What is the idea behind Digital Geoarchaeology 2013?
As shown by the recent discourse, the concept of modern archaeology must increasingly be considered as an interdisciplinary approach that combines different scientific methods and datasets in order to answer questions about ancient cultures and their remains. This trend can be traced back to the rising awareness about the inextricable link between past human activities and environmental conditions. Among others, geo and computer sciences became indispensable components in archaeological research and cultural heritage management over the last few years.
Regarding the reconstruction of past archaeological landscapes, the term geoarchaeology is commonly used, representing the use of new geoscientific methodologies for archaeological purposes. In general, this applies to geographical investigations and field methods (analyses of geoarchives, e.g. sediments, soils, landforms) or geophysical prospection like earth resistivity tomography, ground penetrating radar, geomagnetics. Besides such on and off-site explorations, remote sensing and area-wide computerised investigations became state-of-the-art tools and constitute one of the most popular topics in modern archaeology. Detection of surface features by satellite imagery, photogrammetry and laser scanning of ancient relics, and the use of digital elevation models for the identification of zones of special archaeological are only a few examples of the versatile and almost unlimited scope of application. In addition, GIS-based techniques like predictive modelling projects aim at identifying regions with high probability of historical remains and, therefore, serve as essential tools in cultural heritage management for many years, particularly when it comes to protecting archaeological sites.
Despite this multi thematic overlap, comprehensive collaboration between earth sciences, computer sciences and archaeology is still not very common, although all disciplines can significantly support each other: Such interdisciplinary approaches may contribute to a better understanding of ancient landscapes and cultural heritage along with their forming processes and allow unravelling questions about the history of man and his environment.
This is where the concept of digital geoarchaeology comes into play: The idea of stimulating the transdisciplinary dialogue and of enhancing the cooperation at the human environmental interface. Scientists from from subjects like Archaeology, Computer Sciences, Geography, Geoinformatics, History, etc. are invited to identify and discuss common fields of work from different scientific perspectives in order to learn from each other, develop new ideas for common projects, increase the knowledge transfer and, thus, benefit from synergy effects.