93140 - Archaeological Landscapes (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Archaeology and Cultures of the Ancient World (cod. 8855)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will understand and contextualize the approaches to the study of landscape in archaeology. They will know the main sources, the methods, tools and strategies applicable to the different contexts and scales of analysis. They will also display awareness of the multidisciplinary nature of the subject, the importance of dialogue with subsidiary sciences and specialists in the study of landscape, and the various entities responsible for protecting, planning and managing the territory. They will have an updated understanding of the evolution of the discipline and of the current international scientific debate. They will have a global and critical approach to the study of the ancient landscape, attentive to both geographical, natural and anthropic aspects, whilst maintaining archaeological and historical research problems in central place. They will be versed in the main diagnostic non-invasive survey methods and know how to choose the most appropriate ones according to variables in the environmental and cultural context. They will participate in debates on the contribution of information sources and methods of investigation and diagnosis.

Course contents

The course focuses on the concepts, methods, procedures and techniques concerning the archaeological research on the landscape. The main keywords, sources, issues and approaches to the discipline will be presented and discussed, with particular attention to the most recent experiences in the Mediterranean area. From the first pioneering projects, the principal stages of the evolution of the subject matter will be exposed, introducing the most innovative lines of research and future perspectives.

The three main objectives of the contemporary discipline will be addressed: reconstruction of the landscapes of the past, proactive conservation of the contemporary landscape, public and social dissemination of knowledge.

Through the presentation of different case studies, the potentialities, methods of investigation, problems and the most suitable solutions in relation to different archaeological and geographical contexts will be analyzed. Furthermore, the importance of a diachronic, holistic and multidisciplinary approach will be strongly promoted, including discussion of the possibilities offered by subsidiary disciplines, such as geology, geomorphology and other sciences, as well as the involvement of other specialists.

A special emphasis will be given to non-invasive methods of exploration and mapping of subsoil and landscape, such as field walking surveys, remote sensing techniques, aerial photography and geophysical prospections. In all cases, methods and practices will be considered in relation to different environmental, topographical and archaeological conditions and problems.


Recommended readings for students attending classes (to support processing and writing of their individual project):

- B. David, J. Thomas (eds.). Handbook of Landscape Archaeology. Routledge 2012. Limited to pp. 27-43; 365-378; 551-595.

- C. Musson, R. Palmer, S. Campana (eds.). Flights into the past. Aerial Photography, Photo Interpretation and Mapping for Archaeology. Heidelberg, Germany 2013.

- C. Gaffney, J. Gater. Revealing the buried past. Geophysics for Archaeologists. Tempus Publishing Ltd. 2003.  


Students who are not attending will take an oral exam. They will have to prepare two manuals as indicated:

1) B. David, J. Thomas (eds.). Handbook of Landscape Archaeology. Routledge 2012. Limited to pp. 27-84; 365-408; 551-600.

2) And chose one of the following readings:

- M. Johnson. Ideas of landscape. Wiley 2006.

- P. Johnson, M. Millett (eds.). Archaeological Survey and the City. Oxbow Books Ltd. 2012.

- C. Musson, R. Palmer, S. Campana (eds.). Flights into the past. Aerial Photography, Photo Interpretation and Mapping for Archaeology. Heidelberg, Germany 2013.

- S. Campana, S. Piro (eds.). Seeing the Unseen. Geophysics and Landscape Archaeology. CRC Press 2009.

- F. Boschi (ed.). Looking to the Future. Caring for the Past. Preventive Archaeology in Theory and Practice. BUP 2016.

- C. Haselgrove, M. Millett, I. Smith (eds.). Archaeology from the ploughsoil. Study in the collection and interpretation of the field-survey data. Collins Publisher 2007.

- C. Gaffney, J. Gater. Revealing the buried past. Tempus Publishing Ltd. 2003.

- F. Vermeulen, G.-J. Burgers, S. Keays, C. Corsi (eds.). Urban Landscape Survey in Italy and the Mediterranean. Oxbow Book Ltd. 2012.

- S. Campana. Mapping the archaeological continuum. Springer 2018.

- C. Corsi, B. Slapsak, F. Vermeulen (eds.). Good Practice in Archaeological Diagnostics. Non-invasive survey of complex archaeological sites. Springer 2013.

- J. Mills, R. Palmer (eds.). Populating Clay Landscapes. Tempus Publishing Ltd. 2007.  

- R. Opitz, D. Cowley (eds.). Interpreting Archaeological Topography. 3D Data, Visualisation and Observation. Oxbow Books 2013.

Teaching methods

The teaching method is based on frontal lessons and moments of collective discussion in class. To this end, students will be assigned readings to comment on together. Seminars are also planned within the course, with the involvement of experts in the field and on particular aspects of the discipline. At least one lesson will also be dedicated to the demonstrative use of investigative and prospecting instruments that can be employed on the field.

Assessment methods

The students attending classwork will have to elaborate, compose and present an individual project agreed with the teacher, that will be exposed orally in class and also delivered as a written paper.

The project will focus on the design of the most appropriate survey strategy for an archaeological context/landscape of choice.

The research should cover the topics discussed during the course and expand the basic bibliography provided by the teaching.

The assessment of the final paper will be based on individual ability to:

- select a topic in line with those dealt with during the lessons;

- critically plan the best survey strategy in relation to context, research intention and archaeological target;

- dedicate care and attention to the composition of the work (text, maps and images);

- define clearly structure and objectives;

- use appropriate language and terminology;

- assemble a targeted and complete bibliographic apparatus.

The overall evaluation of each attending student will also take into account the active participation in the lessons and in the moments of discussion.

Teaching tools

During the lessons dedicated Power Points, web and video resources will be constantly used.
The syllabus and other support material can be downloaded from the Online Teaching platform (Virtuale).

Office hours

See the website of Federica Boschi


Quality education Sustainable cities Life on land

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