Currently, many researchers have accepted the challenge of moving beyond the
traditional border of two-dimensionality (2D). This emerging research interest in
3D (x, y and z) and even 4D (3D + time) is located in various domains, from geog-
raphy over transport studies to biology (Breunig and Zlatanova 2011 ). Handling
the additional dimensions (depth and/or time) could facilitate gaining insight and
better analyses. Although 3D space and time are both implicitly present in our
daily lives, their integration in geo-information science and especially in GIS have
seemed slightly problematic (Breunig and Zlatanova 2011 ; Peuquet 2001 ).
In archaeology as well, geographic information is handled, since archaeologi-
cal data is mostly located in space and contains a detailed description. Besides an
absolute or relative location in 3D space, the temporal dimension is of consider-
able interest for archaeological research. Current temporal GIS (TGIS) or 3D GIS
are locked into modern clock time and are mostly not able to deal with the inher-
ent uncertainty of archaeological (temporal) data. Therefore, a 4D GIS tailored to
archaeological data would enable the analysis of more detailed and complex spa-
tial and temporal queries and facilitate gaining better insights (Arroyo-Bishop and
Lantada Zarzosa 1995 ; Green 2011 ; Katsianis et al. 2008 ).
In the developing process of such a 4D archaeological GIS, preference has to be
given to the (re)use of existing standards and data models (Breunig and Zlatanova
2011 ). In the 1990s, the emerging use of geographic information compelled to
standardization (Kresse and Fadaie 2010 ). The International Organization of
Standardization/Technical Committee 211 (ISO/TC211) was set up in order to estab-
lish a set of standards on geographic information (Kresse and Fadaie 2010 , p. 31).
In 1994, 20 standardization projects, among which a spatial and temporal schema,
formed the agenda for a series of base standards (Kresse and Fadaie 2010 , p. 30).
This chapter deals with the applicability of one of these international accepted
standards for describing geographic information in the archaeological domain,
namely the ISO standard 19108. This standard defines a temporal schema for geo-
graphic information (NBN 2005 ). The applicability analysis consists of two parts.
First, a description for a set of common archaeological temporal indications used or
excavation objects and sites is attempted to be given in conformity with the NBN
EN ISO 19108:2005 standard (NBN 2005 ). Second, the archaeological time scale
is transformed into a temporal ordinal reference system according to the standard's
description and two geological variants of this description. Since, this research is
part of a bigger project in which the next steps should result in a formal definition
of a 4D conceptual data model tailored to archaeology, the analysis will provide an
adequate decision on the usability of this standard for the proposed data model.
The remainder of this chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 gives a short
discussion of the concept and current research of temporal information and tem-
poral data modelling in archaeology. The details of the NBN EN ISO 19108:2005
standard are outlined in Sect. 3 . Section 4 presents the methodology that is