AAI/OC Receives NSF Grant for Collaborative Research Coordination Network – The Alexandria Archive Institute

“We are thrilled to announce Disciplinary Improvements for Past Global Change Research: Connecting Data Systems and Practitioners, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable Open Science Research Coordination Network (FAIROS RCN) funded initiative to advance ethical scientific practices in the use of paleoecological, contemporary ecological, paleoclimatic, and archaeological data….”

Assessing Open Science Practices in Phytolith Research

Abstract:  Open science is an integral part of all scientific research, but the extent of open science practices in phytolith research is unknown. Phytolith analysis examines silica bodies that are initially formed within and between plant cells during the life of the plant but become deposited in sediments once the plant dies. The use of phytoliths in archaeobotanical and palaeoecological studies has been increasing in recent years resulting in an upsurge in publications. The aims of this article are to assess open science practices in phytolith research by reviewing data and metadata sharing, and open access, in a sample of journal articles containing primary phytolith data from 16 prominent archaeological and palaeoecological journals (341 articles). This study builds on similar studies conducted for zooarchaeology (Kansa et al. 2020) and macro-botanical remains (Lodwick 2019). This study shows that 53% of papers shared data in any format but only 4% of papers contained reusable data, 74% included some pictures of phytolith morphotypes for identification purposes, 69% had a fully described method, 47% used the International code for phytolith nomenclature (ICPN 1.0) and only 13% of articles were open access. Steps forward are then proposed, including planning for open projects, making more articles openly accessible and implementing the FAIR data principles, to use as a starting point for discussions in the wider phytolith and archaeological communities to develop guidelines for greater integration of open science practices.

 

Starting to close the skills gap through Open Science Skills Workshops | Software Sustainability Institute

“There are still many academic disciplines that are on the periphery of activities related to open and sustainable research. Archaeology is making some steps in this direction but there is still a long way to go.

Archaeology sits at the intersection of the humanities and sciences and as a result open science practices are being adopted at different rates throughout the discipline. Certain sub-disciplines that have always used more computational tools in their research are implementing open ways of working more quickly due to their skills being complementary to this new way of working. 

This sporadic implementation of open working is resulting in large gaps in skills for certain sub-disciplines of Archaeology. It is rare for computational skills to be taught as part of Archaeology degrees. The teaching of these skills is very dependent on the lecturer’s own interests, or the universities own adoption of open science. This means that these skills are not being taught routinely to archaeology students, so that they receive a grounding in open science practices and related computing skills.  

To see the acceleration of sustainable research practices in our discipline, we need to fill in these skill gaps so that there is a much more coherent approach in our research. Archaeological investigations often consist of large teams with many different specialists and therefore it is currently difficult to implement open ways of working in these large projects due to a lack of skills. If we are to really gain from open research, we need to make sure that all members of our team have the knowledge of how to conduct open science projects, and also the related computational skills, so we are all heading in the same open and sustainable research direction. …”

How 3-D Scanning Is Reinventing Paleoanthropology – Scientific American

“My principal job on site is to reconstruct fossils, and so I was tasked with putting together the DNH 155 skull. It took around a week to fully remove the skull fragments and all the sediment gluing the pieces together from their original resting place within the Drimolen Main Quarry. As each of the roughly 300 fragments were painstakingly removed, they were digitized with an Artec Space Spider, a professional handheld 3-D scanner. The scanner shoots patterns of light that distort based on the geography of the object it is hitting and bounce back to the scanner—like a bat using sonar, but in this case, light rather than sound is what’s bouncing back and forth. This technology was used to create high-resolution digital records of each piece of the cranium’s location within the sediment in case any pieces unexpectedly dislodged….

The first phase of reconstruction was completed by manually putting the pieces together. But, even after manual reconstruction, there were some elements of the cranium that couldn’t be placed because the contact point was too small, or a tiny part of the edges had been lost. In these cases, the Artec software was used to digitally situate the parts in relation to one another. Specifically, the face of DNH 155 cannot safely be attached to the rest of the cranium. This fusion was achieved digitally. Although it could have been glued, joining the pieces in this fashion would have been risky and would likely have caused permanent damage to the fossil. The published reconstruction of the DNH 155 cranium would not have been possible without 3-D technology, which would have been a huge blow to the ability of other researchers to assess the fossil in the future….

Reconstruction was only one part of the research program designed to reveal the secrets of this rare skull. Many of the researchers who work on fossils from South Africa are unable to travel to Johannesburg to work on the originals. This is especially true for researchers who are not based at wealthy institutions, and for cash-strapped students in general. It is for this reason that the Drimolen team have invested significant capital to digitize the DNH 155 cranium and most of the Drimolen fossil assemblage. As a Ph.D. student myself, I am particularly interested in the potential for high quality 3-D scanners such as the Space Spider to democratize research by allowing free and easy access to research-quality data. While permissions and access to such data are controlled by the University of the Witswatersrand (in the case of the Drimolen fossils) it is our ultimate intention to share our data with researchers, particularly early-career researchers, who are pursuing a topic related to the South African hominin fossils…..”

IsoArcH: Open Science in Archaeology

“This event provides archaeologists with an overview of the latest Open Science developments in the field. The event features presentations about open access to publications and databases, open review of papers, as well as open sharing of data/codes/methods.

Talks will be given by Prof. Ben Marwick (Univ. of Washington), Prof. Trudy Turner (Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; American Journal of Physical Anthropology) and Prof. Connie Mulligan (Univ. of Florida; American Journal of Physical Anthropology), Dr. Emma Ganley (Protocols.io), Alain Queffelec (Univ. of Bordeaux; Peer Community in Archaeology), as well as Dr. Kevin Salesse (Univ. Libre de Bruxelles; IsoArcH)….”

Open Context: Web-based research data publishing

“Open Context reviews, edits, annotates, publishes and archives research data and digital documentation. We publish your data and preserve it with leading digital libraries. We take steps beyond archiving to richly annotate and integrate your analyses, maps and media. This links your data to the wider world and broadens the impact of your ideas….”

Home – The Alexandria Archive Institute

“The Alexandria Archive Institute is a non-profit technology company that preserves and shares world heritage on the Web, free of charge. Through advocacy, education, research, and technology programs like Open Context, we pioneer ways to open up archaeology and related fields for all….”

Ancient Hittite cuneiform scripts will soon be accessible online

“Now, the Hittites’ texts, which were written in cuneiform, are being made fully accessible online. The collection will be based on around 30,000 documents, most of which are written in the Hittite language, but other languages such as Luwian and Palaic will also be represented to a lesser extent. Participating in the joint project are researchers from the universities of Mainz, Marburg, and Würzburg, as well as of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. The Thesaurus Linguarum Hethaeorum digitalis (TLHdig) project will receive about EUR 520,000 in funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) over the next three years….”

Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe (DALME)

“The DALME project and team are based in the Department of History at Harvard University with collaborations extending across North America and Europe. Working in the interests of documentary archaeology, we transcribe and publish archival documents that identify ordinary household objects, tools, equipment, commodities, and other elements of material culture. Team members and collaborators include archaeologists, art historians, historians, and literary scholars. We are eager to extend our collaborations with all scholars interested in the material culture of late medieval Europe; please reach out to us.

Our work is currently sorted into two major research initiatives or documentary corpora. Households and Things in Medieval Europe features household or estate inventories from a number of regions of Europe. The Object as Commodity presents information relative to object values and the role that objects can serve as commodities or economic goods. Within each corpus, members of the DALME team and project associates have created individual collections defined either by geography or theme.

The existing collections include records in Latin and a number of vernaculars. These collections are fully searchable in their original languages; our Search page offers suggestions on how to search, filter, or browse the collection.”

Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe (DALME)

“The DALME project and team are based in the Department of History at Harvard University with collaborations extending across North America and Europe. Working in the interests of documentary archaeology, we transcribe and publish archival documents that identify ordinary household objects, tools, equipment, commodities, and other elements of material culture. Team members and collaborators include archaeologists, art historians, historians, and literary scholars. We are eager to extend our collaborations with all scholars interested in the material culture of late medieval Europe; please reach out to us.

Our work is currently sorted into two major research initiatives or documentary corpora. Households and Things in Medieval Europe features household or estate inventories from a number of regions of Europe. The Object as Commodity presents information relative to object values and the role that objects can serve as commodities or economic goods. Within each corpus, members of the DALME team and project associates have created individual collections defined either by geography or theme.

The existing collections include records in Latin and a number of vernaculars. These collections are fully searchable in their original languages; our Search page offers suggestions on how to search, filter, or browse the collection.”

Destroyed Ancient Temple Now Open for Virtual Exploration

“Five years after its destruction, the ancient Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria has been digitally reconstructed by the UC San Diego Library’s Digital Media Lab (DML) using cutting-edge 3D methods and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Inspired by a past collaboration between the Library and UC San Diego’s Levantine Archaeology Laboratory, this project has resulted in the digital preservation of more than a dozen lost reliefs, sculptures, frescos and paintings, all made publicly available on the Library’s Digital Collections website….”

3D Printing and the Murky Ethics of Replicating Bones

“TEN YEARS AGO, it wasn’t possible for most people to use 3D technology to print authentic copies of human bones. Today, using a 3D printer and digital scans of actual bones, it is possible to create unlimited numbers of replica bones — each curve and break and tiny imperfection intact — relatively inexpensively. The technology is increasingly allowing researchers to build repositories of bone data, which they can use to improve medical procedures, map how humans have evolved, and even help show a courtroom how someone died.

But the proliferation of faux bones also poses an ethical dilemma — and one that, prior to the advent of accessible 3D printing, was mostly limited to museum collections containing skeletons of dubious provenance. Laws governing how real human remains of any kind may be obtained and used for research, after all — as well as whether individuals can buy and sell such remains —  are already uneven worldwide. Add to that the new ability to traffic in digital data representing these remains, and the ethical minefield becomes infinitely more fraught. “When someone downloads these skulls and reconstructs them,” says Ericka L’Abbé, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, “it becomes their data, their property.”…”

SocArXiv Papers | How to align disciplinary ideals with actual practices: Transparency and openness in archaeological science

Abstract:  Archaeology is a highly diverse community of researchers without universally adopted methods,concepts, or theoretical perspectives. One ideal that unites us is that we typically perceive of ourselves as contributing to the public good by helping to understand and preserve the past (Chippindale 1994). We act as stewards for archaeological sites and artefacts, and we work to correct misinformed views of the past that might have sinister motives. However, many of the current norms of archaeological practice are at odds with these ideals of archaeology. We share relatively little of our research with each other or the public. Typically we produce a journal article or monograph as a final product, but we rarely share the data files or computational methods that generated those final products, nor do we share our written work in ways that are readily accessible to the public. This suggests a gap between current practice and ideals. It also limits the reproducibility of our research, and the efficiency with which new methods can spread through the discipline. We show that an exploration of this mismatch between ideals and practice can reveal untapped potential for digital tools in archaeology to improve its sustainability as a research domain, and indicate new ways to engage with the public. We describe emerging norms in archaeology, and some new digital tools that archaeologists are using, that are helping to close the gap between ideals and current practices.