Institute of Archaeology


Xosé L. Hermoso-Buxán

Built Environment and Society in Iran from the Neolithic to the Iron Age: Insights from Spatial and Network Analysis


Email: xose.buxan.12@ucl.ac.uk
Section: World Archaeology


Built Environment and Society in Iran from the Neolithic to the Iron Age: Insights from Spatial and Network Analysis

Investigations of the relationship between built environment and society are based on the premise that architecture is a multidimensional form of non-verbal communication used to encode social information that originates in society itself and affects human behaviour. This behaviour may be materialised and routinised by means of a series of architectural elements or "cues" which can guide or prompt individuals and communities in how to pursue their everyday lives and what is expected from them. Thus, if behavioural conventions are represented in the built environment, it should be possible to reconstruct past patterns of rationality and social roles and relations by studying ancient architecture. Likewise, challenges to this can inform on wider social change.

Research of this kind in Iran has been limited. Some site reports do include analyses of architecture and its socioeconomic implications, but their approach is mainly typological and, generally, there is a lack of focused research on the built environment-society interface in discussions of socio-cultural development in the region.

In order to tackle these shortcomings, my research looks at the origins and development of sedentism and the urban phenomenon in Iran and, in parallel, at the conceptualisation of the social landscape, the continuity and modifications in thought patterns, social structure and the use and control of space which can be tracked in the built environment. A complete database of architectural information and urban plans, with a focus on domestic architecture, will serve as the basis to infer social information about pre-Achaemenid Iran and to establish comparisons with the wider Middle East, with the aid of quantitative techniques including spatial syntax analysis, social network analysis and data mining.


    • MA Archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 2014)
    • BA Archaeology and Anthropology (Trinity College, University of Cambridge, 2011)
    • MA+BA ('Licenciatura') English Studies (University of Santiago de Compostela, 2008)

    Stevens, R.E., Hermoso-Buxán, X.L., Marín-Arroyo, A.B., González-Morales, M.R. and Straus, L.G. 2014. Investigation of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene Palaeoenvironmental Change at El Mirón Cave (Cantabria, Spain): Insights from Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Analyses of Red Deer. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 414: 46-60