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Further and Further Into the Woods: Lessons from the Crossroads of Cuneiform Studies, Landscape Archaeology, and Spatial Humanities Research
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology. (Assyriologi)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1422-9645
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

If the first developmental stage of digital humanities has been concerned with the conversion and storage of analogue information in a digital form, then the second must be devoted to the formulation of interpretive and inclusive approaches to the structuring and organization of such data sets for large-scale analysis. Focusing on administrative cuneiform texts, a huge and unrivalled, if widely disregarded resource of quantitative information on the social and economic structure of the pre-Classical Middle East (c. 3000-0 BCE), the present talk reviews the results of doctoral research carried out at the Fragile Crescent Project of the University of Durham Department of Archaeology from 2012-2016.

My research project started from an initial, and relatively innocent attempt to gauge the scale and extent of political economies of a well-defined transect of the cuneiform world. Juggling a couple of thousand texts assembled from multiple geographical locations eventually lured me into the world of landscape archaeology, and the conversion of digital tools from this field into applications suitable for working with textual sources.

Over time, this came to include setting up a novel, Microsoft Access-based data structure for the mining and statistical analysis of quantitative historical data, the concurrent integration of this data structure with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) applications and archaeological survey records, and an altogether altered perspective on modes of standardizing and integrating data from a formally diverse, if substantially homogenous, assemblage of historical records.

Drawing on these experiences, the present talk aims to review primary methodological problems and solutions associated with building standardized data sets for large-scale digital analysis, how to keep analytical data sets open to research reuse and integration with new research questions, and how to maintain macro-historical data compatibility without loosing micro-historical perspectives.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
History and Archaeology Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology; Assyriology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-354030OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-354030DiVA, id: diva2:1220333
Conference
Digital Classicist Seminar 15 June 2018, University of London Institute of Classics, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, United Kingdom
Available from: 2018-06-18 Created: 2018-06-18 Last updated: 2018-06-18

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