Geoarchaeology: where human, social and earth sciences meet with technology

Matthieu Ghilardi, Stéphane Desruelles
2008 SAPIENS  
Over the last decades, archaeologists and historians have faced the necessity to reconstruct ancient settlement history not only through the study of the material excavated, but also with the use of palaeo-environmental parameters. Geoarchaeology is a recent field of research that uses the computer cartography, the Geographic Information System (GIS) and the Digital Elevation Models (D.E.M.) in combination with disciplines from Human and Social Sciences and Earth Sciences. Satellite images,
more » ... resolution topographic surveys (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission data) and palaeo-environmental results are used to establish accurate topographic maps, palaeogeographic reconstructions and three dimensional views of the landscape, contemporaneous to the ancient site of interest. GIS is used to manage the important amount of data widely dispatched both in space and in time. This paper describes several powerful methods to infer the evolution of landscapes in the context of such multi-disciplinary/geoarchaeological programmes. The potential of Geoarchaeology is illustrated by three case-studies in Albania and Greece, where the neighbourhood of ancient settlements from the Holocene (the last 10000 years) have been reconstructed into virtual landscape. These geoarchaeological studies offer now an unprecedented level of integration between disciplines to visualize a shoreline and its displacement. Over the last 20 000 years, humans had to constantly adapt their lifestyles according to the displacement of the shoreline. Given the current threats and uncertainties related to climate change, it is predictable and desirable that many disciplines will adopt similar integrated approach to model their favourite object of research.
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