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Wednesday, March 30 • 10:55 - 11:20
S12-02 A methodology for the analysis of graphical representations in archaeology and some preliminary results

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A methodology for the analysis of graphical representations in archaeology and some preliminary results

Ruth Varela

Nowadays, archaeology and its related disciplines face interesting challenges from the graphical point of view. The most relevant of these challenges revolves around the visual language used in graphical expression, and aims at finding the most suitable system of representation for each form of representation and for each stage of the knowledge generation process, especially in those methodologies that generate or manage a large quantity of data.

The main visual communication problem stems from the incorporation of visual languages linked to other disciplines with a lesser tradition of graphical expression, such as statistics, without a proper adaptation to the visual needs of archaeology and archaeologists. This results in much of the displayed graphic information being visually encrypted and, therefore, difficult to interpret. Additional problems exist in relation to the lack of expressive autonomy of many graphical representations. 

With the aim to understand and solve these problems, a method of analysis has been designed where a systematic analysis and description can be carried out of graphical variables and graphic elements intervening in the construction of archaeological graphical representations, as well as of the elements employed for their interpretative support. Regarding the graphical variables, aspects such as the type of graphical process, the structure of the composition, the narrative structure, the level of abstraction, the viewing distance, the temporal treatment or the intentionality, etc. are studied. Within the graphic elements, the graphical representations are dissected in order to reveal the typological units and graphic objects with true expressive autonomy. 

This approach was employed to analyse a sample of 1,200 images from 8 benchmark publications in archaeology and related disciplines. The obtained data provides a comprehensive view on the suitability of archaeological graphical representations with regard to issues such as information acquisition rate, legibility, visual cogency, the ability to generate meaning, and the symbolic or tropological potentiality. 

In the next stage of our research, systematic criteria will be set to help us select or develop graphical representation systems for quantitative methodologies in archaeology.

avatar for Carlo Bianchini

Carlo Bianchini

Professor, Dept. of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture, Sapienza University of Rome
avatar for Carlo Inglese

Carlo Inglese

Associate Professor, Sapienza University of Roma
avatar for Alfonso Ippolito

Alfonso Ippolito

Associate Professor, Sapienza University of Rome


Wednesday March 30, 2016 10:55 - 11:20 CEST
Domus Academica, Gamle festsal