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A geo-archaeological approach to the study of hydro-agricultural systems in arid areas of Western Syria.

Geyer, B. and Braemer, F. and Davtian, G. and Philip, G. (2019) 'A geo-archaeological approach to the study of hydro-agricultural systems in arid areas of Western Syria.', Journal of arid environments., 163 . pp. 93-113.


Over the last 30 years, geoarchaeological surveys undertaken in the Near East have offered a powerful way of studying, inter alia, water supply systems at a microregional to regional scale. However, efforts to synthesize the results of surveys at a sub-continental scale in order to understand local differences and similarities, and compare local strategies through time, require specific tools. In this paper, we develop a methodology designed to characterize and facilitate comparison of strategies employed across the arid areas of Western Syria. This requires microregional field studies undertaken at the level of specific landscapes to be integrated within a wider GIS framework, based upon thematic layers (soils, rainfalls, hydrology) at a uniform spatial scale of assessment (in this case the pixel of a Landsat image), and a common description of the agronomic potential in those areas in which specific hydraulic installations were employed. In contrast to the usual practice of modelling, which depends upon the downscaling of environmental data (land cover, rainfall maps) generated at a continental scale, we stress here the need to generalize upwards, from observations made at the microregional level, by using common descriptors and qualitative indicators. The GIS analysis of these data provides a weighted average model derived from field evidence for the different technical choices made (i.e. the decision to utilize specific water management devices) in relation to the various agronomic landscapes.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Syria, geoarchaeology, aridity, water management systems, GIS-based spatial analysis, land use models
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2018 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:14 November 2018
Date deposited:15 November 2018
Date of first online publication:11 December 2018
Date first made open access:11 December 2019

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