Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Creating a Computerized Archaeological Map Through the Use of Geographic Information Systems

A national funded campaign has been carried out on the island of Amorgos, in Aegean Sea, as a pilot project for the application of different remote sensing techniques and the integration of them in a Geographic Information System that could be used as a tool for the management of the archaeological sites. The micro-range module of the project included the systematic surface survey and geophysical prospection in two remote areas: a coastal Roman site and a hilly site dated to the Early Cycladic period. Both magnetic and soil resistance techniques were able to detect architectural remains of the Roman site, most of which are either covered completely by alluvium deposits, or are submerged within the sea due to the past seismic activity. Magnetic survey was also conducted at the Early Cycladic site in an effort to locate the boundaries of it and recognise residues of past habitation (shelters, tombs, etc.). The geophysical grids were successfully registered to the aerial photographs of the wider region. Changes in land use strategies and soil erosion processes have been studied through aerial imagery belonging to different eras. Digitization of the topographic map produced the DEM of the wider region upon which the aerial and geophysical data were superimposed. Two Landsat TM images were combined to produce the satellite mosaic of the island. The DEM of the whole island became the base level upon which different records of information (satellite imagery, mosaic of aerial photographs, geological categories, etc) were draped. Modelling of the diachronic settlement of the island was achieved by supervised classification and other statistical techniques. The final product consists of an interactive Geographic Information System which can produce a number of 2-D & 3-D thematic archaeological maps. Issues arising from the manipulation of data belonging to different scales, the registration of images and maps to a common co-ordinate system, the restriction of the archaeological information to the published data, and other parameters related to the construction of an archaeological G.I.S. will be analysed with respect to the final goals and expected results. The establishment of an archaeological G.I.S. dealing with the management of the archaeological sites and monuments in Mediterranean landscape requires a careful and systematic work. The availability of the cultural and environmental data is crucial in the success of such a task. Still, the underlying importance of an archaeological GIS should be stressed due to the rapidly changing environment and the development pressures on the cultural resources.

  • Apostolos Sarris