W. Neubauer ,  C. Traxler ,  A. Bornik ,  A. Lenzhofer (2022)

Stratigraphy from Topography I. Theoretical and Practical Considerations for the Application of the Harris Matrix for the GIS-based Spatio-temporal Archaeological Interpretation of Topographical Data

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Archaeologia Austriaca 106/2022


Archaeological stratigraphy is usually associated with an archaeological excavation. We show that the principles of archaeological stratigraphy can be extended to the analysis of prospection data. Specifically, we present a theoretical basis for archaeological stratigraphy with particular reference to the analysis of topographic data acquired from, e.g., airborne laser scans (ALS). Building on previous approaches to archaeological stratigraphy, we present an interval-based time model for constructing a stratigraphic sequence based on a combination of the spatial and temporal parameters of an archaeological stratification. Moving from an approach based on single points in time to a relative chronological structuring of a stratigraphic sequence, we postulate the use of an interval-based approach, based on Allen’s interval algebra. For this purpose, the existing software for the creation of a stratigraphic sequence (Harris Matrix) has been extended, which allows a relative chronological layout of the stratigraphic sequence in combination with an absolute chronological timeline. By linking this tool to a GIS, a comprehensible and digital creation of period and phase maps based on a spatio-temporal analysis of the underlying topographic data is enabled. The system we have developed provides a consistent visual representation, which means that a correct stratigraphic layout is maintained while the units of the stratigraphic sequence are aligned with the intervals of the time model.

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