Picturing Landscapes

I just finished reading Matthew Johnson’s Ideas of Landscape(Blackwell 2006).  In it, he argued that maps, air photos, and archaeological hachured plans formed the foundation of landscape archaeology in Great Britain (and, I’d contend, elsewhere).  Landscape archaeology in the Mediterranean has certainly benefited from maps and air (and increasingly satellite) photos which represent the first step, typically, in data gathering for an archaeological project. The first aerial photographs that we acquired in the study of our site of Pyla-Koutsopetria were the 1963 and 1993 series produced by the Cypriot Department of Maps and Surveys.

a63149KoutsopetriaCropped

 A93256KoutsopetriaCropped

Since then, we were lucky enough to have a series of oblique, relatively low altitude air photos taken from an RAF helicopter in 2007.  These photos provide more detail, but the oblique angles make them more difficult to use for producing accurate maps. 

Picture 044

Picture 047

This past summer, we took even more low altitude and far more oblique air photographs using the infamous helikite (half helium blimp and half kite).  We only had enough helium for a limited number of flights and this tempted us to take the airship up in, let’s say, unfavorable conditions.  The results were blurry, but we were able to salvage some good quality aerial photographs from the set.  The camera was rocking furiously beneath the wind-buffeted helikite so the photos lack a good representation of the horizontal.  More disappointing is that the strong breeze from the sea made it difficult to photograph the fields closest to the busy Larnaka-Dhekelia road.  The 1963 and 1993 aerial photographs showed some feature near the intersection of the main road and the northeast running road that now leads to the water treatment facility.  While the feature does not stand out in the 2007 RAF photographs, they were taken after a particularly wet early summer which caused green wheat to be left in the field.  The nicely ploughed fields of summer 2010 may have provided a different image.

 

One of my jobs for this summer is labeling these photographs and moving them to Omeka.  For now, enjoy a different perspective on the site of Pyla-Koutsopetria.

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