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Book: Exploring the Holy Land

Chapter: 10. From Palmer to GIS: Two Survey Methods on Trial in the Negev Desert

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.34547


This paper discusses how an archaeological site is documented as a unit by spatial manipulation in archaeological surveys in the Negev desert. An examination of various surveys reveals two general methods of data collection and analysis. The first method was used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, before the surveys began applying pottery collection. Those early surveys intended to display sites in high resolution, focusing on the variety of on-site features and on their morphological and functional parameters. The second method, influenced by the introduction of pottery acquisition in the first half of the 20th century, neglected the morphological aspect of the features. Hence, a “site” became a point representing the location where pottery has been collected. The introduction of the GPS/GIS system in the mid-1990s provided a new means that enabled switching to documentation that encompasses every visible feature. Thus, this system introduced a crucial change in redefining the term “archaeological site” as a unit in spatial-archaeological enquiry. Notwithstanding the modern technological means, the only relevant method for further studies is the neglected one of feature manipulation, practiced already more than a century ago. The paper also discusses the methodological foundations of the use of GPS/GIS in surveys as a basis for further interdisciplinary studies, early results of which were first represented in 2008.

Chapter Contributors

  • Moti Haiman ( - mhaiman) 'Israel Antiquities Authority'