2nd International Conference on GeoComputation

Conceptual Data Modelling in an Archaeological GIS

Paul Rivett

Anthropology Department
University of Otago, Dunedin

Presented at the second annual conference of GeoComputation 97 & SIRC 97, University of Otago, New Zealand, 26-29 August 1997


Recent discussion of archaeological GIS method and theory has centred around a debate concerning the use of the technology. This paper argues that key problems in this debate can be overcome by looking at how data are de-fined and structured with regards to the overall project. It specifically deals with two points. First, that an appropri-ate theoretical framework needs to be developed and that this should occur at the level of the data. Second, recent debate has overlooked the importance of database design and data structure at the conceptual level. Conceptual data models provide a link between reality as it is per-ceived by humans and the way in which reality will be rep-resented in the database. A spatially extended entity rela-tionship (SEER) conceptual data model is developed for an archaeological GIS which will make explicit any rela-tionships (both spatial and non-spatial). A hermeneutic methodology is outlined that will ensure that the concep-tual model developed will accurately reflect the dynamic nature of the data. The data itself comes from a case study on the distribution of archaeological sites in Northeast Thailand.