Defining activity areas in the Early Neolithic site at Foeni-Salaş (southwest Romania): A spatial analytic approach with geographical information systems in archaeology

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Lawson, Kathryn Sahara
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Through the years, there has been a great deal of archaeological research focused on the earliest farming cultures of Europe (i.e. Early Neolithic). However, little effort has been expended to uncover the type and nature of daily activities performed within Early Neolithic dwellings, particularly in the Balkans. This thesis conducts a spatial analysis of the Early Neolithic pit house levels of the Foeni-Salaş site in southeast Romania, in the northern half of the Balkans, to determine the kinds and locations of activities that occurred in these pit houses. Characteristic Early Neolithic dwellings in the northern Balkans are pit houses. The data are analyzed using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology in an attempt to identify non-random patterns that will indicate how the pit house inhabitants used their space. Both visual and statistical (Nearest Neighbor) techniques are used to identify spatial patterns. Spreadsheet data are incorporated into the map database in order to compare and contrast the results from the two techniques of analysis. Map data provides precise artefact locations, while spreadsheet data yield more generalized quad centroid information. Unlike the mapped data, the spreadsheet data also included artefacts recovered in sieves. Utilizing both data types gave a more complexand fuller understanding of how space was used at Foeni-Salaş. The results show that different types of activity areas are present within each of the pit houses. Comparison of interior to exterior artifact distributions demonstrates that most activities take place within pit house. Some of the activities present include weaving, food preparation, butchering, hide processing, pottery making, ritual, and other activities related to the running of households. It was found that these activities are placed in specific locations relative to features within the pit house and the physical structure of the pit house itself. This research adds to the growing body of archaeological research that implements GIS to answer questions and solve problems related to the spatial dimension of human behaviour.
spatial analysis, artefact patterns, activity areas, archaeology, GIS, Early Neolithic, Romania, pit houses, Nearest Neighbor, statistics