Introduction to GIS (II):

Maps and Software. Creating a Location:

Despite what you might think, the first thing you need to start working with maps is not a computer, a GIS program or some GeoTiffs. The first thing you need is a research question. If you do not have this, the rest is worthless, because your research question is going to condition what kind of analysis you will carry out and how. So, before starting with these lessons I would suggest you to think about your research area and what would you like to know about it. You can be interested on exploring which areas are under the visual control of your site, or the most efficient route between a workshop area and the place where raw material were collected. Every example in these posts can be tried with any map, but if you do not have any specific research area or just want to give GIS a try you can use the maps of the area of Korinth that I will use as an example.

The software I am going to use is GRASS. This is an open source program supported by a community of developers around the world, which include some of the big names in Landscape analysis such as Michael Barton, from Arizona State University. You can download it for free here. Everybody has his/her favourite program, and usually causes intense debates around beers on which is better and why the rest are useless. GRASS is my favourite one for two reasons: first, it is one of the most reliable GIS programs and it is constantly updated by a community of developers. Secondly, it is completely free. Many other programs are very expensive and they do not offer, in my opinion, any analytical advantage over GRASS. It is true that it is perhaps less user-friendly than other programs, but you will see that once you get used to it, GRASS is very straightforward.

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Introduction to GIS (I):

GIS (Geographic Information System) technology is an essential tool for any archaeologist; nobody would argue that. But in my experience as a scholar and also teaching introductory courses to GIS, I have realised that, in many occasions, archaeologists are not totally able to explain what a GIS is. This is caused in my opinion by something I call the tyranny of the technology. Let me explain.

Roger Tomlinson, the father of GIS, was the first person to use this terminology, in a paper published in 1968 entitled A Geographic Information System for Regional Planning. This work was the result of the development of the first true operational GIS, the Canada Geographic Information System in 1960, because, and this is the key factor, computers are essential for GIS.

corinthia
Shaded relief of the Corinthia

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Chawan, cunca pro té xaponesa/Japanese tea-bowl

Outro breve entrada e outra pequena xoia que atopei en Youtube. Esta vez temos un fantástico vídeo sobre olería xaponesa. Podemos ver o proceso completo de manufactura dun chawan, unha cunca pra té xaponesa, dende os primeiros pasos da forma ate a cocción raku. Inda que todo o proceso é fascinante e o “afriamento” tan típico do raku sempre crea resultados espectaculares, a parte máis interesante de todo o vídeo acontece xusto ó principio. Observade como o oleiro usa a torneta pra beliscar cara arriba as paredes da cunca. É un dos mellores exemplos visuais que vin da diferencia entre tornear e formar no torno. A torneta non é un torno, e non é usada coma tal no vídeo. Pero a forma na que o torno é suavizado e rebaixado cun movemento circular e regular na torneta pode ter coma consecuencia unhas cunca similar ás dun pote feito a torno (English version below).

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Pseudoarqueoloxía

Fai uns días no aeroporto de Barajas merquei un libro de Javier Sierra chamado En Busca de la Edad de Oro. Xa podo imaxinar a cara de sorpresa de moita xente ó ler isto, sobre todo daqueles que me coñecen ben e que están acostumados, resignados diría eu, ós meus virulentos ataques contra este tipo de autores. ¿Que me pasa no maxín pra gastar 10 euros nun libro así? Pra todo hai explicación e pra isto tamén. Inda que non lin o libro enteiro, que xa comentarei no futuro, só con ler a contraportada sei que se pode clasificar no grupo que eu defino coma de “core civilization” ou civilización primixenia, un aforismo da Atlántida, os extraterrestres, ou os extraterrestres que fundaron a Atlántida. Algo así.

Pero vaiamos por partes. Todo este tema da pseudociencia ¿por que é tan malo? ¿Non pode a xente crer no que queira? Sen dúbida é un tema moi delicado. Todo o mundo, coma individuo, debería ser libre de crer o que lle pareza. Incluso se é unha idea equivocada. Xa non dende o punto de vista interpretativo, máis relativo, senón dos feitos. Para ser máis claro vos deixo este vídeo que na miña opinión ilustra moi ben este problema. Se pensades que o movemento dos flatters (aqueles que cren que a terra é chá e que estamos enganados por non sei que conspiración) non é perigoso… ben, lle botades un ollo e logo resumo o texto:

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