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Fig. 1 Example of Harris
Holmen and Ore ( 2010 ) present an event-oriented system based on the CIDOC
conceptual model (see Crofts et al. 2011 ) which enables the detection of dating
conflicts, the improvement of start and end dates and the display of chronologies.
2.2 Current Temporal Data Modelling in Archaeology
One decade ago, Wheatley and Gillings ( 2002 ) concluded their topic on the
archaeological applications of GIS with some future research themes includ-
ing temporal GIS. They emphasized the beginning interest and consciousness of
archaeologists to incorporate the temporal dimension and its different conceptu-
alizations in GIS (Wheatley and Gillings 2002 , p. 242). In 2011, Green ( 2011 ,
p. 102) concluded that “there has been significant—if to date niche—interest in
TGIS from archaeologists”. He mentioned the research from Castleford, Daly,
Lock and Harris as the most important ones, but noticed the theoretical ascend-
ancy (Green 2011 , p. 92-103).
In the remainder of this paragraph, a short overview is given of the Harris
matrix, which is a main temporal analysis tool which combines as well the third
spatial dimension, and the research of Green, as it is a very recent contribution to
archaeological TGIS. For a detailed review of other archaeological efforts in TGIS
research, we refer to Green ( 2011 , pp. 92-103).
Harris started from the geologic stratigraphic laws, such as the law of super-
position, and re-expressed them in terms of archaeological applications (Harris
1989 ). In the matrix three relationships are possible: (i) unlinked or no physical
relationship (ii) later/earlier than or superposition and (iii) equivalence (Harris
1989 , p. 36). Each of these relationships are graphically represented by single ver-
tical (ii) or double horizontal lines (iii) between their constituting elements, repre-
sented as boxes (Harris 1989 , p. 36). Figure 1 shows a highly simplified example
of a Harris matrix, where elements 1 and 3 are equivalent and for instance, ele-
ment 4 is later than element 5. Since the temporal dimension is intrinsically related
to the vertical dimension, the Harris matrix can be seen as a tool for spatio-tem-
poral representation of a site and its elements. Green ( 2011 ) notes the multilin-
ear character of the Harris matrix. However, the Harris matrix is criticized mainly
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