Visiting Research Scholar Spotlight: Mitra Panahipour

By Mitra Panahipour

Understanding how communities interact with their surrounding environments has been one of the major research goals among various science and social science fields. In this regard, studying historical patterns of settlement and diverse land use decisions in light of socioeconomic demands and environmental conditions not only clarifies the past dynamics of human behavior but also gives us insights into contemporary and future challenges such as resource management and landscape changes. The ways past landscapes—in different spatial and temporal scales—were constructed and transformed have influenced many societal and environmental aspects and such knowledge from the past is necessary in order to evaluate the issue of suitability in both past and present. Therefore, different prehistoric or historical landscapes can be cases for the reconstruction of longer-term anthropogenic land use and land cover and their cycles of change through time. Nonetheless, our archaeological data and knowledge are yet to be improved to address the variability of human practices throughout the Holocene. For instance, ancient territorial empires, such as Sasanians, have been often viewed by concepts of expansion, centralization, and intensification, while intensification in land use has been only one of the several strategies in response to the environmental variability, other responses such as adaptions and mobility and the possibility of diachronic trajectories should be evaluated. In addition, new methods are required to answer these questions and achieve such longer-term reconstructions.

During my time at ISAW, I use a multidisciplinary approach by combining remote sensing and geospatial techniques, including the application of historical and current multispectral satellite data with archaeological fieldwork to reconstruct the past landscape and its anthropogenic and natural elements across the Deh Luran archaeological landscape in western Iran. As a landscape separated from the highlands of the Zagros Mountains in north and lowlands of Khuzestan/Mesopotamia in south, and located on the nexus of routes through history, Deh Luran is an ideal case for studying the dynamics of human and environment interactions through millennia.

Read more about Mitra Panahipour here.