A red line


GIS Guide to Good Practice
Section 3 - Spatial data types

3.7 Attribute Data - Information about the spatial features you have recorded

Information commonly stored, or manipulated, using a GIS tends to have two main components - the spatial and the descriptive attributes. For many users, and with many software products, these two data types may appear to be a seamless unit. There are, however, some data management issues which are peculiar to whether you are working with spatial or attribute data, and certain general issues which are common to either form of information.

Attributes are data that describe the properties of a point, line, or polygon record in a Geographic Information System. For example, imagine a GIS coverage in which points represent sites on a landscape. The attribute data that accompanied this coverage would record more detailed information about each site. Attribute information might include an indication of the time period in which the site was occupied (e.g. Neolithic, Iron Age, Medieval), full descriptions of the archaeological deposits excavated from each site, and an indication of the class of artefacts found on the surface at each site.

Archaeological attribute data already exists in myriad forms. These can range from simple card indexes - for example the results of a graveyard survey undertaken using the Council for British Archaeology guidelines - through to complex digital databases recording a wealth of detailed information. Such databases sometime include descriptions about all the archaeological sites in a country or county and sometimes contain very detailed site-specific information such as stratigraphic records. This diversity is on the increase as the use of computers grows in archaeology.

In archaeological GIS you will often be linking and combining attribute information collected by others, and turning this information to new purposes.


Next Bibliography Back Glossary Contents

A red line
Archaeology Data Service
© Mark Gillings, Peter Halls, Gary Lock, Paul Miller, Greg Phillips, Nick Ryan, David Wheatley, and Alicia Wise 1998

The right of Mark Gillings, Peter Halls, Gary Lock, Paul Miller, Greg Phillips, Nick Ryan, David Wheatley, and Alicia Wise to be identified as the Authors of this Work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

All material supplied via the Arts and Humanities Data Service is protected by copyright, and duplication or sale of all or part of any of it is not permitted, except that material may be duplicated by you for your personal research use or educational purposes in electronic or print form. Permission for any other use must be obtained from the Arts and Humanities Data Service(info@ahds.ac.uk).

Electronic or print copies may not be offered, whether for sale or otherwise, to any third party.

Arts and Humanities Data Service
A red line