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Minnesota Statewide Archaeological Predictive Model

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Mn/Model Research Design
Appendix F: Using a Cultural Resources Predictive Model


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The Mn/Model predictive model will consist of a series of maps indicating the relative probability of archeological resources being present or absent. It will be available in both digital and hard-copy formats. In digital form, it will be distributed in ArcInfo format. Additional digital maps of environmental and cultural resource data used to build the model will also be distributed with the model. These include surface hydrology, wetlands, elevation, known archaeological sites from SHPO files, and others.


The digital data are intended for use with ArcView GIS software, but can also be used with ArcInfo or readily converted to many other GIS formats. For ArcView users, a customized Graphical User Interface will be included with the model, as will an instruction manual. Training on the use of the model with ArcView will also be provided. We elected to provide the model in a format compatible with ArcView because it is widely used, relatively inexpensive, available for PC Windows, UNIX, and Macintosh platforms, and allows the development of customized interfaces to make it very easy to use.


Let's assume you are planning a highway project in Morrison County. By bringing up your Mn/Model project in ArcView, you can display a map of the state. By clicking on Morrison County, the state map closes and the county map appears. You can then draw a box around the area where your project is located, and the view will zoom in to that area. You can choose to display any of a number of layers of environmental data that will be distributed with Mn/Model. For example, you may wish to display the National Wetlands Inventory, state and county highways, streams, and known archaeological sites. Displaying the predictive layer for surface archaeological sites may show you that your proposed corridor is within a red area, indicating a high probability of finding a site. This stretch of the road crosses a popular habitation area for both prehistoric and early historic people because of the nearby confluence of several heavily-used river transportation routes.


You may now want to explore some alternatives. What would happen if you moved the critical section of the route 40 yards to one side or the other. Are the soils suitable for the project? Are sites present? Is the grade flat enough or will soils have to be moved? Are there wetlands or other special environments that must be protected? Can we trace a route through all of these protected resources? The properties of the data provided, including source and original scale or resolution, will be easily accessed within the ArcView project.


You will be able to display and print the environmental data and models as maps, graphs, or tables. Among the information you present to the planning team is the likelihood of phase 2 and 3 mitigation investigations if one route or another is chosen.


The ArcView software will also allow you to enter new data, such as recently discovered archaeological sites. Digital layers not used in the development of Mn/Model, such as land use or zoning, can be added by users to enhance the value of the model for their planning purposes.


The model our team produces will be provided in a widely used format and with a customized ArcView interface that will be easy to use. Besides having a predictive capacity, it will as importantly serve as a tool in analysis in all three phases of survey. It will be capable of analyzing associations between variables through geographic space, of examining alternative possibilities, and of learning about the locational behavior of past people, among many other uses. Since newer, higher resolution data will become available over the coming years, it will be possible to upgrade the thematic layers as well as the model.


This Appendix was part of the original proposal. Many changes have been made in the way we distribute and use Mn/Model since this was written.





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MnModel was financed with Transportation Enhancement and State Planning and Research funds from the Federal Highway Administration and a Minnesota Department of Transportation match.


Copyright Notice

The MnModel process and the predictive models it produced are copyrighted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), 2000. They may not be used without MnDOT's consent.