Gardens and Landscapes of the Past


By: Kathryn L. Gleason

Originally Published in 1990

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gardens_and_landscapesIn the past few years, the results of over two decades of research in the new discipline of landscape archae­ology have begun to reach the public through work covering a world-wide geographical range and a span of centuries, from the prehistoric to relatively recent times. This research on landscape has been marked by a broadening of focus, from artifacts and architecture to the larger realm of human activity and creation. Al­though used loosely today, landscape is a term that connotes land shaped by human use, whether for utilitarian or ornamental purposes or, more commonly, a complex fusion of both. The interaction of people and land is the subject of this special issue of Expedition, which examines those particularly unnatural landscapes: garden and field.

Landscape archaeologists rarely have the opportunity to learn what specialists in other disciplines are doing. A symposium on “The Archaeology of Garden and Field,” organized by Naomi F. Miller and myself for the Society of American Archaeology Annual Meetings in March 1988, brought together archaeologists, geo­graphers, anthropologists, paleobotanists, and land­scape architects. They presented papers on such diverse topics as Roman fields of southern England (Steven Ford, Mark Bowden, Vince Gaffney, and Geoffrey Mees), Caribbean slave gardens (Lydia Pulsipher), and the gardens at historic Morven in New Jersey (Anne Yentsch); these papers are included in this issue. Clark Erickson’s paper on the re-creation of Andean field systems, also presented at the symposium, was pub­lished in a previous Expedition (Vol. 30, No. 3).

Additional articles were solicited to add further to the diversity of topics presented here. The articles on the great public park of Pompey the Great in ancient Rome (Kathryn Gleason) and North American Indian gar­dening practices (Gail Wagner) explore vastly different ideas about shaping the land for human purposes. Finally, Naomi Miller’s survey of the Near East in the eyes of the Victorian traveler looks at differing views of the same landscape over time.

Thus the topics are as cross-disciplinary as the field of landscape archaeology itself, and the authors bring a range of skills and approaches to the study of past land­scapes. As an anonymous medieval Latinist put it:

Flos Unus Non Hortus Facit
(One flower does not make a garden)

Cite This Article

Gleason, Kathryn L.. "Gardens and Landscapes of the Past." Expedition Magazine 32, no. 2 (July, 1990): -. Accessed February 25, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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