PhD Position: Spatial Analysis of Late Neolithic Settlements

Available from October 1st, 2009, closing date for applications: September 1st, 2009.


“Spatial analysis of Late Neolithic settlements in the province of Noord-Holland (The Netherlands) and interregional comparison.”

This PhD position is part of the project Unlocking Noord-Holland’s Late Neolithic Treasure Chest. This project is co financed by the the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and administered by the State Service for Cultural Heritage (RCE). The project comprises five studies. Two PhD’s are based at the Groningen University (spatial analysis, ceramics), one PhD at Leiden University (flint). The studies on archaeobotany and archaeozoology are carried out by researchers from the state service and private firms.


In the second half of the past century, and the 1970-1990’s in particular, excavations were conducted at a series of Late Neolithic settlements belonging to the Single Grave Culture (SGC) (c. 2900-2500 cal BC) in the province of Noord-Holland (Kop van Noord-Holland, De Gouw). These excavations have demonstrated the exceptional quality of the sites, especially thanks to the good preservation of organic materials. In significant contrast to the generally poor and heavily biased archaeological record of the SGC elsewhere in the Netherlands, the rich body of excavation data potentially permits the development of models about settlement variability, the use and role of material culture, as well as landscape use. So far, the excavation data from the various sites have never been analysed integrally. Hence, any ‘models’ of cultural dynamics in the SGC are based on very incomplete data. This project aims to unlock and integrate cultural/ecological information and research data in order to provide a sound basis for cultural modeling and development of heritage management strategies. We will thereby obtain a better understanding of site variability in relation to landscape use, subsistence strategies and the material world of the inhabitants. It provides an opportunity to study a micro-region within the wider SGC culture, so far largely known from its burial context. Its place in relation to the communities in the central and eastern parts of the Netherlands can be assessed and possible long-distance contacts with related Corded Ware groups elsewhere can be studied, addressing the debate on the apparent uniformity of the Corded Ware complex.

Research topics

The study of settlement variability focuses on the identification of functional differences between sites. For this it is necessary to characterise the sites in terms of settlement size, intra-site spatial organisation and functional variability, as well as the duration of occupation (permanent versus seasonal). Insight into these aspects will be obtained through the analysis of cultural and palaeoecological remains. Also, efforts will be made to draw inferences on group composition of settlement inhabitants (sex, age) from material remains and physical anthropological data. For the interpretation of spatial patterns in terms of behaviourally meaningful processes, data will be analysed in an interdisciplinary fashion, in relation to the spatially referenced excavation recordings of objects, features and lithological layers.

Spatial analysis will play a pivotal role throughout the project. The work will start with the digitising of excavation plans and linking of find numbers in order to provide for a spatially referenced environment for further analyses. The availability of such an environment is also of importance for the sampling of materials in other research modules. The analysis of spatial data will next focus on research at various levels: identification and characterisation of structures (e.g. house plans, barns, fences, pits, and wells), characterisation of spatial patterns in find distributions, and development of spatial models of site formation dynamics. This multi-level approach contributes to the evaluation and interpretation of research results in the other modules and provides a sound basis for syntheses at site level. It will also contribute to the compilation of models for site formation that are not restricted to the SGC sites in Noord-Holland, but extend to other Neolithic wetland sites in the Netherlands.

The candidate needs affinity with computer-based modelling, spatial analysis and site formation processes.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Hosts Youth Service Project to Develop Historic Records

During ESRI’s recent series of integrated user conferences held in San Diego, California, the National 4-H GIS Leadership Team and Equipo GIS, an international youth group, were invited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to conduct geographic information system (GIS)-based service projects on two units of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The results of their projects were presented at ESRI’s Education User Conference (EdUC).

These projects also served to initiate the newly established GeoMentor program, which was jointly announced by ESRI and the National Geographic Society during the Plenary Session at ESRI’s 29th annual International User Conference. The program enlists people who use geographic information to help educators and students better understand the many ways geography and GIS can help us comprehend the interrelation of objects and events in our world.

One USFWS-led project was conducted at Gunpowder Point, part of the Sweetwater Marsh Refuge Unit located in Chula Vista, California, about 10 miles south of San Diego. Gunpowder Point was once the site of the Hercules Powder Company plant where, between 1916 and 1919, kelp was processed to produce acetone. The acetone was exported to Great Britain to make cordite, an explosive used by the British during World War I.

Explained Tony McKinney, GIS coordinator at USFWS Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, “Using old maps, current aerial photographs, and structural remains in the field, we determined the historic location of the 156 redwood digestive tanks where kelp was converted to acetone for use in making cordite, a smokeless gunpowder. This tank field has been described as the heart of the Hercules Powder Company, which operated the facility. Each tank was 25 feet in diameter, stood 15 feet tall, and had a capacity of 50,000 gallons. Other remains from the historic facility were also located in the field and recorded. This data will assist the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge in developing interpretive materials to tell the story of Gunpowder Point’s role during World War I.”

Commented Fatima Murillo, 4-H Club member from Tennessee, “What struck me as the neatest aspect of our project was the fact that we were bringing a no longer existent facility from 1916 back to life by taking note of its former existence. It was really cool to see the foundation, the pier, and some of the tools (e.g., chains, pipes) that were used decades ago. I enjoyed contributing my time and the data I collected to record history with the use of a GPS receiver and ESRI software.”

For their second project, the students journeyed to the South San Diego Bay Refuge Unit, located in Imperial Beach, where they mapped the future route of a nature trail and delineated the edge of the wetland habitat around an existing salt pond by evaluating soils and plant life. The data collected will assist refuge staff in planning future projects including the construction of the nature trail and the restoration of the salt pond to a native salt marsh habitat.

Concluded Jim Kahler, program specialist for the 4-H National Headquarters at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), “We are very proud of the accomplishments of the GIS community mapping clubs in our 4-H youth development program. Next year, we will be celebrating our 30th anniversary in working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and this project has served as an excellent way to demonstrate our mutual commitment.”

ESRI Showcases Easy-to-Use, Collaborative Geospatial Technology at GeoWeb 2009 Conference in Vancouver

ESRI will demonstrate ArcGIS, a complete platform for sharing and analyzing geospatial information on the Web, at the GeoWeb 2009 conference in Vancouver, Canada, July 27–31.

ArcGIS is a comprehensive platform for delivering geospatial information composed of vast amounts of geographic knowledge—data, models, analytic tools, maps, workflows, and metadata describing our world. This knowledge, created and maintained primarily by geographic information system (GIS) professionals, is increasingly being made available to everyday Web users and is playing a pivotal role in the decision-making process.

The GeoWeb makes geographic knowledge more available to people who don’t use geospatial technology on a daily basis but can benefit from it. ArcGIS, through the GeoWeb, allows everyone to leverage the billions of dollars already invested by governments and private organizations in developing basemaps, thematic datasets, and imagery. And, with ArcGIS, creators of geographic knowledge can maintain control over their authoritative data.

“Whether it is the direct use of 3D map visualizations in newscasts, map mashups on personal Web sites, or the broad implications of using interactive maps to visualize communities and organizations, consumer and commercial awareness of geospatial information has never been greater,” said Jack Dangermond, president of ESRI. “This is causing people to do more spatially integrated thinking, and we’re right in the midst of that revolution today.”

The ArcGIS platform is designed to effectively leverage the Web 2.0 environment and adheres to all Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc., and Web standards. ArcGIS features that support the GeoWeb include

  • Developer tools for rich Internet applications: The ArcGIS Web mapping APIs for Flex, JavaScript, and Microsoft Silverlight allow developers to incorporate maps and geoprocessing tasks into custom Web applications. These APIs are free for internal and noncommercial use.
  • Capability to share and find geographic knowledge: Layer packages are a new way to easily share map data via e-mail, file servers, or the Web. Also, ArcGIS services can be discovered by search engines if exposed by the user and can be mashed up with other Web services to support new applications.
  • Online content: ArcGIS Online provides access to many resources including basemaps, GIS services content, and user-generated GIS content and enables the sharing of these resources.
  • Fast Web mapping: ArcGIS Server supports fast and high-quality mapping, globe services, and powerful geoprocessing services.
  • 2D/3D geobrowser: ArcGIS Explorer is a powerful, free GIS viewer that implements many new functions attractive to Web 2.0 users and developers.

The ArcGIS platform for the GeoWeb will be featured in the following sessions at the GeoWeb 2009 conference:

Monday, July 27

  • Working with the ESRI Flex APIs for Advanced Map RIAs—Duane Nickull and James Ward, Adobe
  • Building Rich Internet Applications Using Flex and ArcGIS API—Mansour Raad, ESRI

Tuesday, July 28

  • Leveraging the GIS Server Platform—Jeff Archer, ESRI
  • Understanding and Building GIS Services—Jeff Archer, ESRI

Wednesday, July 29

  • Geospatial Registries, Catalogs, and Search—Are We There Yet?—Satish Sankaran, ESRI
  • Integrating Canadian Base Data for Use on the GeoWeb—Gordon Plunkett, ESRI Canada Limited

Thursday, July 30

  • Delivering GIS to Everyone Using ArcGIS Explorer and ArcGIS Online—Bern Szukalski, ESRI
  • Future Directions in 3D Modeling and Visualization in Geographic Information Systems—John Sharrard, ESRI

For more information on ArcGIS and the GeoWeb, visit