Using GIS on Ometepe
Challenges | Research Questions | Preliminary Analysis
GIS provides us with the opportunity to settle two types of uncertainty. One is uncertainty about field methods. The systems of classification that field archaeologists use when describing these features today may or may not resemble the way that the creators of the petroglyphs would have thought about them. For instance, a distinction between curvilinear and rectilinear motifs is made for recording purposes, despite the fact that spirals and meanders occur in each group. However, if the rectilinear and curvilinear motifs were to occur in clusters or in conjunction with different types of natural feature, we might be able to describe them as separate in meaning as well.
The other type of uncertainty relates to meaning. As has been noted, it is very difficult to infer the meaning of petroglyphs from their appearance alone. However, if a particular motif were found exclusively at a particular elevation, near water, or with some other type of motif, we could reasonably infer that the two had related significance. If figurative motifs were found more often by the lakeshore, we might guess that rituals took place at those locations that made it important to have anthropomorphic or zoomorphic depictions there.
In my preliminary analysis I adopt two groups of research questions:
Location of motifs in relation to natural features
Location of motifs in relation to each other
These questions, while basic, are nonetheless important starting points for determining what ways spatial analysis can assist in the analysis of this type of archaeological resource.