What is the Role of GIS in Archaeology

Archaeology has for long used GIS technology and has been one of its first adopters. Read more:

What is the Role of GIS in Archaeology
role-of-gis-in-archaeology

What is the Role of GIS in Archaeology

GIS is being used in archaeology for almost three decades now. Archaeology has been one of the early users of GIS technology. It has been improvising, adapting, and improving GIS technology over time.

Archaeology has been one of the early users of this technology and science. This is because both these fields are perfectly in sync and GIS is a great tool for studying archaeology.

GIS has often been referred to as archaeology’s “perfect match” as archaeology is defined as the “spatial dimension of human behaviour over time”. This implies, archaeology always has a geospatial component to it, and thus, GIS is of the essence.

Archaeology is abundant in spatial information as it studies cultures, geography, and their composition over time. The archaeological information carries a lot of spatial data as it primarily deals with the land, earth’s surface, and its make up.

All fields of earth sciences have been heavily impacted by GIS, and archaeology is no exception.

New avenues have been opened up with this sophisticated information system that can be used to read, study, and analyse data to find outcomes and identify patterns. Studying has become easier, transitions are easily identifiable, and overall growth is witnessed.

GIS mapping has been used extensively in archaeology since the 1980s. This intuitive technology, albeit difficult to use back then, has become the backbone of archaeology over time and has proven to be an inseparable part of the science.

GIS archaeology has evolved over time with the technology improving, it is now possible to reimagine artefacts, ancient monuments, and even whole settlements to analyse what could have been created back in ancient times.

Now, this technology is extensively used to dig deeper into the history that is already known to mankind as well as analyse and study new findings.

Predictive modelling technology and remote sensing applications like LIDAR have led to finding new ancient megapolises and even create digital clones of what could have been entire cities centuries ago.

Landscape visualisation has become easier with LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which has helped in scanning large areas to visualise and analyse the structure and form and has also helped archaeologists get information about terrain, landmarks, and even obstacles and problems before even physically visiting an area.

Archaeologists recently discovered a megapolis of ancient times when The Mayans inhabited the land. An interconnection of cities which would have been almost 900 square miles has been found under the Guatemala forests. More than 60,000 structures could be identified as interconnections between cities, pyramids, palaces and canals with the help of LIDAR. A study that lasted for over 2 years has helped find new traces of life in history.

The study showed how ahead of the times the people back then had been. With sophisticated irrigation systems and roadway connections so proper they could beat us, the Mayans probably had a war-frequented life there.

Land modification, terrain management, and advanced technology used back in ancient times have now brought to light a new and fresh perspective on inhabitation of land by the Mayans. The population statistics that were placed at almost 5 million have now easily reached 10-15 million.

GIS and spatial analysis have been inseparable tools of archaeological analysis and it is difficult to imagine this science without these. This indispensable tool has far and wide been accepted as an extension of archaeology and has helped the science move forward leaps and bounds.

The amount of details and the remarkable precision that GIS brings with it is key to archaeology. It is safe to assume that GIS shall be an extension or an arm of archaeology for a long time.