Modelling population mobility in southern Baffin Island's past using GIS and landscape archaeology

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Stup, Jeffrey Phillip
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Free and open source geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial data are readily available to use in spatial-archaeological problem solving. Greater accessibility allows more frequent experimentation with archaeological GIS methodologies. The least cost path (LCP) analysis has been a frequently used method in archaeological GIS. Showing potential mobility patterns between archaeological sites or between sites and resources has been the LCP’s primary objective. The LCP’s major flaw is that is must be calculated between two designated points. A recent terrain analysis of southern Baffin Island has been unable to overcome this flaw, because of the size of the study area and the inability to assume any two points are directly related. Thus, a new GIS method using a ‘watershed’ function has been manipulated to incorporate the cost-surface element of the LCP into a mobility model by generating pathway networks instead of narrow A to B paths. The product is a multitude of potential pathways linking archaeologically dense coastal and interior areas. Portions of these pathways correlate with historic geographic descriptions of Inuit travel routes and with areas where chert toolstone is accessible. Generated with no material cost, this analysis has produced a predictive model to help in future research.
Landscape archaeology, GIS, Baffin Island, Inuit, Palaeo-Eskimo