Seeking Context: Archaeological Practices Surrounding the Reuse of Spatial Information

by Deidre A Whitmore

Institution: UCLA
Year: 2016
Keywords: Information science; Archaeology
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2124544
Full text PDF: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/0pv8n8sz


The reuse of spatial information is essential to archaeological research. In this study, sixteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with archaeologists from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA to document current reuse practices. These archaeologists seek spatial information throughout their research projects and frequently access potential resources through colleagues and government institutions that hold archaeological materials and reports from a region. Respondents identified a wide range of resources that contain spatial information and described gathering and joining together multiple types of these resources. The archaeologists described publications and grey literature as essential to reuse and would often extract spatial information from the text, figures, and supplementary materials. The time to process and difficulties joining disparate datasets were cited as the most significant factors impacting reuse. Additionally, lack of documentation, incompatible levels of granularity, and concerns for accuracy impacted researchers’ ability to reuse spatial datasets. This study illustrates the need to incorporate information science skills and information professionals in the archaeological research community.