The Harris Matrix Composer - A New Tool to Manage Archaeological Stratigraphy

Christoph Traxler, Wolfgang Neubauer
The Harris Matrix Composer - A New Tool to Manage Archaeological Stratigraphy
In Kulturelles Erbe und Neue Technologien − Workshop "Archäologie und Computer". November 2008.
[Paper]

Information

Abstract

The Harris Matrix - formulated by Dr. Edward C. Harris in 1973 - is the established way of representing the archaeological stratigraphy of an excavation. The Harris Matrix is a sequential diagram defining stratigraphic relations between stratigraphic units. It is an important method to document the stratification that is destroyed by the excavation process and hence a vital tool for stratigraphic analysis. Although the Harris Matrix has become a quasi standard of archaeological stratigraphy, only a few software tools exist to create and edit these diagrams. An evaluation of these tools showed that they do not completely comply with the theory or suffer from poor usability. Therefore we decided to develop a new application addressing these issues, called Harris Matrix Composer (HMC). Dr. Harris was involved in the evaluation of early prototypes to guarantee compliance with his theory. User tests were undertaken to discover and handle usability problems. The main component of the HMC is a graph editor with an intuitive graphical user interface for creating and editing a Harris Matrix throughout the entire stratigraphic excavation process. Users add graphical symbols that represent stratigraphic units (either deposits or surfaces) and determine their stratigraphic relations by drawing edges between two such symbols. The application supports valid Harris Matrix creation and indicates invalid units and relations. In addition to stratigraphic relations, temporal relations can be added by drawing special edges or grouping units into periods. Phases define structural relations, like posts or postholes of a dwelling. The HMC will be developed into a powerful interface to a GIS system, like ArcGIS to access single surface maps and related databases for visualization and stratigraphic analysis by selecting units of the Harris Matrix. In a similar way it will work together with the point cloud editor SCANOPY to filter these vast data sets. A trial beta version and further information is available at the web site: www.harrismatrixcomposer.com

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BibTeX

@inproceedings{TRA08b,
  title =      "The Harris Matrix Composer - A New Tool to Manage
               Archaeological Stratigraphy",
  author =     "Christoph Traxler and Wolfgang Neubauer",
  year =       "2008",
  abstract =   "The Harris Matrix - formulated by Dr. Edward C. Harris in
               1973 - is the established way of representing the
               archaeological stratigraphy of an excavation. The Harris
               Matrix is a sequential diagram defining stratigraphic
               relations between stratigraphic units. It is an important
               method to document the stratification that is destroyed by
               the excavation process and hence a vital tool for
               stratigraphic analysis.  Although the Harris Matrix has
               become a quasi standard of archaeological stratigraphy, only
               a few software tools exist to create and edit these
               diagrams. An evaluation of these tools showed that they do
               not completely comply with the theory or suffer from poor
               usability. Therefore we decided to develop a new application
               addressing these issues, called Harris Matrix Composer
               (HMC). Dr. Harris was involved in the evaluation of early
               prototypes to guarantee compliance with his theory. User
               tests were undertaken to discover and handle usability
               problems. The main component of the HMC is a graph editor
               with an intuitive graphical user interface for creating and
               editing a Harris Matrix throughout the entire stratigraphic
               excavation process. Users add graphical symbols that
               represent stratigraphic units (either deposits or surfaces)
               and determine their stratigraphic relations by drawing edges
               between two such symbols. The application supports valid
               Harris Matrix creation and indicates invalid units and
               relations. In addition to stratigraphic relations, temporal
               relations can be added by drawing special edges or grouping
               units into periods. Phases define structural relations, like
               posts or postholes of a dwelling.  The HMC will be developed
               into a powerful interface to a GIS system, like ArcGIS to
               access single surface maps and related databases for
               visualization and stratigraphic analysis by selecting units
               of the Harris Matrix. In a similar way it will work together
               with the point cloud editor SCANOPY to filter these vast
               data sets. A trial beta version and further information is
               available at the web site: www.harrismatrixcomposer.com ",
  month =      nov,
  address =    "Rathaus, Friedrich-Schmidt- Platz 1, 1010 Vienna",
  booktitle =  "Kulturelles Erbe und Neue Technologien − Workshop
               "Arch{"a}ologie und Computer"",
  editor =     "Wolfgang B{"o}rner, Susanne Uhlirz",
  isbn =       "978-3-85161-016-1",
  location =   "Vienna, Austria",
  note =       "http://www.stadtarchaeologie.at/",
  organization = "Museen der Stadt Wien – Stadtarch{"a}ologie",
  publisher =  "Phoibos Verlag",
  series =     "Arch{"a}ologie und Computer",
  keywords =   "harris matrix, archaeological stratigraphy, graph theory",
  URL =        "https://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/research/publications/2008/TRA08b/",
}