The Forum — Spatial Data Analysis was an inter-area research group that dealed with the documentation and analysis of spatial data gathered from documentation, landscape analyses and reconstructions.
Besides the work of data collection in archaeology and cultural heritage in connection with investigations of geo-physics, geo-sciences, and remote sensing, the forum also fostered 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 was to compare and apply similar methods in different projects of Topoi by clearly transcend the boundaries of research areas. This created a space for interaction between quantitative analysis approaches and cultural historical issues, thus promoting interdisciplinary co-operation within the cluster.
The Forum supported projects through training, workshops, and hands-on analytical assistance. Hardware and software was provided on high performance computers in the Topoi GIS Lab and included a number of proprietary and open source GIS (Geographic Information Systems) as well as CAD and image processing programs. The lab was also used for experiments and development. In addition, the sediment geochemical laboratory at the Institute of Physical Geography at Freie Universität Berlin created an archive of landscape and environmental history by analyzing data from a wide variety of Topoi research projects and using it to reconstruct spatial-temporal patterns. Additionally, this laboratory developed new geo-scientific methods and devices for geo-archaeological applications – such as a portable energy-dispersive X-ray flourescence (p-ED-XRF) spectrometer which was refined for analyzing of split sediment cores (link to publication: Hoelzmann etal (2017).
In the field of remote sensing, the fundamental work of the first funding phase of Topoi (Topoi 1) for the processing of high-resolution topographic models was continued and expanded. The models were based on photographic materials generated by a remote controlled drone. In addition to practical applications, the forum also provided a platform for discussions on the interaction between theory and methods. Researchers from various fields were able to contribute their practical experience and results to the discussion. The results of cooperations with other international archaeometric institutions were also integrated into the ongoing discussions of the forum.