A systematic GIS-based analysis of settlement developments in the landscape of Venusia in the Hellenistic-Roman period

Casarotto, A., Pelgrom, J. & Stek, T. D., Feb-2019, In : Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences. 11, 2, p. 735–753 19 p.

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This paper investigates the settlement developments of the landscape around the ancient town of Venusia in southern Italy using legacy field survey data. A Latin colony was established here in 291 BC and also other subsequent Roman colonization movements are known from the literary sources. As in many other Roman colonial landscapes, trends in the settlement data of Venusia have previously been linked to the impact of Roman colonization, which is usually understood as a drastic transformation of the pre-Roman settlement landscape and land use. Rather than using theories on Roman colonial strategies for explaining possible settlement patterns (deductive approach), this paper presents an alternative, descriptive, bottom-up approach, and GIS-based inductive location preference analysis to investigate how the settlement landscape evolved in the Hellenistic and Roman periods (particularly in the fourth–first century BC). Following closely the settlement choices from the pre-Roman conquest period onwards and assessing patterns in continuity and change in the settlement record, we demonstrate that pre-Roman rural settlement and land use strategies were not eradicated but instead strongly determined the location preferences for later settlements in the “colonial” periods. If these settlement trends can be related at all to the colonization waves mentioned in the ancient literary sources, the conclusion should be that Roman colonization did not lead to radical landscape and land use transformations, as has traditionally been suggested. Instead, an organic and complementary rural infill over time is documented, in which cultural factors instead of land use potential played a key role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735–753
Number of pages19
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date25-Nov-2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2019
Externally publishedYes

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