To which degree are central places influenced by their environment? Is the centrality higher in areas where the environmental conditions are more favourable in contrast to other? And if so: why? And if not: why?

Overview research area; Source/Copyright Daniel Knitter

Overview of the research area; Source/Copyright Daniel Knitter. Click to enlarge

These are some questions this doctoral thesis dealt with. It was the general aim to reconstruct the environmental parameters that influenced the centrality of sites. The concept of central places as defined by Christaller (1933) as well as its theoretical enhancements and adaptions to archaeological questions [see also research groups (A-I-21) Systemic Analyses] were the theoretical base. Since these concepts do not integrate the natural environment an assessment of it is very individual and subjective. This work attempted to formulate general environmental parameters that influence human and their spatial behaviour (e.g. the suitability for agricultural and traffic purposes or the access to resources) and – more importantly – integrated these in the description of a place’s centrality. This was the base of a holistic comparison of different case studies whithin research group (A-I) Central Places. Preliminary results showed that there are different spatial scales that shape the centrality of a place – naturally and culturally. Furthermore, there is a natural centrality and an artifical centrality. The first mainly characterizes areas of long settlement continuity and is strongly related to the environmental conditions. The latter is opposite to this and marked by a very high centrality for a short time. Nevertheless, depended from the duration of their importance they can sustainably influence the spatial palimpsest.

The dissertation was successfully completed in 2013.