On the Emerging Supremacy of Structured Digital Data in Archaeology: A Preliminary Assessment of Information, Knowledge and Wisdom Left Behind

Piraye Hacıgüzeller, James Stuart Taylor, Sara Perry
2021 Open Archaeology  
While the epistemological affordances and varied impacts of different media on archaeological knowledge production have been scrutinized by many practitioners in recent decades, sources of digital structured data (e.g., spreadsheets, traditional relational databases, content management systems) have seen far less critical enquiry. Structured digital data are often venerated for their capacities to facilitate interoperability, equitable data exchange, democratic forms of engagement with, and
more » ... spread reuse of archaeological records, yet their constraints on our knowledge formation processes are arguably profound and deserving of detailed interrogation. In this article, we discuss what we call the emerging supremacy of structured digital data in archaeology and seek to question the consequences of their ubiquity. We ground our argument in a case study of a range of texts produced by practitioners working on the Çatalhöyük Research Project. We attempt to map short excerpts from these texts to structured data via the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model. This exercise allows making preliminary observations about the representational affordances and resistances of texts (which can be considered as a type of semi- or unstructured data) and structured data. Ultimately, we argue that the push to create more and more structured and structurable data needs to be tempered by a more inclusive digital practice in archaeology that protects difference, incommensurability, and interpretative nuance.
doi:10.1515/opar-2020-0220 fatcat:ifjxgysjtjc7peetbbzu2fl2da