Embracing uncertainty and challenging dualism in the GIS-based study of a palaeo-flood plain

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The following paper aims to take a critical look at the role that can be played within the broad context of landscape based archaeological research by Geographical Information Systems (GIS). It will be argued that the rapid acceptance of GIS by archaeologists has not been without its problems, with a number of archaeologists wondering whether, despite the hype, any new approaches have been introduced at all. This, it will be argued, is a direct result of GIS-based applications tending to work within a largely inherited theoretical framework and, more importantly, lacking at present a critical theory of practice. The aim of the paper is move beyond critique to suggest how GIS can provide not only an efficient means of generating simple distribution maps, but a flexible environment within which to bridge developments in theory and practice. Using an on-going case-study centred upon flood events in the palaeo-flood plain of the river Tisza, the implications of using GIS to welcome uncertainty into the analytical environment are explored and a number of approaches advocated. The significance these developments have in expanding our interpretive frameworks is explored through the fore-grounding and challenging of a number of dualistic modes of thought in that area actively encouraged and reinforced by the use of traditional GIS. Copyright © 1998 Sage Publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-144
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1998


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