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4.0 Epistemology: What kind of data does GIS produce?

4.1 Hypotheses

'If archaeologists are able to develop models that will facilitate analyses of spatial and temporal phenomena, they will not only be in a better position from which to understand the integration of spatial and temporal phenomena, they stand every chance of developing cooperative links with technical specialists who may be able to provide the operational technology with which the models can be animated.'
Castleford 1992, 100-1

Although it was acknowledged that GIS creates new data, Savage (1990, 28) had already pointed out that locational GIS models do not create archaeological 'facts' but hypotheses, which must be tested through archaeological survey. Warren (1990a, 90) went further in assessing the results of the analyses by saying that predictive modelling is only explanatory or descriptive.

The ability to generate hypothetical scenarios and alternative perspectives of human behaviour (cf. Verhagen et al. 1995; Harris and Lock 1995) was emphasised when interpretative archaeology became dominant. The importance of an exploratory use of GIS in order to analyse hypothetical scenarios has theoretically become even more important with the rise of new social theories (e.g. Robb and Van Hove 2003; Van Hove 2003 and this volume).

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Last updated: Thur Nov 11 2004