GIS seminar 2020 – 6 November

GIS seminar 2020 – online

Date: 6 November 2020

Credits: 1 EC

Location: online

On 6 November 2020 ARCHON organises an online open seminar, where students and researchers from the Netherlands and abroad will present and discuss on-going GIS projects.


9:45 – 10:00    Seminar open

10:00 – 10:10  Welcome by Philip Verhagen

10:10 – 12:00  Bring Your Own Data

Are you stuck in your analysis? Don’t know how to approach a problem? Do you have a technical question? Don’t be shy and tell us, we’ll be ready with tips and tricks! 

If you don’t have a pressing problem yet, this session will still be interesting to hear about other students’ research, and what kind of issues they run into while using GIS for their research.

13:00 – 16:00 Research presentations:

Konan Pruiksma (Tijdlab Deventer) – Archaeological Relevant Surfaces: A new approach to archaeological policy in Lelystad

The current archaeological policy of the municipality of Lelystad is based on old, predictive modelled, maps. However, the maps have proven to be insufficient. Therefore a new approach has been defined that attempts to calculate the depths of so-called ‘archaeologically relevant surfaces’. These surfaces concern distinguished soil layers that have a chronological correspondence to the occupation periods in the area and are likely to contain archaeological remains. For this research, two substrate surfaces have been distinguished which contain archaeological remains.
The first containing the Pleistocene cover sand substrate on which remains can be found from the Upper-Palaeolithic to the Neolithic/Bronze Age. The second containing the tidal deposits from the Holocene on which Neolithic remains can be found (Swifterbant culture). Both surfaces have been modelled by interpolating subsurface data. Additionally, an analysis of the AHN (Algemeen Hoogtebestand Nederland) has been implemented as well. Certain landscape elements, such as canals and creeks can be indicators of the presence of archaeological remains. With these subsurface models, additional statistical certainty margins and the analysed creeks and canals, the municipality of Lelystad can develop a map with classified exclusion zones for archaeological surveys. This map will be the foundation for the new archaeological policy. This presentation will mainly focus on the technical aspects of this research and the methods applied in GIS.

Julia Chyla (University of Warsaw): The mausoleum of Castillo de Huarmey: A case study for digital archaeology

Castillo de Huarmey is located on the central-north coast of Peru, 298 km north of Lima. In 2012, a Polish-Peruvian team discovered an Imperial Mausoleum dated to the Middle Horizon at the locality. It is the only known seat and burial ground of rulers of the Wari Empire located on the Pacific coast. The burial chamber under the Mausoleum, (approximately 3.5 by 4 m) contained the skeletal remains of fifty eight female representatives of the highest pre-Columbian elite, together with six human sacrifice victims, two guards and over 1400 items of exquisite grave goods. The magnificent artifacts found there represent the most complete set of rare, personal Wari items, coming from various cultural and technological regions of the central Andes, both from the north and from the south of Peru.

The presentation will show the process of interpreting the finds with a methodology  used in digital archaeology: from the data acquisition during excavation, through post-processing and collecting all of the information in GIS, throughout the visualization and first hypothesis, until the final interpretations of the context. The main question that I will try to answer is whether any kind of relationship can be shown between the buried women, and whether the spatial distribution of particular categories of artifacts pertained to specific spatial patterns of the burial itself.

Wouter Baernd Verschoof-van der Vaart: The use of R-CNNs in the automated detection of archaeological objects in LiDAR data

A common practice in present-day archaeology and heritage management is to manually analyze remotely sensed data for the occurrence of archaeological (landscape) objects. However, the amount of high quality, (freely) available remotely sensed data is growing at an overwhelming rate, which results in new challenges to effectively and efficiently analyze these data by hand. To cope with this problem, computer-aided methods for the (semi-) automatic detection of archaeological objects are needed.

This research project explores the implementation of Deep Learning R-CNNs (Region-based Convolutional Neural Networks) in order to develop a generic, flexible, and robust automated detection method for archaeological objects in LiDAR data.

In this paper a workflow (called WODAN 2.0) is presented. This has been trained and tested on LiDAR data gathered from a forested area in the central part of the Netherlands, the Veluwe. This area contains a multitude of archaeological objects, including (Prehistoric) barrows, Celtic fields, and (Medieval) charcoal kilns. By implementing this improved workflow we have been able to develop a method to automatically detect and categorize these archaeological objects. We will present the results of experiments done with the workflow on a newly developed reference dataset. These results will be compared to the performance of a prior workflow and the results of a large-scale citizen science project, called Heritage Quest. In this project, citizen researchers were tasked with marking barrows, Celtic fields, and charcoal kilns in LiDAR images from the Veluwe, comparable to the task of WODAN 2.0.

Manuela Ritondale (University of Groningen & IMT Lucca) – A formal model to assess the shipwrecks probability in Mediterranean territorial waters: some procedural notes

This talk discusses the development of a suitable theory and GIS-based methodology for the prediction of shipwrecks occurrence in Mediterranean territorial waters (i.e. 12 NM from the baseline) in the framework of my PhD research. Particular emphasis will be given to the methodological challenges faced while attempting to overcome the current shortcomings of archaeological predictive models in the maritime context. These include a) biases in the available archaeological data, which prevent an inductive approach to the model building; b) the difficulties entailed in combining environmental and socio-cultural data that have an uneven scale and resolution; c) the question of how to include cultural and cognitive factors; d) the need to overcome simplistic approaches in modelling past seaborne routes. Examples of the latter are the controversial way in which the concept of ‘coastal navigation’ has been formalized and modelled, and the tendency to translate into binary terms (i.e. presence-absence) the role of potential nodes of the maritime network without considering their different degree of attractiveness. 

The talk will showcase examples, including both relatively trivial GIS implementations, having complex theoretical underpinnings (e.g. a layer describing the ‘coastal attractiveness’) and more complex GIS implementations based on well-established theory – e.g., computing a cumulative land-to-sea viewshed without assuming specific observer viewpoints.

Victor Klinkenberg (University of Cyprus) – 3D GIS for archaeological research

Both GIS and 3D techniques are popular topics in archaeology, and to most people the combination of the two seems like a logical and desirable development. Indeed, the addition of the third dimension can help discern complex 3D distribution patterns, and the analysis of reconstructed settlements and architecture relies heavily on techniques from both GIS and 3D modelling. Also visualising all documented features in a multi layer excavation can amplify the understanding of these features in more ways than conventional 2D techniques do.

There is however a danger in taking the value and potential of 3D GIS for granted. Often the technology does not actually offer the level of detail, clarity or realism desired for archaeological research. At the same time, the resulting vizualizations may seem convincing simply because of their attractive and ‘sciencey’ appearance. Clearly, to properly appreciate the value of 3D GIS, it is necessary to understand both its potential as well as the limitations.

In this presentation I will briefly showcase three archaeological projects in which 3D GIS was central – and discuss the relevance of the technique for the obtained results.


When registering through the registration form below, please keep the following in mind:

  1. If you plan to actively participate in the Bring Your Own Data session, we ask you to prepare a 5-minute presentation of your case. We will contact you one week in advance to send us your presentation, so that we can prepare for your question(s).
  2. To get most out of the day, we strongly recommend that you have followed at least one of the online Archon GIS courses (QGIS or ArcGIS). You can do this at your own pace in advance of the seminar, and you will have to register for this separately.

Students can obtain 1 ECT by attending the seminar and handing in a written report.

If you are not ARCHON member, please contact our coordinator by sending an email to