University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Long-term change detection from the Mediterranean context: the case study of Menorca (Balearic Islands, Spain).
monica de cet, simón gornés hachero, joana gual cerdó, elena sintes olives, bianca willié, rainer duttmann, roberto risch, johannes müller

Last modified: 2011-12-19


Archaeological interest on the Island of Menorca (Balearic Islands, Spain) has gradually grown for almost one hundred years. Early on, archaeologists paid special attention to the Island due to the exceptional monumentality of its prehistoric architecture (Ramis and Ramis 1818; Cartailhac 1892). More recent research has promoted a growing interest in understanding the archaeological sequence, socio-economic development, and identification of socio-ideological changes in the Balearic communities during the later prehistory (Lull et al. 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008; Gili et al. 2006; Micó 2005, 2006; Rihuete 2003).

The remarkable number of radiocarbon dates and the substantial volume of archaeological, anthropological, and palaeoecological data available for the Balearic Prehistory opened the possibility of considering Menorca as an extraordinary case study for the evaluation of complex human development. This paper aims to investigate the extreme variability of this social phenomenon in a long–term perspective by examining available domestic archaeological remains and using a GIS-based approach. With the goal to detect change in the landscape, its transformation and social relations that occurred in the island, this research epitomizes a curious understanding of the relationship between human activity and natural environment since the prehistoric times (c. 2300 cal BC) to selected historical periods.

A multi-faceted assemblage of new data was gathered for the past year[1], in particular composed of more than 700 domestic sites obtained from the heritage database[2], survey activities, and various archives and literatures. The integration of the settlement characteristics has led to identify clear degrees of chronological resolution and qualitative levels for each domestic record. Preliminary results obtained through the application of spatial analysis techniques highlight significant changes over long-term, in particularly regarding I. the expansion and contraction of human occupation manifested in the domestic archaeological data, II. settlement patterns and site location preferences, and III. settlement area size and density.

This research represents an interactive background for an accurate visualization and analyses of the Menorcan social spaces. The long-term perspective aims to contribute further knowledge on population densities, land suitability, funerary sphere, productive structure, supply resource network, strategies of resource exploitation over long-term Menorca. This case study represents a challenging input for the session framework and the debate regarding the socio-archaeological reconstruction through geospatial investigative tools. The final aim is to contribute to the discussion regarding the recognition of effective indicators for change detection in the archaeological record, and in particular in the long-term dynamics of Mediterranean contexts.

[1] On-going PhD work project: Working title “The Prehistory of Menorca: Environment and Demography”; PhD Student: Monica De Cet; and scientific supervisors: Prof. Müller, J. (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel), Prof. Risch, R. (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona), and Prof. Duttmann, R. (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel).

[2] Restricted access database from Consell Insular de Menorca, courtesy of Departament de Cultura, Patrimoni i Educació- Plaça de la Biosfera, 5 - 07703 Maó.


long-term change; settlement pattern; settlement density; social spaces