In archaeology, spatial information is far more important than in other historical disciplines. Archaeological sources do not contain a message in the form of a text, but their message is included in their material form and spatial context. Spatial distribution of artefacts is, therefore, one of the key factors for the understanding of them. Maps and plans of various scales and types appear in all phases of the archaeological research. In the field, plans are an important part of the primary documentation which, in the end, substitutes the archaeological record itself since this is inevitably destroyed by the very excavation. The secondary documentation of finds uses maps, too, mainly for the study of distribution of archaeological types - only in the form of a map it is possible to visualize their spatial patterns and to understand their meaning. There are, however, at least two types of maps the contents of which necessarily go beyond the empirical data; both of them find a wide use in contemporary archaeology. The reconstruction maps are generally understood as maps completing the missing parts of the objects of the map and/or presenting the objects of the map in their expected past form. Predictive maps in archaeology appeared as a consequence of new research chances brought by the technology of geographical information systems in 1990s. Predictive maps are based upon the study of the relation between the past settlement behaviour and some of the landscape features. Altitude, distance from the water source, slope gradient and orientation, visibility and visual dominance of a place, as well as geology and soil cover should be mentioned as elements upon which predictive maps of the archaeological potential may be constructed. The search for the predictive value of various landscape features can largely contribute to a theoretical understanding of the economic, social but also symbolic systems of the past societies. Next to this, predictive maps can find a wide use in the archaeological resource management, e.g. in planning the building and mining areas as well as in planning archaeological rescue excavation within them.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.