Karabournaki GIS

Over the last 25 years the Aristotle University Excavation at Karabournaki in Thessaloniki under the supervision of M. Tiverios, E. Manakidou and D. Tsiafakis brought to light the extensive remains of a coastal settlement, identified with ancient Therme which flourished during the Archaic and Classical period.  

Due to the extent of the trenches opened during these twenty years and the large number of mainly ceramic finds, it was from very early on considered as necessary to employ geospatial techniques, especially GIS techniques to organize the finds, to identify possible correlations in the spatial distribution of objects but also to achieve a better and more detailed study of each individual object. Gradually, since 2002, a spatial database has been developed, in the implementation of which different GIS software were used in the process.

The digitized architectural remains of the excavation. Zoom out for a broader view of the Thermaikos area.


The ancient settlement at Karabournaki Thessaloniki

Given the ephemeral nature of the original recording material (paper – photographs), the main goal was from an early on to create a digital data set in the form of a geospatial program with different levels of .shp files and metadata. In addition emphasis was put to the creation of a digital data set that would be easily accessible and transferable between experts (and at a later stage by the public).


The logical and physical structure used in describing and organizing the different levels of information of the excavation focused on the following:

1. The conversion of printed documentation into digital format (digitization)

2. The geospatial location and two-dimensional (but also three-dimensional in some cases) visualization of all finds.

3.The elaboration of archaeological entities (finds) as thematic spatial variables that can create individual or combined thematic unit designs.

4.In the execution of complex spatial queries that seek correlations and connections between specific categories of materials that can be considered as potential indicators of the presence of functional areas.

Due to the variety of methods used, the interpretation of the data became more accurate, fast and efficient. One of the most important benefits of using a comprehensive, spatial database, updated during the excavation campaigns, was the “reflectivity” it provided. Based on this, trench masters can receive regularly updated maps of their trench during excavations that assisted in the data logging process and provided a representation of progress in each sector.

The GIS mapping of the excavation