2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 150-8
Presentation Time: 3:40 PM


NICOLL, Kathleen, University of Utah, 260 South Central Campus Dr, Salt Lake City, UT 84105, kathleen.nicoll@gmail.com

This paper reviews some of the emerging toolkits, visualization technologies and digital methodologies that are increasingly applied for discovery, research, archiving, conservation and dissemination within our interrelated specializations of archaeological geology. Advances in the remote sensing technology called LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) are revolutionizing archaeological site recognition and delineation at sub-meter scales. LiDAR has significantly facilitated archaeological studies in areas of the UK and heavily forested regions in New England, Belize, and the Amazon. Tripod laser profiling is increasingly being used by curators for pieces in museum collections; it is also being employed to generate high-resolution models of architectural features and buildings, including prehistoric stone circles, Mayan monuments and Italian Renaissance palaces. Although the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has a long history within archaeology, spatial technologies are now being used to auto-locate cultural sites in war-zones, and to analyze the content of textual collections. “Digital Archaeology” has recently launched as an open access forum at Frontiers in Digital Humanities for showcasing, discussing, and developing computer and network-based approaches to archaeology. With the utility of Google Earth, the “Internet” itself is perhaps the most significant tool used by 21st century practitioners of geoarchaeology. Information exchange via websites and research platform interfaces such as Research Gate, Google Scholar, and Academia.edu builds new interfaces among professionals, hobbyists, and the general public. Our own GSA-Archaeological Geology Division’s Facebook page is but one example of social media and outreach in action, and underscores the important role of geoarchaeologists during our current “Digital Age of Information.” The advent of a global culture that promotes widely available geoinformatics poses some challenges to our discipline (e.g.,: post no geotagged photos of site finds). Archaeological Geologists must continually promote ethics and site preservation, and aim to delimit knowledge about the specific location of cultural site locations, in order to avoid unsupervised public access that can lead to site destruction and sacking of artifacts.