Towards a Living Archive: Making Multi Layered Research Data and Knowledge Generation Transparent

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Çatalhöyük was first discovered as one of the earliest urban settlements in the late 1950s and excavated by James Mellaart between 1961 and 1965. The 9000-year-old town in central Turkey rapidly became famous internationally due to the large size and dense occupation of the settlement, as well as the spectacular wall paintings and other art that were uncovered inside the houses. Since 1993, under the direction of Ian Hodder, research at Çatalhöyük has pioneered a reflexive approach to archaeological practice, in which information is permanently open to reinterpretation by both scholars and the public. This approach acknowledges the mutual dependence of knowledge and the underlying research, to which end the Çatalhöyük Project decided to make its records available via the Web and to invite public comment since its onset. After 25 years of excavation, the project’s digital assets now amount to close to 5TB, including formal textual and numeric records, freetext documents, audiovisual materials, and a comprehensive collection of spatial data. The reflexive method, or ‘documentation of the documentation process,’ adds a separate layer of information that specifies how data have been gathered, and facilitates critique, understanding, and the evolution of knowledge. In this paper we lay out our vision of an interactive archive that provides access to the multi layered information contained in this massive amount of data and how web technological advances have been incorporated into the digital data management at Çatalhöyük. Ultimately, the goal is to support an interdisciplinary process of assembling data into arguments on the basis of multiple lines of evidence. The ‘Living Archive’ will enable intuitive engagement across the entire variety of research, making use of the rich reflexive information stored with the data. The results of new analyses can in turn be reintegrated with the already existing data. The application will use open standards so that the knowledge gathered at Çatalhöyük can be linked with other projects that follow similar publication procedures based on the semantic web approach.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue numbersup1
Pages (from-to)S19-S30
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2018

    Research areas

  • Archaeological Information Systems, Digital Field recording, Neolithic, Reflexive Method, Semantic Modeling

ID: 310560990