grounded in anyway fragile theoretical and methodological LA/GIS relations.

The last example of this selective overview of GIS landscape approaches presents the commonest application of GIS case studies – without any strong engagement with any particular theoretical concept. Cumulative viewshed analysis was applied to study the distribution of long barrows in the regions of Avebury and Salisbury Plain (Wheatley 1995). A series of routine GIS analyses and some statistical tests were used to establish the number and locations of barrows with the highest number of line of sights – i.e. the best visibility. The results showed different pattern in the two regions. In Avebury, visibility seemed not to be very important in barrow location. In contrast, Stonehenge long barrows show a continuous trend of location in areas that have visual contact with other barrows. Thus GIS analysis confirmed the earlier hypothesis for the Dorset Cursus made by Barrett et al. (1991) for the particular role of already existing monuments in the planning and design of the spatial patterning of the landscape. Earlier barrows were not just incorporated in the new structure but visual and physical reference to them was used to approve and acquire their power and authority. This is a practice, as argued above, of negotiating and reproducing social power and control. That this practice was not common or most probably was one of many is clear from the Avebury example. A number of factors was assumed to cause the differences in the two regions – accessibility to resources, landscape versus monument emphasis, two opposing groups of people, expressing, respectively, different practices, etc. (Wheatley 1995).

The Avebury and Salisbury Plain long barrows case study suggests that, even without any specific theoretical concept, GIS analysis could be valuable, since it reveals and studies the social mechanisms inscribed into the landscape.

One final point should not be omitted in this brief section on GIS and LA. As yet, there is no consensus about the ability of GIS to study the landscape of power. The cognitivist-deductive approach introduced by E. Zubrow (1994) was opposed by Witcher (1999) on three points – assigning spatial extent to the abstract notion of power, equating power with distance and the lack of perspective – who is perceiving and who is accomplishing this power.

Viewshed and cost surface analysis are considered by most GIS practitioners as the most powerful GIS tool for the investigation of the cultural landscape (van Leusen 1999, Wheatley 1995, Witcher 1999). However, cost surface analysis has been criticised by GIS (Boaz and Uleberg 1995) and non- GIS practitioners (Bruck and Goodman 1999) as irrelevant to cultural landscape studies. The cost surface analysis is discussed later in this chapter (see below p. 88) but it should be mentioned here that excluding the cost surface analysis from landscape archaeology investigation tool-kit is as much deterministic as considering it as a primary or the only tool.

Visibility or viewshed analysis is not directly attacked but rather discussed in terms of the presence of possible obscuring factors not easily traceable with GIS toolbox (Wheatley 1995). The main candidates are possible vegetation cover and obscuring weather conditions. My own field practice (doubtless not unique in Europe) has shown that vegetation is an unstable and changeable factor that can either aid or restrict site visibility. One may encounter great difficulties in finding even a site of known location due to rapid and dense vegetation growth. However, if desirable, visibility is relatively easy to achieve and maintain. Generally speaking, in temperate and sub-Mediterranean Europe, despite differences in local weather conditions, there are bright days with high visibility, especially during late autumn and winter, when most trees are leafless and the vegetation is sparse. So if visibility/invisibility was an aim, these times of the year were giving an overall picture of the particular landscape and hence the opportunity to choose a visible/invisible place for social practices. Whatever the practice, it had been located in an initially visible area or the vegetation was deliberately removed to achieve the visibility. Respectively, invisible locations are easy to spot and use for certain purposes. If desired, both visibility and invisibility can be maintained through deforestation or planting. Whether a site is visible or not now says little about its visibility in the past. GIS has the advantage of treating the surface as a bare field (some consider this as disadvantage, since it does not reflect a real situation) and thus, to overcome the present shortcoming in visibility analyses by giving the possibility of exploring whether the site was visible or not from a certain point (variable) in the first place. Viewshed analysis provides information on visibility from variable points, which means that visibility might have been the reason, not necessarily that it was the reason, to locate the site on that particular place. Visibility is subjective but this does not mean that it did not affect the organization of landscape. As argued above, this visibility could be achieved if this was important.

A significant confirmation for the analytical potential of viewshed analysis as a major exploratory mode in landscape archaeology is the recent publication of Stonehenge (Exon et al. 2000). This most discussed monument in British archaeology has stimulated many and varied approaches. But in this last GIS application, the viewsheds defined a much wider study area, never grasped before in the context of Stonehenge landscapes, to search for possible relations between sites and locales in the landscape. Some 10,000 viewsheds were performed for the extended study area, convincingly arguing the changing patterns of spatial relations in the landscape. The major contribution of the journeys through the real- and-imagined worlds (as the authors called them) is that they proved that visibility had a significant impact on the redefinition of the landscape (one of the numerous examples is the difference between the Stonehenge viewshed with and without the Palisade (Exon et al. 2000:65)). A rare and very important complement to the GIS analyses is the reconstruction of the past vegetation (Allen 1997) that provides the opportunity to justify the results of the viewsheds. An additional crucial advantage of the recent study is its excellent presentation combining text, sound and movement in a widely accessible format. The promotion of GIS results as a multimedia product of text, computer viewsheds, 3D animation and video is a serious achievement of the project, that breaks out of the above-mentioned closed circle of GIS practitioners. It would have helped the final conclusions if the narratives, presently organized according to the current British chronological scheme, were integrated into a more general narrative of the landscapes in flux. The main conclusion of this last interpretation of Stonehenge is that probably the monument was a structuring element to be looked at from outside, rather than from inside.

3.1.4 Summary

In this section, I have sought to demonstrate that there have been both terminological and theoretical reasons why landscape studies have not only failed to become integrated into mainstream prehistoric studies in Bulgaria but have not even been utilised in any of the major research projects of the last decade. Because of the amorphous, not to say ambiguous, nature of the term landscape (see Chapman 1997), it has been easy to reject the whole suite of concepts which could operate under the umbrella of the term landscape. One way of mitigating the effects of this criticism, which is to some extent true, is the pragmatic selection of specific aspects of landscape approaches to examples of concrete data. This is the approach which I have sought to follow in the study of microregional route networks, viewsheds, site territories and visibilities from routes – all set against the backdrop of an active and dynamic landscape, peopled by communities whose values and cultural memories are cumulatively inscribed over the course of 4,000 years onto that landscape.

3.2 Society and Material culture

To raise the question about the link between material culture and society is to ask a basic question in archaeology – how to explain the one through the other. Archaeology has started as a study of material culture, developing into a study of past societies. Material culture and society have been related in archaeological interpretations in various ways, the most overwhelming of which was their deterministic link. As mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, a review of the various applications and interrelated interpretations of Material Culture and Society is not going to be presented here. The aim of section 3.2. is to point out those aspects of society and material culture which are going to be examined and discussed later in the case study chapters of the thesis. Some of the social issues were discussed in the previous part of this chapter. Others will be considered in the section 3.3. The structure of the following statement is based upon the belief that any discussion of archaeological issues always concerns society, with no ubiquitous necessity to call them social.

3.2.1 Social Archaeology

From V.G. Childe’s formulation of archaeological cultures to modern Agency theory, numerous theoretical concepts and sensational discoveries have marked the efforts of theorists and practitioners to envisage and cognise the human past. The aim of this short section is to generalise some of the important issues and trends in recent social archaeology in order to outline the insights and notions informing the interpretative framework of the current study.

Although the term Social Archaeology is sensible as it contains the implicit notion of non-social archaeology, I accept this formulation as long as the concept of Social Archaeology accommodates the co-existence of household archaeology (Tringham, Bailey)1, gender archaeology (Hasdorf, Spector), settlement archaeology (Chapman), mortuary archaeology (Binford, O’Shea), etc. All of these archaeologies, defined as such over the last 50 years, are studying different aspects of society, and, apparently, social archaeology is the only broad interpretive framework to grasp and to unify the different explanatory modes and methods applied in these archaeologies. However, such potential cross-referenced interpretation of different set of archaeological evidence is neither well theorised nor broadly practiced. Until recently, archaeologists tend to explain social change either in terms of evolution (Friedman & Rowlands 1975), increasing complexity (Renfrew & Cooke 1979), or developing hierarchy (Bintliff 1984), or relying on mortuary evidence as primary source for social organisation (O’Shea 1984), etc. This is maybe due to the shortage of relevant evidence (e.g. abundance of settlement data, not supported by mortuary evidence or vice versa) from one side; and from the other side, the dominance of certain theoretical trends can restrict research into social aspects to understanding (e.g., household development or contextual interpretation).

At present, social archaeology covers a very broad range of research issues, such as gender, status, rank, identity, social order, etc. and most of all - social transformation and change. It also has been in constant relation to other social and non-social sciences such as anthropology, human geography and economy that influenced the development of the discipline in various dimensions.

Sociology had a relatively late impact on archaeological theory with the introduction of the concepts of the French sociologist Bourdieu (1977) that inspired the development of related general social theories (Giddens 1987, Gosden 1994). In this research, the studies of some other sociologists (Barnes, 1954, 1969, Noble 1973, Mann 1986), adopted by some archaeologists (Clarke 1979, Chapman & Dolukhanov 1993, Chapman 2000) provide basic theoretical background.

The presently favoured interpretative paradigm in archaeology based on agency theory seems to reconcile the variety of approaches to different archaeological data and to make any interpretation possible as long as the agent is identified. Agency in archaeology is seen as the intentional choices made by men and women as they take action to realize their goals(Brumfiel 2000: 249). This gives a broad theoretical background for the investigation of these choices in action, named as strategies, practices, rituals, patterns, etc., in order to reconstruct and explain the multi-facetted and dynamic human past.

3.2.2 Social Archaeology in Bulgaria

The general trends in Bulgarian social archaeology have been outlined in Chapter II (p.39-49). In summary, Bulgarian archaeologists’ concept of society is the ubiquitous substitution of culture for society. This more or less equates to Childe’s concept of the representation and interpretation of complex archaeological data, with a few Marxist elements added if the need arises for social explanation. If mentioned at all, social transformation is seen and interpreted in terms of cultural transformation (Raduncheva 1976, Todorova 1978, Georgiev et al.1979).

The mortuary domain is considered as a primary source of social information and any Bulgarian archaeological discussion of social issues has mainly been linked to burial data. The latter is accepted as a reflection of status and wealth and as evidence for social and property inequality (Raduncheva 1976, Todorova 1978, Katincharov 1975, Ivanov). The mortuary arena was the only context in which some gender issues were tackled (Todorova 1978).

Much less attention was paid to settlement data as a source of social reconstruction because of the lack of readily visible and explicable differences within the complex domestic domain. The reflectionist assumption was valid for settlement data as well - e.g. pits with discard filling were rubbish dumps and houses with many pots or household goods were rich houses (Todorova 1978, Raduncheva 1976).

The following two sections summarise some interpretations of Bulgarian archaeological evidence that are not burdened by the limits of the cultural historical approach and incorporate the data within an interpretative framework for which social processes constitute a key point.

The mortuary domain

It is not surprising that the monument which has attracted most attention for both Bulgarian and Western archaeologists is the Varna cemetery. The breadth of different opinions and commentaries on Varna was summarized by Chapman (1991) as processualist (e.g. Renfrew), materialist (e.g. Ivanov) and symbolic (e.g. Gimbutas). Despite the different approaches, however, all of the researchers share two similar insights:- a) Varna shows deep social differentiation and b) such a process cannot be claimed for the preceding Early-Middle Copper Age. It was believed that the apparent paradox of developing copper metallurgy in a non-ranked society was solved by the Varna community whose abundance of metalwork (copper and gold) in a non-utilitarian context was said to demonstrate the social origin of metallurgy (Renfrew 1978). In a later study of the emergence of wealth in Europe, Renfrew (1986) developed his interpretation of Varna, claiming that it constitutes evidence for the emergence of ranking in which the ownership and display of valuable objects underpins the social order. Social ranking is always connected to a developed system of production and exchange and circulation of goods of prime value. The combination of these three variables was to characterise the Bulgarian Copper Age, hence its presence reflected in the Varna cemetery (Renfrew 1986).

One of the more recent discussions of the Varna phenomenon attempts to resolve the major and, despite numerous researches, unanswered question why such prominent social differentiation was to be expressed in Varna in particular (Chapman 1991). Like most of the previous commentators, Chapman does not consider the Varna case in isolation from overall Chalcolithic developments in Bulgaria. But, unlike them, he seeks for concrete evidence for social tensions and differentiation, rather then to generalize random evidence from the whole Bulgarian territory (Lichardus) or theorise the overall social process (Renfrew). A key point in his analysis of the available settlement and burial data from the Neolithic up to the end of the Copper Age is the concepts of social space and arenas of social power (ASPs) – places where the negotiation of quotidian social relations took on concrete form.

In his study of the three Copper Age cemeteries of Devnya, Goliamo Delchevo and Vinitsa, Chapman (1996) found that each community was using the same material culture to make different statements about age/sex identities and that, moreover, the different genders attributed values to different grave goods – copper objects for males, functional tools for females. Both tells and cemeteries are dialectically linked in the gradual process of social differentiation throughout the course of the climax Copper Age, as the creation of distinct cemeteries is supposed to indicate the spatial focus for re-negotiation of an otherwise insoluble social contradiction or tension on tells. The apogee of this social differentiation is expressed in the Varna cemetery. Here, the total absence of females from the rich core of the cemetery indicates that, whatever the actual balance of social power between males and females, males had managed to dominate the mortuary aspect of the public domain – that part which may have been responsible for the reproduction of lineages and wider political relationships. This interpretation is favoured by archaeologists such as Lichardus (1988) and Ivanov (1988) who emphasise the archaeological evidence for male warrior identities (cf. Chapman 1999a). However, the insight of social anthropologists such as Strathern (1988) that male domination of the public arena does not necessarily mean the obliteration of female power and influence in many salient parts of social life should make us cautious in our interpretation of the Varna phenomenon as a male-centered society.

The domestic domain

The development of household studies in archaeology reinforced the importance of the house itself as crucial evidence in the overall socio-cultural process of change and stability. This new understanding of the house was applied to the data from Ovcharovo in a study of spatial pattering on the tell, in particular where superposition houses are found throughout the whole occupational sequence (Bailey 1990). Bailey argued that the layouts of the houses together with increasing number of tectomorphs (house models) were deliberately chosen strategies of legitimating each new occupation (horizon) after some period of abandonment. Houses with their own life or biography have participated in maintaining social continuity and hence stability on the tell (e.g., House 59 on Tell Ovcharovo: Bailey 1996). These practices of legitimisation handled the rivalry and tensions between tell’s inhabitants and the loss of their effectiveness led to the site abandonment (Bailey 1990). Bailey’s approach does not rejects Todorova’s conclusions and advocates a different perspective on the data, which in this particular case has hypothesized mechanisms of successful social reproduction.

Tell Ovcharovo has been discussed by Chapman (1990), as well, in his study of social inequality on Bulgarian tells, together with three more fully excavated tells (Targovishte, Radingrad, Poljanica), in an analysis of the development of social space throughout the lifetime of the tells. By the investigation of a number of spatial variables (house dimensions, built/un-built ratio, access maps and inter-house space), Chapman has argued that there were two contrasting patterns of spatial order on the investigated tells. The first one (Targovishte and Radingrad) indicates a more coherent, repetitive tell organization in which the houses presented stable dimensions, one/two entrances and access levels and within which it was easy to move due to the gradually increasing un-built space and the variety of inter-house spacing. In the second pattern (Ovcharovo and Poljanica), there was constrained access around the tell, cyclic variations in house dimension, containing up to 11 rooms with multiple entrances and access levels, the un-built ratio was diminishing through time, while the inter-house space remained stable and not very large. Both patterns are claimed to manifest different spatial expressions of household and lineage competition, in which the second pattern (Ovcharovo and Poljanica) reveals evidence for successful reproduction of social inequality. Failure to find an adequate way to express the social rivalry on Targovishte and Radingrad settlements led to the relatively short lifetime of these two tells.

Both Bailey and Chapman have examined one possible aspect of prehistoric social organisation – how house design and spatial ordering was used to negotiate and maintain the existing or new social order on the constrained area of a tell.

Chapman goes further in his study of the Balkan Chalcolithic through the investigation of certain aspects of material culture and their incorporation in a wider social interpretive framework. In a series of studies, Chapman has identified and introduced a number of practices such as fragmentation, accumulation, enchainment, the deliberate burning of houses and structured deposition. Personal enchainment through gift exchange and genealogy was argued to be valid also for the exchange of fragmentary objects, as well as for the exchange with the ancestors by means of structured deposition. The accumulation of objects appeared as an alternative practice along with the intensification of exchange and ritual networks and the deepening of occupational specialization. Structured deposition (see section 3.2.3) and house burning were related practices of exchange with the ancestors. Summarizing previous studies that have sought to identify a set of criteria for deliberate rather than accidental fire (Tringham and Krstić 1990, Russell 1994, Stevanović 1997), Chapman (1999) has extended the range of evidence over the Balkans (including Bulgarian data) and suggested that house burning was closely related to structured deposition, forming a specific type of set – the house assemblage - comparable with grave sets and hoards. The main product of house burning is burnt daub that was easy to distribute in different contexts and thus to objectify the link between the dead ancestor’s house and the living. Chapman (1999) has suggested that house burning was related to the death of an important member of the community, while I should extend the range of possible events in which deliberate burning have taken place (see p. 180-181, 340).

Fragmentation and structured deposition on a tell are important practices of the grounding of the inhabitants in the ancestral world. A fragment evoking an image for the complete object, as well as the time/space characteristics of its origin, have been interpreted as a significant point for people interrelating through fragment enchainment. Complete objects were, of course, not devoid of meaning; their deposition was meant to underline principles of social integration. The increase of complete objects within a tell, and especially within the newly defined formal mortuary area, betokens a change in social relationships and the emergence of a new social practice of object accumulation. In the latter, the value of an object in terms of the circulation of relationships has been transformed, by keeping the object, into a means of negotiating social relations. The new material - metal and gold – was not only harder to fragment but also was readily accumulated in sets. During the course of gradual social differentiation, based on more or less successful household or lineage development, object accumulation gained an advantage over personal enchainment as two ways of acquiring social power. One way to express status was to accumulate and display object/s in the emergent arenas of social power. Both settlements and cemeteries have been argued to represent such arenas of social power, in which cemeteries were the initial area for the display of social differentiation. The latter was claimed to be rooted in the adoption of the emergent but weakly developed practice of accumulation, in which the inalienable link between people and objects has changed into the personal possession of objects; as well as in gender contradictions caused by the introduction of secondary animal products that has led to a division of labour in which males had gained political power through ploughing, while females maintained their traditional economical power gained through dairying and weaving (Chapman 1991).

Chapman’s approach to Bulgarian later prehistory data engages a wide range of evidence that elsewhere is either misinterpreted or avoided (e.g. pits on tells, numerous vessels with missing parts, burnt houses, etc.) in a model of development of social relations highlighting both tradition and change. The problem with the spatial analysis of the tells is their small sample number – four out of 550 (the exact number of the tells occupied during the Chalcolithic period is not known)- that is, however, entirely due to the availability of excavated and published data.

A similar general intention to inter-relate people, places and things permeates Bailey’s recent monograph entitled Balkan Prehistory, in which he employs a wide range of data, deriving from a series of excavated sites in Eastern Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Southern Romania, Bulgaria, Northern Greece and North West Anatolia (Bailey 2000). The chronological span is from the Mesolithic up to the end of the Early Bronze Age. The material culture data set consists of lithics, pottery (vessels, figurine, altars, etc.) and metal assemblages, as well as ornaments and raw materials. Special attention was paid to the build environment (architecture and internal spatial organisation) and burial practices.

In Bailey’s view, the main social processes during the later prehistory of the Balkans are seen as exclusion, incorporation and projection. Exclusion and incorporation are the logical opposites of one and the same process of control over the ways in which material culture and people are related. Dividing them into two processes is probably meant to emphasise the very act of exclusion (e.g. separating rooms for different activities) and incorporation (e.g. the dead were buried under the house floors). Projection is the more abstract and less evident part of the same process of conceptualising space, material culture and people. Although not stated clearly, these symbolic and/or physical actions were made as a result of deliberate choice. However, it remains unclear why such choices were made, why and how exactly these social processes were developed and whether or not - and indeed why - they were unique, contrasting or similar to contemporary social processes in a wider context.

For the purposes of the present study, most of Bailey’s research into Balkan prehistory is not integrated into the research scheme, since many of the basic arguments are generated from evidence for architechture, settlement planning and the use and discard of figurines, which are not strongly represented (if at all) in the current study area. However, some of Bailey’s previous hypotheses (e.g., the pattern of deliberate superimposition of houses on tells) are acknowledged where they are considered as relevant.

Social interpretations in the present study

The gap between Bulgarian and Western interpretative concepts is far from being bridged. The political changes of the late 1980s broke down the formal ideological framework but so far alternatives to the traditional modes of archaeological explanation have not been elaborated. Building up a tradition of discussing social aspects in accordance with some body of theory is a long process, during whose initial stages tolerance of other people’s opinion is a key point. Yet, this is far from happening. At present, there is a conceptual vacuum in Bulgarian archaeology as a whole and in particular within social archaeology. The old interpretations have not been reconsidered, new ones have not been established and studies such as those of Bailey and Chapman have, in fact, not been in active circulation among Bulgarian archaeologists.

In the current study, it is my intention to introduce some of the modern concepts in social archaeology with regard to both the available data set and the research priorities formulated as landscape-material culture-society. The Drama case study will be discussed in some details in section 3.3.1. Here, I shall present in brief the interpretations of selected aspects of the settlement and burial data from the Maritsa Iztok area. Through this debate, I am hoping to build up an alternative more socially- orientated interpretative view of the same data.

Although not all of the sites in the Maritsa Iztok study area are fully excavated, their existence as the consequence of the long-term human interest of the region provides a significant background for the interpretation of daily and lifetime socio-economic practices. As already mentioned in Chapter I, prehistoric burial evidence in Maritsa Iztok includes numerous BA barrows (the exact number is not known) and two flat LBA cemeteries. The former are believed to belong to the Lower Danube variant of Pit-Grave culture (Panayotov and Alexandrov 1995). The appearance of both cremation and flat cemeteries during the LBA has not received any formal explanation yet.

Some aspects of deliberate human behaviour were considered in the discussion of the burial rites of the biggest barrow in the Maritsa Iztok region. This very precise study of the typology, technology, chronology, parallels and position of the grave goods in the graves from the Goliamata Mogila (the Big Barrow) seeks a reconstruction of the ritual (burial - note mine) practices in the EBA in the region. It was inferred that the vessels were made especially for the burial and revealed a high level of pottery-making skills. Therefore they could not be accepted as exchange objects between the local agriculturists and the nomadic Pit-Grave communities. Most of the vessels were deposited whole in the graves and four patterns of their spatial order were identified. The comparison with a neighbouring barrow revealed difference in the deposition practice outside the grave pit that led the author to suggest people that have different understandings of death (Leshtakov and Popova 1995:77). The difference was lack of trizna in the Goliamata Mogila (the Big Barrow) in contrast to its widespread use in barrow IV (2.5 km to the South East). Trizna is a Slavic word for a memorial practice of the deliberate breakage and perforation of pottery that is subsequently scattered. Despite the fact that trizna-s are fairly common on Bulgarian sites, there is no formal introduction or explanation of this kind of practice, which is generally referred to as ritual or an indication of feasting.

The presence of Pit Grave characteristics in the Goliamata Mogila (e.g. stone stelae) were not denied and, on the basis of the results of anthropological investigations, it was claimed that if the dead werealiens" in the region of Ezero culture, they had been close enough to the local population" (Leshtakov and Popova 1995: 78). The hesitation in challenging the Pit-Crave concept and the formal refusal to employ or create an alternative generalized model left this otherwise excellent study lacking in both overall mortuary domain theory and the regional specifics and importance of burial data in the Maritsa Iztok area.

All of the prehistoric sites in Maritsa Iztok area that are not barrows are interpreted as settlements. In the past, settlement remains have been interpreted using two basic principles, First, the settlement pattern consisted of a central settlement – a tell - with some affiliated smaller sites - satellite open-air settlements (Leshtakov et al. 2001). Site distributions and their possible interrelations within and outside the study area were investigated in spatial, chronological and logistical terms. The second principle is that the similarity or identity of pottery or other archaeological material was produced as evidence for chronological or cultural affiliations, as well as for contacts with contemporary archaeological cultures (Leshtakov et al. 2001).

Before turning to alternative concepts, two major disagreements with the above interpretation should be presented. First, the lack of formal criteria in Bulgarian archaeology for the interpretation of archaeological evidence as dwelling activities (whether permanent or not) results in claiming a wide variety of archaeological evidence as discard indicative of settlement. This is valid for the Maritsa Iztok area in particular, where all of the satellite sites are claimed on the basis of building horizons (presumably dwelling floors) or pottery scatters. Although I was not able to find any records or material from some of the so-called satellite sites (e.g., the Chalcolithic settlement near tell Galabovo), having known the constrained working regime of the Maritsa Iztok team and having had numerous discussion with my colleagues, I do not doubt that traces of human activity were really present within the vicinity of the tell and whose traces were called open-air annexes. My criticism here targets the omission of the possibility of any kind of off-tell activities. Off-site archaeology has no local tradition in Bulgarian archaeology (the only exception is Bailey et. al 1998); its omission from consideration can lead to the establishment and re-production of, if not false, then highly speculative, settlement patterns.

The second objection concerns the deterministic view that any domestic discards reflect past settlement activity. Thus, the presence of hearths, ovens with thin bases and beaten clay floors within an enclosure which reaches 2 m in depth has misled the investigators into the inference that this triple ditch/stone enclosure is a fortified settlement with dug-out dwellings (the interpretation of this site - Ovcharitsa II - is discussed in section 6.3.3). At least one more site – Iskritsa – contains features, such as several pits and a single burnt feature (house), which provide grounds for challenging the prevalent settlement interpretation.

However, these two objections do not question the spatial order of the sites; since the suggested settlement pattern (Leshtakov at al. 2001) does not lead to some explicit social interpretation, this time/space model of prehistoric development in Maritsa Iztok can be used as a starting point in a more socially- oriented approach to the data, for which the diversification of site function is crucial for its interpretation.

A key point in the alternative approach is the concept of arenas of social power (ASP)(Chapman 1993). According to this concept, archaeological sites are places for; inter alia, the negotiation of social relations and not just a static display of material evidence. The type of investigation in the Maritsa Iztok area does not allow such meticulous analysis as for tell Ovcharovo and the Varna cemetery, for example, but yet there is enough evidence to enable the identification of a wide variety of social practices at the sites in the study area. The introduction of the ASP concept will enable an innovative approach to problematic issues in both domestic and mortuary domains, currently insoluble within the present interpretative framework. A major characteristic of the latter is that humans are bearers of culture(Nikolov 1980, Todorova 1995), while, in the suggested alternative, people’s action are mediated through material culture.

Before moving to the other two key novelties in the interpretation of the data - social practices and social networks – it will be useful to identify the facts and interpretations that the current approach is going to challenge.

At present, the barrows in Maritsa Iztok region are formally related to the Lower Danube variant of the Pit- Grave culture (Panayotov and Alexandrov 1995). Such an interpretation is contested insofar as the barrows contain some evidence for local agricultural elements that raise questions about their origin and meaning (Leshtakov and Popova 1995). The cultural debate obscures two other important aspects of the barrows – their physical appearance in the landscape and their possible social potential. No matter whether local or adopted or an alien phenomenon, the barrows constitute significant evidence for a change in the relationship between the dead and the living with regards to the previous Copper Age period, from which no burials have as yet been found. 2 If local in origin, these new monuments betoken a profound social change around the end of the LCA and the beginning of the EBA. If non-local in origin, any newcomers within the permanent tell landscape who left such a prominent cultural feature should trigger a social response from the local inhabitants. In any case, deliberate human action was involved in this crucial re-definition of the landscape.

The appearance of barrows coincides with one of the most problematic issues in Bulgarian prehistory – the transition between the Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age. This period is highly debated in Bulgarian prehistory (Georgieva 1987) and the only thing on which there is common agreement is the total cultural change that has taken place. Chalcolithic tells and other settlements were abandoned and, after a certain period of time some of them were reoccupied by communities with completely different material culture - that of the Bronze Age. However, apart from the obvious change in pottery design and technology, the other two major characteristics of the BA – apsidal houses and bronze itself – were not prominent features from the very beginning of the period (e.g., the first EBA horizon at tell Ezero (Georgiev et al. 1979)). For other aspects of material culture (e.g. stone tools), so far there is no study claiming that changes in the technology or typology of the artefacts occurred at the beginning of the Bronze Age. In summary, the claimed drastic shift in material culture can be supported only on the basis of pottery production; subsequently different features were added to the assemblage to create a newly-defined EBA culture. This same radical change in material culture is presumed for the study region as well. Indeed, EBA pottery shape, technology and decoration are totally different from those of the preceding Chalcolithic. To what extent other characteristics of the material culture at the end of the Eneolithic differ from those at the beginning of the Bronze Age is not clear, since the scattered data from Maritsa Iztok does not allow detailed comparison of the full range of artefacts. However, there are practices that remained the same even after the alleged drastic change of material culture. All of the Late Chalcolithic tells were reoccupied, thus implicitly pointing that the former Eneolithic forests, pastures and fields were reused for growing and herding the same species known from the Copper Age (see Chapters 5 and 6 for details). This is usually interpreted as continuity. The mechanism of this continuity that survives the chronological and cultural gap puzzles Bulgarian prehistorians and usually makes them turn towards some external source to explain the differences and the similarities (e.g. a steppe invasion or Anatolian influences). Comparing cultures as given time/space entities inevitably leads to the realization of the impossibility of explaining change, similarity and difference. Comparing social groups, however, acting in accordance with their world-view is more likely to provide some possible explanation of change and continuity. Viewing a society instead of a culture is a novelty for Bulgarian archaeologists but it is not a new approach to Bulgarian data. As mentioned above, the Varna cemetery was not an isolated phenomenon; rather it was the consequence of attempts to overcoming social contradictions during the Copper Age (Chapman 1991). Do the barrows in Thrace present a similar focal point for trying to resolve social tensions? Is it a coincidence that the earliest BA traces in Maritsa Iztok comprise several barrows and a ditch – all of which with an emphasis on structured deposition? What was the role of local sedentary elements (pottery) in a nomadic feature (barrow)? Has a total population and cultural change really taken place? Or are we dealing with a much more complex socio-cultural change?

Answers to these and related questions are possible if burial, settlement and other highly formalized sites in Maritsa Iztok are recognised as ASPs. It is not only the barrow phenomenon and the Late Chalcolithic-Early Bronze Age transition but the overall settlement dynamic in the study region that can be viewed and I believe explained through the perspective of social action.

The second notion requiring comment and revision in the course of the study is another common interpretative term in Bulgarian archaeology - contacts.

It is typical to interpret all kinds of material similarity of archaeological data as cultural contacts or cultural interactions, regardless of the distance between the places of origin. In most cases, the latter are used as the basis for a circular argument – there were contacts because there are similarities; there are similarities because there were contacts. In the context of the cultural-historical approach, the acculturation process was used to encompass and explain all changes – migration, diffusion and interactions (Nikolov, V. 1980). In the only short discussion of acculturation in Bulgarian prehistory, the emphasis was on a brief introduction of acculturation, assimilation, consolidation and ethnical developments rather than on the presentation of concrete mechanisms of these complex processes of human interaction (Nikolov, V. 1980). Cultural contacts dominate the interpretation of similarities, with common features initially defined as different archaeological cultures, although trade and exchange contacts were also recognized. The exchange interpretation is entirely dominated by economic constraints; e.g., in the case of the Maritsa Iztok study region, nomadic tribes exchange animal products for goods and pottery with the sedentary communities (Panayotov 1989). Local exchange within the limits of one archaeological culture was also registered (Raduncheva 1976, Todorova 1978).

Trade contacts were more readily claimed on the basis of exotic imports (e.g. Mycenaean pottery or Spondylus ornaments (Todorova 1995). Recently, the first Bulgarian study of prehistoric trade contacts was published in which commercial relations between Upper Thrace, the Aegean and Anatolia were developed during late EBA III and the MBA (Leshtakov 1996). The main archaeological evidence in the study derives from a tell in the Maritsa Iztok area that contains a wide range of Anatolian and Aegean pottery, as well as local imitations of imported ceramic shapes. Three explanations have been suggested:– a) tell Galabovo was a trading diaspora (after Sherratt 1993); b) it was a fair for trading; and c) less likely- it provides evidence for the existence of transhumance. Similar trading diasporas or fairs were recognised by the author on Samothrace Island and in Turkish Thrace. Traders were claimed to be sammalum – a term that appears in the Mesopotamian tablets (after Leemans 1950) or in other words itinerant traders. The MBA merchants followed the routes of earlier traders, whose existence was argued on the basis of the EBA Trojan depas cup imports in Baadere and Constantia (respectively 70 km to the South East and 10 km to the South of tell Galbovo). Upper Thrace was claimed to export raw materials and possibly some goods/commodities in exchange for goods/commodities including organic products, such as perfumes. Two possible routes were suggested – the maritime one – Crete – Irini- Samothrace (Lemnos/Lesbos)- along Maritsa river to Constantia and Galabovo; and the terrestrial one – Central Anatolia- Sakaria valley- Bosporus – Karaevli-alti- Sakar Mountain – Baadere- Sokolitsa river valley to Galabovo/Constantia (Leshtakov 1996).

So far, for Maritsa Iztok, Leshtakov’s (1996) article remains the only Bulgarian study that outlines trade routes and contacts on the basis of archaeological distribution data (cf. Todorova 1995a for Bulgaria as a whole). The establishment of such a long-distance trade network is an important step towards the reconstruction of BA relations between Europe and Asia Minor and it is a pity that the author (perhaps unwittingly) remains under the influence of the concept of cultural circles and thus, does not extend his analysis outside the Upper Thracian area. The aspect of the research requiring more supporting evidence is the type and variety of the traded products.

Leshtakov’s study is the only one in which contacts are defined in some kind of a dynamic network. In all other studies on contacts, an area is related to an area, an object is related to an object or an area but people seem to absent. Why and how people have brought, bought, exchanged, gifted or kept a certain object from an exotic area remains unclear. The dynamics and diversification of human contacts throughout the changing social reality has not been discussed, leaving cultural, trade and exchange contact on one and the same operational level. My intention in this study is twofold – first, to personalise the notion of contacts while relating people to people, people to objects and people to places and, secondly, to tackle the recurrent and changing patterns of relations in accordance with growing social diversity.

On a local, intra-regional level, such an enquiry is possible with the adoption of the idea of social practices. As pointed out above, fragmentation, enchainment and accumulation were important social practices in the Bulgarian Copper Age, the main evidence for which comes from the Northeast part of the country (Chapman 2000). Structured deposition (see next section for details) and the deliberate burning of houses were two further social practices relatively recently recognised as deliberate acts of enchainment and identity exchange (Chapman 1999, 2000). There is evidence to suggest that fragmentation, enchainment, feasting or deposition (see next section) and burning houses were practiced in the study region as well, together with the already recognized trade and exchange activities.

On an inter-regional level, the interrelation of people, places and objects is not possible within the concept of the archaeological culture. Although the latter is already a discarded part of the history of Western archaeological thinking, it is still in active circulation in the Balkans. Commentaries on the continuous reluctance of Balkan archaeologists to employ different interpretative modes need special attention and, although undoubtedly important, they cannot be undertaken here. Instead, arguments for the suggested social alternative named network are to be presented. Social network concept in archaeology is related to the pioneering work of D. Clarke (1979), who adopted the idea developed in sociological theory for flexible social relations in contrast to concept of fixed social entities (groups). The advantages of network concept are that it permits multiple non-static human interrelations, which in the archaeological terms is network of settlements, network of people within a site and off-site and most importantly dynamic operational form of network. The latter is the major achievement of the network concept as it readily explain change and continuity, which remain major stumbling blocks within the traditional culture-history model. Exchange networks, in conjunction with breeding networks, are a particularly dynamic aspect of social network theory, providing a theoretical grounding for the spread of exotic objects over a variety of social – physical distances.

3.2.3 Material Culture and Social Practices

The aim of this short section is to focuses on one aspect of material culture studies - the type of link between material culture, social practices and natural processes that results in the type of evidence studied by the archaeologists.

The beginning of the debate for the nature of the archaeological record goes back to the mid- 1970s, when the problem of the site formation process focused the attention of leading behavioural archaeologists (Schiffer 1976, Binford 1981). In summary, different approaches to the problem such as Schiffer’s eight different patterns of deposition (1985); Patrick’s theoretical reconciliation of structural and contextual interpretation, and certain practical applications (Bintliff and Snodgrass 1988, Needham and Spence 1997) crystallize around the idea that the Pompeii-like premise evidence is extremely rare and more often archaeologists investigate a sequence of different types of events and evidence. The acknowledgement of various mechanisms of site formation affected the perception and understanding of archaeological evidence and their subsequent interpretation.

In the last decade, discussions about the type of evidence that archaeologists are excavating has developed into a whole new area of studies concerned with structured deposition.

The development of the idea of Structured deposition in Western archaeological theory and practice

Structured deposition appeared as a term in the mid-1980s and was immediately related to a ritual practice in which some contexts were deliberately highly formalized (Richards and Thomas 1984). The debate over the sacred or quotidian character of structured deposition was developed by J.D. Hill (1995), who argued that the conceptualising of deposits might be through both daily and more formal activities. Recently, Brück (1999) reconciled the opposition between ritual and secular on the basis of evidence for formalised structures in informal contexts and vice versa. She argued that prehistoric communities developed different forms of rationality, including the rituals necessary for achieving practical goals, which were radically different from modern forms of rationality (Brück 1999). Chapman (2000, 2000a) has summarised the evidence for structured deposition from Central and Eastern Europe by disputing the concept of archaeological finds as simply rubbish. In summary, structured deposition is a deliberate arrangement and display of a variety of objects (e.g. pottery, bones, ashes, etc.) in a particular way, which has a specific meaning for the participants in the deposition action. Recent studies revealed that features with structured deposition might be pits, ditches, burials and even houses.

Structured deposition in Bulgaria

Structured deposition as a term does not exist in the Bulgarian archaeological lexicon, partly because it is difficult to find an appropriate analogue in the Bulgarian language, partly because of a complete lack of interest in establishing a common explanatory mode for this archaeological phenomenon. However, there are findings in Bulgaria that, in Western terms, would be instantly recognisable as structured deposition. Some of them are published and their interpretation is a good illustration of the Bulgarian interpretive practice of borrowing an explanatory framework, then neither defending its relevance for the particular case, nor explicating the origin and logic of the applied interpretive mode (Gaydarska 1998).

There are two trends in envisaging and interpreting cases of structured deposition in Bulgaria. The first one is connected with earlier findings and complete and/or precious objects (dining sets, metal sets). Common to their interpretation is the emphasis on artefacts and a neglect of context. The stylistic traits of the objects were described, while the mode of deposition and the surrounding cultural or landscape features were paid little, if any, attention. Sets of precious objects are called hoards. Other sets are called collective findings or storage finds or a combination of both. They are related to horizons or groups of similar phenomenon – e.g. the two LBA hoard horizons postulated after analogues of types of bronze artefacts. Their deposition is believed to stem from the hiding of valuable possessions in response to hostile invasion. This approach has already been criticised (Gaydarska 1998) and although this interpretation has been abandoned, alternative claims have not been considered.

A different interpretation has been given to the numerous sets of precious objects – dining sets, jewellery, horse-trappings - from the first millennium BC. A sacred act of deposition was assumed for pre-Hellenistic hoards in Bulgaria in connection with the Hyperborean myth, usually connected to Thracian orphic rituals (Gergova 1987). An attempt to extend this practice back into the LBA was made, leaving un-discussed all the pre-LBA and post-Hellenistic findings (Gergova 1987). This ethnically oriented and time-dependent approach was favoured because of the prevailing culture-historical framework used for interpretation.

The second trend appeared in the last decade with the rapid increase in the number of excavated ditches and pit-fields in Bulgaria. These features started to be seen as a result of deliberate practice, mainly of ritual origin. Special attention was paid to their content, as well as to their context (Georgieva 1991, 2001, Bonev and Alexandrov 1996, Tonkova and Savatinov 2001, Nikov 2001, Balabanov 1995, Lichardus et al. 2001, Leshtakov et al. in press). Five of the 15 pit-fields formally accepted as such in Bulgaria are in the Maritsa Iztok study region, which makes structured deposition an important issue of the current study.

The function of the pits provoked informal discussion among Bulgarian archaeologists, most of whom still insisted on the rubbish-dump interpretation given the pits’ non-representative infilling of sherds, ash, animal bones, etc. The official publications made by the excavators of such sites and features overcame the old traditional interpretation and accepted pits and pit-fields as evidence of some kind of ritual. Since most of the pit features excavated so far in Bulgaria are from the Early Historic and Classical periods (EIA, LIA and Roman period), their interpretation has been related to the Greek tradition of libatio (Nikov pers comm.), an attempt to make images of the Greek Gods Hecate and Hermes (Balabanov 1995), a cult to the Thracian Great Mother Goddess, i.e., a cult of fertility and domesticity (Tonkova and Savatinov 2001), fertility and protection of the home or a solar cult or thanksgiving (Georgieva 2001).

In 1991, the first general overview of pit structures was published, summarising and standardising all pit features known at that time. They were classified according to their situation (in/under mound or outside cemeteries), their content and shape and their purpose (memorial, sacrificial, feasting, etc). The earliest pits included in this study were single LBA pits from Plovdiv, Essenista, Cherkovna and Govora (Georgieva 1991).

Discussion of any late prehistoric pits found within pit-fields dominated by later features has been avoided. If mentioned at all, pits discovered on tells are interpreted either as clay-mining pits filled later with rubbish, deliberately excavated rubbish pits or as storage pits (Raduncheva 1976, Lichardus et al. 2001). In one case, a cult complex consisting of a shaft, a pit and a feature was recognized within a tell, unfortunately without any context or content description and interpretation (Stanev 1997). Structured deposition has been claimed for wall-plasters that formed ritual reliefs (tell Dolnoslav) and even the settlement mound after the end of a tell’s occupation (tell Podgoritsa), leaving without any explanation, however, the 100 pits that enclose the sacred space (or temenos, as the excavator called it) on tell Dolnoslav (Raduncheva 1996).

Ditches that surround tells have been interpreted as fortifications (Todorova 1995, Stanev 1997). Combination of ditches and banks were also claimed to serve as barriers against flood-waters (Bailey 1990). In just two cases, BA ditches were considered as instances of deliberate depositional practice. The first one is the ditch on tell Merzdumekia in Drama. After 3 years of excavation and 8 years of field experiment, the investigators inferred that the MBA (EBA3 according to Bulgarian chronology) enclosure bounding some 30 pits of the same period is a ritual rather than a defensive feature. It contained stones, plasters, clay, animal bones, spindle whorls, weights, vessels - fragmented or secondarily broken - and all of the materials showed evidence of deliberate order in the sequence of deposition. Field experiment observations proved that some maintenance strategies have been performed and, once they had been stopped, natural conditions caused the filling of the feature within a decade. The presumed duration of the MBA ditch/enclosure at Drama was the lifetime of one generation. A similar ritual function was accepted for the Chalcolithic ditch, which was, however, a place of structured deposition after its primary function was complete (Lichardus et al. 2001).

A second ditched site found near the village of Cherna gora was considered as a rondel, thus implying a non-utilitarian, ritual function for this particular feature (Leshtakov et al. in press). Complex planning over several different chronological phases and a diversity of features and artefacts documented during the excavations made the investigators infer a long-lasting, specifically oriented strategy of construction, deposition and maintenance. The two main features were inner and outer ditches, both filled with ash, charcoal, broken vessels, animal bones, spindle whorls, weights, fragments of stone and flint tools, etc. According to the excavators, the ditch sanctuary existed for more then 400-500 years, starting around EBA2/3 (Leshtakov et al. in press).

Other structures that, in the Western archaeological tradition, are usually connected with SD are wells or shafts. So far there is just one reported from Bulgaria. It is considered as a megalithic monument since it is faced with stones. The shaft is 5.5m deep and has a 7-m-long dromos with niches in it. The excavator claims that it contains materials of different date such as a prehistoric layer of stones, remains of timber and animal bones, among which a fragment of a stone axe was found. It is interpreted as a LBA cult monument – a shrine devoted to spring water. The site is believed to be strongly influenced and inspired by the Sardinian Nuragic culture, although no other links with Sardinia have been identified (Mitova-Dzonova 1984).

This brief summary of structured deposition issues in Bulgaria has revealed two important facts. First, there are features that contain structured deposition and these have recently been recognized as places with deliberate depositional practices. Secondly, the lack of any general theoretical background for interpreting pit-features and their content has led to the lack of any commonly accepted term for this deliberate practice, as well as temporal, spatial and ethnic limitations of suggested interpretations that have one thing in common- they are all ritually oriented. Moreover, this approach reifies the sacred – profane duality that I wish to overcome.

Structured deposition in the current study

The present emphasis on structured deposition was prompted by the presence of such features within the study region. Some of them (e.g. the Drama ditch and the Polski Gradets pits) were recognized as deliberate ritual practice but this was not related to the overall pattern of social and/or cosmological reproduction. Others (e.g. Ovcharitsa II and Iskritsa) were misinterpreted and need re-consideration.

3.3 Microregional studies

Deliberate, target-oriented regional surveys in archaeology were very rare until the early 1970s. These were either investigations inspired by geographical approaches (Fox 1923) or early applications of settlement patterns studies (e.g. Willey 1953). The concept for a region as a time/space coherent unit that contains evidence for long-term occupation patterns was primarily applied to the Neolithic settlement of Southern Poland (Kruk 1973, English translation 1980). Later applications extended the research scope including all the known periods and sites within the surveyed area (Chapman et al.1996). The definition of region varies in different studies (compare, for example, Stehli 1989 with Chapman et al. 1996) but, in general, geographical factors are dominant in the delineation of the research area.

The microregion as a subdivision of the study area was also introduced as a proper unit of study (Bökönyi 1992). Microregion size and location was also dependent on archaeological choice prompted by the abundance of archaeological sites, on the one hand, and more often by environmental diversity on the other. According to the hitherto existing regional and microregional case studies, the concept of such kind of investigations could be summarized as interdisciplinary studies of settlement patterns and their dynamic, inter-site and site-landscape relationships in a specific, geographically bounded area.

3.3.1 The present situation in Bulgaria

Regional surveys

Systematic regional surveys in Bulgaria have been organised under the umbrella of the project for the establishment of the Archaeological Map of Bulgaria (AMB). Archaeologists from local museums (usually at the county level) had to complete a record form with detailed information for each site in their district. On a regular basis, archaeologists from AIM, responsible for enlarging and popularising the AMB project, helped county archaeologists in intensive field-walking surveys and the re-assessment and up dating of the available archaeological data set. All of the museums held records and archives of site distributions and previous investigations in the region. One of the tasks of the AMB was to utilise the pre-exiting data set and to make a detailed record of all archaeological monuments in each territorial/administrative unit (okrug) in Bulgaria.

Prior to, and now running in parallel with, the AMB project, there was a similar initiative of the National Institute for Cultural Monuments (NIMK). This was a long-term joint project between the different counties (okrug) and the NIMK but, in fact, the job has been mainly done by county archaeologists for just 6 out of 26 regions (Dremsizova-Nelchinova and Antonova 1975, Dimitrova and Popov 1978, Dremsizova-Nelchinova and Slokoska 1978, Dremsizova-Nelchinova 1987, Mitova-Dzonova 1983, etc.). While similar in aims, the two projects differ in their visible outcome and degree of successful target completion. The AMB is a computer-based interactive database of more than 14,000 archaeological sites with the possibility of keyword searches. It also contains some limited environmental data for the sites. The NIMK project succeeded to map the archaeological sites in less then 30% of all the counties but its six printed volumes complement the AMB very well, by providing paper topographic and distribution maps, otherwise unavailable from AMB records.

Apart from these large-scale centralised projects, there were several attempts to catalogue and map prehistoric occupation sequences at the regional level. These were either the result of research enthusiasm of amateur archaeologists (e.g. Petkov 1932/34, 1934, 1939, 1960, 1961,1965) or county archaeologists (e.g. Nikolov, B. 1952) or certain time/space-oriented studies (e.g. Domaradski et al. 1999). An extreme example of constrained regional studies is the Maritsa-Iztok Expedition itself (Panayotov et al.1991, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2001). Others of similar kind are the intensive surveys of linear strips along highways, pipelines and dam constructions (Leshtakov 1997, Borislavov n.d., Borislavov et al. n.d.).

Some data about the cultural environment at the microregional level could be found in some publications of major multi-occupational sites (e.g. tell Ovcharovo) that provide, as a reference point and additional information, the site distribution around the immediate excavated area (Todorova et al. 1983). Recently the cultural milieu became an integral part of the survey record form of the Maritsa Iztok Expedition.

All of the above mentioned studies contain empirical data for the sites in terms of variables such as area, chronology, features, etc.; a few of them are complemented by interdisciplinary investigations such as palaeo–ethnobotanical, palynological and faunal analyses, as well as mineralogical, chemical and geomorphological studies. Most of them also present some kind of interpretation and/or discussion.

However, regional surveys were rarely considered as an opportunity for settlement pattern studies (one exception is Leshtakov et. al. 2001). Despite the use of a constrained area, local studies failed to identify places or a series of places as an entity (e.g. river valley/ microregion, catchment basin/macroregion) that might be compared and /or contrasted to adjacent regions.

Funding constraints, and hence research priorities, put Bulgarian archaeologists in the position of describing cross-cultural and cross-temporal relations within and outside a surveyed area (county, river course valley or pipeline layouts), rather than exploring the evidence from different points of view and thus giving them the opportunity to justify what is unique (what is specific to the region) and what is general (what unites the region with the outside world). Microregional and regional studies were never mentioned in the Bulgarian archaeological research agenda and usually the contemporary administrative division imposed the smallest territorial research unit. Though maybe occurring to some Bulgarian archaeologist, the concept of microregional studies as an opportunity to explore inter-site relationships, settlement patterns and regional social and economic potential, has never been realized as a working project.

The Drama project

So far, there is only one case in Bulgaria in which microregional aspects of the study were claimed and partly implemented as such. For 18 seasons since 1983, a German expedition has undertaken a series of field surveys, total excavation of three sites, palaeo-geographical investigations, detailed analysis of artefacts (flint, pottery), animal bones and plant remains studies in the region around the modern village of Drama in Southeast Bulgaria (Fol et al. 1989, Lichardus et al. 1996, Lichardus et al. 2000a, Lichardus et al. 2000b). The expedition in fact was planned as a Bulgarian-German co-operation and indeed the names of some Bulgarians are present in the publication. In fact, however, apart from constant participation of Ilya Illiev and the sporadic presence of some Bulgarian students during the field seasons, the Expedition was closed to Bulgarians. Two exhibitions and three major publications have disseminated the results and the evidence from 18 years of intensive investigations (Fol et al. 1989, Lichardus et al. 1996, Lichardus et al. 2000a, = in Bulgarian translation Lichardus et al. 2001).

The most recent book was issued in both German and Bulgarian language and contains the most recent data and interpretations (Lichardus et al. 2000a, Lichardus et al. 2001). The structure of the book is to present the evidence in the order in which it was excavated, not in order of their chronological occurrence. The claims and subsequent arguments are in scattered groups throughout the whole text and not helpfully summarized in a consistent conclusion. Thus, for example, on the basis of the map of the Aegean, the Balkans and the North Pontic steppes (Lichardus et al. 2001:1) with a delineated area that unites these three cultural entities3 and some common research issues briefly mentioned in the introductory chapter, one can only guess at the place of the Drama microregion in the overall archaeological picture of Bulgarian prehistory. Indeed, evidence for long-distance contacts has been discussed in the publications (Lichardus et al. 2000: 161-174), underlining the significance of the region in the contemporary prehistoric world (e.g. contacts with the North Pontic steppes and the Aegean). However, no explanation was ever given for why and how these contacts have occurred and the sequence of their directions was extremely briefly mentioned only in the last section of the publication (Lichardus et al. 2001:194).

A similar difficulty is valid for following the arguments for the expedition research aim, which is formulated as follows: find out a topographically bounded valley with human occupation traces but with settlement sites priority that are going to be systematically excavated and the settlement history from the Neolithic till Early Medieval period is going to be reconstructed along with environmental investigation (Lichardus et al. 2001: 10-11)4. Chapter six is supposed to present this reconstruction, where occupational stages are mainly given in terms of pottery phases, while features and structures are very briefly mentioned. Environmental investigation results are, again, scattered throughout the text, selectively and very briefly summarized in Chapter six, with very little evidence provided, which gives rise to serious doubts about their validity.

Despite the evident contribution in gaining new empirical data and in introducing microregional studies as an appropriate method of investigation, the Drama project seems to misunderstand some of the important issues in regional studies. The site distribution map shows 20 sites within the microregion (Lichardus et al. 2000a: 11) but just three are published in detail. Evidence for the remaining 17 is only briefly mentioned, thus leaving a big gap between the apparently intensively occupied Drama microregion and the one presented in the publications. An imbalance in presentation of archaeological data, interdisciplinary investigation results and interpretations led the Drama team away from their stated microregional research orientation. Huge attention was paid to the definition on phases of prehistoric pottery development, perhaps because, on the one hand, it contradicts the so-far accepted Bulgarian relative chronology based on pottery typology, and, on the other hand, because pottery was the main source for claiming the presence of a certain occupational stage in the surveyed area. The features containing this pottery, whether ceramic scatters, pits or houses, tend to lack any attempt of interpretation in terms of social practices, settlement pattern or intra- and inter-site relationships. Similarities in pottery were the only inter-site link to be mentioned. The palaeo-geographical conclusions were not justified with reference to the data and the selective cross-reference to earlier publications led to a serious confusion about relations between the people and their environment.

The lack of established settlement patterns and overall reconstruction of human –environment relations throughout the occupational sequence of the region resulted in a failure to provide a coherent picture of life in the microregion as a whole. Reasons for why and how the region was settled, abandoned or reoccupied remain unclear. For inexplicable reasons, samples for C14 dates were never taken, with the consequent loss of opportunities for solving many of the chronological issues widely discussed in the publications. Changing or recurrent patterns of dwelling, land use, social practices, etc. were not discussed. The human impact on the landscape was not considered as an issue, since there were neither pollen samples taken nor proper publication of plant remains studies.

Answers to all these questions will perhaps be forthcoming in future monographs in the Drama project series of microregional publications.

3.3.2 Territorial analysis – primary investigation method in microregional studies

Introducing the method

In 1970, Higgs and Vita-Finzi formulated the term site catchment analysis (SCA) and introduced it as a proper field and interpretive approach to prehistoric settlement study. This followed their practice experience and was theoretically inspired by von Thünen’s model of Das Isolierte Stadt (von Thünen 1826, new ed. 1966), re-introduced into modern geography by Chisholm (Chisholm 1968). Geographical approaches were not a novelty in archaeology (Fox 1923), neither were subsistence issues (Clark 1939, 1952). But Higgs and Vita-Finzi were the first to integrate a number of approaches – geographical, ethological, economic and anthropological – in a coherent method of investigation for prehistoric settlements and their surroundings. Originally, the method required the determination of a ring of 5 km in radius around an agricultural site and 10 km or two hours’ walking time for non-agricultural sites. The latter was derived from anthropological data (Lee 1967), the former on the basis of Chisholm’s study of Sicilian farms (Chisholm 1968) and then first applied to the economic status of Natufian sites in Palestine (Higgs and Vita-Finzi 1970). Available resources within that ring were documented in terms of quality and type of soils, their potential for certain vegetation or cultivation (arable, good grazing, rough grazing, no potential), as well as accessibility to prey. For agricultural sites, inner rings (1-4 km in radius) were also defined in order to weight the resources in terms of cost/distance relations. The basic assumption of the model was that least- cost strategies of subsistence influence site location and catchment area (Higgs and Vita-Finzi 1970).

Review of SCA development

After its formal introduction in archaeological theory and practice, SCA was both highly debated and applied in various ways during the 1970s. A review of SCA literature reveals a high degree of self-criticism among the method’s followers that resulted in refinement and improvement to both the theory and the practice of SCA. Thus the catchment area was reduced to 1 hour and 10 minutes’ walking (1km- my note) (Jarman and Webley 1975); the central place of the site was considered an appropriate in the case of plant foods or cultivated crops subsistence but not applicable for the catchment of mobile resources such as animals, for instance (Bailey 1997); the ring-like perimeter and size of the catchment area, especially in cases of overlapping territories of adjacent sites, appeared to be inconvenient and a more flexible size and shape were assumed (Dennell and Webley 1975); the SC of any site should be considered in relation to and in the context of its regional potential (Flannery 1976); and the evidence for potential resources should be compared and justified to actual site evidence (Bailey and Davidson 1983). Finally, a number of factors, particularly social factors, were gradually considered as additional (but not alternative) constraints on site location (Roper 1979, Bailey and Davidson 1983).

Each application of SCA was a contribution to the theoretical background of the model. The element of the approach most in question appeared to be the name, and hence the underlying implications, of SCA. The lexicon of the method was enlarged with terms as site-territory area, site-exploitation territory, actual field, annual territory, temporary annexes, etc., whose aim it was to resolve the inconsistencies in the use of model and the evidence from particular case-studies. Each of the investigations, however, was dealing with resources – raw materials, animal and plant accessibility, their human exploitation and site location. Flannery suggested that the catchment area should be investigated from the evidence found within a settlement (Flannery 1976), an idea developed by Dennell (1978), who proposed that catchments be used to refer to objects and their movements around the landscape, exploitation territories to people.

The first part of this statement has been already criticized, since an exotic object may appear in a local catchment (Gamble 1993), while the second claim for the relationship between exploitation territories and people returns to the original concept for SCA.

A detailed overview of SCA and its applications until 1979 was made by Donna Roper, who concluded that SCA favoured different kind of research aims and objectives such as the determination of the feasibility of various forms of economy, modelling of the settlement pattern and the study of demographic process (Roper 1979). Further contributions were discussed in Bailey and Davidson’s article, that was one of the last SCA case studies in the 1980s (Bailey and Davidson 1983). After years of various applications and attempts to answer the ever-growing criticism, SCA ceased to be an important issue in the mid-eighties. It was neither criticized nor mentioned. In the context of the increasing post-processual trend in archaeology, the research potential of SCA diminished and was no longer an area of active research interest.

SCA received a substantial amount of critique from outside its circle of followers. Some of the method’s shortcomings were solved even prior to their formal critique (e.g. Hodder and Orton’s (1976) critique of the concentric circles had already been reconsidered by Dennell and Webley (1975)), while others were the object of constant refinement. Most important among the latter were the least cost assumption and the use of modern land use patterns as a source for palaeo-land use. Answering the modern land use objection, SCA case studies started to include a review of palaeo-environmental changes, aiming to reduce the modern biases in SCA results (Bailey and Davidson 1983, Gilman and Thornes 1985, Chapman et al.1996). Least cost criticism is a part of a more general critique of SCA concerning the economic issues of the method that will be considered in some detail later. Here, it is noteworthy that, without being considered as deterministic, the least cost assumption was argued to be valid in numerous archaeological case studies (e.g., Gilman and Thornes 1985, Limp 1989, 1990). As an answer to a critique of least cost, ethnographic evidence, according to which this concept was practiced among traditional societies, was summarised in the last of the British Academy Early Farming Projects volumes (Jarman et al.1982)

An original application of SCA was made in the Maddle Farm field project (Gaffney et. al 1985). It extends the number of factors through which past human behaviour could be studied and explained. The inclusion of domestic animals and their role in manuring practice is an important contribution to the refinment of the theory and the methods of SCA. The Maddle Farm study is particularly relevant for the current study as it argues that domestic animals were kept in immediate proximity to the settlement, for reasons of milking and ready transportation of concentrated manure.

Looking for an acceptable explanation for expulsion of SCA from archaeological theory and practice in the last 15 years or so, the most evident reason appeared to be the method’s economic orientation, which does not favour the social priorities of the interpretive framework of recent post-processual archaeology. An opposition between social and economic factors was alleged as the principal theoretical contradiction of SCA. Prior to formulating SCA as a milestone in palaeo-economical studies (Higgs 1972), social and economic issues used to be considered as different but inseparable aspects of the past and were studied as such (Clark 1939, 1959, Sherratt 1972).

This supposed social/economy dichotomy was exposed after the intensification of the application of ecological models in archaeology in the late 1960s and early 1970s (Butzer 1972). Higgs and Jarman emphasised that the study of economy, the major selective force in prehistory has, until now, largely been ignored as a result of years of dominance by the cultural model (Higgs and Jarman 1969: 40). This triggered the initial critique of the deterministic relationship between economic strategy, resources and technology and gave alternative reasons for site location as defence, access to water, roads, ritual places, etc. (Hodder and Orton 1976). Since then, many arguments were adduced to favour the primacy of either social or economic factors in prehistoric site location, along with studies, however, that consider them as complex, inter-related variables (Sieveking et al. 1976). Although social factors started to be recognized in SCA studies in the early 1980s (Bailey and Davidson 1983, Gilman and Thornes 1985), the debate was exhausted and SCA appeared to sink into academic oblivion.


A partial vindication of the SCA concept was to appear in the early applications of GIS in archaeology. The traditional application of this new analytical tool-kit can be seen in the exhaustive settlement pattern study of Late Woodland horticulturists in New York State area (Hunt 1992), the study of the island of Hvar in Dalmatia (Gaffney and Stančić 1991) and the settlement pattern study of the LBK in Central Germany (Saile 1997). All of these studies related settlement location and any subsequent changes to some kind of environmental variable (soil, slope, etc). Apart from the obvious simplification of the human/environment interrelation, these applications promoted GIS and SCA as a proper complex methodological tool in settlement patterns and regional studies. Their importance can be relevantly evaluated on the ground of the then prevailing predictive modelling in GIS applications.

Predictive modelling (PD) of archaeological site location has a long tradition in GIS practice and maybe the greatest research efforts and resources of GIS application in archaeology have been spent in its development and improvement. It employs a number of techniques and methods but its basic assumption is that there is a link between a site location and its surroundings reconstructed through measurable environmental variables. This is more or less equivalent to the SCA concept, although the term has never been mentioned. Predictive modelling has been broadly applied in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) and planning development (for details for PD and CRM chapters 9, 13, 14, 18 -24 in Allen et al.1990, and chapters 1 - 3 & 26 in Lock and Stančić 1995).

As mentioned earlier in this chapter (p. 57), GIS applications have been heavily criticised because of their implicit environmental determinism (van Leusen 1995). Since SCA may well be vulnerable to the same critique, this is the place to discuss the issue in some detail. The debate dates back to the 1980s, when the post-processual movement in archaeology criticised the straightforward environment – human adaptation link as simplistic and omitting any social aspects in human development. In all the environmental determinism critiques, however, it is not clear why a clearly observable relationship between some settlements and certain soil type or the connection of some barrows to a South Eastern aspect is deterministic and hence bad according to the contemporary archaeological interpretive framework. It is the successive explanation of such an interrelation and most of all the change in this pattern of interrelations that is the reason for the severe criticism (e.g. settlements were located in a particular place because of the fertile soils and when the latter were exhausted, settlement locations have changed). However, I was not able to identify what the possible explanation of environment / settlement location relation is according to the social adherents of human development. While consistent in their ED critique (such as Hodder’s criticism of the systems approach in archaeology, of which ED is considered a part) and the presentation of alternative explanatory modes (e.g. contextual archaeology) (Hodder 1986) social and cognitive archaeologists tacitly avoid the meaning of environmental factors and hence, reaching the other extreme that easily can be called social determinism.

This unhelpful formulation of determinisms results in an ungrounded opposition between environmental /economic and social factors, in which the former are considered as behavioural response and adaptation and the latter are considered as the most important in the human development as they are the driving force of cultural change. This opposition will be discussed in the following section of this chapter. The comment I’d like to make here is that the physical background is more likely to be relevantly appreciated in the case of environmental extremes (e.g. desert or constant snow coverage) where geographic, weather or any other conditions play an important role in social practices (e.g. recurrent journeys for water or social gatherings for the collective hunting of whales), while, in less extreme conditions, environment factors seemed to be either over- or under-estimated. Most probably, people needed to be well integrated with their surroundings and it is our AD 20th century investigators’ evaluation that considers such an interrelation deterministic or adaptive. In an attempt to escape from the ED critiques in their renewed study of island of Hvar, Gaffney and Stančić (1995) placed emphasis on the distribution of stone cairns, seeking to investigate the landscape of perception. What they seem to miss is that it was the karst environment of Dalmatia that made people clear some areas for agriculture, heap the stones with or without burial among them, following what most was probably a consistent socio-economic practice of relating everyday activities (agricultural fields), ancestors (burial mounds) and some purification and fertility rituals (empty cairns)(see Chapman et al. 1996).

Another property of the GIS toolbox – the cost-surface analysis - was indirectly criticised, since it rests on the least cost presumption. While I would agree with the general disapproval of the uncritical application of behavioural patterns to the past (Hodges 1987, Shepherd 1999), I’d like to suggest that, before overruling certain modern models, one should examine the evidence against such a model and provide an alternative behavioural pattern. In the case of the least cost assumption, it means that, as long as some ethnographic and off-site evidence suggests least cost strategy as relevant, it should be considered as one important influence on site location but not the only one. After a proper joint investigation of the available archaeological and environmental data, it is possible that other factors (e.g. defence) were more important in the site location. Only after that, least cost assumption should be considered as a factor with no or secondary importance in the particular case study.

The development of GIS packages produces the results of cost surface analysis in terms of time (not just in distance as in the original SCA), effort, least-cost paths, cumulative cost surfaces, multiple least-cost paths and least cost networks (van Leusen 1999). Thiessen polygons were spatial pattering adopted (Hodder and Orton 1976) and applied (Hodder 1972, Renfrew 1973) by archaeologists after modern geographical applications (Haggett 1965); this is a routine operation in cost surface analysis. Thiessen polygons are taken as integrating political, administrative, religious, etc. entities by considering space as two-dimensional, flat and isotropic (van Leusen 1999). However, when overlaid with a cost surface slope map, for example, the outcome map will justify the relevance of the defined areas according to one aspect – in this case, terrain slope. Several such overlays are possible (e.g. hydrology, soils), showing the integrity of GIS data and the flexibility of GIS analysis. Thiessen polygons and SCA are usually opposed in archaeological theory and practice literature (Hodder and Orton 1976), while, in GIS analysis, they can very often be effectively combined (Savage 1990, Gaffney and Stančić 1991).

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, environmental and landscape aspects should not be divided into different parts of a regional settlement study. Two case studies are presented to illustrate a consistent approach to both archaeological and environmental data which establishes a coherent socio-economic and spatial pattern: the first in prehistoric North America (Savage 1990), the second in prehistoric Spain (Verhagen et al. 1995). Both studies comprise a reasonable body of original and general archaeological theory, as well as some methods and techniques not common in GIS practice (e.g. models of social grouping (Savage) or introducing domains as socio-natural descriptors (Verhagen et al.). They are included in the SCA section, since both of them are either referring directly to SCA (Savage) or denying the traditional SCA concept but, in fact, re-introducing it in its refined variant of territorial analysis (Verhagen et al.). The two case studies are also chosen as, according to my view, the best examples of theoretically grounded socio-economic studies revealing and using the ability and potential of GIS in archaeology to the full.

In his study of social organisation in the Late Archaic in the Savannah River Valley of Georgia and South Carolina, Savage starts from the claim that models of social organisation can be conceptualised in terms of the social, cognitive and physical landscapes within which people live (Savage 1990:). Following Dennell’s (1983) subsistence/reproductive groups, Wobst’s (1974) minimum/maximum band and Pred’s (1986) geographic location approach, Savage hypothesises that the Late Archaic social landscape consisted of maximum band social territories divided into minimum band subsistence territories(1990). After a series of theoretical assumptions, defined test implications and GIS assessment of the test implications according to the available archaeological data, the hypothesis was confirmed. It was inferred that there were six habitual areas of different size, defined on the basis of Thiessen polygons from base camp sites, that were occupied by six minimum bands, forming a maximum mean band size of 497 people. Boundaries between the habitual areas were related to both edges and centres and two contact areas were identified. The sites within the research area were clustered and each cluster contained a variety of site types in terms of different temporal, spatial and functional uses. To achieve these results, Savage applies a non-conventional interpretative framework accommodating geographic location theory, models of social organization, boundary studies, site function study, demographic and subsistence models (Savage 1990). The main problem with this joint approach is its not very well defined common theoretical background in terms of both LA and GIS.

The second case study dealt with socio-economic activities in the Bronze Age in Southeast Spain (Verhagen et al 1995). Acknowledging the failure of SCA because the social is abruptly disintegrated from the natural ((Verhagen et al 1995:189) and following Crumley and Marquard’s (1990) socio-historic and biophysical structures, Verhagen et al. develop a model of social space consisting of six socio-natural descriptors. They are called domains and are the domain of human reproduction and maintenance activities, the domain of food production, the domain of material technology production, the domain of raw material and artefact transaction, the domain of political and administrative organization and the domain of the ancestors. In the case study of the Vera Basin in Southeast Spain, the domain of food production was investigated via an integrative, hierarchical framework containing three levels of data transformation. The first level is the representative level, referring to climate, geology, soils, etc., the second level is the descriptive level, dealing with site location, site intervisibility, transportation surface, etc., and the third is the interpretive level that represents the dynamic models of subsistence, demography and human/land interaction. As the input point of this framework, GIS form the link between relational and mapping database and, together with archaeological, social/historical data and environmental data, it is direct related to the first level and indirectly to the other two levels. The descriptive level in Vera Basin case study includes distance analysis (to the coastline, to the dry river beds, etc), analysis of the surrounding of each site (refined SCA) and visibility analysis. The results of cost surface analysis of the three investigated sites showed that each site’s one-hour territory had differential potential based upon their different sizes and outlines. At least two possible routes (paths) connecting the three sites were identified, thus showing the capability of GIS on the one hand and sensitivity to tackling and interpreting GIS analysis results on the other. It was also concluded that, in the Bronze Age of the Vera Basin, there was, a natural type of landscape organization, incorporating cereal cropping, olives, oak groves and animal pasture as a diversified single system (Verhagen et al 1995:203).

The aims of this short review of GIS applications which make active use of SCA are twofold. First, I wish to argue that the critique of ED and cost surface analysis as being too general is ill-founded; the critiques are also unhelpful in failing to provide an alternative approach to such data. Secondly, I attempt to reconcile the landscape and environmental approach in archaeology, giving productive examples of GIS studies combining these two approaches. As Verhagen et al. put it, …humans do not adapt to the environment…rather, they are embedded in landscape evolution as a continuous structuring and restructuring of time-space, one that implies no teleological directive (Verhagen et al 1995:190).

New perspective in territorial analysis

As stated in the introductory chapter, the concept of SCA will be applied in the current study. The brief review of SCA development in archaeological theory and practice revealed its various understanding and applications. This means that each new application of SCA, usually connected with a further refinement of the term, receives an introductory explanation. For the purposes of this study, further extensions to the existing SCA terminology was considered as an inappropriate, so the term SCA is going to be used to denote both Dennell’s catchment area and exploitation territory. A similar application of SCA was utilised by Bailey and Davidson (1983). This follows my understanding that the recognition of local and non-local elements within a site and its surroundings is important but that their study and interpretation should not be separated. The practice of delineating an area around a particular site to define its exploitation territory (a practice that will be followed in this study as well) does not contradict the concept of a broader catchment area, that should be inferred, and not assumed, on the basis of the available evidence.

This refined understanding of SCA has, in my view, great potential in microregional and settlement pattern studies. Instead of fostering a false opposition between social and economic variables, research efforts should be re-directed towards the establishment of a flexible model of investigating and overlaying different kind of evidence that would subsequently facilitate a proper socio-economic interpretation. An improved SCA, along with the GIS technique, would provide a powerful base for the development of such a approach.

The first step in the refinement of SCA is to explore the social/economy dichotomy. It was not until 1996 that a different usage of word economy in archaeology was clarified both semantically and in content (Preucel and Hodder 1996). Terms such as ecosystems modelling, evolutionary ecology, cultural economics, cultural materialism and political economy were formulated to unify the diversity of approaches and interpretations of human activities such as subsistence, resource exploitation, production, distribution and trade. This is an example of how contemporary archaeologists tend to name events and issues of the past with modern, mainly English terms, and to fragment these event and issues into pieces that are convenient to study with present means and models (e.g. production of commodities to be studied in terms of political economy), not providing evidence that such division was really a fact in the period under study. This critique targets not the language limitations that we cannot avoid but the easily claimed and then broadly reproduced oppositions such as natural - cultural, social – economic or quotidian – sacred, without arguing that this opposition was valid in the period under study. Whether or not subsistence strategies in the past should be called the economy, does not change the fact of their existence. I am not aware of any archaeological evidence which can prove that these strategies were disconnected from quotidian social and/or ritual practices. On the contrary, archaeological literature contains many examples of ritual objects found in non-ritual contexts, such as in the middle of an arable field, for example (see discussion and references in Harding 2000, Mikov 1933, Gaydarska 1998), as well as natural residues (animal bones and plant remains) and working tools discovered in a highly structured context of ditches, pits, enclosures and burnt houses (Richards and Thomas 1984, Chapman 2000 with references, Lichardus et al. 2001).

The potential for a certain class of subsistence strategy could be established through the exploration and evaluation of the resources around a particular site. This is far from claiming that each and every available resource was used and the intensity with which they were used. Land use and other subsistence patterns are to be explored after environmental data is juxtaposed to site evidence and, if possible, together with proper demographic analysis. The definition of subsistence activities should always be related to the social practices on which they are based and the implied social relations. The link between economy and social organization has already been pointed out long ago (Sherratt 1972) and it is my intention to extend and deepen this statement by claiming that subsistence and social practices were strongly interrelated. Social practices, here, are understood in a broad sense and their claimed relation to environmental factors is not to be seen as re-introducing the 1960s trend of environmental deterministic into archaeology, according to which cultural change was dependent on environment (Steward 1955, Struever 1968). Social practice is another term by which modern archaeologists seek to explain the daily, seasonal, year-round and life-time activities of interconnected human groups, through which their relations are maintained and/or negotiated for the establishment of successful reproduction and transformation.

Although not specially emphasising this point, some of the 1980s applications of SCA support socio-economic integration. An example is the claim for the existence of a major aggregation site and " three major site systems, each of which would have provided a regional integration of a variety of sites" in Palaeolithic Cantabria (Bailey and Davidson 1983). In another case, the refutation of long-lasting claims for the primacy of transhumance and metalworking in prehistoric Southeast Spain is achieved entirely on the basis of SCA (Gilman and Thornes 1985). Investigating environmental variables around a site is not necessarily non-social, since such studies provide evidence for the suitability and sustainability of the area for camping, hunting, settling, burying, defending, worshipping and any other social practice, and hence the opportunity for reconstruction of each of these practices in accordance with the site data. As already argued in the Neothermal Dalmatia Project, SCA is a proper and necessary interpretive technique in each regional study (Chapman et al. 1996). The detailed small-scale survey of a site and its surroundings facilitates the multi-site sub-regional and regional studies of settlement patterns, land use, inter-site relationships and human – landscape interrelations. In this small-scale interpretive framework, in which regional studies consist of numerous SCAs, the site does not lose its identity and importance in an abstract theoretical model or does not represent the smallest (almost anonymous) surveyed unit in a large-scale field project but it is simultaneously a significant demonstration of past social practices and a constituent of the overall regional breeding network pattern.

Returning to SCA, a helpful revision would be to make explicit links between environmental/ economic and social factors. Thus, for example, if important social issues imposed the setting of a certain settlement in a particular location, it is the environment of the place that supports the continued dwelling of the people at the same place. In contrast, if a site retains the same catchment area and exploitation territory but the actual settlement is moved, this alerts us to some form of social or other constraint. An example of such inter-related constraints could be the models of restricted and extended mobility of the settlement patterns in prehistoric Turkish Thrace (Erdogu 1999).

Any new application of SCA should be based upon past experience and an open and critical mind. Settlement and subsistence strategies should be inferred from the evidence of each concrete case and recurrent and changing patterns are to be equally anticipated. The results of environmental investigations must be checked and cross-referenced with site and off-site evidence, and only then a reconstruction of settlement pattern, land use, subsistence and social practices of the surveyed area could be suggested.

3.3.3 Summary

For the purposes of this study, the investigation of social change will be integrated with landscape archaeology, study of material culture and its depositional practices and microregional studies, as an integral part of settlement archaeology. The overall aim is the development of a coherent socio-cultural reconstruction of life in prehistoric South East Bulgaria. One productive way of integrating landscape, material culture and social practices is to regard them all as aspects of Bourdieu’s (1977) habitus, through which people orient themselves to everyday tasks with reference to broader, but unsaid, structural principles. Thus the ways in which hunting is carried out near or far from a settlement is just as much embedded in habitus-derived principles as the structured deposition of fragments of grindstones in a settlement shaft. The broader structuring principles of social life can very readily be glimpsed in the micro-scale contexts of cooking, house construction, flint tool manufacture and pottery decoration. This point provides the potential for the integration of macro-scale and micro-scale - structure and agency - in every site in the study area.

3.4 GIS Methodology

The GIS analyses in the current study are made using for the most part standard commands within the widely available software ArcView 3.2. On the basis of a digital elevation model, standard information for elevation (Fig.3.4.1), slope (Fig.3.4.2) and aspect (Fig.3.4.3) was extracted. On this basis, viewshed and cost surface analyses were performed. Paths between pairs of sites and between all the sites were derived on the basis of cost distance analyses. Visibility analyses from paths were conducted as well. Finally, a combination of operational tools was used to study the soil distribution around the sites (Fig.3.4.4).

An initial question concerns the presentation of site location. Out of the 28 sites in the study area, five sites (Obrutchishte, Polski Gradets pit site, Tcherniova, Taniokoleva and Kurdova barrows) have an uncertain location. This fact is discussed in each of the five case studies. The reason for this reference to the uncertainty in site location is that the paths to these five sites from all the remaining sites are displayed in each case study of the logistical GIS view and may contain some bias in the path track and their visibility. However, the sites have been given several alternative locations, all in the same general area in which they have been discovered, so huge bias in terms of cost or visibility from the paths are not to be expected. More substantial differences are to be expected in the static viewsheds.

Viewsheds in this study are calculated from a cell with an area of 1 ha (100 x 100m). In other words, the visibility/invisibility is derived from a place in the landscape that is 100 x 100m and results are given for places in the landscape that also cover an area of 100 x 100m. So if a point denoted as a site falls in one such visible or invisible cell, it is respectively considered as visible or invisible site from the point from which the viewshed was run. Some of the sites fall on the edge or close to the border of visible and invisible cells. In these cases, it is difficult to claim specific visibility status and both visibility and invisibility are mentioned in the text. Subsequently, the sites were moved towards the centre of the cell where they are located, in order to avoid further ambiguities in the viewshed analysis.

The elevation value from which any viewshed is performed is derived from the elevation data and is not interpolated as the mean value of the surrounding cells. This was imposed by the large errors in the elevation value (and hence the viewshed itself) derived by interpolation. An observer height of 1.50m was added to the elevation value to produce the height from which the visibility analysis is performed. Additional heights were added to some of the tells and barrows, depending on the way the sites developed and grew in height, through the accumulation of occupational remains. Subsequently, viewsheds were run from these points in order to check the pattern of visibility change through time (before, at the time of and after the site’s formation).

Cost distance analyses in the study are based on slope. The slope and the aspect are automatically derived from the digital elevation model. The results of the cost surface analyses are displayed on the logistical GIS view as strips in graduated colour and are called in the current study – cost strips. By default, the number of cost strips is nine; in other words, the landscape is divided into 9 zones that correspond to the accumulated cost needed to reach any point in the landscape from the site for which the cost distance analyses was performed. It is possible to customise the number of cost strips in accordance with the user’s aims and objectives. In Figs 3.4.5-3.4.7, such a re-classification is shown, in which one and the same data was arranged in 6, 9 and 15 cost strips. This indicates that the cost distance with the six zones is too generalised, while the one with the 15 zones is too detailed. In terms of site distribution, despite the inevitable differences between the three examples, the relative distance between the sites is generally similar – e.g., in the case of the 6-zone classification, the six sites in the Northeasternmost part of the study area fall in one cost strip before the last; in the case of the 9-zone division, the same sites are again in one cost strip – this time two before the last; and finally, in the 15-zone classification, the sites fall in two adjacent cost strips – two and three before the last. In this study, the default figure of nine cost strips was accepted as the most useful compromise of the accumulated cost and was applied to all case studies.

There are several ways of calculating the accumulated cost, most commonly time and calories (van Leusen 1999, Wheatley and Gillings 2002). The version of ArcView used in the current study lacks a ready algorithm for the estimation of time. Due to lack of research time and resources, time estimations of the cost distance between the most distant sites along the East/West and North/South axes have been made using ArcInfo. The figures of 6 hours for the 17 km along the valley between Galabovo and Gudgova tells and 10 hours for the 20 km over the more hilly routes between KMBC and Gonova mogila represent the maximum times needed to cross the study region. Therefore, the duration of a journey along any other of the paths in the study region is shorter - often considerably shorter - than the above figures. In other words, all sites can be reached from every other site within a single day’s journey.

So far, a number of attempts have been made to extract natural pathways on the basis of topographical features withing a given area (Jenson and Domingue 1988; Kweon and Takeo 1994, David 1994) but only the recent study by Bellavia (2002) reached successful conclusions. In the view of the very complicated mathematics, such an attempt has not been made here (see p.357)

The paths in the current study are derived automatically on the basis of the cost surface and cost direction from each site. To avoid repetition, and to save word and computer resources, a path between one pair of sites is displayed and discussed in the most relevant case study rather than in each of the sites’ logistical discussions. This is possible since, in several case studies, it was shown that, although estimated on the basis of different cost surfaces, the paths between two sites formed a perfect match in their tracks/layouts. A logistical network has been produced for each site and all other sites in the study region in order to establish and investigate the route network from the Neolithic up to the Bronze Age, in which any repetition and/or change is significant. However, in the discussion of each site, only the routes to contemporary or earlier sites have been taken into consideration. On each GIS logistical view, there is a visual presentation of paths such as earlier sites – later sites (e.g. EBA Galabovo tell – LBA KMBC). The presence of such paths in the general route network is important not because they were in use during the time of the earlier sites but because they show the development of the network through time – the patterns of change or repetition - in other words, how the foundation and/or location of later sites related to the existing logistical network.

Last but not least in this GIS analysis is visibility from the paths. It is important to point out that a viewshed from a path between two sites is not the sum of the viewsheds from both sites. Fig. 3.4.8 shows the viewshed from Galabovo tell, the viewshed from Mednikarovo tell (Fig. 3.4.9) and a visibility analysis from the path between them (Fig. 3.4.10). It is obvious that the visibility from the path is greater, since it is considered from a number of points on the path rather than from just two points such as the sites themselves. The segments of the path are automatically made at each point where the path changes direction but the points are not visible on the screen. The visibility is calculated from the two ends of each of the segments, as well as from its middle point. On each GIS visibility screen, the viewshed from paths contains more information than discussed in the text. This is due to the word limit and the balance of research objectives in the current study. On the screen, there is a detailed quantified visibility, in which the visible areas are classified using an unique colour key according to the number of points from which the areas could be seen – e.g. the yellow areas are seen from only one point, the beige areas from three points, the grey areas from four points, etc. In the text, only comments on general visibility pattern from paths have been made.

It is possible to reconstruct the visibility while walking along a path. However, it involves much additional computer-aided animation, which falls out of the purview of the current research (but for a recent instructive example, see Exon et al. 2000).

It was also important to perform a cumulative viewshed analysis that would unite each individual viewshed (n=28) in one common visibility grid. Such an analysis is used to investigate both the landscape visibility from sites and site intervisibility.

The area of GIS research which allows more innovative interpretative possibilities concerns the intervisibility of current sites with those sites occupied in (an) earlier period(s). The general intervisibility pattern between the sites was investigated in two directions. Since the landscape was inhabited in stages, it was important to establish the intervisibility between contemporary sites (real intervisibility) and one-way visibility between later and earlier sites. Therefore two different estimations were conducted. For a given number of contemporary sites, each has the potential to see the total number of contemporary sites minus one (itself). Thus, the total number of views for 6 sites is 30 (6 x 5 = 30) and the maximum number of possible intervisibilities (site A can see site B and site B can see site A) is 15 (30/2 = 15). Thus the percentage intervisibility for this group of contemporary sites is x/15 multiplied by 100%, where x is the actual number of intervisibilities noted. The value for x in each period is derived from viewsheds calculated for each site.

The calculation of the percentage visibility of earlier sites from a suite of contemporary but later sites is more complex because of multi-period occupations. Any site from the group under consideration is excluded from the target group of earlier sites if it has earlier occupation. The number of remaining contemporary later sites is then multiplied by the number of earlier sites to give the total number of possible visibilities. Thus, if there are 6 contemporary later sites and 5 earlier sites without any later re-occupation, the total possible number of visibilities would be 30.

In order to check whether the general cumulative visibility pattern should change if the viewing points are different, cumulative viewsheds from various combination of random points were performed. Four combinations were utilised: 28 random points (CDFig.503) (which is the number of the sites), 200 random points (CDFig.504), 500 random points (CDFig.505) and 1,000 random points (CDFig.506) random points were performed. The implications of such an analysis are twofold. First, they should reveal to what extent the landscape visibility is dependent on site location and, secondly, it should indicate the intensity of visibility for those areas where the sites are located.

In the analytical stage of this research two significant problems were encountered. The first one concerns one case site intervisibility, in which one site can be seen and can see the second site but from the second site the first site is not visible. Such cases are possible (as the current study proved as well) but in the case in question (Klisselika and Gudgova tells), there is full site intervisibility between these two sites as tested during the field walking. The GIS error is most probably due to the big resolution (100 x 100 m) at which the viewsheds are calculated, and to which this pair of sites is sensitive.

The second problem concerns the diminishing landscape visibility with the increase of the observer/site height, which appeared for the first time at Manchova mogila case study. This triggered continuous and intensive investigation for the possible reasons of such unexpected result. I repeated the analyses using all the available properties of ArcView, as well as discussing the problem with other GIS practitioners. All my endeavours finished with one and the same result. However, when the same pattern appeared in the viewshed analysis of one of the possible locations of Taniokoleva mogila, which is situated to the South East of Manchova mogila, exactly in the area of recurring decreasing visibility, it made me infer that the reason may be some landscape particularities. The areas that are not visible from the 3-4 m barrow height are located in a gully to the South East of the sites, while, to a great extent, the hills along the gully remain visible in all the viewsheds. Van Leusen (1999) has argued that sites on high places are most likely to be visible from other sites/areas on high places, while sites in the lowlands are most likely to be visible from lowland places. In the case of Manchova and Taniokoleva barrows, landscape particularities such as slope, rock shape, etc. may have contributed to this general principle, which resulted in diminished landscape visibility for both barrows. 

  1. The names in the brackets present just two of numerous followers of each different archaeology. They are chosen on the basis of archaeologists’ long-term research interest in the given area and that’s why years of publications are not mentioned.↩︎

  2. So far Copper Age cemeteries are known only from the North East part of the country, with only one exception found in Thrace. The predominantly EBA flat cemetery near the tell Bereketska (Stara Zagora region) contains four Late Eneolithic graves (Kalchev 1996).↩︎

  3. Such mapping that divides Bulgaria into East and West parts challenges the common acceptance among Bulgarian prehistorians of the massive mountain range of the Stara planina as a boundary. However, neither of the concepts (East/West and North/South contact axis) was ever formally and broadly discussed.↩︎

  4. The translation into English is mine on the basis of the Bulgarian issue. I am aware of its unevenness in English but my deliberate intension was not to put words and phrases that might sound better in English but will change the original statement.↩︎