Geographic Visualization in Archaeology
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Archaeologists are often considered frontrunners in employing spatial approaches within the social sciences and humanities, including geospatial technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) that are now routinely used in archaeology. Since the late 1980s, GIS has mainly been used to support data collection and management as well as spatial analysis and modeling. While fruitful, these efforts have arguably neglected the potential contribution of advanced visualization methods to the generation of broader archaeological knowledge. This paper reviews the use of GIS in archaeology from a geographic visualization (geovisual) perspective and examines how these methods can broaden the scope of archaeological research in an era of more user-friendly cyber-infrastructures. Like most computational databases, GIS do not easily support temporal data. This limitation is particularly problematic in archaeology because processes and events are best understood in space and time. To deal with such shortcomings in existing tools, archaeologists often end up having to reduce the diversity and complexity of archaeological phenomena. Recent developments in geographic visualization begin to address some of these issues and are pertinent in the globalized world as archaeologists amass vast new bodies of georeferenced information and work towards integrating them with traditional archaeological data. Greater effort in developing geovisualization and geovisual analytics appropriate for archaeological data can create opportunities to visualize, navigate, and assess different sources of information within the larger archaeological community, thus enhancing possibilities for collaborative research and new forms of critical inquiry.
KeywordsGeovisualization GIS Maps Interpretation Computational and digital archaeology Cyber-infrastructures
This manuscript was prepared during Gupta’s Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Canada. Gupta thanks Dr. Harry Lerner (Laval University) for discussion on archaeological practices, and Drs Shawn Graham (Carleton University), Scott Hamilton (Lakehead University), and Ronald Doel (Florida State University) for comments on early drafts. We thank the journal editor and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This manuscript was prepared during Gupta’s Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Canada, award number 756-2014-0372.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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