What does GIS + 3D equal for Landscape archaeology?

Author(s): Heather Richards-Rissetto

Year: 2016


Until recently, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have held center stage in the archaeologist’s geospatial toolkit. GIS has moved archaeologists beyond the map—but into what? In the early years, criticisms voicing GIS as environmentally-deterministic were abundant. In the ensuing years what methods and tool have archaeologists used to overcome these criticisms? How successful have we been? What shortcomings continue? New geospatial technologies such as airborne lidar and aerial photogrammetry are allowing us to acquire inordinate amounts of georeferenced 3D data, but do such 3D technologies help overcome this criticism? 3DGIS links georeferenced 3D models and visualizations to underlying data, allowing archaeologists to test architectural reconstructions and perform subsequent spatial analyses in 3D. This three-dimensionality adds a ground-based perspective lacking in 2D GIS maps to provide archaeologists a sense of mass and space more closely attuned with human perception. Ironically, 3D modeling and visualization can be criticized as “culturally-deterministic”—reconstructing archaeological landscapes where hills, streams, and plants serve as a backdrop rather than active agents in cultural transformation. This paper explores the strengths of GIS and 3D for landscape archaeology and offers some ideas on using 3DGIS to intertwine environmental and cultural factors to work towards new geospatial approaches for archaeology.

Cite this Record

What does GIS + 3D equal for Landscape archaeology?. Heather Richards-Rissetto. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403455)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;