Putting GIS on the map.

On the 12th of June the Master’s and PhD students from the Archaeology course at the Universidade do Algarve joined in for a GIS workshop (Geographic Information System). This workshop, offered by researcher and teacher from ICArEHB, Dr. Célia Gonçalves (a GIS specialist), focused on teaching us the basics of GIS applied to Archaeology. This said, what did we learn? 

We learned how to make maps – an awesome skill, important for analysis and publishing. Maps can be a little trickier than simply copy/pasting a Google Earth satellite photo and doodling our archaeological site on it. Through GIS we can add information like water lines, topography, archaeological sites or prospection locations, quickly and accurately. Whether it is for an article or a thesis, a good map can make the difference in how a reader will interpret and evaluate our work.

We also learned how to reference maps and images in GIS, which allows us to connect photos or images without any spatial information to 3D coordinates. What is this good for? To attribute coordinates to maps which had none previously (like geological maps we may want to represent our prospection locations in), or even create accurate representations of excavation site profiles through the connection of several photos taken during excavation. We even learned how to calculate topographic indexes and other data like Euclidean distances to water sources!

At the end of the day, we left the workshop ready for our map-making, GIS shenanigans – a must-have in every Master thesis, PhD thesis and beyond! And the best news is – everyone can do it! If you’re a student at UAlg, you can ask for a student license of ArcGIS PRO. However, there are several other GIS free software which allow you to create accurate and enticing maps, from the comfort of your home.

So, on behalf of all the Archaeology students, we’d like to thank Dr. Célia Gonçalves for making available this wonderful GIS workshop and for helping us map our way through GIS without getting lost!

This amazing map of Africa is a great example of something you can do with GIS. The author is Roxane Matias and she did this using tools she learned with the workshop!

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