The Relative Concentration of Interaction—A Proposal for an Integrated Understanding of Centrality and Central Places

The importance of a place can be assessed via an analysis of its centrality. However, although central place research has a long history, there is no generally accepted theoretical base, leading to continuous debates about the core elements of centrality and those features that ultimately constitute the centrality of a place. We propose a generalized definition that understands centrality as the relative concentration of interaction. Using this definition, we are able to integrate various social, cultural, and natural aspects in the analysis of a central place and its landscape setting. We present a semi-quantitative method to assess the actual and potential centrality and that enables us (a) to draw conclusions about the type and characteristics of central places, (b) to investigate their development throughout time, and (c) to compare them to each other. We sketch the application of the method using two exemplary sites: the Iron Age site Heuneburg and the Roman palace Felix Romuliana


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