Cartography of Colchester

by Marion ConstanteArchaeologist & GIS Specialist

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is used for the archaeology at the Old Colchester Park & Preserve to create visual representations of geographic data that include data collected from surveys, historic documentation, natural features, and modern cultural. Using computer software this data is translated into maps using a variety of cartographic techniques. Examples of some of these techniques are symbology (i.e. color and symbols) to represent features, labels positioned and sized according to the scale of the map and position of map features, and aesthetic elements that draw the attention of the audience as well as represent the purpose of the map. Maps can be produced to show the location of excavations, features, topography and natural features, artifact distributions, and structures both historic and modern. The most common maps are ones that show the location of geographic features such as the location of Old Colchester Park in Fairfax County as seen from the map produced below.OCPPFCPAThis map uses effects to draw attention to the park and county but also show other important features such as roads, rivers, and buildings. To highlight terrain and elevation a shaded relief can be created and used in maps. OCPPFCPAtopography Cartography does not always need to be in two-dimensions. Using a terrain created from a 1920’s topographic map and mapping the locations and foundations of historic structures in the 18th century town of Colchester, GIS was used to turn the 2D into 3D.

Virtual Colchester is an example of using archaeological and historic data with GIS software and applying cartography to reconstruct the past.

Virtual Colchester is an example of using archaeological and historic data with GIS software and applying cartography to reconstruct the past.

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About cartarchaeology

We are the County Archaeological Research Team, part of the Archaeology and Collections Branch, Resource Management Division, Fairfax County Park Authority. We are tasked with understanding and managing the cultural resources on Park land throughout Fairfax County.
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One Response to Cartography of Colchester

  1. Pingback: Computers & Data Management in Archaeology | C.A.R.T. Archaeology

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