Sensing Ruralscapes. Third-Wave Archaeological Survey in the Mediterranean Area

  • Stefano Campana
Part of the Quantitative Methods in the Humanities and Social Sciences book series (QMHSS)


The present contribution discusses the so-called ‘third wave’ of archaeological survey, drawing attention to the wide gap between the development and implementation or archaeological research within townscapes as compared with rural landscapes in the Mediterranean area. The first part of the discussion summarises the development of landscape studies and survey methods during the last century, critically highlighting the outcomes and limitations of past experience. The paper then presents the initial results of the Emptyscapes Project, an interdisciplinary program of survey and interpretation work designed to stimulate changes in the way in which archaeologists, in Italy but also more generally within the Mediterranean world, study the archaeology of the rural countryside, moving from an essentially site-based approach to a truly landscape-scale perspective. The first results of the project have made it possible to challenge past landscape paradigms and to move towards a more complex and comprehensive understanding of a stretch of lowland rural landscape in southern Tuscany. In doing so the project has emphasised the extent to which choices about the methodological and technological framework of the work may to a certain extent predetermine the archaeological results and influence the archaeological questions that can be asked or answered.


Survey methods Emptiness Scales of detail Archaeological continuum Holistic 



The research for this paper would not have been possible without the financial support of the Marie Curie action for the Emptyscapes project (FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IEF n. 628338) and the Culture 2007 ArchaeoLandscpes Europe project (Grant Agreement nr. 2010/1486/001-001). Stefano Campana carried on the research at the University of Cambridge as Fellow of the Faculty of Classics and fellow of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. The author is particularly grateful to Prof Martin Millett, scientist-in-charge of the Marie Curie project, for his constant support, valuable advice and critical attitude. I would like to thank Ken Saito for his tenacity, rigour and outstanding work in the field and in the laboratory while gathering and processing hundreds of hectares of magnetic measurements in the Rusellae area and at Veii. The author is further indebted to Dr. Emanuele Vaccaro for artefact collection and pottery analysis. Grateful thanks also go to Prof Charles French for his support and guidance in geo-archaeological research, with particular regard to the organization of the borehole survey work in 2015.

Sincere thanks are also due to the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany, especially Dr. Andrea Pessina and Dr. Gabriella Poggesi, for their intellectual debate and problem-solving approach. The University of Siena spin-off company ATS srl played a crucial role, generously sharing use of the Foerster magnetometer system used in the survey work.

Special thanks are also due to two good friends who have followed and inspired so much of the writer’s research work since early in his career, Chris Musson and Prof Dominic Powlesland. As ever, they have helped with constructive criticism and comments throughout all stages of the project. Grateful thanks also go to my colleagues of the University of Siena who contributed in a variety of ways in developing and fostering discussion, in particular Prof Giovanna Bianchi, Prof Emanuele Papi and Prof Gabriella Piccinni.

Finally, my thoughts turn inevitably to my mentor, the late Prof Riccardo Francovich, who gave me the cultural background and the intellectual vigour to face, time after time, new research challenges.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ancient Topography, Head of LAP&T lab, Department of History and Cultural HeritageUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

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