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Landscape Studies

GIS Research Projects

One of ICA's long-standing goals has been the use of cutting-edge technologies to support the many different aspects of its interdisciplinary projects. At Chersonesos, this has included digital recording of excavation results and archival material, non-invasive prospection techniques using ground-, air-, and space-based remote sensing, and, most recently, the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to integrate all of the above as well as to facilitate the protection and management of the site's unique archaeological resources.

In 1998 ICA and UT's Center for Space Research, along with the NPTC, received funding from NASA to investigate the use of remotely sensed data for the study and protection of Chersonesos and its chora. This project sought to assess a number of different data types and their utility for mapping and improving our understanding of Chersonesos' chora as well as for documenting and monitoring threats to the preservation of the site from both human and natural causes. Since then, using the mapping and information base - as well as the new skills base - developed during that project, we have continued experimenting with GIS for the integration and management of digital data from all aspects of our joint project with NPTC.

Most recently, this has reflected ICA's increasing focus on conservation and management of Chersonesos' cultural resources. Working closely with members of the NPTC staff, we are currently developing a GIS-based condition recording system to support the creation of a comprehensive conservation and management plan for the city and chora. This recording system is designed as a long-term monitoring solution for the site and as such includes on-going training of NPTC staff in methods and use digital mapping and GIS technologies. Meanwhile, we continue to experiment with the use of GIS and digital documentation for recording, integrating and managing excavation data. We hope to explore, in the near future, the possibility of web-based publication and data-sharing.

Geophysical and Paleoecological Study

Since the beginning of its collaborative projects at Chersonesos, ICA has applied a range of technologies and scientific methods to its study of the ancient city and its countryside. In the course of the first decade of excavations in the chora, geophysical prospecting techniques including resistivity survey, magnetometry, and ground-penetrating radar were employed. This work, carried out by joint teams from both ICA and the NPTC, produced especially important results at the site of Bezymyannaya. In coming years, similar techniques may be brought to bear on the examination of a wide variety of buried remains, especially in the area of the proposed park of the chora.

Geophysical prospecting techniques add to our knowledge of the landscape with information about buried structures, but our understanding of that landscape requires a more diachronic view of change and development.   Paleoecological research, therefore, is also fundamental for the investigation of the relation between people and their environment. For that reason, palynological and geomorphological analyses have formed an important part of ICA's research at Chersonesos.  A systematic program of core sampling in and around the ancient chora was conducted by Paul Lehman of the University of Texas and Carlos Cordova of Oklahoma State University. This research has provided important information about changes in the landscape of the Herakleian Peninsula at specific points in time, including the period of Greek colonization. Their work has yielded valuable insights into vegetation changes, agricultural practices and land use over the last 10000 years.   Current research plans involve the identification and core-sampling of areas that preserve palynological evidence for the later Roman and Byzantine periods.