The transformation of landscape and religious representations in Roman Gaul

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This essay starts from the presupposition that the landscape is more than the proverbial backcloth to human action. It is not just the natural feature of the environment putting important constraints on human behaviour nor is it simply a cultural construction of human conceptions about the world. Rather the landscape is doubly-faced, consisting of a foreground actuality of every-day existence and a background potentiality of an imagined timeless ideal (Hirsch 1995). The phenomenal and the imagined landscape are alternately perceived and inextricably intertwined, in that people continuously seek to realize in ordinary life the ideals of an imaginary existence. The ways in which they imagine the world may thus heavily bear on the appearance and organization of the landscape they live in. This is true for all societies in past and present. But while in the modern west the ideals have up to a point a secular character, in all other societies, including those of Roman Gaul, the imagined landscape takes the form of a cosmology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-163
JournalArchaeological Dialogues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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