GIS tool for interdisciplinary landscape studies

Posted on 08 January 2018

Talk: Sabrina Pietrobono (MiBACT, Rome), “GIS tool for interdisciplinary landscape studies”


Date: Monday, 8 January 2018

Time: starting at 17:00 c.t. (i.e. 17:15)

Venue: DAI, Wiegandhaus, Podbielskiallee 69-71, D-14195 Berlin (map)


Despite several projects on Ancient Roman towns carried out during the last decades, the understanding of some important points of central Italy’s social dynamics from the Roman Period to the Middle Ages has not improved much; this is probably due to the lack of a proper interdisciplinary and contextual approach, which may connect specialists in different fields (archaeologists; historians; etc) to the reality of the landscape and territory. This proposal aims to show the range of possibilities provided by a GIS method elaborated in the UK and recently applied to Italy contexts. It develops from a wider collaborative research project, which involves selected historical areas in Southern Lazio, Central Italy, previously included into a project carried out between 2012 and 2014; their study has been further advanced from 2015 to 2017, in order to answer yet unaddressed questions about the relationship between linguistic or historical sources and territories. During previous research focused on the analysis of the impact of medieval conquests in the UK and Italy through the study of landscapes, results had revealed significant potential for approaching the study of complex social landscapes by combining material and linguistic data relying on an advanced tecnological tool: in order to manage data coming from environments and textual sources, a relatively new GIS-based method was adapted to the Italian context for the first time; this method emphasises the importance of studying the landscape as a whole by identifying different historic land-uses (e.g. different types of fields, woodland, moors/heaths/grazing land, etc) and by analysing their origins, development and cultural/social characters, trying to understand the evolution of people’s identity and land exploitation. Of course, Central Italy is a vital area of study, expecially when considered since the mid- Republican period, when its natural environment was affected in numerous ways by human impact. However, other complex transformations within the same areas occurred over the centuries after the Roman dominion, especially in the Middle Ages. The whole of their consequences in the current landscape of Central Italy had to be equally studied and better understood in order to obtain a good knowledge of past historical phases and transformations. Initially developed by British institutions, this new GIS method has been tailored for selected Italian cases studies in order to correctly reconstruct even different landscapes by collecting data on transformation and/or continuity in the landscape, in Italy and the UK.


Fairclough, G.J. and Wigley, A. 2006: Historic Landscape Characterisation: An English approach to landscape understanding and the management of change, in del Arbo, M-R & Orejas, A.(eds) 2005, Landscapes as Cultural Heritage in the European Research, Proceedings of COST A27 Workshop, Madrid 2004, 87-106

Widgren, M. 2012: Landscape research in a world of domesticated landscapes: The role of values, theory, and concepts, in Quaternary International, 251: 117-124