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7. GIS at the trowel's edge as a tool for Integration of Existing and Potential Knowledge

A crucial step in the integration of the wide variety of data produced by the ÇRP has been the development, since the 2009 field season, of the project's intra-site GIS. There is relatively little published literature on the application of GIS as an intra-site spatial tool which might serve to guide this process (for some notable exceptions see: Barceló et al. 2003, or Katsianis et al. 2008). However, the project chose to adopt ESRI's ArcGIS, and the resulting intra-site GIS has always relied heavily on the pre-existing relational excavation database and on the digitising work carried on since the early stages of the project. The system has steadily developed and grown through the years, with the collaboration of all team members, to the extent that it has become the main tool for spatially recording, managing, storing and analyzing all the data collected on site.

However, from its conception, the GIS at Çatalhöyük was envisioned as being something more than simply a repository for the project's spatial data. Rather, it was designed to be a flexible tool that could serve as a spatial link between the work conducted in the field and the work carried out in the labs, as well as linking the textual information stored in the database and the graphical and spatial data produced by archaeologists in the field. As such, the ÇRP intra-site GIS has been part of the reflexive framework and it has been constructed with the aim of enhancing collaboration and multivocality, integration and interactivity.

The capacity of intra-site GIS as a tool for integrating and openly visualizing a wide range of data within one relatively easily accessible environment has been valued from its design stage as a way of potentially enhancing reflexivity on site. However, there is tension between the homogenising constraints of using such technologies, which require standardization of data structure and in order to work at full capacity, and the more flexible notions of a descriptive reflexive data-set and recording framework. As such, a key objective of the project's GIS has been the development of more comprehensive, integrated datasets that are sensitive to interrogation in a multiplicity of different ways.


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