Marks of Possession: The Archaeology of Territory and Cross-Cultural Encounter in Australia and South Africa

Authored by: Paul Taçon

Handbook of Landscape Archaeology

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781598742947
eBook ISBN: 9781315427737
Adobe ISBN: 9781315427720


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There are many different ways in which humans have marked, mapped, and managed territory, and a concern with relationships to land appears to be an ancient as well as contemporary activity (see Taçon 2002 for detailed list). When we look around the world today we see recent evidence of humans defining, dividing, and describing parcels of land almost everywhere, from fences to garden beds, from patrolled borders to lines on maps, from elaborate signposts to subtle changes in architecture. In the archaeological record multiple overlapping layers of boundary marking have accumulated to form historical patterns of group and individual relationships to place, space, and landscape. Some areas are convoluted and complex, challenging to decipher or to tease apart. Others are subtle or contain forms of territorial association that quickly dissolve into the dust, forests, jungles, or deserts that take over when humans move off.

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