Home > Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, Survey Archaeology > Old School Computer Generated Maps

Old School Computer Generated Maps

When tracking down a few footnotes, I stumbled upon an article J. M. Adovasio, G.F. Fry, J.D. Gunn, and R.F. Maslowski, “Prehistoric and historic settlement patterns in western Cyprus (with a discussion of Cypriot Neolithic stone tool technology),” World Archaeology 6 (1975), 339-364. This team conducted an extensive style survey “reconnaissance survey” of the Khrysokhou drainage in Western Cyprus not far from the site of Polis. I was mostly interested in their documentation of a “large settlement of the Cypro-Archaic Age (600-400 BC) and “very large Hellenistic town” (325-50 BC) thinking that I might find some useful parallels between these sites and our site at Pyla-Koutsopetria.  The description of the sites are pretty superficial, although the observation that the settlement are in defensively advantageous positions is vaguely useful.  That being said, the effort of the survey team to document sites systematically with an eye toward computer analysis must represent one of the earlier efforts along these lines in the Eastern Mediterranean (the field work was conducted in 1972).  They also were explicitly diachronic in their approach and mapped not the location of Ancient material but the location of Medieval/Byzantine material and even modern settlement.

What really caught my eye were the fantastic, old school computer generated maps of the area.

Here’s the map of the Cypro-Geometric to Hellenistic components of their survey area:


Here are maps showing a slightly larger area and including the Roman and Medieval and Byzantine sites.



The project used Harvard’s SYMAP software (check out this cool little movie talking a bit about the history of SYMAP) run on the University of Pittsburgh mainframe to produce these images.  The images themselves include both elevation data (zone data) and archaeological data. While I’ll concede that these maps are not immediately legible, they do reflect a very early effort on Cyprus to take data from the field, process it by a computer, and present this analyzed data in a relatively transparent way (that is in a way that does not hide the computer produced character of the analyses).  At the same time, there is something aesthetically pleasing about these maps which, after all, were basically contemporary with the first generation of computer generated art.

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