Recording and managing the spatial data of excavation areas is a vital part of your responsibilities as an excavation area supervisor. KAP spatial data can be considered at two levels of functionality and formality: day planning and archival recording.
On a day-to-day basis, spatial data management is done primarily within the framework of creating “day plans” that demonstrate daily progress by recording a snap-shot of the state of an excavation area at the end of each day. Day plans are an essential means of short-term recording and communication of the excavation process, are archived in PDF format each day, and are included in compiled form (all day plans combined into a single PDF) in interim and final report folders. Additionally, excavation supervisors should always include the previous day plan in the current day’s excavation notes so that it can be annotated to show new contexts, progress made, etc.
“Archival recording” of spatial data refers to the creation of the long-term archive of excavated and/or exposed deposits and features in each excavation area. Archival spatial records can be thought of as permanent 2D illustrations of discrete units within an excavation area that will be used to communicate findings to other project members as well as to the academic and general public. Archival spatial records are produced directly from the day-to-day recording work—they are the long-term result of day planning—and will be integrated into the central project database, identified by context number and associated with excavation area phase (EAP) and other useful information.
To ensure proper day planning and archival recording, it is vital that spatial data are accurately produced, well-managed, well-maintained, and standardized. Accuracy in production refers not only to the illustration of spatial data but also to its association with correct attributes and its geometric consolidation, so that one record in the GIS database corresponds to one spatial context (or one geometric aspect of one spatial context, see below). As a general rule, you should NEVER DELETE data, though there are a few exceptions to this. Following the instructions below will help you maintain data quality. When troubleshooting, avoid individual, one-time (or one excavation area) workarounds. Instead, discuss challenges with other excavation area supervisors, the field supervisor, recording supervisor, and other project leadership, so that standard and project-wide solutions can be developed.
At the beginning of each season, a working project file and associated database of layers is made for every excavation area; working project files and layers from previous years are archived and can be referenced if and when necessary. As of 2023, we use QGIS as our primary GIS software and store all project files and vector data (e.g., points, lines, polygons) for each excavation area in a separate GeoPackage, a portable database container located on the project server at E:\gygaia\gisgps\kap\[year]\EAs\[year_EA.gpkg]. The orthophotos and digital elevation models (DEMs) resulting from KAP’s 3D recording system and the processing of photobatches are stored in related folders that can be found at E:\gygaia\gisgps\kap\[year]\rasters\photoscan_exports\[EA]. Orthophotos and DEMs can be added as separate layers to QGIS projects as necessary. Each GeoPackage also contains the standardized styles and layout templates necessary for routine GIS recording, enabling routine exporting of correctly formatted and standardized day plans. Finally, there will also be an “archive” project file and feature classes, which will contain “official” data for integration into the database and long-term reference.