Hands-on Open Source GIS Workshop

Organized by Scott Madry, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

The motivation behind this workshop is that it really is possible to gain sufficient exposure in one day (or a half day) for interested potential users to begin to learn how to use these powerful tools and to continue the learning process on their own, using their own laptop computers. QGIS released a major new release (rev. 2.0) in June, 2013, and I hope to motivate the participants that they CAN learn and use these powerful tools, and to show them the tremendous benefits of using Free and Open Source tools for archaeology and cultural resource applications. I have offered similar workshops that were quite successful in recent years in multiple venues, including at several CAA conferences, and at universities in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.

This program will provide a hands-on introduction to the QGIS and GRASS open source software systems, with specific emphasis on their archaeological and regional cultural resources applications. Topics to be covered will include vector, raster, voxel, and relational database operations, data import and export, GPS data, remote sensing data analysis, 3-D visualization, cost surface analysis, line-of-sight analysis, hard copy printing and map composition, web services, etc. (See session outline above). I provide the participants with a website that contains all of the tutorials, exercises, weblinks and sample data, so that they can continue their learning on their own after the workshop.


Archaeological Applications of Airborne Laserscanning

Organized by Rachel Opitz, University of Arkansas

Over the past decade Airborne Laserscanning (LiDAR) has proved an important addition to the collection of archaeological surveying methods, useful for the rapid detection of new sites and features across large and varied landscape areas. Archaeological projects employing Airborne Laserscanning (ALS) for base mapping, prospection, and analysis are increasingly common. While archaeologically driven ALS surveys remain exceptional, substantial archival data sets are available for public use in some areas,  and data can be acquired at a lower cost through collaboration with agencies and organizations collecting data for forestry, hydrology etc., bringing it within reach for many projects.

This workshop is organized in four modules:

1. An overview of uses of ALS data in archaeology
2. Working with archival data
3. Project planning and ‘raw’ data processing
4. Breakout data clinic - bring your own data

The first section of the workshop is primarily lecture based. It introduces ALS as a technology and presents a spectrum of projects using ALS in a variety of environmental conditions, with project aims from academic research on a small landscape area to cultural heritage management for a large region. The second section of the workshop will focus on the strengths and weaknesses of publicly available lidar from a variety of archives, teach how to assess the archaeological potential of an archival data set, and present the processing and visualization options available for typical archival data formats, with a focus on derivatives of bare earth DTMs. The third section of the workshop will review criteria and important project planning and processing considerations for collecting and working with ‘raw’ lidar data. Hands-on computer based lidar processing will be integral to the second and third modules. Sample data will be provided. Participants are encouraged to bring their own data and participate in a breakout data processing clinic at the end of the workshop, where they will have the chance to discuss their projects and work through any processing problems with workshop leaders,experienced users and peers.


ECAI Workshop:  “Place: Context, Analytics, Imaging”

Organized by Lewis Lancaster

The workshop explores some ways in which we are now able to contextualize a “place”.   Cultural mapping has made great strides in the last decade as GIS technology has become a major metadata feature in the Humanities.  While recognizing the importance of identifying a particular place with geo-registration,  ECAI is now working to use the same information for outlining cultural patterns that extend beyond local boundaries or international borders.  At the same time, in cooperation with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), data points can be analyzed for new and complex interactions.   Using “Long Data”, that reflects time, place, and content, we can also do “Deep Mapping” that exploits the information available for a particular site.  New software solutions are being developed at ECAI that handle large amounts of data, do automated analytics, provide social networking for scholarly groups, and allow new types of progressive publications for long term projects.  Imaging has also entered into a mode that uses 3-D and Immersive Environments and Installations as planned for the Atlas of Maritime Buddhism in cooperation with the  Maritime Museum of Hong Kong. 


“Geolocation and Cultural Mapping through Augmented Reality” Lewis Lancaster (Department of East Asian Languages and Culture/School of Information- University of California, Berkeley)

 “New Model for Scholarly Communication in Digital Scholarship” Stephen Griffin (School of Information Sciences- University of Pittsburg)

 “Shared Working Notes on Places and Spaces” Ryan Shaw (Information Science- University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

 “Aerial Treasure Hunt: Imaging with Low Altitude Drones and Crowd Sourcing Analysis” Alex Yajha (National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Illinois)     

GIS and Data Integration for Archaeological Surveying Data


Organized by Axel Posluschny, ARCLAND

Both Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and various remote and other surveying techniques like LiDAR, geophysics, aerial archaeology etc have become essential tools for archaeologists world-wide.
The combination of different surveying data in a GIS however offers a much wider toolbox to integrate data sources, to manage and to analyze them and to finally also visualize and present them.

The session focusses on the following main themes:
- good use of surveying data integration within a GIS
- implementing analysis processes
- understanding the value of the output of GIS analyses (uncertainty, source criticism, applicability of tools, etc)
- interpretation of results and their reliability

Contributions are welcome which focus on:
- the good use of GIS for remote sensing data integration and joint analysis
- specific GIS based analysis tools to be used for single surveying datasets
- potential problems and pitfalls
- the use of GIS to better understand and visualize surveying data


Archaeology as Earth Science: A NASA Perspective

Organized by Ronald G. Blom, Douglas C. Comer, Will Megarry, Till Sonnemann, Bryce Davenport, NASA

In this workshop, we will first describe research funded by NASA, often through the Research Opportunities in Solid Earth Science (ROSES) program, which has used aerial and satellite remote sensing imagery and data to explore key aspects of the changing relationship between the environment and human societies. Using this approach, we focus on the archaeological sites and landscapes as humanly produced environmental changes at both macro and micro scales.

We will then conduct a practical workshop session, where the organizers will provide instruction in techniques that utilize open source software and freely available satellite imagery and data to explore the culture-nature dynamic. These include topographical modeling using ASTER DEMs and generating vegetation indices from Landsat imagery. We will also demonstrate how these and other freely available data sets can be used to chart the trajectory of recent environmental change that threatens the integrity of archaeological sites and landscapes.


Ronald G. Blom: Climate Change: Impacts on Human Societies, Lessons from Archaeology

Douglas C. Comer: The Direct Detection Model (DDM): a Virtual Section 110 Survey and Evaluation

Will Megarry: Providing Relief: Aerial Laser Scanning, Archaeological Landscapes and Detecting Non-Extant Archaeology

Till Sonnemann: Recording Amerindian sites in the Dominican Republic by UAV

The workshop uses QGIS, an open source software package which can be run on desktops or on laptop computers. Participants are welcome to download QGIS beforehand or during the presentations that will be given during the first hour of the workshop. We will use the World Heritage Site of Meroe, in Sudan, as a demonstration area, examining how freeware and free or low-cost imagery can be used to enhance understanding of environmental influences and human settlement patterns and humanly produced environmental change.

Instruction will be provided by Will Megarry and Bryce Davenport, with commentary on interpretation of outputs by Douglas Comer, Ronald Blom, and Till Sonnemann.


Survey and  Measurement on Excavation - New Perspectives on Traditional Metrics

Organized by Rachel Opitz, University of Arkansas and Nicola Terrenato, University of Michigan

The increasingly widespread use of both spatially accurate and high resolution survey techniques on archaeological excavations provides an opportunity for practitioners to revisit the way spatial measurement and locational data are used within archaeological documentation and interpretation. Under the Molas system, which is not atypical of recording schemas developed between the 1960s and 1980s, positional information might be denoted by area and sector on the context sheet, with distances from a known data and important elevations recorded, i.e. min and max. The shape of the layer would be described in general terms (curved limits on the north and east, straight limits to the south and west) and general dimensions would likewise be measured and recorded. Plans of individual contexts and sketches would be made, although this workflow was often separate from the primary recording. While the plans and sketches were often important to the interpretive process, notably for identifying stratigraphic relationships and alignments, and for deducing taphonomic processes, the general measurements and descriptions of unit limits were, we posit, generally little used - falling into the category of information recorded 'in case it should become useful later'.

In this discussion and demonstration based workshop, we want to revisit these metrics in light of the spatial and positional information provided by  SFM and metric survey, either by total station, robotic TS or D- or RTK- GPS. This workshop will be centered on a discussion of changes and continuities needed as denser spatial and positional data becomes the norm in excavation recording. Are descriptions of context limit forms still necessary as part of the reflexive / interpretive process? Can we take advantage of denser measurements of surfaces, limits, and volumes to better understand site formation processes? What additional tools and methods would be needed to transform the richly descriptive spatial and positional data we are now collecting into something which will inform (perhaps quantitatively) our analysis of site formation and taphonomic processes? This workshop aims to provide the opportunity to discuss and reflect on how we can take full advantage of these data, beyond replacing or providing simple parallels to conventional measurements. Hands on exercises will focus on defining and extracting a variety of metrics from surface and volume models using open source or freeware tools.