Use of GIS and geospatial data in archeology. Contribution to:
Quarto Workshop Italiano "Open Source, Free Software e Open Format nei processi di ricerca archeologica", Roma, 27 e 28 aprile 2009. Sede centrale del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)
With the widespread availability of desktop GIS, archaeologists have gained the tools to comprehensively analyze the important spatial component of their data. Initial archaeological use of GIS was (and still is in many instances) for making maps of archaeological sites. Rather quickly GIS became used for predictive modeling of site locations. More recently, viewshed analysis has seen increasing use, in efforts to understand prehistoric perceptions of the landscape.
In the last years, Open Source GIS software evolved to a powerful set of software products which support both scientific as well as common GIS users. In particular, the integration of GIS with image processing capabilities, geospatial data analysis, database management system and Web mapping software enables archaeologists to perform their tasks in a completely free environment. Since 2006, the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) operates as umbrella foundation for Web Mapping, Desktop GIS Applications, Geospatial Libraries, Metadata Catalog as well as the Public Geospatial Data project and the Education and Curriculum project.
In our presentation, we focus on GRASS GIS (http://grass.osgeo.org/) for spatial data analysis and visualization. GRASS is the largest Open Source GIS program currently available. The new version GRASS 6.4.0 is interoperable as it supports all common vector and raster GIS formats. Its capabilities cover raster and volume spatial analysis and modeling, time-series and landscape analysis, image processing, and visualization of 2D and 3D (voxel) raster data. Vector data can be digitized, extracted, extruded to 3D, and vector networks analyzed. Vector data are handled topologically. Vector attributes are stored in internal or externally connected databases. All general GIS tasks like map reprojection, georeferencing, and transformations are available for raster and vector data. The data storage concept of GRASS permits for single as well as multi-user access set up via network file system.
GRASS 6.4.0, the new stable release after more than one year of development and testing, brings a number of exciting enhancements to the GIS. Besides the hundreds of new module features, supported data formats, and language translations. The 6.4.0 release also runs in MS-Windows, a new installer is provided. A new graphical user interface with integrated location wizard and new vector digitizer is also included.
The presentation concludes with a series of applications relevant to archaeology including image processing, Lidar data analysis, fast viewshed analysis and more.