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Palimpsest

  • By: Ivan Mitin
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

A palimpsest is a conceptual model of a place as a multilayered structure that emphasizes the coexistence of multiple visions and impacts of different cultures on the landscape. Originally the term referred to a type of medieval manuscript in which new text was written over previous text that had been partly erased, palimpsest has become a widespread metaphor for cultural landscapes coincidentally with the rise of interest in the symbolic properties of landscape, semiotics, and representation.

Origins of the Term

The term palimpsest originates from the Greek palin (“again”) and psaio (“I scrape”). The notion became a useful metaphor in the humanities and in fiction more than a century ago. It was used by scholars in humanities disciplines to depict the layering of different texts on one ...

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