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GIS-based landform classification of Bronze Age archaeological sites on Crete Island

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Various physical attributes of the Earth’s surface are factors that influence local topography and indirectly influence human behaviour in terms of habitation locations. The determination of geomorphological setting plays an important role in archaeological landscape research. Several landform types can be distinguished by characteristic geomorphic attributes that portray the landscape surrounding a settlement and influence its ability to sustain a population. Geomorphometric landform information, derived from digital elevation models (DEMs), such as the ASTER Global DEM, can provide useful insights into the processes shaping landscapes. This work examines the influence of landform classification on the settlement locations of Bronze Age (Minoan) Crete, focusing on the districts of Phaistos, Kavousi and Vrokastro. The landform classification was based on the topographic position index (TPI) and deviation from mean elevation (DEV) analysis to highlight slope steepness of various landform classes, characterizing the surrounding landscape environment of the settlements locations. The outcomes indicate no interrelationship between the settlement locations and topography during the Early Minoan period, but a significant interrelationship exists during the later Minoan periods with the presence of more organised societies. The landform classification can provide insights into factors favouring human habitation and can contribute to archaeological predictive modelling.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0170727
JournalPLoS One
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2017

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