Session: #142

Theme & Session Format

Interpreting the archaeological record: artefacts, humans and landscapes
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

So Close, No Matter How Far? Sketching the Relationship between Water- and Landscapes across Europe
165 years after the discovery of pile dwellings in Switzerland, this meeting in Bern should be an occasion to relate archaeological waterscapes to their surrounding landscapes. Due to their inherent fluidity and their impact on cultural phenomena, waterscapes are destined to make us look beyond rigid paradigms, dichotomies, and categories, in order to dissolve them and merge the results into something new.
Relating and integrating the various aspects of life in waterscapes and landscapes, as well as their transitional areas, creates new and unexpected narratives. Archaeological remains in waterscapes, (in or at lakes and sea, in peatlands, bogs etc.) must be seen in their relationship to and their symbiosis with water. The traditional territorial models, which saw dwellings or infrastructure sites as simply located by the water, limited the field of vision.
In order to understand waterscapes, the microarchaeological frog’s eye perspective, which examines the local aquatic environment, must be supplemented with a broader perspective, for water does not separate – it connects. Thus, archaeological sites must be viewed in relation to the water- and landscapes around them, in relation to each other, and as part of a wide and far-reaching network of similar relationships.
There is a wide variety of methods (e.g. from the field of landscape archaeology or network analysis) to investigate the relationships between terrestrial and aquatic areas and the transitional fields between them as well as the “amphibious” networks created by them. These networks are the result of a lively, diverse and constantly changing interplay between different actors (humans, animals, plants and other matters), factors, and forces. The focus of this session is on this interplay between water and land as well as its specific taphonomical, ecological, economical, climatic and cultural factors (which may result in pollution or overexploitation) regardless of restricting time or space frames.
wetlands, waterscapes, pile dwellings, ecology, landscape archaeology, communication networks
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:
W.A.R.P. - the Wetland Archaeology Research Project (


Main organiser:
Renata Huber (Switzerland) 1
Eda Gross (Switzerland) 2,1
Ekaterina Dolbunova (Russia) 3,4
Tryfon Giagkoulis (Greece) 5
Goce Naumov (Republic of North Macedonia) 6
1. Amt für Denkmalpflege und Archäologie Zug
2. University of Basel, Integrative Prehistory and Archeological Science (IPAS)
3. The State Hermitage Museum, The Department of Archaeology of Eastern Europe and Siberia
4. The British Museum
5. University of Bern, Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften (IAW)
6. Center for Prehistoric Research / Museum of Macedonia