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Spatial and Temporal Dimensions in GIS-Systems

Within the research project, geographic information systems (GIS) are supposed to be investigated on the question how far a third spatial dimension and a fourth temporal dimension can be supported. So far, programs are only able to process 2.5 dimensions properly, which means they can save and visualize heights of surfaces as attributes (f. e. in the form of irregular surface reliefs). Vertical information (f. e. trenches that reach into the ground or erected walls) to these surfaces (layers) cannot properly be represented and processed. A comprehensive analysis by complex searches on existing data in relation to three spatial and temporal coordinates cannot be achieved yet.
This requirement is responsible for the effective and far-reaching use of GIS in archaeological contexts because there, f. e. in excavations, overlapping structures or successively grown cities are deepened in several layers. The meaning of the temporal factor for the processing of the information is self-explanatory when considering that archaeology belongs to historical sciences. Aim of the project is to change GIS in a way that this can be done.

Several institutes for (geo-)informatics, spatial planning, surveying or geography have intentions on research on this problem, but the initial situation differs from the problems that arise in archaeological contexts. There, usually the larger region, that is known from maps, photos and drawings in a smaller scale, forms the basis for further analysis. In archaeology though, small-scale and detailed documentation and interpretation of data is in the focus of interest. This situation means on one hand that existing research especially regarding the processing of mathematical calculations and algorithms can use previous results, but on the other that their transferability and applicability in archaeological information systems has to be examined. Starting from the current state of knowledge, changes and adjustments have to be undertaken in order to get a reliable system. The project generally is concerned with theoretical questions that relate to the structure of a GIS in general as well as the practical solutions that are needed for daily fieldwork.

Supervision: Felix F. Schäfer, M.A.