Macula (archaeology)

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Macula is a term used by archaeologists to describe small two-dimensional features of ancient human origin visible on an aerial photograph, such as points, spots or patches, which may represent features such as burial places, pits, Grubenhäuser (homesteads with sunken floors), constructions based on posthole or features above ground level. Maculae are differentiated from other features visible in aerial photographs such as enclosures, linear features and linear systems, which include path, roads, boundaries or limits. [1][2] Identification and interpretation of maculae in air photographs is difficult and depends upon the experience of the observer, who has to take factors such as shape, size, relative position or proximity to other maculae, ground condition and knowledge of cultural practices of ancient humans in the region under observation, into account.[1]

The term is used in a different context in art on objects where it refers to the mesh of a net (in singular), or its depiction, the plural being maculae.[3]


  1. ^ a b Martin (20 September 2005). "Features, Sites and Settlement Areas in view of Air Survey (Bohemia, 1992-2003)". In Jean, Bourgeois. Aerial photography and archaeology 2003: a century of information ; papers presented during the conference held at the Ghent University, December 10th - 12th, 2003. Meganck, Marc. Academia Press. pp. 102–110. ISBN 978-90-382-0782-7. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Darvill, Timothy (1996). Prehistoric Britain from the air: a study of space, time and society. Cambridge University Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-521-55132-8. Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Mollett, J W (2009). An Illustrated Dictionary of Words Used in Art and Archaeology - Explaining Terms Frequently Used in Works on Architecture, Arms, Bronzes, Christian Art, Colour, Costume, Decoration, Devices, Emblems, Heraldry, Lace, Personal Ornaments, Pottery, Painting,. READ BOOKS. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-4446-5338-0. Retrieved 30 July 2011.