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Jennifer Bengtson

Jennifer Bengtson

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September 9, 2011

Digital is for Everyone

September 9, 2011 | By | No Comments

During my tenure as a 2011 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fellow, I created a digital repository for materials relating to Mississippian archaeological sites. This project involves the collection, digitization, and organization of materials such as maps, photographs, field notes, publications, gray literature, bibliographies, websites, and raw data within a single digital repository. The repository functions to preserve materials in a digital format while improving scholarly accessibility and providing an integrated, searchable network of relationships between diverse types and sets of information. The repository was built using the KORA digital repository and publishing platform (http://kora.matrix.msu.edu/).

The repository currently contains images (artifact photographs, site photographs, excavation photographs, historic photographs, maps, etc) and web resources, but documents and data (as well as more images and web resources) will be added as they become available. Immediate plans for publicizing the existence of the repository and soliciting contributions from other Mississippian researchers include both formal and informal interactions Read More

Jennifer Bengtson

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July 29, 2011

Some Thoughts on Community

July 29, 2011 | By | No Comments

I am an anthropologist. More specifically, I am an archaeologist. And even more specifically than that, I am interested in communities. Sounds simple and boring, but the concept of community is so complex and integral to being human. What is a community? Who decides who is “in” and who is “out”? What does community membership mean to individuals and what role do subcommunities play in relationship to other subcommunites?
When I entered into the Digital Humanities world earlier this year, it did not occur to me that this particular sliver of my anthropological interests would end up being in the forefront of my mind. But in my interactions with other DH scholars at conferences over the last couple of months, the thing I was perhaps most surprised and impressed with was the sense of community that is involved in creating, recreating, and using open-source content management systems and other digital tools. It’s Read More

Jennifer Bengtson

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May 6, 2011

My Project-Finding Adventure

May 6, 2011 | By | No Comments

If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that I was the last of the fellows to come up with a project. When I first applied to this program, I had an idea in mind that I thought was a “sure thing.” There was seriously no way that anyone could have a problem letting me create a digital repository to organize, store, and preserve all of the information they had been collecting over an entire career, right? I thought that this was the kind of thing that everyone wants to do, but just doesn’t have time for. So who was going be the lucky recipient of all the hard work I was about to invest in learning about and creating a digital repository? I was about to become someone’s digital hero. I just knew it.

Well, it took me two rejections to learn that, in reality, there are several reasons that Read More

Jennifer Bengtson

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April 15, 2011

Project Update: Digital Repository for Mississippian Archaeological Site Materials

April 15, 2011 | By | No Comments

I have been working to create a basic organizational framework for my repository (http://chi.anthropology.msu.edu/2011/02/28/a-digital-repository-for-mississippian-archaeologists/), and the process is actually coming along much better than I expected it would. A couple of weeks ago, I met with Dr. Goldstein to discuss my plans and to briefly browse through the materials she has available for the Aztalan site. To maximize inter-site comparability, we decided that it would be best to decide on a basic set of material types that I would expect to encounter as the project progresses. My initial decisions are, of course, based largely on what I have available for Aztalan, but these types of materials will likely be available for other sites as they are added to the repository. The preliminary categories are basic site information, maps, images, full text documents, bibliographies, and raw data. Of course, I plan to design the repository in a way that unique or Read More

Jennifer Bengtson

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February 28, 2011

A Digital Repository for Mississippian Archaeologists

February 28, 2011 | By | 8 Comments

For my CHI fellowship project, I will create a digital repository for materials relating to major Mississippian archaeological sites. The Mississippians were the most socially-complex peoples to ever inhabit prehistoric North America, and their sites generally date to between AD 1050 and AD 1500 (several groups in the Southeast United States continued to practice a Mississippian lifestyle at the time of European contact). Their lifeway was characterized by a ranked social structure with ascribed status differentiation, hierarchical inter-site political organization, ubiquitous cleared-field maize agriculture, and a set of common religious institutions and iconography. They dramatically modified their physical environments by clearing plazas and building earthen mounds of variable size and for various purposes, many of which are still evident on the landscape today. Mississippian groups inhabited an area spanning from northern Florida to Illinois and from the Atlantic plain to Eastern Oklahoma (though evidence of their influence is even more widespread). Read More