University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

Font Size: 
Approaching spatial context from a new perspective. What can we wait from “Archaeological Information Science”?
Alfredo Maximiano Castillejo, Enrique Cerrillo Cuenca

Last modified: 2011-12-18


AISc (Llobera 2010) can be defined as an integrative perspective where capturing data, representing, analysing and modelling archaeological events is an interdisciplinary focus. Moreover, we consider AISc as a logical consequence of accumulative experiences process in computer application in archaeology during last twenty years towards a synergy between computational resources and varied and extensive archaeological issues (data capturing process, analysis, representation, etc). Independently on the scale we focus (“intra-site” or “landscape”), we see  in AISc a new opportunity in key areas:

(i) Congruence between empirical observation of spatial proprieties of artefacts and its possible ways of perception and recording. In this direction, archaeologists need a complement for understand the inherent complexity in archaeological records. For this, virtual reality and analytical visualization are the most powerful issues for solving problems in spatial contexts. At an intra-site level, the possibility of interacting and modelling structures (postholes, hearths, stone alignments), distributions of remains, stratigraphy into a digital environment, is an ideal situation for testing and manipulating different hypothesis without affecting the real archaeological object. From a landscape perspective, the obstacles on representing cognitive approaches and collective behaviours have been widely noted by scholars.

(ii) Comprehension of archaeological problems like an extensive network of actions (natural and social) and material consequences located in determinate area, and not in terms of distribution of materials remains that are defined under certain nominal categories. In this sense, statistical analysis is the best option for understanding, in terms of heuristic point of view, the presence of any spatial (and temporal) structure. To this effect, for an adequate understanding, the significance of variation and change is more than the recognition of any insolating cluster into a vacuum space, which is related with the reductionist idea of analysing the space where concrete actions were performed.

(iii)  Uncertainty as an approach to deal with multidimensional and incomplete structure of archaeological spatial datasets. Fuzzy-logic has been used in certain domains of science as way to extract logic from non-structured data, but its application in archaeology has been recent. Considering the incomplete condition of archaeological record as a conjunction of natural and human actions, fuzzy-logic approaches have started to proliferate in spatial analysis. Modelling and representing vagueness has become a way to interpret the spatial distribution of phenomena that overcome distribution maps of items.

Since some authors have enounced its potential, it seems a good moment for develop the potential of this proposal and test if it is able to provide an acceptable connection between archaeological theory and practice. To illustrate the capabilities of this new approach, we will present and discuss some experiences and their proficiency on managing spatial data.