Space, Place, and Time: GIS Technology in Ancient and Medieval European History

AHA Session 201
Saturday, January 5, 2013: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Bayside Ballroom C (Sheraton New Orleans)
Kathryn L. Jasper, Illinois State University
The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age

Session Abstract

Social action does not occur in a stationary landscape: the dialogue between the landscape and the actors therein determine social and economic dynamics, including the formation of “place.”  The participants address the interplay between large-scale processes, the topography, and cultural traditions using GIS software.  GIS technology in history represents a new mode of inquiry, the possibilities of which researchers are just beginning to explore in the context of ancient and medieval history.  The presentations in this panel assess the potentials of GIS tools citing research in progress.  Panelists consider the rural landscape as one component part entwined with multiple social processes that included the distribution of public power and the growth of economic centers (Weaverdyck), and religious adaptation and change (Mason).  While GIS offers multiple ways to organize and manage extensive data from historical landscapes and cityscapes (Vermeulen), the panel also questions the utility of GIS to recover the lived experience of place-making (Fisher).  The panel’s broad chronological and geographical scope, from the Late Bronze Age through the early Middle Ages, in Cyprus, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, and England, will appeal not only to scholars interested specifically in ancient and medieval landscape studies, but also to audiences seeking to explore new methods and approaches in the field.  Our presenters come from across the country (California, Massachusetts, Arkansas), and from Europe (Belgium).  They also represent a range of different career stages, from doctoral student to professor, all from institutions of varying natures and sizes.  These researchers also come from history and archaeology, which offers an opportunity to discuss interdisciplinary collaboration in GIS-assisted projects.

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