Commotion, Collaboration, Conviviality

Mediterranean Survey and the Interpretation of Landscape


  • Michael Given University of Glasgow



Cyprus, interaction, landscape, material agency, survey


Over the last three decades, Mediterranean survey projects have established a broadly agreed methodology, a wide awareness of the invaluable contribution made by intensive survey, and a wealth of data from across the region. Where they have made less progress is in the interpretation of artefact density figures and other findings to go beyond the dots on the map and gain insights into past human lives, the complexity of past landscapes, and the relationship between people and the environment. The key to this is engaging with theories that connect humans and non-humans. In this article I use the term commotion to suggest the constant and continually changing lines of mobility and interaction that constitute the landscape. Collaboration is the ongoing creation and transformation of place through the elaborately intertwined work of people, animals, plants, soils, water, weather, rocks and landforms. Conviviality stands for the life-giving creativity and transformation that is constantly proliferating from the intricate association and interaction with other beings, both human and non-human. My examples come from the Troodos Archaeological and Environmental Survey Project, an interdisciplinary and multi-period project carried out on the northern edge of the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus.

Author Biography

Michael Given, University of Glasgow

Michael Given is Senior Lecturer in the School of Humanities, University of Glasgow. His research interests include archaeological survey and landscape archaeology, the historical periods in the eastern Mediterranean, and the archaeology of colonialism. From 2000–2012 he was Co-director of the Troodos Archaeological and Environmental Survey Project, Cyprus. His books include The Archaeology of the Colonized (Routledge, 2004), and Landscape and Interaction: The Troodos Archaeological and Environmental Survey Project, Cyprus (with A.B. Knapp, J. Noller, L. Sollars and V. Kassianidou; 2 volumes; Council for British Research in the Levant, 2013, in press).



How to Cite

Given, M. (2013). Commotion, Collaboration, Conviviality: Mediterranean Survey and the Interpretation of Landscape. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 26(1), 3–26.




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