A use of computers in paleoenvironmental analysis.

Was going to call this Day of Archaeology post “The effectiveness of using expletives when trying to get technology to do what you want it to”, as have spent most of the day trying to get the ARK archaeological database to work!

The reason for this is to see if it can be applied to the creation on paleoenvironmental databases; with the master plan being the creation of ‘environmental models’ by combining data from pollen, insect, and faunal datasets, using the environmental factors from each to generate an impression of climatic and environmental conditions at different time periods.

The concept is to create a database, for say pollen, which contains all the environmental (like soil conditions) and climatic preferences for different plant species. Then use this database to analyse pollen datasets (examples of which can be found on the Neotoma) which are like spreadsheets, to determine the most ‘realistic’ model for the environment based upon the given data. This would be repeated for both insect and faunal datasets with all the results being combined to give environmental models for different time periods. Thus showing how the environment and climate has changed through time and the effects that human activity has had. Well, that’s the theory!

At this point I had better confess that I’m not a ‘proper’ archaeologist; my degree is in Software Engineering. So what I’m doing (or attempting to) is to use my knowledge and experience and apply it to archaeology, and it’s something that everybody can do. Archaeology is about telling the story of humanity, and we’re all part of that story. Thus everyone has something they can bring to archaeology; be it through education or personal experience.

As archaeology covers a whole gamut of topics from Astronomy to Zoology there is bound to be something of interest. A good place to start would be the BAJR (British Archaeology Jobs and Resources) website which contains a whole range of free to download guides and booklets, as does Historic England, and as for books, it would be worth checking out Desert Island Archaeologies for ideas. There is also a thriving archaeological community on social media platforms such as ‘Twitter’, which would be more than happy to answer any questions – no matter how silly or stupid they may sound – as that question will have been asked before, and will be asked again. So, go on, get involved. Just don’t mention dinosaurs!

One thought on “A use of computers in paleoenvironmental analysis.

  1. Great to hear you’re using ARK – let us know at L – P if we can help out in any way!

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