Title

Using GIS to Construct an Archaeological Predictive Model

Presentation Type

Poster

Abstract

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are an essential tool for government agencies managing archaeological sites. GIS is also being used more frequently as a research tool within academic archaeology, especially in landscape analyses that identify significant cultural features across large areas. In this project, GIS was used to construct a predictive model for the Black Hills of South Dakota to determine specific locations likely to contain prehistoric sites. Measurements for slope, aspect, and distance to water for 232 known prehistoric sites were collected. The model was constructed based upon trends in site location which were identified from these measurements. Model outputs were converted to vector layers and resultant polygons were ranked as high, medium, or low probability according to the identified environmental parameters. Finally, the three layers were merged to produce the final map. The model needs to be revised so it is more restrictive; it currently classifies nearly everywhere as high or medium probability. After that, it needs to be validated to assess its accuracy either by comparing it with locations of other recorded prehistoric sites, field survey, or both. Including other environmental variables, such as soil type, may increase the predictive power as well. As the first of its kind to be constructed for this area, the model can be useful in increasing the number of archaeological sites available for study. Since it quantifies trends in site location, after revision and validation it can be utilized to direct surveys for new sites. With more sites recorded, more robust archaeological analyses can be conducted in the future, which will lead to a better understanding of the use of the Black Hills throughout prehistory.

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Apr 13th, 3:00 PM Apr 13th, 4:00 PM

Using GIS to Construct an Archaeological Predictive Model

UC Ballroom

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are an essential tool for government agencies managing archaeological sites. GIS is also being used more frequently as a research tool within academic archaeology, especially in landscape analyses that identify significant cultural features across large areas. In this project, GIS was used to construct a predictive model for the Black Hills of South Dakota to determine specific locations likely to contain prehistoric sites. Measurements for slope, aspect, and distance to water for 232 known prehistoric sites were collected. The model was constructed based upon trends in site location which were identified from these measurements. Model outputs were converted to vector layers and resultant polygons were ranked as high, medium, or low probability according to the identified environmental parameters. Finally, the three layers were merged to produce the final map. The model needs to be revised so it is more restrictive; it currently classifies nearly everywhere as high or medium probability. After that, it needs to be validated to assess its accuracy either by comparing it with locations of other recorded prehistoric sites, field survey, or both. Including other environmental variables, such as soil type, may increase the predictive power as well. As the first of its kind to be constructed for this area, the model can be useful in increasing the number of archaeological sites available for study. Since it quantifies trends in site location, after revision and validation it can be utilized to direct surveys for new sites. With more sites recorded, more robust archaeological analyses can be conducted in the future, which will lead to a better understanding of the use of the Black Hills throughout prehistory.