11440 - Landscape Archaeology (1)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Docente: Enrico Giorgi
  • Credits: 6
  • SSD: L-ANT/09
  • Language: Italian
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in History (cod. 0962)

Learning outcomes

The aim of this teaching is to lead the students to understand the dynamics and the rules of landscape changes during times, as an important aspect of the history of peopling . This approach is essentially based on an idea of the landscape as a 'palinsesto', where it is possible to see the signs left by the relationships between man and environment during times. Starting from the comprehension of today's landscape, the student will be able to reconstruct the history of a country at a physiographical and human level. In order to do this step, students will be previously provided of all methodologies and tools necessary to build a reliable image of ancient land use and setting patterns. Among these instruments, we would mention cartography, remote sensed images and geomorphological rudiments necessary to understand the relationships between man and environment.

Course contents

The teaching of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bologna represents the outcome of a central tradition in the national academy. Indeed, the studies of Ancient Topography carried out by the Bolognese chair have made important contributions to the reconstruction of the archaeology of the landscape of the Po Valley and beyond, by developing a method of investigation that enhances the dialogue between literary sources and the analysis of ancient geography. With the most recent developments in the discipline, this tradition has been further renewed.

Landscape archaeology, in fact, brings students closer to the most innovative research methodologies, such as remote sensing (aero-photography, satellite images, drone photos) and geophysics. These methodologies, together with more traditional methods such as archive analysis and surface surveys, make it possible to prepare maps of the archaeological potential in urban and territorial contexts. This is a professional path, which brings the archaeologist closer to the study of the variations in the ancient landscape, but which also allows him to dialogue with those involved in protection and planning.

Studying landscape archaeology today means analysing the relationship between man and the environment over the course of time in order to understand issues that are still central to the contemporary world, such as variations in climate and the environment and their impact on population choices. It is, therefore, a diachronic approach that does not necessarily privilege a particular era. Analysing the historical landscape of our peninsula involves reflecting on certain forms of resilience that characterise areas with particularly conditioning environments. This theme also includes the study of ancient cities as central nuclei of population and relationship with the territory. These themes will be addressed and brought back into the furrow of some research themes characteristic of the discipline, organised in two main parts.

The first part of the course will deal with introductory themes of landscape archaeology, such as the genesis and contemporary development of the discipline. Then, the sources and methods for reconstructing variations in the ancient landscape will be analysed, starting with written sources and continuing with non-invasive methodologies (remote sensing and aerial photography).

In the second part of the course some specific themes will be dealt with, such as the variations in population choices over time in relation to historical and environmental variations, the economy of the territory (from the economy of uncultivated land to the Roman agrarian revolution), the structuring of connections on water and land routes (genesis of the ancient and medieval road system).


In addition to the lecture notes, students should study one of the following textbook:

L. Quilici, S. Quilici Gigli, Introduzione alla topografia antica, Bologna 2004;


P. Carafa, Storie dai Contesti, Mondadori 2021, solo capitolo 3 (Vivere e agire nel territorio: topografia e archeologia dei paesaggi).

Those who do not attend the lectures are required also to study the following textbook (in addiction):

P. Basso, Strade romane: storia e archeologia, Roma 2007.

E. Farinetti, I paesaggi in archeologia: analisi e interpretazione, Roma 2012.

Suggestions for reading will also be given in the course of the lectures, which can be a source of classroom discussion.

Teaching methods

The lectures will be seminar-based, using presentations and case studies in which research directed by the lecturer is in progress and, subject to logistical availability and if possible, students will be offered the opportunity to participate in field research.

Students will be asked to actively participate in the lectures.

In order to refine also the theoretical and practical aspects, it is recommended to attend topography workshops (https://corsi.unibo.it/magistrale/archeologia/i-laboratori-didattici)

Assessment methods

The learning assessment for students attending the course will also be based on the evaluation of participation in discussions and other learning activities, such as lectures and critical readings to be reported to the class.

The final grade will be established by means of an oral examination in which at least three questions will be asked relating to the main themes addressed in the course of the lectures:

1. Objectives of Landscape Archaeology;

2. Methods and tools

3. Evolution of the population and ancient infrastructures;

The interview will be opened by the candidate with a topic of his or her choice (first question) followed by two requests for in-depth studies on the other topics (two questions). If necessary, in order to facilitate the evaluation, further in-depth studies may be requested.

For non-attending students, the interview will focus on the same topics with particular reference to the volumes studied.
The following evaluation parameters will be adopted, for attending students and non-frequenting students.

Attending Students

Excellent evaluation
(30 and praise-28): active participation of the student in the lessons; the student will have to demonstrate the possession of high level knowledge, the ability to interpret the landscape problems correctly and showing a certain autonomy of reasoning. The student will demonstrate the ability to move well within the "parure" of sources presented in class. Excellent oral expression skills including in the technical languages presented.

Good grade (27-23): The student has attended the course and will demonstrate possession of knowledge at a good level, but mainly mnemonic; the interpretation of the problems proposed will be correct, but not always precise and autonomous. The language used will be appropriate with some problems in the more technical aspects.

Sufficient rating (22-18): The student has attended the course, demonstrates possession of the basic knowledge of the discipline, but assumed in mnemonic form; the interpretation of the problems is mostly correct, but conducted with inaccuracy and little autonomy. The language used will be fair, but lacking in technical language.

Insufficient evaluation: the lack of acquisition of the basic concepts of the discipline, combined with a poor ability to make use of the sources presented and an adequate language will be evaluated with insufficient score, which provides for the repetition of the exam.

Non-Frequenting Students
Non-frequenting students will be evaluated primarily on the basis of their ability to gain awareness of the issues inherent in Landscape resulting from manual and bibliographic study, combined with adequate language.

Excellent evaluation (30 cum laude -28): the student will demonstrate a solid understanding of the subject matter, the demonstration of a critical sense in evaluating the sources to be drawn upon in reconstructing the ancient landscape. He/she will express him/herself in language appropriate to the subject, even in its technical parts.

Good evaluation (27-23): the student will demonstrate a good knowledge and understanding of the subject, but will not have fully succeeded in developing a critical sense, with verbal expression and reasoning on the issues proposed not always perfect.

Sufficient rating (22-18): the student will demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the subject matter, but will have failed to develop a critical sense, with verbal expression and reasoning on proposed problems not fully satisfactory.

Insufficient assessment: lack of acquisition of basic concepts of the discipline, coupled with a poor ability to make use of the sources presented and adequate language will be assessed with an insufficient score, which requires retaking the exam.

Teaching tools

The presentations used during the lectures will be available on the course web portal.

Office hours

See the website of Enrico Giorgi


Sustainable cities Climate Action Life on land

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.