Reconstructing the environment and natural landscape
The natural landscape is a relative concept: not only do cultures and individuals have differing views of what is natural and what is not, but these views have changed over time. The way we see our place in the ‘natural order of things’ is also culturally determined, as is demonstrated by differing views of calamity (Hewitt 1983). Although this affects how we conceptualize past nature-culture relationships, it does not prevent us from utilizing a battery of techniques derived from the natural sciences in order to reconstruct the physicality of past landscapes. This chapter aims to outline the many methods currently used in the reconstruction of natural landscapes and illustrate their archaeological application. Because this is a vast field of research, which includes many different disciplines, it is impossible to be comprehensive, either globally or temporally, so examples will be restricted to northwest Europe, the Mediterranean basin and North America.