Thomas KADOR

(University College Dublin, UCD School of Archaeology, Ireland)

Outline: Exploring the potential of Geographic Information Systems for understanding and mapping potential migration routes associated with the introduction of agriculture in neolithic northwest Europe.

Methodology, approach and objectives: This paper is based on an ongoing research project which concerns itself with the role of migration in the introduction of agriculture to Ireland around the turn of the fourth millennium BC. In particular the paper aims to explore the potential of geospatial modelling, using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), for understanding social, cultural and economic change in the past and specifically how GIS can be utilised in understanding and mapping of potential migration routes associated with these processes. In this context, the paper will discuss the difficulties when dealing with phenomena on a transnational basis, as this project does, due to the fact that both, archaeological and geospatial datasets tend to be generated, collected and archived on a national basis, and will make some suggestions how these may be overcome. The paper will also stress that even with all the required data being accessible, it is vital that we do not exclusively rely on electronic application, such as GIS, without placing the findings firmly within an interpretive archaeological context.
Results: Migration in the present and the past, is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon and thus placing it in direct relation to change is not straightforward. However, geospatial modelling through GIS, can make a significant contribution to understanding such processes in the past.
Innovations:This project brings together a multidisciplinary range of evidence to discuss the relationship between migration and social change in relation to the introduction of agriculture to Ireland which have to date not been assessed in the same context. In particular geospatial modelling through GIS adds an exciting new dimension to this much debated topic of archaeological research in northwest Europe.

Keywords: GIS, Prehistory, migration, adoption of agriculture, Ireland