Anthropology Research :: CRSP

Mapping, Illustration, and Geographic Information Systems

An example of an artifact density map.

Archaeology is concerned with the spatial relationships of materials and features, and the recording and visualizing of these finds and their locations is an important aspect of the archaeological process. At the Cultural Resources Survey Program, artifact illustration, geographic information systems, and mapping techniques are utilized during the various phases of excavation and analysis.

Mapping of a CRSP project areas usually begins in the office using data and information available on the internet and from other agencies. This information is compiled to make a map appropriate for use by archaeologists in the field. The location of every excavated area and other features are recorded in the field and added to the map. Other drawings done in the field include plans of excavation units and wall profiles. These help the archaeologist in the determining the stratigraphic sequence of the site.

An illustration of a pitted stone artifact.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is also used in mapping and analysis. With GIS artifact density maps, soil survey maps, elevation models, and other thematic maps are produced. This spatial information is used to analyze what is found during the excavation and in planning future excavations.

Illustration is a useful tool for graphically showing the form and function of an artifact. Prehistoric and historic artifacts recovered from a site are illustrated to show the diagnostic features or identifiable characteristics of the objects. These artifacts may include prehistoric stone tools and flakes, like the pitted stone shown here. The type of artifact found can greatly aid in the interpretation of the archaeological site, therefore accurately drawing and presenting the find is important.

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