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Title: Application of GIS methods to retrieve orientation patterns from imagery; a case study from Beds I and II, Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania)
Authors: Torre, Ignacio de la
Benito-Calvo, Alfonso
Keywords: Olduvai Gorge;GIS analysis;Taphonomy;Site formation processes;Orientation patterns
Issue Date: May-2013
Publisher: Elsevier
Citation: Journal of Archaeological Science, 2013, 40 (5), 2446-2457
Abstract: The role of natural processes in the formation of the Bed I and II sites at Olduvai Gorge (Tanzania) remains the subject of much debate, five decades after their original excavation. Preferred orientation of items is indicative of water disturbance, but compass bearings were not available in Mary Leakey's (1971) study. Using GIS methods, we have vectorized maps from 1960s excavations at Olduvai, and applied a range of statistical techniques to calculate items strike. The GIS analysis suggests strongly preferred orientation patterns in Bed I, and more heterogeneous angular histograms in Bed II. Two complementary lines of evidence support these results. Firstly, modelling of potential mapping errors provides a large interval of confidence for preferred orientation patterns. Second, the GIS study was extended to photographs of the earlier excavations and to maps from recent fieldwork at Olduvai; both yielded patterned arrangement of lithics and bones, and are consistent with results based on the analysis of the 1960s maps, i.e. a large number of the Bed I and II assemblages are preferentially oriented. These results highlight the potential of GIS applications to the analysis of imagery in Stone Age studies, and bear important implications for the understanding of the role of natural agents in site formation processes at Olduvai.
ISSN: 0305-4403
DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.01.004
Type: Article
Appears in Collections:Geocronología y Geología

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