Data that enable the analysis of landscape and settlements exist in a variety of formats, scales, and map projections. Environmental data such as geology or soil maps and topographic maps providing height and slope information area also readily available in printed format. Archaeological site locations and artifact assemblages can be gleaned from published surveys and excavation reports. Yet each of these sources of data indicates either researcher bias in scale or extent, format limitations, or retains grid projections no longer in preferred use.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) facilitate the integration and analysis of these disparate data types. What once took a great amount of time and intuition using paper maps has been greatly simplified using digital information in GIS, allowing more complex and difficult questions to be asked and answered in a short amount of time. My research project here illustrates this point. After constructing a database holding various details about site locations and material culture, a re-assessment of various claims about the Chalcolithic culture of the northern Negev was made. This involved testing hypotheses about Late Neolithic and Chalcolithic population pressure using formulae from demographic archaeologists in conjunction with site catchment analysis, examining the amount of regularity between site clusters along the Nahal Beersheba and Nahal Besor, and estimating the population density and site size using both environmental and archaeological data. While these results are in no way final, the possibility of future experimentation with and refinement of these conclusions in a digital environment make GIS a valuable tool in the archaeological toolkit.