Center for Digital Archaeology

Archaeology, Gigs and Grad School

Greetings Fellow Humans!

This is my first Day of Archaeology post, so an introduction. I am Nikki Martensen, an archaeologist, and an applied anthropologist. I am currently pursuing my Master’s Degree in Applied Anthropology at Humboldt State University. My thesis research focuses on the user experiences of archaeology as it is presented through the internet.

Here is me working on the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project (the artifacts on the tray are rubber telephone mouthpieces).

I have a few other things going on as well. I also work at the Stanford Archaeology Center as a research assistant for the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project, doing some collections management and ceramic analysis. I am also an intern at the Center for Digital Archaeology, and recently joined the team of Codifi, Inc., and we are helping some really cool archaeology projects go paperless with their fieldwork.

This week, I have been on location in the Center for Digital Archaeology office, hanging out with fellow interns. We got an awesome lesson from Chris Sims of Go Dig a Hole about podcasting and even got to join in on an episode recording.

Whether I am working from the office, or from home, a typical day for me will cycle through a few different experiences. It is normal for me to have several projects at once. I don’t do all of these things daily, but a typical work day of my life is a bit like this:

Walking, and java

First thing every day. Some days I end up at the computer all day, so this helps to keep me sane.

Thesis writing

I am currently in the proposal writing stage of my Master’s Thesis. Most days I will read something related to my topic, or write and revise some part of it.

Codifi Team Communication

Every day, the team has a quick check in meeting through a video call. Since the team isn’t always working at the same time, this helps to check in with our plans and availability for meetings throughout the day.Working with Codifi is both fulfilling and stimulating. We’ve helped with some awesome field deployments for archaeology projects such as Horvat Midras n the Judaean foothills (you can check out photos of the project on the Horvat Midras Excavation page on Facebook.)

Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA), Blogging and Outreach

One of my favorite parts of my internship is the blogging and outreach. Some days, I may be writing out some TrainingTIPS for the CoDA blog. This is a series of simple and useful tips that I have learned while being a student in CoDA webinars.

Ceramic Analysis/Data entry for the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project (MSCAP)

The bulk of my work here has been about collections management and ceramic analysis for the Market Street Chinatown Archaeology Project. This project is a research and education program developed by the Stanford Archaeology Center, the Stanford University Department of Anthropology, History San Jose, Environmental Science Associates, and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project. This project is fascinating to me because of the many communities involved with it.

My career in archaeology has been fun and fulfilling, to say the least, and I look forward to sharing many more experiences and also learning about yours! Feel free to find me at liminalanthropology.wordpress.com or on twitter @liminalANTH.

Thank you for reading and have an adventurous day!

Hand Crafted, Microbrewed, Mobile, and Field Friendly Database Solutions– Tyler Wilson

Happy Day of Archaeology! Take a moment today and think about the imprint you will leave in the ground when you’re gone! As a trained osteologist and physical anthropologist, I am familiar with bones, graves, and the grave goods our loved ones leave for us when we’re departed. I have participated in many traditional digs because, as archaeologists, we all love to uncover the past.

However, my current work with the Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA) at UC Berkeley is anything but traditional. As Informatics Specialist I work with our CTO and Founder Michael Ashley to develop hand crafted, microbrewed, mobile, and field friendly database solutions to harmonize and collect all archaeological data directly from the dig site. This is done through our remarkable Codifi database, a mobile database solution run on iOS and Windows and implemented on iPads in the field. We have deployed our Codifi solution at many sites around the world, and I feel strongly that I am contributing not only to the growth of the field of archaeology but also making archaeologists’ work easier and more intuitive.

The work I do now is primarily about content and media. Storing, managing, adding and preserving metadata, relating, and presenting to a user. Archaeologists love content, as we should, our work is dedicated to its discovery and understanding. I’m glad that the work I do is enabling archaeologists to more easily create, manage, and relate their content as they find it. I enjoy being connected to digs in Turkey, Jordan, and throughout the Middle East, and empowering not only the data collecting process, but also the knowledge gathered from it to inform cultural heritage.

An example of one of these fantastic projects:

 Last_House_on_the_Hill

Last House on the Hill (LHOTH) brings together incredibly rich digital media with all of the archaeological data to company the 600+ page physical monograph into a single, but multi-vocal accounting of the UC Berkeley excavations at Çatalhöyük, Turkey. Explorers of LHOTH will find they can easily traverse what would otherwise be an unwieldy amount of content. Ruth Tringham, the project director and the Creative Director@CoDA, has poured thousands and thousands of hours into LHOTH, finding deep satisfaction in bringing this remarkable resource to life.

Digital Archaeology isn’t just Scanning

Connor Rowe, Center for Digital Archaeology, Mukurtu CMS. Today is the Day of Archaeology, in which archaeologists around the world blog about this day in the life of an archaeologist. Now my background is in cultural anthropology and digital media, but I happen to work with a team of archaeologists at the Center for Digital Archaeology here at UC Berkeley, so I tend to jump on the archaeological wagon, especially when it intersects with the digital world. Hence my participation in #DayofArch 2013.

Browsing through digital heritage inside Mukurtu CMS.

Browsing through digital heritage inside Mukurtu CMS.

My current project is Mukurtu CMS, an open-source digital archive originally intended for (and created by) indigenous communities to collect and share their (digital, digitized, and intangible) cultural heritage, on their own terms. It is built on Drupal 7, and attempts to remain community-based in its development process (yes, this is as hard as it sounds). We’ve been supported by generous NEH, IMLS, and university grants, which help us, first, eat, and, second, continue this project for little or no cost to interested communities (notwithstanding Congressional budget cuts…). These grants have allowed us to produce complementary tools, e.g., Mukurtu Mobile, an iOS (and soon, Android) app, and work on projects as varied as museum exhibits and school science curricula. My work consists primarily of community support, software and installation upkeep, and facilitation of internal and external communication. I also get to fly around the continents and help communities implement digital preservation workflows on site.

Pondering bugs in the Treehouse

Pondering bugs in the Treehouse

Today, however, I am in our sunny Berkeley treehouse office, listening to the quiet chirping of birds, leaf blowers, and jack hammers (the archaeological offices surround BP’s new capital investment), staring at lines of code trying, somewhat successfully, to fix a problem reported by a community using Mukurtu in New Zealand. Time zones make it a little difficult to collaborate in real time, but it adds to the sense that the work I’m doing is globally worthwhile. My work in this aspect of digital archaeology, what might be termed digital cultural heritage preservation and management, is a rewarding niche of archaeological work. It allows me to empower others in the face of expectations of steep digital learning curves, manage their own heritage, and make sure that history is not lost, but rather shared. It allows me to build and learn code, while also paying attention to cultural relevancy. There is responsibility tied to certain knowledge, sacred stories, and ancestors. By building, maintaining, and supporting Mukurtu, I help communities retain control over how their heritage is distributed. As Kim of Team Mukurtu (below) would say it, “does all information want to be free?

Team Mukurtu:
Kim Christen, Project Director and persona behind @mukurtu
Michael Ashley, Development Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Center for Digital Archaeology, @lifeisnotstill
Chacha Sikes, Lead Engineer, @chachasikes
and me, Connor Rowe, Service Manager, @mrthebutler