An Integrative Approach to Analyzing Past Built Environments
Monumentality, Place-making and Social Interaction on Late Bronze Age Cyprus - (Volume 17) - Kevin D. Fisher
Kevin D. Fisher [+]
University of British Columbia
I introduce and integrate a suite of analytical methods in Chapter 4. Access analysis, derived from space syntax, provides a means of understanding the role of spatial configuration in determining likely contexts for interaction by revealing the patterns of access and movement within buildings. While accessibility is a significant determinant of interaction potential, it does not account for other important factors, such as room size and shape or the materiality of particular architectural features, that affect not only the likelihood of a space hosting interaction, but the types of interaction that might occur there and their effects on participants. To address this issue, a nonverbal communication approach is introduced that examines the messages encoded in various elements of the built environment, and how these messages might serve to engender particular behaviours among a building’s inhabitants and visitors. I emphasize interaction with and within built environments as a multi-sensory, embodied experience, although the available evidence lends itself to a more detailed analysis of visual perception. Viewsheds and isovists are used in order to investigate the relationship between interaction and the visibility of spaces and architectural elements such as ashlar masonry. In combination, these methods make up an integrative approach that allows us to investigate the role of the built environment in social interaction and reproduction during any period. In each case the potential and limitations of each analytical method is assessed with reference to previous applications to archaeological datasets. I discuss the mechanics of implementing the integrative approach, emphasizing the syntactic and architectural characteristics of contexts suited for public-inclusive and private-exclusive social interactions. The parameters and limitations of the dataset are also briefly considered in this chapter.