What can GIS + 3D mean for landscape archaeology?

Publication date: Available online 22 May 2017Source:Journal of Archaeological Science
Author(s): Heather Richards-Rissetto
Until recently Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have held center stage in the archaeologist’s geospatial toolkit, and there is no doubt that archaeologists have moved beyond the map—but into what? In the early years, criticisms voicing GIS as environmentally-deterministic were abundant. What methods and tool have archaeologists used to overcome these criticisms? New geospatial technologies such as airborne lidar and aerial photogrammetry are allowing us to acquire inordinate amounts of georeferenced 3D data— but do these 3D technologies help overcome criticisms of environmental determinism? Together—GIS + 3D— can link georeferenced 3D models to underlying data adding a ground-based humanistic perspective lacking in the bird’s eye view of traditional GIS. This paper situates GIS and 3D within a semiotic framework to offer some ideas on using 3DGIS to intertwine environmental and cultural factors to work toward new approaches for landscape archaeology.