Cultural Landscapes Conceptualized: A Cross-disciplinary History

Kisha Supernant


In the past twenty years, archaeological analyses of cultural landscapes have appeared with increasing frequency, and are currently being applied to all types of societies, from small-scale fisher-gatherer-hunters of the Northwest Coast to
the complex empires of the Inca and Maya. This concept, however, is ambiguous inasmuch as few archaeologists clearly define what they mean when they discuss a cultural landscape. In order to resolve, or at least unpack, some of these
ambiguities, I trace the intellectual genealogy of this idea from its first introduction into English through its divergent and convergent histories in both geography and archaeology. The diversity of approaches to landscapes in archaeology today
is a product of this history, and as the term becomes increasingly relevant in First Nations communities, it is important for archaeologists to understand the historical antecedents of this idea.

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