The term "sequent occupance" was coined in 1929 by American
geographer Derwent Whittlesey to describe:
“the process by which a landscape is
gradually transformed by a succession
of occupying populations, each of
which modifies the landscape left by
the previous groups”
So in other words:
The seeds of change are within a place:
Environment and Culture
culture is affected by the environment, but the environment does
not determine culture (vs. environmental determinism)
places change because a culture develops or a new culture
dominates the landscape
the comparative advantage of a place can be used again and
again, regardless of the historical experience of a place
Older construction/use can be benefit or a detriment to a site
So do people live in the same places?
Suggestions for answering this question?
historical evidence maps
Where should you look for sequent occupance?
Site Characteristics Almost anywhere people now live
What are benefits of occupying a place that had been inhabited?
What are detriments of occupying a place that had been inhabited?
Does the conqueror or conquered shape the culture/site most?
Would you find cultural traits for a specific place, regardless of cultural change?
Comparative Advantage: the idea that a place
Of the places people live, many
has certain advantages (relative and/or
tend to on rivers. The best place
absolute) over other places.
to find old large cities is just before
you reach the delta. Name a city
with this site characteristic.
Why don’t people live in deltas?
Another place is where two rivers
meet. Why is this a comparative
Shallow places on rivers allow
people to ford (cross) the river.
Towns often form there because it
is a good place to cross.
Ports are places that have deep
water so it is easy to get out to
sea. Often they are in protected
places called harbors.
This flowchart that attempts
to determine comparative
Defensive Difficult to attack e.g. hill-top or island
Hill-foot Sheltered, with flat land for building and farming
Gap Lower, more sheltered land between two hills
Wet point Close to water in a dry area
On higher, dry area close to wet land e.g. marshes or
Route centre Focus of routes (e.g. roads) from surrounding area
Bridging point Where bridges can be built over a river
Locate the sites by
The importance of individual site features changes through time: In Early
Times (before 1800)
Feature Reason / example
Good defence Hard to attack e.g. hill top, island
Close to water For water and fish supplies
Close to woodland For fuel, building materials and food
On useful farmland To provide food
Flat land Makes building easier
Good communications By road and river
In Later Times (after 1800), other features became important when
considering the site of a settlement
Feature Reason / example
Close to resources As raw materials for industry e.g. limestone or coal
Close to ports To transport raw materials or goods
As industry grew and developed e.g. canals, railways and
more recently, motorways and airports.
For a) larger number of retired people and b) hi-tech
industries which wish to locate in attractive areas
a culture hearth is a source area,
innovation center, a place of
origin of a major culture
Map of Ancient Egypt and modern
view from space at night
Notice how easy it is to see the Nile River by its
electric using population. How did/does this river
impact its surrounding cultures?
What areas seem less inhabited? Why?
This temple completed by http://www.eyelid.co.uk/index.htm
Tutankhamun and Horemheb and
added to by Ramses II. Towards
the rear is a granite shrine
dedicated to Alexander the Great.
During the Christian Era it was
converted to a church. The
Romans even built fortifications
on the site.
Most of the site was buried for
thousands of year until the
mosque of Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu
al-Hajjaj was built on top of it.
Since the mosque is still being
used this site has long been a
center of religious worship for
more than 3000 years.
This is a market scene from a stela in Luxor.
Identify activities that would be in a commercial setting today.
In 79 CE Vesuvius erupted for approximately 19 hours and dumped a cubic
mile of lava and ash over the surrounding area. Herculaneum, which was
covered by lava, and Pompeii, blanketed in ash, are the best known cities that
were destroyed. It has erupted many times since, however people have
continued to live not just in the vicinity, they have built over an ancient city that
was covered with lava.
Inside the crater
Scars from last major lava flow (1964)
Modern city of
Top of lava plain
city of Herculaneum
Modern Ercolano edge of lava plain Vesuvius
Wood left from 79 CE. Since the city was covered with lava, oxygen and biological life
that helps decay could not break it down. Notice the charring from the intense heat.
Vesuvius overlooking the Roman forum at Pompeii.
A grim reminder of volcanic activity on the human form.
This is a Roman villa that is being reconstructed in Oplanati. Notice the edge of the lava
plain on the right side of the picture and the modern city built on the plain.
In earlier times parchment was used
as we use paper today. Parchment is
made from either the skin of calves,
sheep, or goats, and was expensive
to make. A palimpsest was basically
recycled parchment that someone
had scraped off the ink and then
wrote on for a second (or even third
or fourth) time (see picture on the
In similar fashion often people reuse
or change places on the planet. Just
like the old parchment, traces of
earlier use can be detected.
Geographers use this term to
describe the traces of earlier cultural
landscape at a location.
Many of the world’s major cities have
palimpsests. Rome for example would
have the Pantheon (top right), the
forum (bottom right) and the Coliseum
(above) in the heart of the modern city.
Athens, looking up to the Acropolis and
looking down into the city. Some of the
palimpsest aren’t ancient like the site of the
first modern Olympics, which was cut off so
they could build a road.
a look at infrastructure
In 1342 the mounds located on either
side of the river Amstel were raised and
extended, the initial stage in the growth
of medieval Amsterdam.
Amsterdam after 1425
Amsterdam after 1340
after 1425 M after 1585
D after 1613
Amsterdam Map by Blaeu (1640)
For the most part, what look like roads on
this map are canals. Canals were common
in great cities until the last 200 years.
What revolution changed this infrastructure?
Map by Nicolaas Visscher (approx. 1680)
Can you spot the
NZ Voorburgwal then NZ Voorburgwal now
and no. Warmoesgracht now
Changing of Chicago
The two city models used to describe early 20th century American
cities show changes brought on by transportation systems.
Military Base Conversions
During World War I and II Florida was the site of many
training bases. There were site characteristics that
made Florida attractive especially to flight training.
First, Florida is flat, which means no mountains to hit.
Second, there is a lot of water, an attractive alternative
to hitting the ground if something goes wrong. Third,
there wasn’t a whole lot of population, so you had a
choice of emergency landing sites and little population
pressure. Finally, Florida’s government has always
encouraged anyone to come to Florida that has money
and often turns its back on things that may upset the
environment or become problems later.
Three shapes of military airfields
used in WW 2. The earliest type, left
over from when planes were
Though it was flat
there were mishaps,
constructed of wood and canvas,
Arcadia WW1 top, used the X-shape to take advantage
in WW 2) left, and a
of wind. Many of these were never
typical scene at one paved. The middle design is
of the training bases
(Marianna) in WW2.
common to airfields built by the Navy
in WW 2 and the design on the right
was common to Army Air Corps (now
the USAF). Generally, airfields grew
in length as planes became larger
What became of the bases?
Opa-locka, site during WW2. Notice that it incorporates the
early and Navy design. Key West which was occupied by the
government during WW2.
Some of course are still airfields but
many changed due to demand.
Top Left: Witham Field in
Stuart, Left: Del Mabry Field,
now TCC in Tallahassee,
Above: Bush Gardens was once
Henderson Field the biggest
airport in Tampa
Daytona Naval Airbase was
converted to the Daytona
Speedway, replacing the
traditional beach racetrack.
What types of infrastructure would make a base
an attractive place to convert to another usage?
Electric Lines Roads
Water and Sewage Systems
What would be a detriment to using an old military site?
Gifts from Above
Odyssey Middle School was built on the
northern portion of the Pinecastle Jeep
bombing range. Among the munitions
discovered in 2008: 11 4.5-5-inch air-to-ground rockets
1 100-lb. concrete bomb 3 incendiary bombs
19 100-lb. M75 bombs 10 rifle grenades
99 23-lb. fragmentation bombs 35 M54 bombs
12 20-lb. fragmentation bombs 1 antitank rocket with detonator
• What is sequent occupance?
– Is it something new?
– What are site characteristics that make some
places more likely to be converted?
– In the modern world, what types of infrastructure
would make a place more likely to be converted to a
– Name some cities that have palimpsests.
– Give examples of local sites that have been
converted to a new use.
• Comparative Advantage
• Bid rent
• Concentric Zone model and Sector model