Many times, in Archaeology, sites of interest may be overlooked due to many reasons such as a lack of technology or environmental conditions. One technological tool that has helped revolutionize the way we interpret geography is a GIS predictive model. GIS, or Geographic Information System, is a tool that comprehends geography and makes decisions based upon it. Through GIS, geographic data is organized so that a person reading a map is able to select necessary data for a certain project or task (Caryl-Sue). This tool was used in the field of Archaeology in the eastern Italian Alps when investigating settlement dynamics and land mobility of the Mesolithic hunter gathers that were located in the alpine environment.
It is believed that these nomadic people would move between high altitude sites located between 1900 and 2300 meters above sea level and low altitude sites between 210 and 250 meters above sea level depending on the season (Borel, 2). This all became possible during the transition from the last glacial period and Holocene when there was steady decrease in glacier allowing these people to populate extensive amounts of land in this area. A settlement and mobility model given to these hunter gatherers is the “Model of Circular Nomadism” (Borel) meaning that during the winter season, they exploited resources of the plains such as deltas, lagoons and rivers. During the summer, they would disperse into a wide area that included both the plains and the mountains. In 2016, a GIS predictive model was developed for the area of interest to identify areas for continued surveying (Borel). This model allowed archaeologists to test these theories through the use of data and would enable them to detect archaeological sites. Some interesting results from the study showed that not only did the prehistoric hunter gatherers use these high-altitude paths, but also people from late ancient and medieval time periods.
This is mostly because mountain environments are known to constrain movements. When looking at the information presented from the article it is clear that GIS predictive modeling is an important tool in the field of archaeology. It allows users to get a good starting point when trying to locate sites of interest and constricts the areas which you plan to survey. After the starting point, you are able to begin piecing information together through material remains in order to understand exactly what was going on with the people of that era. Archaeologists can study human activity from many of years in the past in areas which you typically wouldn’t expect early humans to be.
This research is important when trying to track how human culture has either changed or stayed the same through the years. It is said that understanding the past is a good way to move forward in the future. If you know what ideas went well in the past you can work to repeat those. If you know what didn’t work out well, you can avoid them. Collapses of civilizations can tell you a great deal about how to avoid our own civilization from collapsing.
For example, when using GIS predictive modeling for archaeology you can see how people moved through different climates and elevations and how successful those people were. This can tell us whether it is a good idea to begin civilizations in these areas or not. Although, much research has already been done in this field, there is still much to discover and learn from our past. GIS predictive modeling can help expedite this process and even find archaeologic significance in areas you wouldn’t expect any to be.
Archaeologic sites paint just a small picture of what truly happened in that area, but it is important to piece these small pictures together and create a bigger one or even tell a story.