Applying digital methods in settlement pattern analysis

Allar Haav

In archaeology, digital methods have been used extensively for decades, especially in spatial contexts. Such an approach was utilized in the pattern analysis of an Iron Age settlement in Southeast Estonia. The point pattern analysis reveals whether settlements indicate random placement or display ordering or clustering. Ripley’s K-function showed evidence of significant clustering; however, further inhomogeneous analysis implied a significant influence of environmental factors on this phenomenon. Mark connection analysis was used to measure spatial autocorrelation, i.e. the tendency of spatial agglomeration of similar features. As a result, multi-scalar relationships were revealed, indicating interesting settlement processes such as local settlement shifts, “natural” expansion as well as colonization. This kind of quantitative approach offers more solid premises for drawing conclusions, taking also into consideration the spatial nature of the phenomena under study. A special area has evolved in the digital humanities, known as the “spatial humanities”, which combines research of spatial aspects of different disciplines of the humanities through digital methods of analysis, applications and approaches.