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Pushing Possibilities: 3D GIS Spatial Analysis of Chlorakas-Palloures, Cyprus

Thursday 11 April 2019
Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden

Advances in digital recording technology have made it common practice to document three-dimensional data during excavations by generating photogrammetry models alongside traditional plan and section drawings. Digital models of excavated sites certainly provide a useful tool for visualizing archaeological materials and engaging the public. Yet, the analytical potential of this documentation approach is yet to be fully explored. In this paper I discuss whether and how photogrammetry models can be combined with spatial data recorded using a Total Station to create a volumetric 3D GIS representation of an excavation that supports intra-site stratigraphic analysis. 

Using the capabilities of ESRI ArcScene, I modeled three adjacent excavation trenches at the Chalcolithic site of Chlorakas-Palloures, Cyprus using three different methods for recreating the depth of stratigraphic deposits. Along with being able to depict features and materials found within the interior of the trench, the resulting models can be joined with the excavation database and easily queried within an intuitive, user-friendly interface. This approach makes it possible to find spatial correlations between stratigraphic units within different trenches that may have been overlooked during excavation. 

The results illustrate how 3D data recorded in the field can be utilized to aid stratigraphic analysis beyond the capabilities of 2D plan and section drawings. Although more research is required in order to better capture the depth of stratigraphic layers for the purposes of volumetric modeling, this promising approach may be particularly helpful for analyzing sites with complex stratigraphy and extensive post-depositional processes. 

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