As we have frequently noted in this blog, GIS is rapidly becoming a key tool for research and instruction in an increasing variety of disciplines. These include business, mathematics, health, and sociology, just to name just a few. Equally encouraging is that in disciplines where GIS has long been used, such as geography, environmental science, urban planning, and wildlife biology, GIS is now being used in deeper and more meaningful ways. One of these disciplines–archaeology–is featured in a new book from Texas A&M University Press entitled The Archaeology of Engagement: Conflict and Revolution in the United States, edited by Dr. Dana L. Pertermann who teaches at Western Wyoming College, and Dr. Holly Kathryn Norton, who is the State Archaeologist for Colorado. Conflicts in the book include the 1836 San Jacinto battle in Texas, Robert E. Lee’s mid-1850s campaign along the Concho River, the battles of the River Raisin during the War of 1812, and others.
The book focuses somewhat on the physical artifacts that archaeologists uncover, but even more so on the human side–the people involved in conflicts and their social mores and understanding of power. It is a significant step forward as I believe it represents a weaving of cultural geography and spatial thinking into archaeology.
Readers of this blog will find Chapter 7 particularly interesting: This chapter, Georeferencing Maps and Aerial Photos for the San Jacinto Battlefield Analysis, by Peter E. Price and Douglas G. Mangum, goes into great detail, but in understandable language, about how to bring geospatial data and analysis to archaeological studies. While the chapter is focused on how to bring historical aerial photographs and maps for the San Jacinto battle near Houston Texas, the methodology they describe will be helpful for others preparing data sets for their own instruction and research. Educators can use this and other San Jacinto chapters in conjunction with the story maps gallery of historical maps, which include Civil War and other historical battles.