Christine SPENCER
(University College London, London, UK)

Keywords: survey datasets, Monte Carlo simulation, human-environment relationships, settlement patterns, Bronze Age

Intensive surface surveys form a unique resource for archaeologists to reconstruct cultural landscapes and examine fluctuating human-environment relationships. Although much work in recent years has mitigated issues affecting the variability of survey data and our ability to interpret cultural phenomena from survey material assemblages, Cretan archaeological surveys have never been collectively analysed to explore long-term patterns in island settlement dynamics. Most studies have been project-specific, with localised interpretations of settlement patterns limiting explanations of social change. This preliminary study addresses the lack of formal analysis on prehistoric Crete by applying spatial statistical modelling to a dataset built from multiple independent survey reports. It proposes a methodological framework where logistic regression and inhomogeneous point-process models are iteratively run on simulated samples of the dataset to evaluate both the effect of data uncertainty on the robustness of correlations between settlements and landscapes, and the shifting nature of settlement systems throughout the Bronze Age. This research considers methodologies to integrate survey data by critically re-examining what questions archaeologists ask of them, whether they are appropriate to the type of information, and how to interpret the results of analyses appropriately.
Results show similar patterns to other survey datasets, which supports interpretations of parallel developments in the Prepalatial and Protopalatial periods, and suggests wider inter-regional interactions percolated down to the community level. Equally, the ambiguous results for later periods suggests that underlying processes cannot be deduced from settlement patterns alone. Speculation when comparable data was poor was avoided, so although major transformations in the region were linked to inter-regional developments, without comparably rigorous studies of other surveys, some issues remain unresolved. This study hopes to lay the groundwork to directly confront the difficulties in integrating survey datasets, and prove the applicability of statistical methods to explain changes in settlement patterns across Bronze Age Crete.