Sight communities: The social significance of shared visual landmarks

Wesley Bernardini, Matthew Peeples

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Research in psychology has established that humans organize spatial information into "cognitive maps" oriented around visual landmarks. Much of this research focuses on individual cognitive processes such as orienteering and wayfinding. We extend this research to the level of social groups, exploring the degree to which cognitive maps are shared among near and distant neighbors and the social implications of common, overlapping, or discrete cognitive maps. We develop the concept of "sight communities"-populations which shared similar cognitive maps- and then propose methodologies to (1) identify visual anchors and quantify their visual prominence from different vantage points, and (2) detect and analyze connections among the populations which were able to see visual anchors, with a special focus on tools from social network analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-235
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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