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Compute-Intensive GIS Visibility Analysis of the Settings of Prehistoric Stone Circles

Lake, Mark; Ortega, Damon; (2013) Compute-Intensive GIS Visibility Analysis of the Settings of Prehistoric Stone Circles. In: Bevan, A and Lake, M, (eds.) Computational Approaches to Archaeological Spaces. (pp. 213-242). Routledge: New York (NY), USA. Green open access

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Abstract

For 20 years visibility analysis has been one of the most popular archaeological applications of geographical information systems (GIS) for interpretive purposes. In 2003 Lake and Woodman provided a detailed account of the various forms that GIS-based visibility analysis had taken up to that time. They argued that such analyses could be divided into those that were predominantly informal, statistical, or humanistic and, furthermore, that this tripartite division recapitulated-albeit over a compressed timescale-theoretically driven developments in non-GIS visibility studies. Nearly 10 years on it is probably safe to say that all three forms of GIS-based “viewshed analysis” have lost their novelty value. Thus informal viewshed analyses, those that lack statistical or theoretical sophistication and adopt a largely common-sense approach to inference (Lake and Woodman, 2003), are no longer found in methodological literature but are scattered through the relevant subject literature. More interesting is the lack of evidence that more sophisticated statistical or humanistic analyses routinely contribute to archaeological explanation/ interpretation (but see Gillings, 2009, for a recent exception). We suspect that the increasing use of multicore processors-and the power of modern desktop computers more generally-will lead to a resurgence of interest in GIS-based visibility analysis. To see why such resurgence might occur, we revisit the distinction between statistical and humanistic GIS-based visibility analyses

Type: Book chapter
Title: Compute-Intensive GIS Visibility Analysis of the Settings of Prehistoric Stone Circles
ISBN-13: 9781315431932
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.4324/9781315431932
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315431932
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: viewshed, monte-carlo simulation, stone circle, Bronze Age, GIS
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116506
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