MnModel is a set of GIS-based tools that help the Minnesota Department of Transportation avoid impacts on archaeological sites throughout Minnesota. MnModel uses GIS-based statistical models that map the potential for pre-1837 surface archaeological sites in Minnesota.
MnModel is significant because it is the first archaeological predictive model to:
- Be developed and implemented for an entire state.
- Make survey bias explicit in the final results.
- Assess the potential for finding archaeological sites both at the soil surface and at different depths.
These models are used by MnDOT for site avoidance and survey design. This helps MnDOT meet the mandate of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
MnDOT initiated MnModel in 1995 as part of a major environmental streamlining project. The project was made possible by funding from the Federal Highway Administration's Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. The Phase 3 models now in use were released in 1998.
Phase 3 models have been in use for nearly 20 years. Over that time period, the archaeological database has grown, more high quality, high resolution GIS data has become available, and PC-based computing and GIS software have improved. All of these are contributing to the development of Phase 4 models now in progress.