In his iconic study of six hundred years of rural life in south-west France, Le Roy Ladurie described the cycles of demographic and economic expansion and contraction visible in the historic record as “the immense respiration of a social structure.” Landscape Archaeology is characterised by such a long-term vision of rural life, where the embeddedness of society, economy and technology, as well as worldviews and persistent ways of life, into distinctive regional landscapes allows us precious insights into the very essence of historical processes. This paper will take the longer-term perspective and review the many complementary approaches being practised today in Mediterranean landscape archaeology, and then set them within the framework of our aim to see larger patterns in the dialectic between dynamic societies and dynamic regional landscapes.
The overall framework for the long term study of an inland sea was created for the Mediterranean by Braudel. He developed with other members of the French Annales School the method of Structural History. Here any event, generation, century or millennium should be approached through exploring the short term, medium term and long term contexts, whose waves of impact interact at any one point in time. These waves include geographical, economic, social, cultural and intellectual processes.