|Space Syntax Topological Analysis of Flowerdew Hundred's 44PG64 (c. 1620-1650) by Hayden Bassett  |
Thus far, I have found Space Syntax to be a particularly fulfilling tool for analyzing and interpreting early excavations within Historical (or Early Modern) Archaeology. These excavations were largely dominated by a methodological approach that only sought and recorded solid building foundations within the archaeological record. Using the best data available – architectural footprints and floor plans – Space Syntax gives the researcher the opportunity to go back and reconsider some of these legacy excavations as viable candidates to rendered new and significant information.
I began using this technology to address the trove of building footprints, perhaps the most complete information in early Chesapeake Historical archaeology, and particularly the early-17th century manor house at Flowerdew Hundred. While the justified graphs generated fromt he topological analysis of this building is a fantastic descriptive tool in itself, I am currently focusing on studying its underlying quantitative information. Total Depth, Mean Depth, Relative Asymmetry, Integration, and Control Values are the primary measurements that I am taking in both this floor plan and other historic plans to begin to view the structures comparatively through time. I have found Topological Analysis to a a particular valuable tool in assess a floor plan's change through time in single a building.
I have found that Phase 1 of the manor at 44PG64 (c. 1620 - 1650; Prince George Co., VA), in many ways, represents an ideal form for characterization through topological analysis in Space Syntax. While this 'hall and parlor' arrangement represents a rather simple layout, with a maximum depth of two steps from the carrier [node 0, or outside], its underlying quantitative values place a strategic emphasis on the hall [node 1]. With a control value of 3 (for perspective, a value of 1 is often considered as exemplifying high control), this model renders the hall of phase 1 as both a neutral space between integration and relative asymmetry (holding a value of 0 for both measures), and spatially arranged to control movement to every other interior space of the manor – a commonly acknowledged characteristic of the hall throughout time. In other words, the strategic placement of the hall in phase 1 as the most accessible interior room – measured in depth –, serving as both a transition space and gathering space, largely defines this room as maximally accessible to a broad social range of inhabitants. Yet on the other hand, its immediate and sole connectivity to every interior space of the manor gives the room the highest means of movement surveillance – its high control value.
While some of these observations in the data might be commonly acknowledged through field observation, this particular methodology provides the quantitative justification for these interpretations. Beyond this, the analysis and comparison of Phase 2 of the manor at 44PG64 (with several room additions and new connections), will hopefully shed light on new insights into the social implications of rearranging a floor plan in such a way. From just the visual of the graph alone, it already appears that this later construction phase catered to a more accessible and perhaps more communal change in the early settlement of Flowerdew Hundred – indicative in the built environment.