Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 543–549 | Cite as

Pollen modelling, palaeoecology and archaeology: virtualisation and/or visualisation of the past?

  • Chris CaseldineEmail author
  • Ralph Fyfe
  • Kari Hjelle
Review Article


Recent developments in pollen modelling and landscape reconstruction have the potential to have a profound impact on our understanding of landscape change related to human activity. Initial findings have already revealed the weaknesses of a number of key assumptions previously made about pollen–landscape relationships. Close interrelationships exist between landscape reconstruction based on pollen analysis and archaeology, and model-based developments raise a range of pertinent issues for both disciplines. These include the way in which past vegetation patterning is conceptualised (the patch vs. the matrix), the nature of the underlying physical environment in vegetation placement, the development of hypothesis-led approaches and the scale of landscapes under consideration. This paper discusses these issues, and also raises questions concerning the meaning of landscape. It may be erroneous to term pollen-based reconstructions as landscapes given the heavily charged meaning of the word as understood by companion and end user disciplines.


Pollen modelling Virtualisation Visualisation Archaeology Landscape 



This paper is a contribution to the POLLANDCAL (POLlen-LANDscape CALibration) network sponsored by NordForsk and co-ordinated by M.-J. Gaillard (University of Kalmar, Sweden) ( We are grateful to all POLLANDCAL members for useful and inspiring discussions during the numerous network workshops held between 2002 and 2005, and in particular to Shinya Sugita (University of Minnesota, USA) for providing us with the basic research approaches of POLLANDCAL and for allowing access to his numerous computer programs. We are also grateful to Jane Bunting and Dick Middleton (University of Hull, UK) for developing excellent user-friendly software (the HUMPOL suite of programs) for use in network research activities. Last but by no means least we thank Marie-Jo Gaillard for her continuing inspiration and support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography, Archaeology and Earth ResourcesUniversity of ExeterPenrynUK
  2. 2.School of GeographyUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK
  3. 3.The Natural History CollectionsUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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