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Beyond the Archive

Bridging Data Creation and Reuse in Archaeology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 April 2018

Ixchel M. Faniel*
OCLC Research, 6565 Kilgour Place, Dublin, OH 43017, USA
Anne Austin
Department of History, Stanford University, Lane History Corner, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Eric Kansa
Alexandria Archive Institute, Open Context, 125 El Verano Way, San Francisco, CA 94127, USA
Sarah Whitcher Kansa
Alexandria Archive Institute, Open Context, 125 El Verano Way, San Francisco, CA 94127, USA
Phoebe France
Department of Anthropology, University of Hawaii, College of Social Sciences, 2424 Maile Way, Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822, USA
Jennifer Jacobs
Alexandria Archive Institute, Open Context, 125 El Verano Way, San Francisco, CA 94127, USA
Ran Boytner
Institute for Field Research, 2999 Overland Avenue #103, Los Angeles, CA 90064, USA
Elizabeth Yakel
School of Information, University of Michigan, 105 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
(, corresponding author)


This article presents research on archaeological data creation and management practices at two excavations in Europe in order to gain a better understanding of how to align these practices with the data reuse needs of a broader research community. The Secret Life of Data project follows the life cycle of data from the field to the digital repository to better understand opportunities and challenges in data interpretation, publication, and preservation. Our “Slow Data” approach focuses not on maximizing the speed and quantity of data but, rather, on emphasizing curation, contextualization, communication, and broader understanding. Through a mixed-methods approach of interviews, field observations, and excavation data assessments, we recommended changes (both technical and organizational) to improve data creation and management practices. We report our findings and offer readers guidance on streamlining data collection for reuse during excavation.

Este artículo presenta los resultados de una investigación sobre la creación y gestión de datos arqueológicos en dos excavaciones en Europa con el objetivo de mejor entender cómo alinear esas prácticas con las necesidades de reutilización de datos de una comunidad de investigadores más amplia. El proyecto “La vida secreta de los datos” (cuya sigla en inglés es SLO-data) sigue el ciclo de vida de los datos desde su recolección en campo hasta su almacenamiento en un repositorio digital para entender oportunidades y retos relacionados con su interpretación, publicación y conservación. Nuestro enfoque basado en “datos lentos” (“Slow data”) no busca maximizar la velocidad y cantidad de datos; al contrario, enfatiza su curación, contextualización, comunicación y mayor comprensión. Gracias a un planteamiento metodológico combinado que incluyó entrevistas, observaciones de campo y evaluación de datos de excavación, se elaboró una serie de recomendaciones (tanto técnicas como administrativas) para optimizar la creación y gestión práctica de datos. Presentamos los resultados del estudio y ofrecemos consejos para racionalizar la recolección de datos en campo con el fin de facilitar su reutilización futura.

Copyright 2018 © Society for American Archaeology 

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