Abstract–Contextualizing Digital Data as Scholarship in Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology


Though digital data is assuming increasing importance in archaeological research, it still plays only a minor role in scholarly communications. Most archaeologists do not yet see data sharing as a professional goal; instead, they regard it mainly as a bureaucratic concern. Data need be “managed” (in the parlance of the NSF) to meet the requirements of external funding agencies. In this light, data have more to do with administrative compliance and less with the intellectual core of research. However, recent studies of data curation practices highlight the challenges of data reuse. These studies show how meaningful data sharing and reuse requires intellectual investment in data. To better realize the full potential of digital data, archaeology needs to see fundamental changes in research practices and professional roles, expectations, and inclinations. Open Context’s experiments with data sharing as a form of publishing explore ways to encourage such intellectual investment. This paper will present examples of modeling diverse artifact typologies and chronological systems used in Classical archaeology in the Eastern Mediterranean. These examples show that while computational approaches to the archaeological record involve greater formalism, they are still inherently interpretive and should not be divorced from other theoretical or methodological concerns.