Thursday, October 24, 2013

Special Topics in Archaeology: Student Spotlight

GIS4990/5990 Special Topics in Archaeology, Dr. Scott Palumbo

Scythian Burial Mounds: Modeling Ritual Landscapes of the Eurasian Steppes

One of the most useful skill sets for archaeologists to have is to know how to combine information about a past culture and location in order to model the spatial relationship between archaeological sites and their surrounding landscape. In order to be able to effectively utilize these tools, it is important for the archaeologist to know how to apply them to a variety of situations and subjects of archaeological study. These processes should be well-ingrained for seamless and efficient use under tight time and budget constraints. In addition, it is important for the archaeologist to fully understand how to utilize these tools and their many possibilities. In this module, students revisited data compilation and modeling in order to explain the relationship between Scythian burial mounds and their landscape. It is important to recognize that archaeological sites may have ritual significance (or other hidden relationships) to their surroundings, and that modeling landscapes can have other applications than simplify identifying areas of likely habitation based on resources and topography.  

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Identify and collect data necessary for modeling spatial relationships of archaeological sites 
  • Identify possible symbolic and/or ritual applications of modeling tools to archaeological sites 
  • Reference and implement predictive modeling tools 
  • Gain familiarity with international sources of elevation and remote sensing data for use in GIS modeling. 


The following student was chosen for their exception work on the Modeling Scythian Landscapes assignment:

Steven Kieffer

About Steven: Steven is an undergrad in the anthropology/archaeology department with a minor in geography and of course, pursuing the undergrad GIS Cert Program. He is still new to archaeology, but is a forensic digger at heart. After a few years on the corporate ladder making big paychecks without enough time to spend it and see his family, Steven would prefer digging, cataloging, mapping, and being happy with much less. Welcome to the spotlight, Steven!

What we like: This week was a relatively simple module, but Steve exceled by classifying a DEM by elevation so we can eventually analyze the relationship between archaeological remains and topographic features. He has a nice map presentation. Besides splitting the different images around the map and taking advantage of his space, he was one of the few to actually label elevation (in this case in meters) in the legend. Great work Steven!

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