Short course: Paleolandscape Reconstruction and Ancient Human Landuse

Paleolandscape reconstruction is an essential first step for archaeologists interested in how ancient humans interacted with their environment. This is often achieved only schematically through the use of narrative models based on paleoenvironmental proxy data. A new alternative approach utilizes geomorphologic data to digitally model ancient landscapes within a GIS framework, resulting in digital terrain models (DTM’s) of ancient landscapes. These paleolandscape DTM’s can be used as input into spatially explicit models of ancient human landuse and human-environment interaction. This workshop will cover the basic theory and methodology behind GIS-based paleolandscape reconstruction, and will introduce techniques for ancient human landuse simulation. Specific techniques that will be covered include digitization of landscape features, terrain interpolation techniques, site catchment modeling, erosion and deposition modeling, and GIS-based human landuse simulation. The workshop will also teach participants the basics of GRASS GIS, a robust free and open source GIS software suite. Using GRASS offers several methodological and academic advantages because it is actively and collaboratively developed by scientists, allows users to easily create custom scripts, and all modules within GRASS are based upon referable scholarly work. (This course was first created in October, 2009, and was originally taught as part of the University of Toronto Archaeology Center’s invited workshop series)

Course Material (PDF):