Using 3-D GIS in Archaeology Classrooms: An Example from Hells Canyon, Oregon

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Department or Administrative Unit

Resource Management (REM)

Publication Date



Excavation data from an ancestral Nez Perce dwelling in Hells Canyon, Oregon (1600–500 B.P.) are used to integrate 3-D GIS and spatio-temporal problem-solving for university-level archaeology instruction. By working through three sequential projects, students learn visualization skills as well as archaeological methods, spatial thinking, and problem-solving. These projects include digital excavation of a house site with evaluation of the spatio-temporal relationships and patterns of artifacts, group analysis of different occupation layers, and 3-D visualization. Beyond this, students were encouraged to continue to explore areas of interest, develop new research questions, and complete more detailed studies as independent research efforts. Applications like 3-D GIS have the potential to reach many more students and dramatically increase student interest in and understanding of archaeology, using computer methods as a supplement to field work.


This article was originally published in North American Archaeologist. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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North American Archaeologist


© 2015, The Author(s)