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Landscapes of Complex Society: Research and Impact Group

The Team

Dr Kristen Hopper

Dr Max Price

The Upper Sangro Valley

About Us

Landscapes of Complex Society (LCS) is a RIG of global significance generating essential research on aspects of landscape archaeology associated with ancient complex societies. Current activity includes research on the different expressions of early urbanism, the impact of ancient empires on the wider landscape, the idea of powerscapes, and work on religious landscapes (Natal Landscape of the Buddha Phases I (Lumbini), II and III (Tilaurakot). The RIG is actively involved in field projects (e.g. the Nile Delta Survey Project), and makes extensive use of remote sensing to identify and interpret extensive trends in settlement and landscape change, such as the emergence of imperial landscape signatures in Asia, with the Informatics Laboratory providing a key resource.  New projects on slavery and inequality in Europe and the global south are opening-up research possibilities on colonialised landscapes in the Africa and Americas.

We are generating important new evidence on palaeoclimates and past landscape productivity, investigating responses to risks and hazards in the past (e.g. Medieval and post-medieval earthquakes in Europe) and the present (e.g. Seismic Safety and Kathmandu’s Historic Urban Infrastructure).  Our fieldwork and major datasets drive the work of the Heritage Partnerships RIG in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) and South Asia, and have been fundamental to the delivery of in-country collaborations for heritage-protection through documentation and training these regions.  

Cross-RIG synergies are creating important new research opportunities. The combination of landscape research with materials analysis is illuminating the organisation of commercial networks and the sharing of technical knowledge, while isotopic analysis is clarifying the movement of tin across Europe and the Middle east during the Bronze Age, and the relationships between early polities, territoriality and the movement of people and livestock and in the Levant. Investigations of places and communities in Europe also provide links between the LCS RIG and both Northern Communities and Prehistoric Worlds.

Building on this foundation, the LCS RIG seeks to undertake research that will rethink narratives around major episodes of change in human communities, and to collect and analyse exciting new primary data through innovative programmes of problem-oriented field and laboratory-based research.