Fennelle makes a good point.  My impression is that agencies are often protective of their GIS data and may fear that wide disclosure will lead to people with nefarious purposes knowing where sites are located.  One of the frustrations (also an opportunity) is that through CRM investigations incredibly detailed GPS and GIS databases are often built-up about archaeological sites or regions, but there is no policy in place or architecture for capturing much of that data long-term.  For example, my firm often conducts GPS-based archaeological survey such that every artifact collected is associated with a GPS point (for example in a controlled surface collection).  But typically, agencies will only want one or a few GPS points for each site (or a shapefile with site boundaries).  A lot of these points are also, or could be tagged with information on stratigraphy, soils, slopes, groundcover, or prior distubance.  So aside from legacy data storage within your own firms’ archives there is no long-term organized effort to preserve the painstakingly collected data.  I am sure there are people in SHPO offices and elsewhere who would be interested in a broader-based archaeology GIS (currently state CR GISs work well but data collection/display is somewhat limited).                                                

          The possibility is that web-based and accessible formats could be used to store and make available archaeological data without compromising the need to secure certain kinds of data.  A collaborator of mine has written an XML data format that could be used to tag archaeological data in ways that could be read by various internet scripts.  It is pretty basic right now but it or something like it could make distributed GIS or GPS archaeology on the web more possible!  He and I also are collaborating on a webviewer that allows for analysis of spatial archaeological data within any webbrowser (he is the programmer not me!).   Both icon and  color-based intuitive analyses (Jacques Bertin’s visual variables) as well as results of quantitative analyses are available. I’ll post some more information on these ideas if anyone is interested in seeing it.


Kevin Schwarz