Interpreting the Archaeological Record: Archaeological Space

  • Markus Spring 1 Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, Zurich University, Switzerland 2/F, 52 LukTei Tong, Mui Wo, Lantau Island,Hong Kong – SAR,China
  • Thomas van den Brink Department, University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Sven Straumann Department of Ancient Civilizations, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland,Department of Ancient CivilizationsEuropean Archaeology Vindonissa-Petersgraben 51,CH-4051 Basel, Switzerland
  • Tsoni Tsonev Department of Interdisciplinary Research and Archaeological Map of Bulgaria, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, 2 Saborna str., 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria
Keywords: environment, GIS, incomplete archaeological data


The present study is based on Session AR16 entitled: ‘Interpreting the Archaeological Record: GIS’ held at the EAA conference in Glasgow, 2015. The particularity of the session was that each presentation asked particular questions, such as: (i) how a built space of a single settlement talks to its visitors; (ii) how the monumentality of megaliths is perceived in the field by observers both past and present in relation to their visual reproductions; (iii) how large archaeological spatial data can be managed with GIS so that they become visualized and made available for on-going and future studies; (iv) how partial and incomplete archaeological spatial data can be analyzed properly and provide coherent interpretations.
The answers to these and related questions are not straightforward. Insights are borrowed from various disciplines related to the theory of mind, psychological reactions to built environment, cognition, and art. These involve technically informed studies such as GIS and multi-dimensional statistics. This wider problematic requires from participants in the session capabilities of proper way of representation of archaeological spatial data, analytical inquiry, and theoretically informed interpretation. From this point of view the disparity of the examples in this joint paper provide a vantage point that shows the necessity of developing these different topics together for any archaeological research scheme and interpretation of already acquired data.

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