The Forum — Spatial Data Analysis is an inter-area research group that deals with the documentation and analysis of spatial data gathered from documentation, landscape analyses and reconstructions.
Besides the actual work of data collection in archaeology and cultural heritage in connection with investigations of geo-physics, soil science, pollen analysis, and remote sensing, the forum also fosters the extension of traditional methods, the development of new analytical methods, and their use in field excavations and other settings.
The idea behind the forum is to compare and apply similar methods in different projects of Topoi by clearly transcend the boundaries of research areas. This will create a space for interaction between quantitative analysis approaches and cultural historical issues, thus promoting interdisciplinary co-operation within the cluster.
The forum supports projects by providing training and workshops as well as hardware and software. The latter is made available on high-performance computers at the Topoi GIS Lab and includes a range of proprietary and Open Source GIS (geographic information systems), CAD and image processing programs. The lab can also be used for experiments and development. Furthermore, the sediment-geochemical laboratory and the palynological laboratory located in the Department of Physical Geography of the Freie Universität Berlin have produced, through analyses of the data drawn from a wide variety of Topoi research projects, an archive of landscape and environmental histories and are using this in the reconstruction of spatio-temporal patterns.
In the area of remote sensing, the fundamental work during the first funding phase of Topoi (Topoi 1) concerning the processing of high-definition topographical models based on the photographic materials generated by the octocopter — a remote controlled drone which facilitates high-resolution stereographic air photographs — is being continued and extended. In addition to its practical applications, the forum also offers a platform for theoretical discussions. Researchers from different fields can apply their practical experience in discussing how these foundations interact, i.e. how theory influences method, and vice versa. Other research areas within the forum also continue their collaborative work with the natural scientific section of the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut (DAI) as well as other international archaeometric institutions — thereby integrating the findings of these collaborative ventures into ongoing discussions within the cluster.