Geographical Information Systems and Landscape Archaeology

Authored by: James Conolly

Handbook of Landscape Archaeology

Print publication date:  December  2008
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781598742947
eBook ISBN: 9781315427737
Adobe ISBN: 9781315427720


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A Geographical Information System (GIS) is a computer-based tool for collecting, managing, integrating, visualizing, and analyzing geographically referenced information. The use of GIS is scale-independent and may be applied to the study of archaeological data at the continental (or smaller) scale (e.g., Gkiasta et al. 2003; Holmes et al. 2006), at the regional or landscape scale (e.g., Bevan 2003; Howley 2007; Winterbottom and Long 2006), or for intrasite or larger-scale analyses (e.g., Bird et al. 2007; Craig et al. 2006; Marean et al. 2001; Moyes 2002). A number of related technologies overlap with GIS, including remote sensing, geodesy, and digital cartography, but are sufficiently distinct in their methods to warrant separate treatment. However, all these computer technologies can be grouped under the umbrella term of “spatial technologies.” These are linked to the emerging discipline of Geographical Information Science (GISc), which is more broadly concerned with developing integrated method and theory of the use of computer-based tools for building understanding of natural and social spatial processes. A parallel development in archaeology, better described as “computational archaeology” or “archaeoinformatics,” is similarly concerned with developing an integrated method and theory for archaeological computing.

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