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Katy Meyers

Katy Meyers

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May 6, 2014

Putting the Dead to Rest: My Last Post

May 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

Over the past six months, I’ve been developing and tweaking ieldran, an interactive Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery map. In this post, I’ve going to overview quickly why I developed the project, what tools I used, and where the project will be going.

In 410 C.E., the Roman Empire withdrew its administration and armies from England. Increasingly over the course of the 5th century, Germanic and Northern European tribal groups began to migrate into England.  Due to the changes in population and political structures, high levels of archaeological diversity and transformation characterize this period from the mid-5th to the early 7th centuries C.E. This diversity can be attributed varied cultural, social, economic and political interactions between the post-Roman Britons and incoming Northern European immigrants. There was a shift to furnished inhumation and cremation burials in the mid-5th century across England in areas where migrants were more prevalent. The archaeological remains of both cremation and inhumation practices are found in varying frequencies throughout England and often co-occur within the same cemetery. Better understanding of burial practices will aid in creating more nuanced interpretations of social, religious, political and economic relationships and identities in this period.

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April 17, 2014

The dead have come alive!

April 17, 2014 | By | No Comments

ieldran, the Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Mapping Project, is officially live and can be found here: ieldran.matrix.msu.edu

It’s been very exciting having the project live! However, because I went live early (most CHI projects will be going live on May 1) there are a number of features I wasn’t able to finish. There are two major features that I hope to add in the near feature.

  1. Submission of sites by users: I really want users to be able to add data to the project. The form wouldn’t directly add data, but rather would email it to me, and then I could add it. However, due to my lack of knowledge of PHP and lack of time to add more data at the moment, I had to comment this feature out. It is something very important to the project, especially since we currently don’t have inhumation only cemeteries in the database. With more time in the future, I will definitely add those sites and hopefully perfect the submission form.
  2. Downloads of spatial data: One of the reasons I went ahead with this project was that I wanted to make and share spatial data about site locations so that other people could use it and wouldn’t have to remake the data every single time. Sadly, due to my own lack of knowledge of PHP, I wasn’t able to get this feature running in time. I also need to figure out a way to add a license to the data so that the hard work that Matt Austin and I did to create it won’t be forgotten. However, it is impossible to add license or commenting directly into geoJSON data- meaning that we need to come up with another way of adding metadata either through an attached XML document or some type of modal.

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March 21, 2014

ieldran comes alive with the dead (despite issues)

March 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

Over the past few weeks of working on my Bootleaf based project, ieldran, there have been a number of interesting problems and developments that I’d like the share.

Being a good linked open access site: Last summer I was accepted into the Linked Ancient World Data Institute, an NEH ODH sponsored two day workshop/discussion on how to create links between various open access resources for the ancient world. Following this, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research and thinking on the problem of creating good linked open access sites and resources. I’ve been focusing more though on how to make my dissertation data open and accessible- and ironically not considering how to apply these standards to my CHI project. So now I’m going back to basics, and trying to make this good linked open data. A quick overview, five star linked open data has five principles (Taken from Tim Berners-Lee and Summary Site: http://5stardata.info/):

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February 20, 2014

Mapping the Ancestors: Project Update

February 20, 2014 | By | One Comment

As stated in my previous post, a problem within archaeology is that there are thousands of sites that have been excavated, and information about these sites and their collections can be difficult to find. Cemeteries from Early Anglo-Saxon England have been excavated, studied, and curated since the 17th century. There are hundreds of collections found across England in museums, universities, government offices and private holdings. However there is no single source for learning about what collections exist, who has them, and what they consist of. Studies have shown that sites that are shared online are more likely to be used and reused in new research projects, whether complete data be shared or just location and information about the site.

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January 23, 2014

ieldran: Proposing an Early Anglo-Saxon Cemetery Database

January 23, 2014 | By | 3 Comments

Robert and Mays (2010), two leading bioarchaeologists, found that of the over 250 articles written on bioarchaeology in Britain from the top four journals, 79% of them were based on collections from only 5 locations. While this uneven use of skeletal collections can be attributed to a number of reasons, the one that they highlight is the availability and knowledge of collections. The same is true for archaeological sites. The ones that are easily accessible on Archaeology Data Service or through other digital resources are more readily used and studied than those that reside only in analog format.

During my own research on Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, one of the issues I have run into is that there is no central database for learning about what sites exist, who excavated and interpreted them, and within which university or museum they are currently held. However, examining other texts and dissertations has shown me that not only has this work already been done, but also it has been done repeatedly by a variety of scholars. The lack of a central location for knowledge about archaeological material causes loss of time due to each scholar having to search through grey material and primary sources to dig up the original data. While this is a good exercise in research, and independent study of original sources is useful- we need to start working together to create open digital resources that increase our productivity.

I propose to create a community sourced digital map and database of Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. The project is currently being known as “ieldran”, meaning ‘ancestors’ in Old English, though this is potentially something that will change as the project progresses. The primary feature will be a map that shows locations of cemeteries in England dating from the mid-4th to late 7th century CE. Each site can be clicked on to reveal more information about the cemetery, the burials, associated artifacts, references for books and journal articles written about the cemetery, and where the original excavation materials, human remains, and artifacts are kept. Hopefully the site will also include elements such as a way for others to add their site to the map, a list of references for this period, updates about the project, and links to other digital resources.

A Drawn Version of the Database with Link to Specific Site and External Link to ADS Pictured. Click the image for larger version. Created by Katy Meyers.

A Drawn Version of the Database with Link to Specific Site and External Link to ADS Pictured. Click the image for larger version. Created by Katy Meyers.

 

Currently I am deciding which programs to use or this project. The map base will likely be Leaflet based, and the site itself will probably be WordPress.org- however I am open to suggestions since the project is only in the ‘ideas’ phase, and no actual development has occurred. Currently I’m loving the Center for Planning Excellence’s website as a template, since it has a focal map that changes lower content when clicked. This site is based on WordPress.org and a Google Maps API. I also really love the design and function of Pinterest’s new “Place Boards”, a good example is the Pure Michigan “Unusual Attractions” Board. While this is a drastically different design, I like that the links on the side can be used or the links on the map, and that the two portions are responsive. Then, when you pick a pin, it goes to the larger more explanatory site.

Works Cited

Roberts and Mays 2011. “Study and restudy of curated skeletal collections in bioarchaeology: A perspective on the UK and the implications for future curation of human remains”. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 21.5 (2011), pp. 626-630

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December 10, 2013

Returning to the Fellowship: The Epic Search for a Database

December 10, 2013 | By | No Comments

This year, I am returning to the CHI Fellowship. I first participating in the program in 2011 when it was in its first year. My project for the first time around was creating an OMEKA for the MSU Campus Archaeology Project. The goal was to have somewhere to share information in a museum-like format. This time around, my goal is more related to my own research. I want to create a database for cemeteries, specifically as a way to organize my own research but also to share it with others once the dissertation is complete. Currently, the aim will be creating a database that focuses on Anglo-Saxon cemeteries with both cremation and inhumation type burials. Read More

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November 18, 2011

New Face of Scholarly Communication in Archaeology

November 18, 2011 | By | No Comments

Scholarly communication is changing. By reading this blog post you are part of the change. By tweeting about this post, you are part of the change. The internet is drastically altering academia at all stages of research, with dissemination at the forefront of this change. The landscape of scholarly communication is no longer between individuals, or limited to conferences, and resources are not only found in libraries. The rise of Web 2.0 has created new methods for communication and dissemination of information. While some academic disciplines have shifted their practices and evaluation of scholarship with the changes in technology, others cling to their traditional roots. Change in technology does not mean correlating changes in academic practice or evaluation. As Kathleen Fitzpatrick notes in “Planned Obsolesence”, the change is institutional and social, we need to change the way that we perceive scholarship. This is especially relevant to archaeology, a discipline that could Read More

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October 27, 2011

Cyberinfrastructure and Archaeology

October 27, 2011 | By | No Comments

Cyberinfrastructure is a digital research environment. Imagine the Matrix, only instead of fighting Smith you are completing a site report with an 11th century ceramics specialist in the United Kingdom and an epigrapher from an Australian Museum, while using primary data from a medieval cemetery in Poland. Cyberinfrastructure includes all of the platforms, standards, hard and soft technology, as well as the human resources that facilitate digital research. When thinking about these digital research environments there is a tendency to focus on the virtual tools and technologies which allow for sharing, using, preserving, and combining of data from disparate collections. However the human component is just as vital since the cyberinfrastructure requires both technical expertise to create these interoperable workspaces, but also content expertise about the materials and data that are being used.

Archaeologists greatly benefit from the construction of cyberinfrastructures. The nature of our work requires specialist knowledge, large quantities of Read More

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October 6, 2011

Defining Digital Archaeology

October 6, 2011 | By | 2 Comments

Within the last ten years there has been a myriad of ‘digital’ disciplines cropping up. What sets each apart from the analog version is their use of digital technology in their respective field of study. As noted by Cohen and Rosenzweig (2005) “new media and new technologies have challenged historians [and other academics] to rethink the ways that they research, write, present and tech about the past. These digital scholars engage with their research through technology at any level, from data collection, interpretation and dissemination. The most active of these is the Digital Humanities, which has been actively attempting to define and delineate the discipline, while at the same time is engaging in a wide range of computing technologies in their research. While this interdisciplinary group attempts to determine who belongs in their “big tent” of the Digital Humanities, archaeologists have yet to engage not only with the Digital Humanities, but Read More

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September 9, 2011

Final Words of a CHI Fellow

September 9, 2011 | By | No Comments

Over the past year I have been involved in the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative Fellowship as one of the first fellows in the program. I started off the year with the goal of creating a community for bioarchaeologists around the world to share theories and methods known as the Bone Collective. I prepared a Wiki site for my creation, began building the back end of the site, and went off to the annual bioarchaeology meeting ready to share my idea with the discipline. The goal was to create a site that was completely community sourced, where bioarchaeologists freely gave their time for the greater good of the discipline.

Sadly, I quickly found when talking to my peers that while a resource like this would be great, they would not want to be the ones donating their time. Further, I found that students were discrediting the idea that a community sourced site could Read More