Deducing event chronology in a cultural heritage documentation system

In historically oriented research like archaeology, the determination of the chronology of events in the past plays an important role. For example, a fire of a house can seal off the layers physically below and give a partial relative dating of these. A well known tool in this area is the Harris’ Matrix used to systematize the contexts and layers found in an excavation. In this paper we will discuss a related but more general tool for documenting and analysing temporal entities like events. This tool is developed as a module of a four dimensional event-oriented documentation database based on the conceptual model CIDOC-CRM  ISO21127). The database is developed for an archaeological excavation project in Western Norway. In addition to places, events and actors the database is designed to contain texts, images and maps used to document such entities. In use the system will contain a dataset of events, their time-spans and relations between events. The system can detect conflicting dating, increase precision of starts, ends and durations of events and finally display a spatial and chronological overview. Given a time and a place within the dataset, the system can display all possible chronologies for the events in the set. So far, this tool has shown a great potential being used in projects involving large amounts of archive material as preparation for new excavations. Further development includes
the possibility to use other temporal constraints, such as durations and exploring the potential of adding spatial constraints and constraints on actors.
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Computer Applications to Archaeology 2009 Williamsburg, Virginia, USA. March 22-26, 2009

Christian-Emil Ore
Jon Holmen
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