GIS is further applied in the field of archaeological survey where artefacts that are still visible on the earth surface are recorded and analyzed. Every piece of data concerning a survey area that includes, the location, water sources, topography, annual rainfall, and ancient roads are combined in a single searchable database. Consequently, an archaeologist can consult the database to understand the landscape and how certain sites are positioned within the landscape. In understanding the positioning of these sites, archaeologists are able to relate the data with processes hence comprehend the historic organization (Corbett, 2014). An example is how certain village sites are discovered to cluster along rivers or roads to take advantage of trading routes. Sites such as forts are often found on raised grounds such as hilltops for defensive reasons.
Corbett (2014) reveals that on top of identifying archaeological relationships between artefacts and sites, the application of GIS in archaeology also provides a new and arguably better manner for archaeologists to view sites and their surroundings. With GIS software, archaeologists can use information from topographical maps, GPS readings, and high-resolution satellite images to generate 3-D representations of entire sites. The 3-D virtual models, also termed as Digital Elevation Models, look “cool” and modern with the ability to view the entire site from different angles, some allow one to fly-over a site on one’s computer. Additionally, the 3-D models provide archaeologists with some valuable information that are mostly left unnoticed during the analysis of sites. For instance, these 3-D models enable one to locate temples and palaces that haven’t been excavated (Corbett, 2014). In ancient landscapes, the Digital Elevation Models are used to locate features such as roads or to identify whether catastrophes could have destroyed a region.
In my opinion, the application of GIS concepts, tools and software is of significance to the advancement of archaeology as a science. One of the major challenges to archaeological researches is the cost and geographical distance people have to cover to obtain data. Differences in the timeline between particular artefacts and discoveries can hinder or slow down the pace of obtaining and analyzing data. Resultantly, certain discoveries take decades to fully understand and classify. Although all fundamentals of spatial analysis techniques existed before computer applications, the introduction of GIS offered a solution to some of the challenges. GIS’s ability to bring together various complex spatial relationships from different data collected across time gives it its biggest advantage over traditional maps. Consequently, GIS enables data to be computed in different models (vector and raster) hence layers of rasters and vectors are overlaid. Thus, GIS software enables archaeologists to contemplate the processes and effects of various factors over space and time.
Through GIS, archaeologists are able to record and present more detailed data. Traditionally, archaeologist could only base their results on data that they had physically collected. However, with GIS software’s ability to record different perspectives and to extrapolate or predict parts that are yet to be excavated or accessed, the processes and findings of different archaeological researches can be enhanced. The GIS systems can be used to both obtain and record research data. The ability to represent sites with different models and from different angles in addition to its ability to extrapolate spatial relationships from data obtained at different times makes GIS application of significance to archaeological studies. With the application of GIS, archaeological research hypotheses are quickly and more accurately researched and prehistoric events understood.//
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