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SETTLEMENT STRATEGIES DURING

THE BRONZE AGE IN TUSCANY:


RECONSTRUCTING STRUCTURES, RELATIONSHIPS, LANDSCAPES

Abstract of the PhD Thesis by

Laura Morabito

University of Siena

Tutors: dr. Giovanna Pizziolo Commitee: prof. H.P. Blankholm

Prof. Lucia Sarti prof. J.M. Vicent Garca

dr. Nicholas Vella

dr. N. Volante
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SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

- MORABITO L., PIZZIOLO G. 2012, Let del bronzo nella Toscana meridionale: analisi
territoriali in ambiente G.I.S, in NEGRONI CATACCHIO N. (a cura di), Atti X Incontro di Studi
Preistoria e Protostoria in Etruria, Milano, pp. 895-913. ISBN 9788882656553

- MORABITO L., PIZZIOLO G., SARTI L. (in press), Rapporti culturali e vie di comunicazione
tra Toscana settentrionale e Emilia Romagna durante let del bronzo: un approccio
territoriale, in Atti XLV Riunione Scientifica I.I.P.P. ISBN: still undefined

- MORABITO L. (in press), Mobilit e interazioni culturali: lEt del Bronzo nella Piana
Fiorentina, B.A.R. International Series, Archaeopress, Oxford. ISBN: still undefined.

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Outline of the addressed methodological and scientific issues

- Design and construction of a relational database for the recording of


archaeological sites

- Recording of the available archaeological data for the entire Bronze Age in
Tuscany

- Design and construction of a GIS platform for the analysis of collected data

- Geo-referencing of information by insertion on the GIS platform

- Classification of archaeological sites on a functional, locational and chronological


basis

- Definition of sub-regional physiographic units within the territory of Tuscany

- Acquisition and re-elaboration of different kinds of Digital Elevation Models


(ASTER 30m. and Tinitaly 10m.)

-Methodological reflection on Digital Elevation Models to be used for further spatial


analysis

- Identification of eventual bias elements in the archaeological distribution


(comparison with history of researches, geology, land use and soil erosion
reclassified in terms of visibility)

- Analysis of the relationship between the spatial distribution of the sites and
variables like geomorphology, aspect, slope, soil capability

- Analysis of the relationship between the spatial distribution of the sites and water
or mineralogical resources

- Reflection on the convenience or not to use the present hydrographic network as


a reference for spatial analysis

- Reformulating the hydrographic network through flow accumulation analysis

- Hierarchical classification of the river network by STRAHLER algorithm in order to


enter the hydrography as a "weighted" variable for the calculation of cost surface
used to calculate paths between different sites

- Analysis of the relationship between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna on the basis of
precise comparisons between the ceramic materials received at the various sites

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- Development of least cost paths between sites with comparable materials and
comparison with the hypothesis of cultural exchange routes already known in
literature

- Development of a network of accessibility for the Northern Tuscany and Emilia-


Romagna area through the creation of a network of optimal paths independent of
the destination (MADO)

- Statistical analysis aimed at identifying specific trends in locational choices for the
whole study region

- Creation of predictive models for the identification of settlements in the Tuscan


Apennines

- Analysis of settlement dynamics in the area of Southern Tuscany

- Methodological reflection about long continuity archaeological sites

- Methodological reflection about archaeological sites with manufacturing vocation

- Analysis of accessibility for some case studies of Southern Tuscany

- Reflection on methodological issues of GIS analysis at an intrasite scale of analysis

- Vectorization by Computer Aided Design technology of the documentation related


to the archaeological sites of S. Antnio and Cilea (Sesto Fiorentino, Florence)

- Visual analysis in CAD environment and spatial analysis in GIS environment for the
above-mentioned sites

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1. Hypothesis, Issues and Goals

The main subject of this research project is to analyse the settlements network
and the dynamics of prehistoric population in Tuscany during the Bronze Age.

As settlement strategies are one of the effects of the historic and cultural
evolution of a territory, this topic turn out to be a combination of diverse
archaeological and methodological matters.

After a brief theoretical highlight on the complexity of the general research


subject, the first part of the chapter will be an overview of the current theories
regarding settlement strategies during the Bronze Age in Central Italy, which
concern mainly the following points:

- At the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, settlement distribution in


Central Italy shows a clear preference for morphological highs, in connection
with defensive requirements and a strategic control of natural resources
and pathways (Di Gennaro 1986, 1996, 2000, 2006; Pacciarelli 2009b).

- Long-term settlement continuity and expansion for most suitable sites


versus settlements abandonment for non-strategic sites; this process of
settlements selection and concentration (Peroni 1989; Di Gennaro 1996,
2006; Cardarelli, Di Gennaro 1996) is the base for the growth of proto-urban
centres during the Iron Age (Pacciarelli 2001, 2009b).

- Apart from their cultural and funerary use, caves and rock shelters are only
temporary occupied as refuges in connection with pastoral activities like
seasonal transhumance (Grifoni Cremonesi 1996; Cocchi Genick 1996c;
Maggi, Nisbet, Barker 1991).

- Strong interest for the occupation of coastal and internal wetlands during
the entire Bronze Age (see, for instance: Chapman 2000; Pacciarelli 2001,
2009b; Pizziolo, Sarti 2005; Azzari, Marcaccini, Pizziolo 2000).

- Progressive development of a dynamic agro-pastoral system, with a


consequent need for exploitable territories (Pacciarelli 2009b, 2010; Maggi,
Nisbet, Barker 1991).

The last part of Chapter 1 identifies the general outgoing purposes and specific
objectives of this research project, which can be illustrated as follows:

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General outgoing purposes

- Identification of the most suitable methodological workflow in order to deal


with prehistoric landscapes.

- Synchronic analysis of the settlements network in Tuscany during the different


phases of the Bronze Age, drawing a general picture of its progressive evolution and
its effects on landscape.

- Diachronic analysis of settlements strategies, in order to detect elements which


possibly conditioned the continuity/change of settlements through time in relation
to geomorphology and natural resources.

- Reconstruction of the hidden landscape for the studied period, by the


development of a specific GIS platform.

- Testing of the current theories regarding settlement strategies during the


Bronze Age in Central Italy listed above.

Specific objectives

- Creation of thematic cartography for Tuscan settlement network during the


different phases of the Bronze Age.

- Identification of possible biases that could have influenced the distribution of


archaeological sites.

- Synchronic analysis of the sites distribution, sorted by different sites typologies.

- Observations of the relationship between sites location and availability of natural


resources (for example hydrology and mineralogical resources).

- Analysis of spatial relations among different sites, associating the information


coming from the study of the archaeological artefacts (ceramics and/or metals) and
site characteristics, in order to show the possible relationships among them and/or
to determine the existence of settlement units derived from the connection of
different sites.

- Identification and analysis of physiographic units, in order to detect the evolution


of settlements strategies at a sub-regional scale of analysis.

- Analysis of mobility and cultural exchanges between Northern Tuscany and


neighbouring regions (particularly Emilia Romagna).

- Analysis of settlements continuity and accessibility in Southern Tuscany.

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- Analysis of the relationships between functionally different sites in Southern


Tuscany (in particular, settlements and burial sites).

- Analysis of some case studies concerning particular settlement types at an intra-


site scale (by spatial analysis operating in a GIS environment and the 3D
reconstruction of the principal structures) to gather in the most detailed possible
way the modalities of occupation of a site, the presence of allochton elements
compared to local cultures and finally establishing comparisons among different
sites of the same area.

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2. Geographical and chrono-cultural framework.
Bronze Age in Central Italy

This chapter initiates with an in-depth chronological and cultural definition of


the Bronze Age in Central Italy.

Summing-up the main characteristics of the Ancient Bronze Age in Central Italy,
the main remarkable element is a strong cultural fractioning, which several Authors
described and reviewed during the last forty years (Peroni 1971; Guidi 1979;
Negroni Catacchio, 1981a, 1998a; Negroni Catacchio, Miari 1991-92; Cazzella,
Moscoloni 1992a; Cocchi Genick, 1996b; Di Gennaro, Pacciarelli 1996; Pacciarelli
2001). The earliest attestations of the Ancient Bronze Age in the analyzed region
can be identified in the final Chalcolithic period, with the last persistence of the Bell
Beaker phenomena (Sarti 1995-96), while its latest limit corresponds to the first
appearance of the Grotta Nuova facies, which characterizes the early Middle
Bronze Age (stages 1 and 2) in the entire Central Italy.

In this period we can observe a dual process: on one hand the formation of a
large cultural unit (the Grotta Nuova facies) probably due to the widest and most
diffused circulation of people and models, and on the other hand the consolidation
of the individuality of local sub-groups due to the stronger relationship between
community, settlement and territory (Cocchi Genick 2002).

This process evolves during the final period of Middle Bronze Age (stage 3),
when the entire peninsular Italy is affected by the diffusion of the Appenninic facies
(see, for instance, Macchiarola 1995) opposing the coeval Terramare facies,
documented in Northern Italy (Bernab Brea, Cardarelli, Cremaschi 1997a).

This opposition persists during the Late Bronze Age with the Subappenninic
facies, which represents a clear breech in pottery techniques and decoration and
the birth of a metallurgical koin reflecting new socio-economic dynamics due to
the increasing cultural exchange with the Aegean area but, simultaneously, also
with Northern Italy (Peroni 1997; Cocchi Genick 2004a).

During the Final Bronze Age, Northern Italy is affected by the collapse of the
Terramare system and a strong settlements decrease in opposition to Central Italy,
where settlements and society complexity evolves until the formation of a proto-
urban system. During this period Central Italy (Etruria in the later periods), is
divided in two geographically and culturally well distinct macro-groups: the Cetona-
Chiusi facies (Zanini 2000a, 2001) in Central and Northern Etruria and the Tolfa-
Allumiere facies (Di Gennaro, Guidi 2000) in Southern Etruria.

After contextualizing the cultural evolution of Central Italy during the Bronze
Age, Chapter 2 includes a precise definition and description of the wide study area,
including Tuscany and a large part of Emilia Romagna up to the morphologically
higher part of the Po Valley (fig. 1).

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Fig. 1. The study region with an indication of the recorded Bronze Age archaeological sites.

The final part of the chapter consists on a collection of the paleo-


environmental data available for the studied area.

The need of considering these data is tied to the undeniable discrepancies


between landscape as it is now and as it was in the past, which are extremely

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complex for the pre-protohistoric period. Where possible (mainly in the case of
paleo-hydrography) the paleo-environmental data has been mapped and included
in the modelling of ancient landscape (see, for instance, fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Reconstruction of paleo- hydrography. The case study of Southern Tuscany coastal wetlands.

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3. Theoretical background

This chapter explicates the theoretical fundamentals which have been at the
base of the entire research project. Starting from the solution of the dichotomy
between time and space up to the issues of regional analysis and landscape
archaeology, with a special focus on the difficulties of reconstructing prehistoric
landscapes and on the computer-science based approach.

Working on prehistoric landscapes presents several objective difficulties and


forces the researcher to face complex questions of a methodological nature. The
definition of archaeology as a buried patrimony refers in fact not only to singular
archaeological evidences (sites), but also to the settlements network to which they
belonged. In order to reconstruct the historical and cultural evolution of a territory,
the researcher need to uncover these hidden relationships.

Among the main methodological issues in dealing with prehistoric or, however,
ancient landscapes, primarily we have to think at the formation of a landscape as
the result of different kinds of both conscious and non-conscious choices, either
rational or non-rational (fig. 3); for this reason, thinking of presenting schematic
and universally valid models is, to say the least, a nave conviction.

Fig. 3. Diagram of the bi-univocal interaction between physical substratum and human communities
in the landscape formation process. (Personal rielaboration after Vallega 2003)

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Admittedly, there are some essential pre-requisites which condition the choice
of the occupation of an area and its evolution (Macchi Janica 2001). Adopting
suitable methods for detecting these pre-requisites is, at last, one of the main goals
of any study pertaining to landscape archaeology.

Aside from this general consideration, there are lots of more practical matters
to deal with; first of all, the discrepancies mentioned above between the landscape
as it is now and as it once was, which are extremely complex for the pre-
protohistoric period; these discrepancies must not be ignored, however complex it
may be to overcome them.

Another difficulty in dealing with prehistoric landscape is due to the complex


concept of simultaneousness in prehistory. Beyond the actual difficulty of
considering uniform the chronological attributions, obtained by methods which at
times are very different from one to the other, there is a strong absolute temporal
dilation which characterizes different periods in prehistory (Pizziolo, Sarti, Volante
2009). The only way to solve this question is to work hardly on the archaeological
data, trying to link on stratigraphy and scientific dating methods where possible,
and building strong chronotypological sets, especially for those periods in which is
sometimes hard to identify the non-strictly diagnostic finds.

A further, troublesome problem is linked to the non-homogeneity of the


archaeological sources, in terms of either spatial distribution or different ways of
investigation and discovery of the sites. In this case the only solution is to reflect on
the consistency and validity of the archaeological data-set, both identifying biases
in its composition, both highlighting the different characteristics of each site (again,
in terms of investigation methodologies, ways of discovering, positioning accuracy
and so on) and possibly creating some homogeneous sub-sets of data to work with.

Considering all of these issues, a computer science-linked approach seemed to


be the best solution to deal with the reconstruction of the Tuscan landscape during
the entire Bronze Age.

The main computer science resources used for this research project are:

- DBMS, by the building of an alpha-numeric relational database for the


recording of archaeological sites in order to simplify the data cross-check by ad hoc
queries. In addition to fields concerning standard information (sites typology,
position, geomorphological context, chronology, description and others), setting up
special fields (for example, for positioning trustworthiness and for times and ways
of discovery and investigation) was very useful to check the effective utility of some
data for the different kinds of following analysis.

- CAD technology; CAD software have been used in the intra-site analysis,
mainly due to their ability to deal with the third dimension, which has been of
primary importance for the check of sites stratigraphy and micro-morphology.

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- GIS technology represented the last and ultimate computer science support.
The development and use of GIS applied both to landscape archaeology and to
intra-site analysis has not only simplified the comparison and interaction among
different kind of sources but has also significantly increased their informative
potential by their greater interconnections, thanks to their layer-organized
structure and to the ability of topologically overlaying the information levels.

As we can partially deduce from the goals of this research (see Chapter 1) one
of the basis of this work is the conviction that the most correct approach in
analysing archaeological landscapes can be defined as multi source and multi
scale. This approach is based on a bi-univocal interaction between analysis done
on a reduced scale (regional or sub-regional) and analysis done on a more detailed
scale (intra-site). Through this dialogue and through the interaction among
different kinds of sources, we obtain the largest number possible of information
concerning a particular area (Pizziolo, Sarti, Volante 2009; Francovich, Campana
2007). Starting from general analysis and reaching a detailed point of view and vice
versa, its possible to supply a landscape with the component of concreteness
which helps in its interpretation.

Considering this specific case study, this kind of approach allowed to enucleate
particular elements which could somehow "tell" the story of a complex landscape
and a particular time period, in which it is not possible to ignore issues such as
cultural exchanges, communication between communities and definition of
pertinence areas (Morabito, Pizziolo 2012).

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4. Materials, methods and procedures

Chapter 4 initiates with an highlight on the importance of setting up a suitable


methodology for working on the reconstruction of prehistoric landscapes; this
methodology should overcome the antinomy between determinism and relativism
by being the most scientific possible, without however losing sight of the cultural,
symbolic and ideological variables contributing the landscape formation. This makes
the setting up of a correct methodology not only a base but also a goal for this
research.

It is important to remark that, considering the diversification and the number


of different types of analysis, this chapter only focuses on the general
methodological approach; specific methods will be described in detail in every
single chapter corresponding to particular analysis.

The general method used in this work result from the constant interaction
between the methodological background, inherited by the good practices of some
Italian and foreigner institutions, and the need to answer to new historical and
archaeological questions at the update of the dataset.

Fig. 4. Conceptual model of the methodology updating cycle.

The general methodological background of this research combines methods


from landscape archaeology (Bernardi 1992; Cambi, Terrenato 1999), spatial
archaeology (Clarke 1968, 1972, 1977), geography (for instance, Macchi Janica

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2009; Vallega 2003) and system theory (Von Bertalanffy 1968) with a computer-
science linked approach for data management and processing.

The choice of this approach partially influenced the sequence of the general
work stages; these stages can be presented as follows:

- Archaeological and cartographical data collect and review.

- Design and construction of a relational alpha-numeric database system for


data recording and a first stage of data processing.

- Record of published archaeological data, taking particular care in


considering useful information for sites positioning.

- Development of a specific GIS platform for regional scale analysis.

- Importation, geo-referencing, analysis and implementation of the initial


dataset in GIS environment.

- Data processing and creation of settlement strategy models, both


synchronically and diachronically.

- Data restitution through a specific cartographic corpus.

The second part of Chapter 4 presents all the different sources of this research
and explains their way of use. Sources are sorted by typology in: archaeological
publications, digital and analogical cartography, Digital Elevation Models and
WebGIS portals.

The final part of this chapter describes the technological tools used for the
research; in particular, a complete description of the relational database and the
GIS platform is provided for a better understanding of the general organization of
raw data.

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5. Scale 1: 1.250.000 - Data presentation and quantification

Chapter 5 presents the results of a first stage of quantitative analysis, applied


on the entire dataset.

For every phase of the Bronze Age, single-phase sites have been analyzed
independently from sites presenting continuity of occupation, in order to possibly
identify differences between this two macro-groups. As a result of this subdivision,
the dataset has been divided into:

- Ancient Bronze Age mono-phase sites

- Sites with continuity of occupation starting in the Ancient Bronze Age

- Middle Bronze Age stage 1-2 mono-phase sites

- Sites with continuity of occupation starting in the Middle Bronze Age stage 1-2

- Middle Bronze Age stage 3 mono-phase sites

- Sites with continuity of occupation starting in the Middle Bronze Age stage 3

- Late Bronze Age mono-phase sites

- Sites with continuity of occupation starting in the Late Bronze Age

- Sites which occupation starts in the Final Bronze Age (coherently to the
chronological limits of this research, continuity of occupation in later periods has
not been considered)

For every group, some preliminary considerations concerned sites distribution


on a provincial basis. The choice to consider, at this stage, these particular areas as
the basis for the distribution analysis is clearly conventional but allows to identify
possible administrative differences in approaching the archaeological research.
Obviously, next analysis units will be defined on geomorphological and cultural
criteria (see Chapter 7, on the definition of physiographic sub-regional units).

Anyway, these first and basic consideration on sites distribution highlighted, at


first, the opposition between low-density versus high-density administrative areas
in terms of numbers of records for the different sub-datasets. This opposition has
been the conceptual basis for the next stage of the research, that is the
identification of possible biases in sites distribution (see Chapter 6).

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Separating mono and multi-phase sites and comparing the distribution of these
two macro-groups in the different administrative areas was also useful to visualize
which areas present the largest number long-term continuity sites. From the first
identification of these areas, an in-depth investigation of the factors which could
have influenced the prolonged continuity of occupation will follow.

In the next stage, any sub-


group has been analyzed in regard
to sites function and typology, in
order to draw a general picture of
the nature of the dataset for the
different phases of the Bronze
Age. For sites with continuity of
occupation, there is also a
quantification of different kinds of
continuity (short term -> long
term).

The final stage of this first


approach to the initial dataset has
been the quantification and
analysis of sites geomorphological
context for every sub-group. This
kind of analysis allowed a series of
preliminary observations about
potential changes in settlement
strategies by showing variation in
the preferences of hills/mountains,
plains or plateau/terraces.

As particular categories of
archaeological sites tend to prefer
specific geomorphological contexts
(for example, metal hoards and
ritual sites are usually connected
to hills/mountains, as shown in fig.
6), every sub-group sites have
been divided by function and Fig. 5. Sites density in the different administrative areas
compared with their location of Tuscany (increasing from green to red), with an
indication of sites frequency and percentage. The
context. This allowed a correct
example of the Ancient Bronze Age
reading of the general results,
avoiding biases coming from the statistic influence of those particular sites
categories which could be over-represented (for example, in regards to metal
hoards, during the Ancient Bronze Age they represent almost 40% of all the sites
located on morphological highs).

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Continuity duration and geomorphological context have been crossed for the
sites presenting continuity of occupation, in order to possibly check the influence of
particular locations on continuity duration (fig. 7).

Fig. 6. Locational context analysis. The particular case of metal hoards for
the Ancient Bronze Age, an example of potential over-represented data.
(Pink=Hillsides; Green= Plains; Brown= Plateau)

Fig. 7. Data-crossing: continuity and geomorphological context.


BA=Ancient Bronze Age; BM= Middle Bronze Age; BR= Late Bronze Age; BF=Final Bronze Age.
Pink=Hillside; Green= Plains; Light Green= Foothills; Brown=Plateau; Light Brown= Terrace.

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6. Scale 1:1.250.000 Identifying, modelling and considering biases in


the archaeological sites distributions

The focus of this chapter is the importance of considering possible biases in any
analysis concerning archaeological sites distributions.

A first part of the chapter consists in a synthetic overview of the current


theories and best practices about biases in the Mediterranean archaeology,
culminated in the recent proceedings of the Hidden Landscape in the
Mediterranean Europe. Cultural and methodological biases in pre-protostoric
landscape studies conference (Van Leusen, Pizziolo, Sarti 2011).

Basing on a reprocessing of the guidelines emerging from this conference and


from other significant practices (for instance, Bintliff 2002, 2011; Van Leusen 1996,
2002), Chapter 6 presents a partition of possible biases in the archaeological sites
distribution into three main categories: history of researches, archaeological
visibility and incorrect data interpretation. For each category, an overview of biases
identified in this research has been produced.

After an highlight on high density vs. low density areas due to the history of
researches (Fig. 8), the initial dataset has been compares with several biases
affectin the archaeological visibility, such as land cover (Fig. 9) and post-
depositional factors (in particular, alluvial accumulation and erosion, as in Fig. 10).
Last step has been the identification of particular categories of data which statistic
incidence could have induced an incorrect interpretation of the settlements
strategies during Bronze Age. This is for example the case of metal hoards, which
during the Ancient Bronze Age represent almost 40% of all the sites located on
morphological highs. Another example are Middle Bronze Age-Stage 3 and Late
Bronze Age sites, highly under-represented because of an admitted difficulty in
identifying the non-strictly diagnostic finds (Morabito, Pizziolo 2012; Bietti Sestieri
2010; Di Gennaro 2012).

As the actual methods to correct biases in the archaeological distribution has


been mainly developed for data coming from surveys, the proposal of a way to
quantify and correct biases in datasets coming from published data constitutes a
future perspective for this research.

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Fig. 8. High density (red) vs. low density (blue) areas in the archaeological
sites distribution, due to the history of researches.

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Classe Visibilit Classi Corine Land Cover


Buona 2.1, 2.4.
Sufficiente 2.2.
Scarsa 1.4., 2.3.
Nulla 1.1., 1.2, 1.3., 2.1.3, 3., 4., 5.

Fig. 9. Archaeological distribution compared to a reclassification of Corine Land Cover map in terms
of archaeological visibility (increasing from red-no visibility- to green-high visibility-);
percentage of sites for every visibility class.

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Fig. 10. Archaeological distribution compared to a map of alluvial planes (left) and highly
eroded soils (right). The percentage of sites found in alluvial planes is 21%,
the percentage of sites found in highly eroded soils is only 6%.

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7. Scale 1:1.250.000 Definition of sub-regional physiographic units

This chapter presents the criteria used for the definition of the physiographic
units used as analysis units for the sub-regional scale analysis and their description.
The identification of physiographic units has been of primary importance in order to
make the heterogeneity and the extension of the study area more manageable.

This process is initially based on the principles of physical geography, starting


with the definition of the main river basins, but aimed at a better understanding of
human geography, being river valleys not only natural means of communication
and cultural exchange, but also possible pertinence basins of different human
communities. Once identified the main basins and compared them to topography
and archaeological data, 11 physiographic units have been mapped (Fig. 11).

Fig. 11. The eleven sub-regional physiographic units of analysis.

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After this detailed subdivision, an accurate reading of sites nature and spatial
distribution made it possible to outline two macro-physiographic units, almost
perfectly corresponding to the macro-basins of the two main Tuscan rivers, Arno
and Ombrone (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12. The two macro-physiographic units (left) almost corresponding


to the macro-basins of rivers Arno (violet) and Ombrone (green).
They intersect in the area of Cetona Mountain (right) an important ritual area (detail).

These two macro-physiographic areas of southern and northern Tuscany


correspond to two different macro-cultural areas, characterized for the entire
Bronze Age from quite different elements regarding both pottery and metal
manufacturing. Moreover, comparing the two macro-areas, it is plain that they
intersect in a very well-known ritual area, that is Cetona Mountain, which
constitutes a very important cultural link between them. So, once more it is clear
how physical and human geography actually complement each other.

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8. Scale 1:750.000 - Cultural relationships and mobility through


Tuscany and Emilia Romagna: a territorial approach

This chapter focuses on the analysis at a sub-regional scale of the macro-


physiographic unit corresponding to northern Tuscany.

For this particular territory, the main point of interest has been the
investigation of the relationship between forms of population and forms of mobility
along time.

Conceptually, the basic approach is that any possible strategy of spatial


occupation not only incorporates settlement patterns, but also movement forms. In
other words, the different settlement strategies of human communities in the
space over time are always also related to different forms of mobility through that
space. The specific case study concerned the analysis of possible ways of
communication and cultural exchange between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna across
the Appennines.

The starting point has been the generation of thematic maps for the
synchronical and diachronical display of settlements network, but also for the
visualization of the cultural comparisons between archaeological materials from
both mountainsides of the Appennines during the different phases of the Bronze
Age (Fig. 13).

Fig. 13. Map of the cultural comparison between Tuscan sites and Emilia Romagna sites.
The example of the Florentine Plain during the Ancient Bronze Age.

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At a first stage, this allowed to compare sites distribution with a previous
elaboration of all the communication paths which have been traditionally
conjectured in the archaeological literature (Fig. 14).

Fig. 14. Map of the communication paths known traditionally


conjectured in the archaeological literature

This first hypothesis of mobility paths has been compared with other ways to
reconstruct the connection between sites with analogous materials.

Next stage has been in fact determining least cost paths between comparable
sites. Again, GIS technology has been of primary importance in this kind of analysis.

In order to create optimal paths, the starting point has been the generation a
cost surface based mainly on slopes, but also including (by a weighted sum) rivers
as a friction element in the paths (Fig. 15).

Variable Index Weight


Slope Cost value for every cell 70%
Cost value for each
Hydrography 30%
hierarchical stream class

Fig. 15. Diagram of the criteria used for the cost surface generation.

A partial rielaboration of Toblers algorithm has been choosed to generate a


cost surface expressing the cost (in seconds) to cross every cell of the output raster.

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In order not to use only present river cartography or, at least, to correct from
this cartography elements like modern canals or artificial lakes I used a GIS based
approach to stream network delineation. Stream networks can be delineated from
a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) using the output from the FLOWDIRECTION and
FLOWACCUMULATION functions. FLOWDIRECTION uses a DEM to determine the
direction of flow from every cell in the raster. Flow accumulation, in its simplest
form, is the number of upslope cells that flow into each cell. By applying a threshold
value to the results of FLOWACCUMULATION, a stream network can be quite easily
delineated.

Fig. 16. Workflow for the stream network delineation.

To this stream network model different cost values for different stream orders
has been assigned. In a few words, I assumed that the larger the basin, the greater
the accumulation flow, the greater the cost to cross it. The stream hierarchy has
been calculated by Strahler algorithm (included in ArcGIS as a specific tool).

Horton-Strahler Classes Cost Value (seconds/cell)


I 1
II 3
III 5
IV 10
V 100

Fig. 17. Cost values for each stream class.

On this basis of this cost surface, least cost paths have been calculated for
every site presenting cultural analogies in the archaeological finds (Fig. 18).

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Fig. 18. Least cost paths between Tuscan and Emilia Romagna sites.
The example of the Florentine Plain during the Ancient Bronze Age.

As optimal paths only connect basically two sites, presuming the existence of
an effective relationship between them, the last step in the analysis of mobility
through the study region has been the generation of an experimental model for the
analysis of mobility without a destination.

This has been possible thanks to the generation of a MADO, an acronym for
optimal accumulation model of movement from a given origin (Fbrega lvarez
2006), that is a determination of spontaneous mobility from a starting point in any
direction, with no need to specify an ending point.

The workflow to generate this model follows the same steps of the stream
network delineation (see Fig. 16), with the only exception of the starting data,
which is not the DEM but, in this case, the cost surface. This model can be so
defined as the representation of an accumulation model of lowest cost paths from
a given origin, and is concretely a continuous image with a gradation of values, in
which the highest are the areas which naturally attract displacement.

A reclassification of this raster image defines a series of lines which


theoretically represent the optimal paths starting from a site. Summing the models
generated from each site of the settlements network provides a network of optimal
routes which can be used both for determining the degree of MADO overlap to
optimal paths, that is the reliance of optimal pathways between two predefined
points, and the degree of proximity between settlements and preferred mobility
lines.

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Fig. 19. The MADO network; high cost value cells (light blue) flow toward low cost value cells
(orange) accumulating in linear elements corresponding to least cost value paths.

Fig. 19. Workflow for the generation of the MADO model (from left to right):
cost distance, cost direction and cost accumulation for every analyzed site.

Applying all this kinds of mobility analysis to the analyzed case study and
comparing themselves led to:

- confirm the plausibility of only some of the traditionally conjectured


communication ways, as well as to propose new ones
- verify the non-full compatibility between optimal routes and MADO network
- observe how nearly the 35% of the sites in the study area locates within 200
meters from the paths of MADO network (see Fig. 127-147 in the full text).

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9. Scale 1: 500.000 Continuity and change: the Bronze Age in
Southern Tuscany

Chapter 9 presents the analysis at a sub-regional scale of the macro-


physiographic unit corresponding to southern Tuscany.

As for northern Tuscany, the first step of this analysis has been the generation
of a series of maps in order to read both synchronically and diachronically the
settlement network and its connection with several kinds of natural resources
(basically, water and metallurgical resources).

After evaluating possible biases in the archaeological distribution, one of the


first considerations concerning Southern Tuscany was related to the analysis of
long-term continuity sites. Beyond the geomorphological context, some other
elements which could have influenced the settlement choices for those sites has
been considered; a special highlight has been the analysis of sites accessibility as an
expression of sites defensive potential as well as sites possibility to reach the
nearest natural resources.

In order to elaborate an accessibility model for the long-term continuity sites,


the following steps has been followed:

- elaboration of a cost surface (same as the one described in Chapter 8)

- definition of accessibility basins, corresponding to 5 km. side squares


defining the analysis boundaries

- application of the same workflow described for the generation of the MADO
model (see Chapter 8), with the generation of cost distance, cost direction
and cost accumulation for every analysed site, (Fig. 20) which outcomes
have been defined as focal mobility network (Llobera, Fbrega Alvarez,
Parcero Oubia 2011)

- definition of paths classes (Fig. 21) and accessibility signatures (Fig. 22) in
order to compare the results coming from different sites

MADO and focal mobility networks are a perfect example of how an identical
procedure at different scale of analysis can be useful for different purposes.

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Fig. 20. Workflow for generating focal mobility networks:


Cost distance (1), cost direction (2), cost accumulation (3).

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Fig. 21. Each section of the
focal mobility network is
identified by the minimum
threshold value needed to
include it as part of the
model. Applying the same
classes to the network
generated for different sites
allows an easier comparison
between them.

Fig. 22.Accessibility model for the case study of Pitigliano, with its ccessibility
signature showing the number of accessibility paths (y) within 1 km from the site.

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Comparing the accessibility models and signatures between the 4 long-term


continuity sites (Fig. 23) allowed to highlight how, in some cases (Talamonaccio,
Pitigliano, Sovana; see Fig. 157-162 in the full text) a low accessibility to the site
may have been one of the variables in settlements choices in relation to the need of
a high defensive potential. In other cases (Scarceta; see Fig. 163 in the full text), an
easier accessibility to the site can be read as a higher possibility to reach the near
natural resources, especially the mineralogical ones (the analyzed site is well-known
for metal working); in this case, long-term continuity is not related to the high
position or defensive potential.

Fig. 23. Comparison between accessibility signatures for the selected case studies.

Another important aspect in the analysis of southern Tuscany is the


relationship with natural resources.

First of all, the analysis focused on the importance of water resources both for
production and everyday activities; the basis for this kind of observation has been
the creation of a paleo-environmental model based on previous studies (see
Paragraph 2.8. in the full text) and the extension of this model to areas with no
available paleo-environmental data.

This model allowed a better reading of the archaeological distribution in


relationship to water resources and, in particular, to the coast and coastal
wetlands. The plausibility of the paleo-hydrography model has been confirmed by
the perfect compatibility with sites distribution and topographical position (such as
in the case of sites located on paleo-sand hills; Fig. 24).

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Fig. 24. Examples of compatibility between the paleo-hydrological
model (blue) and sites distributions

The in-depth analysis of sites nature and relation with the coastal water
resources showed how both for settlements and for manufacturing sites the
phenomenon of coastal occupation is not tied to cultural aspects or chronological
phases, presenting the same characteristics in several parts of Tuscany and during
the entire Bronze Age.

Another kind of natural resource used for the reconstruction of prehistoric


landscape of southern Tuscany is metallurgical resources. For southern Tuscany is
an area with a strong metallurgical vocation from prehistory to the recent history,
the mapping and analysis all the metallurgical resources (outcrops, mines and so
on) has been very useful in order to detect their possible influence on settlement
strategies (Fig. 25).

Crossing all these data, it has been possible to confirm how, during Bronze Age,
Southern Tuscany is affected by a phenomenon of settlements stabilization,
understood as the appearance of a long term continuity occupation of sites
connected on the one hand to the exploitation and control of economic and
environmental resources, on the other hand to tactical and strategic control of the
territory lato sensu. Unequivocal evidence of this change in settlement strategies is
represented by the progressive increase in the incidence of sites which give priority
to the requirements of high position and sharp delimitation of natural boundaries,
such as the parallel phenomenon of the occupation of coastal and wetland areas.

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Fig. 25. Example of diachronical evolution of a territory in relation


to wetlans and metallurgical resources.

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10. Scale 1: 350.000/1:250.000 - Physiographic units analysis

This chapter concerns the in-depth analysis of the 11 physiographic units


defined in Chapter 7 (see Fig. 11). At this scale of analysis it has been possible to
compare each site of the entire distribution with the variables chosen as significant
for settlements strategies; these variables are: absolute and relative altitude, slope,
exposure, land capability and, obviously, cultural variables such as chronology and
sites function.

For those physiographic units containing more than 30 archaeological sites


(being 30 the minimum number of samples to carry out statistical analysis), it has
been possible to evaluate variables significance by a statistical comparison with a
population of random points, created for each of the analysed units.

This kind of comparison originates on the null hypotheses for which


archaeological sites and random points belongs to the same statistical population
and have the same distribution in relation to the considered variables (see, for
instance, Vicent 1991). If the statistic tests show a Select a significance level lower
than 0.05, the null hypothesis can be reasonably rejected in favor of the alternative
hypothesis (in this case: archaeological sites have a non-random distribution in
relation to the selected variable).

For those physiographic units for which it is not possible to carry out statistical
testing, each site has been simply described in relation to each of the considered
variables, in order to highlight possible trends in the settlements choices for every
unit in the different phases of the Bronze Age.

In any case, in order not to consider the archaeological data as mere points, a
specific buffer has been created in order to supply a suitable degree of consistence
to the sites; the size of this buffer (diameter: 120 m.) has been chosen as a
reasonable mean of the few available data concerning sites shape and size (small
offsites, single items and metal hoard has been anyway considered as points).

The possibility to compare, at this scale of analysis, the actual characteristics of


every single site and the selected locational variable allowed to reach some
significant results in defining settlements strategies for each physiografic units. The
huge amount of data contained in this chapter forces to report in this context only
the main outcomes (see abstract of Chapter 12).

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11. Scale 1:100/1:10 The Florentine Plain during the Bronze Age:
intra-site analysis as integration to territorial data

This chapter faces an in-depth analysis of some particular case studies at an


intra-site scale of analysis.

The choice of two particular case studies in the area of Sesto Fiorentino
(Florence), that is the sites of S. Antonio-Area A4 and Cilea is due to different
factors. First of all, the availability of a great amount of data coming from the thirty-
year Sesto Project (see, for instance: Leonini et alii 2008; Pizziolo 2010; Pizziolo,
Sarti 2008a, 2008b, 2011;). Above that, the peculiarity of the context, an alluvial
plane affected by severe erosion/accumulation processes, was surely a point of
interest; the resulting difficulty in the reading of archaeological stratigraphy has
been in fact highly stimulating from a methodological point of view. Another reason
to choose the Florentine Plain is that, as resulted from the MADO analysis (see
Chapter 8), this area played a leading role in the cultural exchange process during
Bronze Age. Finally, the particular choice of S. Antonio and Cilea is due to their
chronology (the two sites cover almost the entire Bronze Age) and their particular
stratigraphic situation (both sites are multi-stratified and present a complex reading
of the anteriority).

At an intra-site level, it is easier to materialize the idea of the spatial


frequency aspect of archaeological data, considering them as an accumulation of
some material items on the ground surface where an action took place, or as the
intensity of an action. Formally, spatial densities may be thought of as a set of
locations, at which the material consequences of some social action performed in
the past have been recorded. Then, assuming that a measure of spatial density is a
function of the probability an action was performed at that point, we will say that
the area where spatial density values are more continuous is the most likely place
where a social action was performed.

As different social actions may have the same spatial modality, and the same
action can be spatially performed in different ways, finding a way for testing
regularity or randomness in archaeological field data as a possible bias element is a
necessary requirement before more sophisticated interpretations. Again, this has
been possible thanks to the interaction between Computer Aided Design and GIS
systems.

CAD systems offered specific tools dedicated to the tridimensional visualization


and manipulation of data. These tools has been very useful for visual analysis of the
particular prehistoric context of the Sesto Fiorentino plane, characterized by the
presence of more or less consistent spreads of materials on paleo-riverbeds.
Through the use of interactive 3D orbit and the opportunity to set ad hoc clipping
planes, its possible to have a clearer reading of the vertical distribution of the
material, highlighting possible mistakes in the digging or in the first interpretation

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of the stratigraphy, as well as the relationship between archaeological materials
and the base morphology of the paleo-riverbeds.

In addition to this, the acquisition of traditional graphical documentation in a


vector drawing software, provides the basis for the following exportation and
implementation of data in a GIS platform, allowing statistical, quantitative and
distribution analysis of the archaeological record. These have been mainly density
analysis, carried out to visualize possible hidden structures (sensu Leroi-Gourhan).

GIS technology has also been very useful in terms of 3D reconstruction of micro
morphologies and structures, thanks to the opportunity to create actually 2.5D
raster. This kind of analysis has been very useful in the case study of the Sesto
Fiorentino plane, where the typical settlement strategy is the exploitation of paleo-
riverbeds. The reading of such morphologies, often subjected to flooding and
erosions as well as a substantial human impact, can be very difficult especially
concerning the natural or artificial origin of some shapes. Concretely, using (where
available) data from the base morphology, mainly contour lines, and interpolating
them with specific algorithms (Kriege algorithm, in this case study) makes possible
to generate a Digital Elevation Model of the paleo-riverbed. This model has been
the base element for flow and slope analysis, in order to test interpretation
hypotheses emerged during the excavation and not clarified by visual analysis
carried out with CAD. Both density analysis and 3D reconstruction have been
carried out also for the documented structures, such as pits, postholes, fire places.

For a complete outline of the different typologies of intra-site analysis, cf. Fig.
189-236 in the full text.

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12. Recomposing data: considerations, outcomes, perspectives

During the development of this research, the objective difficulties in dealing


with prehistoric landscapes (cf. abstract of Chapter 3) have been clearly highlighted.
The main general issue concerns the irregular and biased distribution of the
archaeological sources both in terms of data consistency and of publications
availability.

The main methodological means to face this partiality has been the multi-
source and multi-scale approach used in this work. The starting point of this
research has been the preliminary quantification and regional scale analysis
presented in Chapter 5; this allowed to highlight some issues that have been at a
later stage examined in depth at other scales of analysis and/or with specific
methods.

First of all, the opposition between low-density versus high-density areas in


archaeological sites distribution forced a consideration on possible bias elements in
the initial dataset. Modelling and interpreting the different kind of biases illustrated
in Chapter 6 helped concretely in the correct reading of different densities in the
archaeological distribution, avoiding errors in its interpretation. Similarly, modelling
the available paleo-environmental data (cf. Paragraph 2.8. and Fig. 24 in this
abstract) and extending the model to those areas with no specific studies in this
field has been of primary importance for a correct reading of the archaeological
distribution, especially in relation with water and coastal resources, highlighting
furthermore how coastal sites (and especially manufacturing sites) show almost the
same characteristics during the entire Bronze Age, not being tied neither to
chronological phases nor to cultural groups peculiarities. This was possible thanks
to the in-depth analysis at subregional scale (Chapter 9) and at phisiographic unit
scale (Chapter 10).

The importance of water resources has been also analyzed from the point of
view of the possibility to use river valleys as natural communication paths. In
Chapter 8 an in-depth and innovative analysis of this perspective has been
presented for the case study of the cultural relationship between Tuscany and
Emilia Romagna; the application of MADO model (innovative in Italian archaeology)
and the comparison with other ways to reconstruct prehistoric mobility allowed to
generate a contact network between the two analyzed cultural groups. In this
network, sites with analogous materials represent the strongest nodes to which
compare the remaining archaeological sites distribution.

Mobility analysis highlighted how the Florentine Plain played a leading role in
the process of cultural exchange between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna; considering
moreover the peculiarity of this contest, an alluvial plain which was a wetland
during the Bronze Age, this area and particularly the boundary of Sesto Fiorentino
has been chosen as case study for the intra-site analysis (see Chapter 11), being a

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focal point from different points of view. Coming down to this scale of analysis
allowed a better understanding of the contacts with Emilia Romagna cultural
groups and, especially, of the relationship between communities and wetland
resources. In Sesto Fiorentino, in fact, the research for this natural resource implies
the reiteration of the same settlements choices for centuries during prehistory and
over.

The importance of analyzing the motivations for continuity of occupation of


particular sites or contests has been another focal point of this research; as the
dataset general presentation of Chapter 5 highlighted how the majority of long-
term continuity sites were placed in Southern Tuscany, this area has been selected
as case study at a sub-regional scale of analysis for this issue (see Chapter 9). After
analyzing variables such as the availability of water and mineralogical resources, an
innovative approach to the analysis of sites accessibility allowed to reach
stimulating results both from the methodological point of view (by the elaboration -
again for the first time in Italy- of focal mobility networks and accessibility
signatures, cf. abstract of Chapter 9) both for a more complete reading of
successful settlements strategies.

Beyond the possibility to face specific issues, moving on from regional to


physiographic scale of analysis (Chapter 11) allowed to read in a more concrete
way the relationship between sites nature and geographical variables. Two have
been the main methodological focal points at this scale of analysis. First, the choice
not to consider sites just as points but to supply them a suitable degree of
consistence by the generation of a buffer; second, the use of inferential statistic
for testing the actual influence of the analyzed geographical variables (see abstract
of Chapter 10). The results of this kind of analysis allowed to highlight, for example,
the preferential choice for high and well-defended context in Southern Tuscany and
the preference of flat wetland areas in the coast and in some inner areas such as
Sesto Fiorentino.

If the multi-source and multi-scale approach is maybe the strongest point of


this research, the computer-science linked approach to manage the huge amount
of data and information has been undoubtedly another significant outcome.

The opportunity to recompose those data into a GIS platform allowed to


generate ad holistic and hyper-informative environment which has been the base
for the complex analysis of the multifaceted Tuscan territory during the Bronze Age.
In particular, the chance to create a large number of both synchronical and
diachronical thematic maps has been at the same time a reached goal but also the
base for further spatial analysis, which are the original and innovative essence of
this work.

Recomposing all the data, it has been possible to highlight some general trends
and patterns in settlements strategies during the Bronze Age in Tuscany. One of the
main focus point is the accurate reading and interpretation of differences and trait
dunion between the two cultural and territorial maro-phisiographic units
corresponding to Southern and Northern Tuscany.

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One of the main differences concerns long-term continuity in the occupation of


sites and particular areas. In Southern Tuscany, long term continuity is mainly tied
to high position and defensive potential, which implicates the prolonged
occupation of some sites from the analyzed period up to roman and medieval
period or, in some cases, up to nowadays (as in the case of Pitigliano, typical
Southern Tuscany Bronze Age settlement on plateau; see Fig. 26).

Fig. 26. Pitigliano (Grosseto, Tuscany). Bronze Age settlement with


continuity of occupation from Bronze Age to nowadays

In Northern Tuscany, continuity means reiterated but not constant (maybe


seasonal) occupation of areas with particular geographical and locational
characteristics, as in the case of the Florentine Plane (supra) or of caves and rock
shelters used as refuges in connection with pastoral activities like seasonal
transhumance.

Another outstanding difference between Southern and Northern Tuscany


concerns the impossibility to apply to Northern Tuscany the traditional patterns
enucleated for Central Italy in literature (see Chapter 1). These patterns are on the
other hand partially confirmed for Southern Tuscany; in this macro-phisiographic
unit, from the latest phases of Ancient Bronze Age it has been in fact possible to
highlight the stabilisation of the relationship between settlements and territory,
understood as the beginning of long-term occupation of suitable sites not only in
connection with the exploitation of natural resource but also to strategic and tactic
needs. This is clearly suggested by the increment of settlements with on
morphological highs and with a high defensive potential, starting exactly from the
latest phases of Ancient Bronze Age. Going on to the following phases of the Bronze
Age, in Southern Tuscany this pattern becomes canonical.

One innovative outcome of this research is the impossibility to confirm, for this
area, another pattern often specified in the archaeological literature, which is

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settlements selection and concentration (see Chapter 1), consisting basically on
expansion for most suitable sites versus settlements abandonment for non-
strategic sites during the last phases of the Bronze Age, with a consequent
decrease of sites number.

This particular process is not clearly readable from this works results as
remarkable in Tables 2-6, where is possible to see how during the Final Bronze Age
the number of Southern Tuscany sites actually increase.

Beyond the differences between Southern and Northern Tuscany, an important


trait dunion is the progressively more organized and intensive exploitation of
natural resources, with a particular focus on wetlands and metallurgical resources.

In conclusion, to sum up to sum up the complex set of methodological and


practical issues explained up till now, I think that a reasoned use of computer
science and, especially, of GIS can provide archaeologists to obtain both an holistic
perspective of ancient landscapes and focus on specific issues and activities
connected to ancient landscape. This is mainly possible thanks to GIS ability to
manage a large number of different kind of sources, both archaeological and
geographical (lato sensu), and to the opportunity to carry out multi-scale analysis.
The availability and accuracy of the starting dataset, the evaluation of bias
elements, as well as the inclusion of appropriate functions and geoprocessing tools,
has been of course focal points in determining the outcomes of this research.
Beyond all the possible difficulties in facing prehistoric landscapes, however, I think
that this kind of approach is the most suitable to deal with the complicated
question: why a community chose to live right here?

L.M.

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