January 17: Stephen Stead


The how and why of representing excavation data using the CRM family of extensions

CRMarchaeo is an extension of CIDOC CRM and provides a way to link a wide range of existing documentation from archaeological excavations. It has been created to promote a shared understanding of how to formalise the knowledge extracted from the observations made by archaeologists. It provides a set of concepts and properties that allow clear explanation (and separation) of the observations and interpretations made, both in the field and in post-excavation.

Traditional GIS based gazetteers allow the discovery of which archives/databases are in the right geographic area. In addition, filters can be applied so the results are about the correct type of site. However, the researcher still needs to immerse themselves in the details of the individual archive to see if the research questions, excavation/recording methodology, and pragmatic responses to circumstances are compatible with the goals of the researchers’ own study.

In comparison, with the CRMarchaeo ontology applied to the archives/databases, the work required to check if the data is fit for the study’s purposes is possible at the integration layer, that is, without having to understand the peculiarities of each separate archive. This means more opportunities for innovative intra- and inter-site research, as the effort required to discover appropriate material is reduced: https://www.cidoc-crm.org/crmarchaeo/

The presentation will showcase the work undertaken to improve reusability of the databases that will be accessible through and the Swedish National Infrastructure for Digital Archaeology (Swedigarch). Swedigarch will facilitate the production of aggregated and harmonised datasets, fulfilling demands for cutting-edge integrative, interdisciplinary research on long-term socio-environmental dynamics. It will enable new approaches for digital methods and reinvent archaeological research agendas: http://swedigarch.se/