Changing Times, Changing Techniques: The Spatial Analysis of an Aboriginal Rock Art Site with a Geographic Information System

01st December 2009

Melissa Johnson

MAppSc, Department of Geomatics, University of Melbourne, January 2004

The use of geographic information systems (GIS) by many disciplines has grown incrementally in the last decade. One field that has been particularly receptive to its application is that of archaeology. As a discipline, archaeological research is renowned for incorporating expertise from other disciplines, such as botany, geography, geology and chemistry. GIS has been used in a wide variety of archaeological projects including the spatial analysis of landform use (landscape archaeology), stone artefact analysis, as well as historic and maritime sites.

In the field of rock art research, methods for recording, analysing and interpreting art, as well as the sites and complexes containing it, are constantly undergoing development and refinement. Current techniques include, but are in no way restricted to, the extrapolation of spatial components in studies of both regional and intrasite analyses through the use of statistics. Analyses of this type provide a great deal of assistance in the interpretation of the rock art designs, sites and complexes but are restricted when questioning the spatial organisation present.

An intrasite analysis of a petroglyph site with a GIS was developed in order to act as an example of the ways in which this type of technology may be incorporated into a research design. The analysis of the rock art complex in the Euriowie region of far-western New South Wales, Australia, demonstrates that a GIS can effectively be used to conduct spatial analysis of a rock art site. The methods developed within the project, in particular those relating to the integration of the GIS, are discussed in detail and the appropriateness of the application as both a data management and data analysis tool is described.

Melissa Johnson
December 2009
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Thesis Abstracts
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