This has been done often but a few things should be kept in mind:
1-Land with less than 3% grade was un-tillable in ancient times. That tends to leave out most of your 'grade 1 or 2' at valley-floors.
2-We can not apply the concept of optimisation for just about anything in the ancient world. Maybe barley was better suited, but if wheat was wanted, wheat was planted. Also, the situation could be very different between villae and farmsteads. The first do tend to have a more commercial mentality, planting things that can be sold well. The second would tend to subsistence, therefore planting anything needed in their land.
3-Herding is something that probably used more land than we think in those settlements.
4-There is plenty of work on rural settlement patterns using this type of info. Let me suggest the regional study by A. Orejas: Estructura social y territorio (1995) on a region in northwestern Spain. I also recall some recent articles on ancient and medieval settlement patterns from this point of view on one of the Elsevier journals.
5-Naturally, only palinological analyses can tell you if there was, in fact, intensive agriculture in areas with good conditions. Seek those out.
> Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 14:28:09 +0100
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: [BRITARCH] Land capability maps and rural settlement
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Dear All,
> This may sound a little ‘deterministic’ but has anyone any experience
> of/any thoughts on using ‘Agricultural Land Capability Maps’ to investigate
> Roman or medieval rural settlement patterns? I’m looking at Roman
> settlement in the south-Wales and have noticed that the majority of villa
> sites lie on land classified as grade 1 or 2. I know the maps are modern
> and farming practices have changed dramatically over the last few hundred
> years but there does seem to be a correlations between modern land
> capability and Roman settlement – or maybe its just a case of these being
> the areas under arable and so producing the evidence for settlement :S. Any
> comments most welcome.
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