Web map of archaeological investigations in southern India between 1953-1960. The visualization enables interaction with information and a better understanding of geographic un-evenness in archaeological fieldwork across India / Image credit: N. Gupta, 2016

Geographic Visualization as Knowledge Generation in Archaeology


Geographic information systems (GIS) and other geovisualisation tools have been successfully used in archaeology to produce maps that can communicate archaeological information. The ability to use geographic visualisations to generate new knowledge however, has been largely neglected and offers immense perspectives for a field that deals with large amounts of complex data. We re-conceptualise maps in a representational model and argue that geographic visualization encourages the use of our cognitive abilities to process information and to generate new knowledge. In this context, we present MINA | Map Indian Archaeology (dngupta.github.io/mina.github.io), a Web-based platform built on the Leaflet library as a visualization tool that promotes data exploration and encourages questions about potentially unknown spatial patterns and relationships in Indian archaeology. The Leaflet libraries enable user interaction with archaeological data and facilitate meaningful graphical summaries of spatial information, which in turn, can promote new empirical research in archaeology. The web map supports knowledge discovery through data exploration, showing, for instance, a striking pattern and distribution of archaeological investigations throughout India during the 1950s. This simple prototype provides a proof of concept and shows that greater efforts in developing advanced visualisation tools appropriate for archaeological data can promote the generation of new knowledge in archaeology.

Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA