DALME is a collaborative, cross-disciplinary project that seeks to increase our understanding of Europe’s material horizons during the later Middle Ages, an era when changing patterns of production and consumption altered the material world and transformed the relationship between people and things.
DALME has developed a novel methodology that focuses on the extraction of information about material culture from documentary sources, such as household or estate inventories, in a manner that makes it possible to seamlessly integrate textual objects with their tangible counterparts from archaeological excavations and museum collections.
Drawing upon cross-disciplinary practice and advances in digital scholarship, the project aims to make vast amounts of material culture accessible online as open, well-structured and machine-actionable datasets readily amenable to computational analysis, together with the necessary tools, standards, and documentation to enable new research and facilitate dissemination.
Based in the Department of History at Harvard University, DALME brings together a growing network of researchers from institutions across the US and Europe.
Pendant la dernière décennie du XIXe siècle, l’idée d’une science de la société fondée sur une approche positiviste commençait à prendre forme. Le but en était de construire une méthodologie pouvant réduire les phénomènes sociaux humains en données analysables par des approches scientifiques. La société elle-même était réduite à un ensemble de relations sociales entre les êtres humains, et seulement les êtres humains. Exclus de ces réseaux étaient non seulement les animaux et d’autres êtres vivants mais aussi les objets. Émile Durkheim, l’un des fondateurs de la sociologie moderne, a postulé que les «faits sociaux doivent être traités comme des choses». Or, dans son approche, les choses elles-mêmes avaient fort peu à contribuer à la structure de la société.
In the past few decades, the efforts of museums and other cultural institutions to digitize and make their collections accessible online have made massive amounts of information about artifacts available to the general public and researchers alike. From Harvard alone, one can obtain detailed information about hundreds of thousands of objects, ranging from those in museums, such as the Art Museums (250,000 objects) or the Peabody (700,000 records), to those of individual projects, such as the Sardis Expedition, featured in the Spring 2017 issue of In Situ.
This availability of information about tangible things, however, has not been matched by a similar increase in the access to information about textual things, that is, objects described in textual sources. Our project, the Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe (DALME), focuses on the latter, and aims to develop a publicly accessible and fully searchable online database of material culture that will enable researchers to seamlessly integrate object descriptions in contemporary documents, such as inventories, as the textual counterparts of objects found in museum collections and artefacts retrieved from in archaeological excavations.
The “Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe” (DALME) is a publicly accessible database of material culture based on the textual sources from later medieval Europe. The goal of the project is to increase our understanding of Europe’s material horizons at the outset of the modern globalizing economy. The project accomplishes this objective by developing a fully searchable online collection of household or estate inventories from many European regions between the years 1250 and 1500. Within three years, we expect the collection to include several thousand inventories and at least 100,000 individual items.
A significant component of the DALME environment is a lexicon of material culture comprising smaller lexicons in all the relevant languages. In the database, the headwords within each of these lexicons is aggregated at a semantic level by linking them to concepts in a controlled vocabulary. For this we use, and extend where necessary, the Getty Thesaurus of Art and Architecture. The poster we propose will situate DALME's use of linked open data within the larger scope of the DALME project and outline the contributions DALME might make to the Getty's current lexicon.
One truism about World War I is the incompetence of German propaganda in the United States. The classic stories feature German officials forgetting briefcases with secret documents on the New York subway and ham-fistedly delivering speeches about German culture. But what if we look beyond urban centers to examine the thousands of news items from a German news agency printed in American newspapers during the war? And what if we integrate students into this research adventure?
The spatial relationships inherent in archaeological evidence (structures, deposits, features, artefacts, the remains of the dead) are fundamental to analysis and interpretation. Unfortunately, the excavated remains from Gordion were never accurately referenced to a reliable site–wide coordinate system. The planimetric and altimetric referencing were seriously compromised in the very first excavation season in 1950 through a series of surveying and tracing errors. Most of the mapping work in successive seasons was based on this initial, faulty survey, and, over time, error spread and inaccuracy became endemic to the Gordion mapping corpus. Although it became apparent years later that there was a problem with the referencing, the issues were never fully understood and the attempted remedies proved not only abortive but also contributed further complexities to the problem. Since 2008 the Digital Gordion Mapping Project has been working to resolve the situation. This article showcases the methods, results, and some of the challenges faced by the project.
At the time of Donald Hansen’s untimely death in 2005 the results of his groundbreaking excavations at al-Hiba, the site of ancient Lagash, remained largely unpublished. In order to prepare the site’s final reports for publication, Holly Pittman of the University of Pennsylvania, in cooperation with Edward Ochsenschlager, started the Al-Hiba Publication Project with the support of the Shelby White-Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications. The records documenting Hansen’s excavations consist of thousands of photographs, data sheets, notebooks, drawings, and plans. During the past four years these records have been digitized and incorporated into a sophisticated database that stores and correlates digital versions of the materials and offers tools to manage and analyse the data. A team at the University of Pennsylvania is now at work studying these data and preparing final site reports. This poster is intended to offer a glimpse of several aspects of our methodological approach, outline some of the problems we have found, and share our progress with the academic community. We hope that this platform can serve to communicate with other scholars who have faced, or are facing, the challenge of publishing materials from old excavations.
Gabriel H. Pizzorno and Gareth Darbyshire. 2012. “Mapping Gordion.” In The Archaeology of Phrygian Gordion, Royal City of Midas, Pp. 23-38. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Abstract
Six decades of archaeological investigation at Gordion have provided a wealth of information about ancient Anatolia, in particular regarding the Early and Middle Phrygian periods. However, with the ambitious scale of the project have come major challenges, chief among which is the recording of the spatial layout of the excavated remains: the mapping of Gordion. The lack of accurate spatial representations of the site has consistently hindered the analysis and publication of the excavated material. A complete site map combining all excavated data was never produced, and little of the ancient architecture could be precisely located in a site–wide coordinate system. Consequently, the key data could not be located spatially with acceptable accuracy, either in absolute terms or relative to each other. The existence of specific problems associated with the mapping had long been known, and indeed some of the surveyors responsible for the maps and plans attempted remedies over the years, but no definitive solutions were ever found. The present chapter documents our research into the history of mapping at Gordion, outlines our understanding of the problems, and presents the strategy we have developed for rectifying the situation.
It has been a little over 40 years since the Hasanlu Project conducted its final season of excavation at Dinkha Tepe. At the time, in 1968, the archaeology of northwestern Iran had only recently begun to be explored and our knowledge of the cultures of the Ushnu–Solduz valley was very limited. The archaeological evidence uncovered at Dinkha Tepe, in particular, considerably augmented our understanding of the cultures that inhabited the Ushnu–Solduz valley in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. Furthermore, the site has figured prominently in some of the most important debates in the archaeology of the first and second millennia BCE in the Near East, the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age in western Iran, the characterisation of the Khabur ware horizon, and the extension and nature of trade and exchange networks being the most salient examples. The articles compiled in this volume are the major publications to date resulting from archaeological work carried out at Dinkha Tepe. They reflect the richness of the site’s potential and its importance for Iranian archaeology. These publications, however, are limited in scope. Despite the relevance of the site, a substantial amount of the information collected during the excavations at Dinkha remains unpublished and un-analysed. For the past three years I have been working with these materials at the Penn Museum. Based on this research, in the following sections of this introductory chapter I have attempted to give a more in-depth description of the site, its surroundings, and the excavations conducted there than has thus far been published.
Ever since the Penn Museum began excavations there in 1950, Gordion has remained a key site for the archaeology of first millennium BCE Anatolia. The significance of the site derives from the intrinsic historical importance of the place—a longstanding center of power and population—and from the extremely long–running excavations that have revealed the physical dimensions of that history in remarkable detail. The resultant archaeological dataset is correspondingly of great size and complexity, and therein lies its value. These same attributes, however, when combined with the dataset’s relative inaccessibility to researchers, have proved to be a serious obstacle to the completion of post-excavation analyses and final publications. In this article, we show how the Penn Museum and the Gordion Archaeological Project are utilizing modern digital technologies to develop Digital Gordion, a new means of dealing with the complexity of the Gordion dataset. The issues we face are not confined to Gordion but are generic to many of the world’s largest and longest running archaeological projects.
According to ancient writers, Gordion is the place where Alexander the Great cut, in 334/3 BCE, the famous Gordian Knot and fulfilled a prophecy to become the ruler of Asia. Gordion is also linked with Midas, the Iron Age king of the late 8th century BCE, who in later Greek mythology is cursed with the “golden touch”. In addition to the stories and myths that provide a popular backdrop to the site, extensive archaeological and textual evidence has revealed Gordion’s very long and complex settlement history. Spanning at least 4,500 years from the Bronze Age (ca. 2500 BCE) to the present, Gordion and its environs have been closely connected to key geo-political and cultural developments in the region. This article presents a brief account of the archaeological investigations carried out at Gordion and an overview of the site’s history.
This paper presents the results of the analysis carried out on a group of sherds excavated from a site with mounds in the lowlands of eastern Uruguay. The prehistory of the lowlands of the Merim Lake basin was initially characterised in the 1960s in accordance to the diffusionist paradigm then prevailing in archaeology. Cultural categories were built that attempted to account for the archaeological evidence in terms of phases, largely characterised via ceramic types. Research carried out in this region after 1986 have now recovered samples in excavations specifically designed to study the structure and function of these sites. The results of this research have often confirmed, and occasionally improved, the earlier interpretations about the ceramics of the region. In this context, the analysis of the ceramics from the site at Rincón de Los Indios aims to refine the techno-typological study of this pottery, further define its place in archaeological contexts, and improve its utility in the construction of a regional cultural sequence.