Opening Up Archaeology
Since 2006, the AAI has sponsored a series of Open Archaeology prize competitions aimed at promoting the development and use of open educational resources in archaeology and related disciplines. The prize competitions received generous support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David Brown Book Company (now ISD). A panel of judges from the relevant community selected winners based on their project’s scholarly merit, potential for reuse in research or teaching, and availability on the web in a free and reusable format.
2006 Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize
The first ever Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize competition was held at the ICAZ International Conference in Mexico City, August 2006.
“The difference between two sets of sites…are elegantly demonstrated in the accompanying graphic material and thus the text and images together make for a nice package both for education and further research.”
“[Gates presents] a concrete and simple discussion of a very difficult subject… puts into full use both archaeological and historical data.”
“The demonstration of the role of faunal remains as markers of ethnicity is quite remarkable, and could be easily reused as teaching material.”
About the Winner: Christian Gates St-Pierre completed both his MA and PhD in anthropology at the University of Montreal, in 1995 and 2003, respectively. His MA research focused on faunal remains of an Late Woodland Iroquoian village, while his PhD dissertation was about Middle Woodland ceramics in the Northeast. He subsequently undertook postdoctoral research at University of Illinois at Chicago in 2003-2004, focusing on use-wear analysis of iroquoian bone tools. He is currently a senior archaeologist with a Montreal-based company called Ethnoscop inc., and also works for the City of Montreal as a curator for the prehistoric (i.e. Native) collections own by the city (something quite unique for a North American city). His research interests include Maritime adaptations and ethnicity in archaeology. He has published on these various subjects in both French and English academic journals.
2nd Place: Ana Belen Marin Arroyo for her paper “Economic Subsistence of the Hunter-Gatherer Groups in El Miron Cave (Northern Spain) During the Upper Pliestocene” (View Paper Text and Images)
“[Marin Arroyo’s contribution provides] exemplary educational material.”
“The paper is well structured with clear illustrations, and the presentation is well supported by the figures…Several images have significant value in reuse.”
“…an informed discussion of prehistoric subsistence.”
About the Winner: Ana Belen Marin Arroyo received her undergraduate degree in History at the University of Cantabria in 2001. She began zooarchaeological studies with Dr. van Kolfschoten in University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and currently continues her training with Dr. Jordi Estévez at Autonoma University of Barcelona. She received her M.A. in 2003 at the University of Cantabria, with research focused on the zooarchaeozoological, taphonomical and spatial distribution analysis of La Fragua Cave in Cantabria, in the north Cantabrian coast in Spain. Although it was a small cave with faunal remains from the Magdalenian to the Calcolithic period, there were interesting results, which were published by Ediciones TGD (Santander) in 2004. She is currently working at the University of the Basque Country where she is completing her PhD on the macromammalian fauna in the Oriental Coast of Cantabrian in Spain during the Magdalenian period. This work is mainly focused in the faunal assemblage of El Mirón Cave and its comparison with other Cantabrian and Basque archaeological sites. She is also the coordinator of a project to recognize the presence of bearded vulture in Cantabrian prehistoric times, which is funded by the Cantabria Government. Her main research interests are Zooarchaeology, Taphonomy and Hunter-Gatherers (paleoeconomic and paleoenvironmental reconstructions). She has spent time at some of the most recognized laboratories and museums in Europe, including MNHN and IPH in Paris, University College and NHM in London, the University of Toulouse Le Mirail, and the University of Valencia or Aranzadi Society of Sciences in San Sebastian (Spain), among others. She has published articles in some of the specialized journals in the Prehistory of the Iberian Peninsula as Munibe or Complutum. Her research has been funded with a fellowship from the Educational Department of the Basque Government of Spain. She can be contacted by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
2007 ASOR Open Archaeology Prize
Scholars from UC Berkeley swept the Open Archaeology prize competition, held at the 2007 meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) in San Diego, CA.
1st Place: Two first place prizes were awarded in this competition. First Place for a Senior Scholar was awarded to the team led by Ruth Tringham (Professor, Department of Anthropology) and Noah Wittman (Program Manager) for their website “Remixing Çatalhöyük.” Remixing Çatalhöyük has been variously described as a database narrative and as a multimedia exhibition and research archive. Launched in October 2007, it features the investigations and data of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH) and their colleagues at the Neolithic tell settlement of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. The aim of the website, accessible in English or Turkish, is to engage the public of all ages in the exploration of primary research data through four themed collections that are selected from the research database. One theme on the Life-History of People, Places, and Things – also includes a K-12 activity module. The public are invited to download media items that are licensed with a Creative Commons 3.0 license, create original projects and contribute their own “remixes” about Çatalhöyük. Tringham and Wittman write that the developers of this resource “hope that this project will inspire other researchers to openly share their research data and engage broad public audiences.” Remixing Çatalhöyük represents a groundbreaking effort toward sharing and elucidating the past, and we certainly hope other projects will follow their lead.
First Place for a Junior Scholar was awarded to Catherine Foster (PhD student, Department of Near Eastern Studies) for her project “Household Archaeology and the Uruk Phenomenon: A Case Study from Kenan Tepe, Turkey.” Catherine was awarded first place for developing a website on her research involving household studies of a Late Chalcolithic community in the Upper Tigris region of southeast Anatolia. Foster explained that the ultimate goal of this project was to create an open access micro-artifact database (an undertaking that is now fully realized in MicroCommons) that can be used as a reference resource for other scholars wishing to embark on this type of analysis. Because it is open access, other scholars will be able to add to the database with high-resolution scans and descriptions or alter categories as developments are made. She states, “To my knowledge, no such database is freely available over the Internet and will be a valuable resource as the inclusion of microarchaeological techniques in Near Eastern excavation projects becomes more and more commonplace.” Foster’s project demonstrates a solid foundation in open access and a visionary approach for future sharing of research in archaeology.
2nd Place: Justin Lev-Tov (Statistical Research, Inc.) received a second place prize for his project “Hazor: Zooarchaeology”. This project presents zooarchaeological identification and analysis of nearly 10,000 animal bones from Late Bronze Age and Iron Age contexts at Hazor, research Justin conducted as part of the Hazor Excavations in memory of Yigael Yadin. By sharing this dataset in Open Context with a flexible license for reuse, Justin is improving access to high-quality research and original data that accompany published syntheses. This dataset has been accessed over 11,000 times since it was uploaded to Open Context in Fall 2006. We hope to see more related content from this time period available in open access formats so that Justin’s dataset becomes even more valuable through comparison with other sites.
2008 ASOR Open Archaeology Prize
Winners of the 2008 ASOR Open Archaeology Prize competition were announced on November 21, 2008 at the annual ASOR meeting in Boston. The printed prize announcements can be found on page 31 of the Winter 2008 ASOR newsletter.
First Place was awarded to the Abzu web site, led by Charles E. Jones, Head Librarian at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University and Research Associate, The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. Launched in 1994, Abzu collects and manages open access scholarly material relating to the ancient Near East and Mediterranean world, including the rich corpus of ETANA Core Texts, which are available for free for noncommercial teaching and research. In addition to standard search functions, Abzu provides several different ways to track recently entered material, such as news feeds, a clip blog and a widget. It also allows for the re-presentation and re-formatting of material indexed in it in the continuing series “AWOL – The Ancient World Online”, beginning at the Ancient World Bloggers Group Blog. Abzu is self sustaining with selection and editorial control having been integrated into the workflows of the editor at the Research Archives, Oriental Institute, the Blegen Library at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and at the Library of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.
Second Place was awarded to the Badè Museum of Archaeology web site, led by Aaron Brody (Pacific School of Religion). The Badè Museum’s web site was recently overhauled to allow for virtual outreach to a limitless audience, helping educate beyond the brick-and-mortar walls of the Museum’s galleries, and bringing transparency to the Museum’s holdings. The web site provides access to reusable content from archaeological excavations at Tell en-Nasbeh, conducted by WF Bade in the 1920s and 1930s under the auspices of Pacific School of Religion. The new web site provides digital versions of the contents in the Museum’s exhibits, overviews of research projects and facilitates the ordering of traveling exhibit materials. By openly licensing all content with Creative Commons licenses, the Bade team has ensured that these free and open resources can be downloaded for reuse by anyone. The photographs and short movies are of particular interest, and Aaron informs us that many more resources will be coming on line in the near future.
2009 ASOR Open Archaeology Prize
Winners of the 2009 ASOR Open Archaeology Prize competition were announced on November 20, 2009 at the annual ASOR meeting in New Orleans.
First Place was awarded to the West Bank and East Jerusalem Archaeological Database Project. The data was a result of a research project authored by Prof. Rafi Greenberg (Tel Aviv University) and Adi Keinan (University College London) with logistical and financial support from the Israeli Palestinian Archaeology Working Group (IPAWG), which was organized by Ran Boytner (UCLA/USC) and Lynn Swartz Dodd (USC). The purpose of the research portion of the IPAWG project was to develop a database of surveyed and excavated archaeological data from work done in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967. Much of this is being made available for the first time in English and many data records are being released into the public domain for the first time at all. This constitutes a scholarly and public resource that is widely available and widely searchable, either through the Internet or through library databases. These data are being made available to the public through the University of Southern California Digital Library. The entire database file itself will become downloadable for scholars (or developers or the military or anyone who needs to plan around ancient sites and wants to use their own GIS tools).
Second Place was awarded to the online publication of digital content from Brown University excavations at Petra’s Great Temple from 1993 – 2006. This extensive corpus of over 123,000 linked items includes over 3000 images. All of this has been viewed over 200,000 times since its online publication in the Open Context system. The online publication includes descriptions of excavated contexts, related architectural features and remains, a small finds catalogue, zooarchaeological analyses, and associated digitized maps, plans, drawings and photographs. Over the past year, the digital publication expanded to include analyses of glass and coin artifacts. Additional datasets related to this corpus are forthcoming, including analysis of figurines recovered and analyzed during the Brown University work at the site. The Petra Great Temple Excavation is one of a number of projects available in Open Context, a system that offers a highly generalized approach to data sharing and data publication. The Petra Great Temple Excavation corpus serves as an exemplar for more comprehensive publication of excavation results than possible through print publication alone. Its primary intended purpose is to complement the printed publication series on the Great Temple by providing researchers with the full corpus of materials analyzed in the project, organized by context, and browseable through sophisticated search tools. Publication in Open Context also makes the results of the Petra Great Temple project easier to reuse in subsequent analyses because a Creative Commons Attribution license waives most copyright restrictions and because all data and media can be retrieved in machine-readable formats via powerful web services.
These two prizes reflect very different yet complementary approaches to data publication and sharing. The Petra Great Temple corpus represents a rich and in-depth resource for individuals interested in this one site, the Nabatean culture, and the Classical Mediterranean world. In contrast, the West Bank and East Jerusalem Archaeological Database Project provides invaluable information required for heritage stewardship, but also relevant to a greater breadth of chronological interests. The two projects, thus, represent exemplars of data sharing in breadth and depth. The complementary nature of these approaches is best illustrated by the interoperability enabled by releasing machine-readable data on the Web, such that these two datasets can be readily aggregated together and even combined with other data sources. By sharing machine-readable archaeological data on the Web, these prizewinners help to lay the foundations for a powerful information infrastructure that future researchers can build upon.
2010 Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize
The Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize competition awarded the best open access, reusable content based on presentations at an International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) conference by a junior researcher (current student or degree in the past 10 years). A panel of five judges from the ICAZ community ranked their top three choices, with the following results:
1st Place: David Orton (University of Cambridge) won first place for the project “The skeleton as map: using GIS technology to facilitate the display and dissemination of anatomical data.”
“This is a meticulous piece of work that shows a witty combination of methods. Orton’s approach is quite novel, in the sense of finding a new (and maybe better) way of doing something that we find useful to do. His work is certainly re-usable, adaptable and extendable.”
About the Winner: David Orton received his PhD from Cambridge in 2008, following an MSc in zooarchaeology at York and an undergraduate degree in archaeology and anthropology, also from Cambridge. His thesis concerned the role of animals in social change during the Balkan Neolithic, and is partially published through articles in World Archaeology and International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, with further works in press. While the Balkan Neolithic remains a primary interest, his research has since diversified with post-doctoral positions studying Halaf fauna from Fistikli Hoyuk (Turkey) at SUNY Binghamton, and latterly using biomolecular data to explore the origins of the medieval European cod trade, working with James Barrett back at Cambridge. Meanwhile, he is the zooarchaeologist for the Chalcolithic West Mound project at Çatalhöyük. Thematic research interests include the theory of human-animal relations, the role of taphonomy in social zooarchaeology, and integration of scientific and interpretive archaeologies.
2nd Place: Jillian Garvey (La Trobe University) won second place for her project “Bennett’s wallaby marrow quality vs quantity: Evaluating human decision-making and seasonal occupation in late Pleistocene Tasmania.”
“Garvey’s work is a multidisciplinary study based on extensive research. It is supplied in a usefully dismantled state, parts of which could be re-used in lectures on various topics, particularly methodology.”
About the Winner: Jillian Garvey is a zooarchaeologist with formal training in archaeology and zoology, and she is interested in prehistoric human hunting and subsistence strategies, as well as environmental and ecological reconstruction of faunal communities. Jillian comes from a palaeontological background where during her PhD she focused on the palaeoecology and palaeocommunity of an Early Carboniferous fish locality from the Snowy Plains Formation, Mansfield Basin, Victoria, by considering the vertebrate material, microfossils, plants, tracefossils, taphonomy and geology. Her current research focuses on the zooarchaeology of late Pleistocene south-west Tasmania, and aims to provide a better understanding of human subsistence strategies and the palaeoecology of the region during the Last Glacial Maximum.
2014 Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize
The Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize competition awards the best open access, reusable content based on presentations at an International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) conference by a junior researcher (current student or degree in the past 10 years). The 2014 competition (San Rafael, Argentina) is the third time the contest has been held, the first being at the 2006 ICAZ meeting in Mexico City. We commend this year’s nine contestants for their excellent entries.
A panel of five judges from the ICAZ International Committee evaluated the entries with the primary criterion being the presentation’s value for reuse in teaching or research. We are grateful for their careful consideration of the entries.
- Virginia Butler (Portland State University, USA)
- Arati Deshpande-Mukherjee (Deccan College, Pune, India)
- Angelos Hadjikoumis (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France)
- Jan Storå (Stockholm University, Sweden)
- Kat Szabo (University of Wollongong, Australia)
The Winners (tied for 1st Place):
Morgan Disspain: “Do fish otoliths provide a reliable palaeoenvironmental record? An examination of the effects of cooking on morphology and chemistry” (Session: Ichthyoarchaeology in the Americas)
Comments from the Judges:
“This is a well-structured and clearly articulated taphonomic investigation of broad relevance.”
“It will certainly help ichthyoarchaeologists improve their work both in terms of methodology and interpretative framework. It is expected to inspire relevant work and in turn better-informed methodologies but also more reliable interpretations”
“[This work] provides outstanding images –and the close link with the text [makes it] easy to use/reuse.”
About the Winner: Morgan Disspain is a PhD candidate in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at The University of Adelaide, South Australia. Her research explores how otoliths from archaeological sites can contribute to our understanding of human behaviour and palaeoenvironmental conditions, directly enhancing models of human-environment interaction. It involves examining the reliability of otolith analyses, and analysing large otolith assemblages from two archaeological sites, one which is located in South Australia and the other in Arica, Chile. Morgan travelled to San Rafael to present one aspect of her research that focused on the effects of cooking on the chemistry and morphology of fish otoliths.
William Taylor: “Demographic Profiles and Ancient Horse Use in Bronze Age Mongolia” (Session: Zooarchaeology of Pastoralism)
Comments from the Judges:
“The applicability of the methodological innovations produced by this study to other regions and periods and the clarity of the overall presentation of the study render it an invaluable tool to be used both in research and teaching.”
“[Taylor’s] synthesis of the research context and how to address the gaps in our current knowledge was outstanding.”
“This is a great case study to demonstrate that detailed zooarchaeological analyses can address broader cultural questions.”
About the Winner: William is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of New Mexico. In his dissertation, he aims to clarify the role of the horse (herding, riding, and chariotry) in the spread of mobile pastoralism into the Eastern Steppe. Using 3D scanning and osteological study of modern horses with known histories, his project has developed new methods for the archaeozoological identification of horse transport. In his entry for the Open Zooarchaeology competition, William produced demographic estimates for a sample of ancient horses from Mongolia’s Deer Stone-Khirigsuur (DSK) complex (1300-700 BCE). When combined with paleopathological analysis, these data shed light on herd management practices, and point to the selection of adult male horses for use in transport and ritual. His work has been supported by the American Center for Mongolian Studies, the Frison Institute Patrick Mullen Award in Archaeological Science, the Society for Archaeological Sciences R.E. Taylor Award, and the ICAZ Stine Rossel Prize.