(Groningen Institute of Archaeology)

DEMs derived from manually digitised topographic maps have long been used as a basic map layer in archaeological GIS, and its derivatives slope, aspect, shade, viewshed and cost surface form the core of the set of variables typically used in location modelling. The obvious shortcomings of these DEM (resolution, accuracy) mean that they cannot be used for the characterisation of land forms at archaeologically relevant scales, and the same therefore goes for its derivatives. As higher resolution and higher quality elevation data become available (for example through Lidar survey), however, a new set of problems presents itself: no suitable analytical techniques exist yet for the detailed characterisation and classification of land forms of archaeological interest. This paper explain why landscape archaeologists should be interested in this problem, and presents some ideas for tackling it.