Exploring Transformations in Caribbean Indigenous Social Networks through Visibility Studies : the Case of Late Pre-Colonial Landscapes in East-Guadeloupe (French West Indies)

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2018
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de Waal, Maaike S.
Hofman, Corinne L.
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Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. 2018, 25(2), pp. 475-519. ISSN 1072-5369. eISSN 1573-7764. Available under: doi: 10.1007/s10816-017-9344-0
Zusammenfassung

This paper presents a study of the visual properties of natural and Amerindian cultural landscapes in late pre-colonial East-Guadeloupe and of how these visual properties affected social interactions. Through a review of descriptive and formal visibility studies in Caribbean archaeology, it reveals that the ability of visual properties to affect past human behaviour is frequently evoked but the more complex of these hypotheses are rarely studied formally. To explore such complex hypotheses, the current study applies a range of techniques: total viewsheds, cumulative viewsheds, visual neighbourhood configurations and visibility networks. Experiments were performed to explore the control of seascapes, the functioning of hypothetical smoke signalling networks, the correlation of these visual properties with stylistic similarities of material culture found at sites and the change of visual properties over time. The results of these experiments suggest that only few sites in Eastern Guadeloupe are located in areas that are particularly suitable to visually control possible sea routes for short- and long-distance exchange; that visual control over sea areas was not a factor of importance for the existence of micro-style areas; that during the early phase of the Late Ceramic Age networks per landmass are connected and dense and that they incorporate all sites, a structure that would allow hypothetical smoke signalling networks; and that the visual properties of locations of the late sites Morne Souffleur and Morne Cybèle-1 were not ideal for defensive purposes. These results led us to propose a multi-scalar hypothesis for how lines of sight between settlements in the Lesser Antilles could have structured past human behaviour: short-distance visibility networks represent the structuring of navigation and communication within landmasses, whereas the landmasses themselves served as focal points for regional navigation and interaction. We conclude by emphasising that since our archaeological theories about visual properties usually take a multi-scalar landscape perspective, there is a need for this perspective to be reflected in our formal visibility methods as is made possible by the methods used in this paper.

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Caribbean archaeology, Visibility, Network science, Guadeloupe, GIS
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ISO 690BRUGHMANS, Tom, Maaike S. DE WAAL, Corinne L. HOFMAN, Ulrik BRANDES, 2018. Exploring Transformations in Caribbean Indigenous Social Networks through Visibility Studies : the Case of Late Pre-Colonial Landscapes in East-Guadeloupe (French West Indies). In: Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. 2018, 25(2), pp. 475-519. ISSN 1072-5369. eISSN 1573-7764. Available under: doi: 10.1007/s10816-017-9344-0
BibTex
@article{Brughmans2018-06Explo-39738,
  year={2018},
  doi={10.1007/s10816-017-9344-0},
  title={Exploring Transformations in Caribbean Indigenous Social Networks through Visibility Studies : the Case of Late Pre-Colonial Landscapes in East-Guadeloupe (French West Indies)},
  number={2},
  volume={25},
  issn={1072-5369},
  journal={Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory},
  pages={475--519},
  author={Brughmans, Tom and de Waal, Maaike S. and Hofman, Corinne L. and Brandes, Ulrik}
}
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