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Households through a Digital Lens

New Perspectives on
Household Archaeology
Edited by
B J. P  C P. F
Winona Lake, Indiana
© Copyright 2012 Eisenbrauns
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American Na-
tional Standard for Information SciencesPermanence of Paper for Printed Library Materi-
als, ANSI Z39.48-1984.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
New perspectives on household archaeology / edited by Bradley J. Parker and
Catherine P. Foster.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
The essays in this volume represent substantially revised versions of papers
presented at the conference Household Archaeology in the Middle East and
Beyond: Theory, Method, and Practice. This three-day meeting took place between
February 19 and 21, 2009 at Fort Douglas on the campus of The University of Utah
in Salt Lake City.
ISBN 978-1-57506-252-5 (hardback : alk. paper)
1. Household archaeologyMiddle EastCongresses. 2. Material culture
Middle EastCongresses. 3. HouseholdsMiddle EastHistoryTo 1500
Congresses. 4. Bronze ageMiddle EastCongresses. 5. Iron AgeMiddle
EastCongresses. I. Parker, Bradley J., 1962 II. Foster, Catherine P.
CC77.H68N49 2012
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi
Introduction: Household Archaeology in the Near East and Beyond . . . 1
Catherine P. Foster and Bradley J. Parker
Section 1
Household in Theoretical Perspective
1. Between the Individual and the Collective: Household as a
Social Process in Neolithic Greece . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
stella souvatzi
2. Homemaking in the Early Bronze Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Meredith s.Chesson
3. Households through a Digital Lens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
ruth tringhaM
Section 2
Methodological Advancements in Household Studies
4. Particles of the Past: Microarchaeological Spatial Analysis
of Ancient House Floors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
isaaC i. t. ullah
5. Household Matters: Techniques for Understanding
Assyrian Houses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
lynn rainville
6. Shifting Household Economics of Plant Use from the Early to
Late Natuan Periods of the Southern Levant . . . . . . . . . . . 165
arlene M.rosen
7. Dening Households: Micro-Contextual Analysis of
Early Neolithic Households in the Zagros, Iran . . . . . . . . . . 183
Wendy MattheWs
Section 3
Food and Subsistence at the Household Level
8. Feeding Households: A Multiproxy Method for Analysis of Food
Preparation in the Halaf Period at Fıstıklı Höyük, Turkey . . . . 219
Marie hoPWood and siddhartha Mitra
9. Integrating Household Archaeology and Archaeobotany:
A Case Study from Ubaid Kenan Tepe,
Southeastern Anatolia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247
PhiliP grahaM and alexia sMith
10. Beyond the House and into the Fields: Cultivation Practices in
the Late PPNB . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
Chantel e.White and niCholas P.WolFF
11. Domestic Production and Subsistence in an Ubaid Household
in Upper Mesopotamia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289
Bradley J.Parker
Section 4
Urban Households
12. The Challenge of Identifying Households at Tell Kurdu (Turkey) . . 321
rana ÖzBal
13. The Life of the Majority: A Reconstruction of Household Activities
and Residential Neighborhoods at the
Late-Third-Millennium Urban Settlement at
Titriş Höyük in Northern Mesopotamia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347
yoko nishiMura
14. Households and Neighborhoods of the Indus Tradition:
An Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373
Jonathan Mark kenoyer
15. Changing Households at the Rise of Urbanism:
The EB I–II Transition at Tel Bet Yerah . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 407
sarit Paz
Section 5
Synthetic Household Studies
16. The Uruk Phenomenon: A View from the Household . . . . . . . . . 437
Catherine P.Foster
Contents vii
17. Household Continuity and Transformation in a
Prehistoric Cypriot Village . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 473
david Frankel and JenniFer M.WeBB
18. How Households Can Illuminate the Historical Record:
The Judahite Houses at Gath of the Philistines . . . . . . . . . . 501
JeFFrey r.ChadWiCk and aren M.Maeir
19. Household Archaeology in the Southern Levant:
An Example from Iron Age Tell Halif . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 519
JaMes W.hardin
Section 6
20. About the Archaeological House: Themes and Directions . . . . . . . 559
roger MattheWs
General Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 567
Households through a Digital Lens
Ruth Tringham
Household archaeology, as this conference and other publications on the same
topic have shown, has already developed a multitude of practices that combine
theoretical standpoints, methodological preferences, and archaeological contexts in
which to investigate households. In an encyclopedic article on the topic, I suggest
that the aim of household archaeology “is to create a context in which a humanized
reconstruction of the past may be nurtured, through the study of intra-settlement
relations” (Tringham 2001: 6925).
Household archaeology developed in the 1980s and 1990s as the result of a
growing interest in intra-settlement relations, but it is a subdiscipline that is nei-
ther unied, nor organized, and hardly recognized within archaeology. The aims
and agendas of the archaeologists who carry out studies that are termed “house-
hold archaeology” are as variable as are the theoretical strands of archaeology itself
(Tringham 2001: 6926). Having said that there is no consensus on what comprises
household archaeology, I feel justied in focusing this chapter on a personal account
of my exploration of its practice. I think it is important to understand that each
archaeologist (as any other thinking person) transforms—or re-creates—themselves
during their professional lives and that this, far from being a sign of akiness, is
a very good thing! During my professional life I have transformed my objects of
investigation and my theoretical standpoints a number of times, sometimes very
quickly as a result of an “aha” moment, sometimes less self-consciously and realized
only after the fact. In retrospect, however, I have always thought of these changes
as logical, cumulative, and positive. I have set this study of household archaeology
as a personal journey because I feel that its transformation parallels in many senses
my own professional journey. I recognize and respect that others might construct
the history and current state of household archaeology very differently and do not
presume to speak for the whole eld.
I have drawn together in g. 1 four or ve strands of experience and practice
(designated with a key in the gure) that come together in what I do on a daily basis
and that comprise the professional directory mirrored in my version of household
History and Historical Context of Household Archaeology
Methods of Investigation of Household Archaeology
Sites of Investigation of Household Archaeology
Oprint from:
Parker and Foster, eds.,
New Perspectives on Household Archaeology
© Copyright 2012 Eisenbrauns. All rights reserved.
Ruth Tringham
Fig. 1. Chart showing the five strands that are woven together in this exploration of the practice of household archaeology.
Households through a Digital Lens 83
Household Archaeology in the Context of the History of Digital Technology
Creating the Digital Window to Household Archaeology
Each of these strands—not just those that have the word “history”—is considered
along a time trajectory from the late 1970s to now.
The History and Historical Context of
Household Archaeology
This history of household archaeology, as all histories, is constructed, selective,
biased, and divided into three parts.
Processual Archaeology
When it was initially developed in the late 1970s, the study of households aimed
at lling in the most detailed level of settlement pattern and activity analysis, which
could then be extrapolated to make more general statements about demographic
trends, specialized production, class structures, and complexity (for example, Flan-
nery 1976). The development of household archaeology at this time was no acci-
dent. It was closely related to the growing awareness in the late 1970s and into the
1980s of the need for more rigorous testing of social evolutionary theories by build-
ing hypotheses that related directly to the empirical archaeological data—in other
words, the development of Middle Range theory (Binford 1977; Clarke 1973; Good-
year etal. 1978; Raab and Goodyear 1984; Tringham 1978, 1990b). In the important
volumes edited by Wilk and Rathje (1982a) and Ashmore and Wilk (1988), which
really put the subdiscipline of household archaeology on the map, it was suggested
that, since households “are the level at which social groups articulate directly with
economic and ecological processes,” their study would offer a chance for archae-
ologists to examine social adaptation (in a Functionalist sense) with direct refer-
ence to the empirical details of the archaeological record. In other words, household
analysis would allow archaeologists to “bridge the existing ‘mid-level theory gap’
in archaeology” (Wilk and Rathje 1982b). However, in spite of the household being
described as a “fundamental element of human society” and a Chacmool conference
being devoted to the topic in 1988, household archaeology remained marginal to
the mainstream of Processual (New) Archaeology. Perhaps the funding, time, and
motivation was not available for any one project to investigate more than a couple
of households in the detail required to (re)construct what individual households did.
Such a small sample would not have been considered a valid scientic sample from
which to extrapolate a complete settlement and make a valuable contribution to the
macroscale trajectory of human social evolution.
Traditional Marxist and Neo-Marxist Archaeologies
Many of the early household archaeology papers in the 1980s were based in
Marxist models of production and social inequality, and focused on what house-
holds do. This standpoint did not preclude their interest in Middle Range theory-
building. Quite the contrary; the traditional Marxist and Neo-Marxist emphasis on
production led them to take the lead in developing household archaeology as a
strategy to build empirical hypotheses about social inequality and production that
was based especially in the study of small-scale agricultural settlements.
Ruth Tringham
Neo-Marxist studies emphasized the importance of the function of households
as the organizing units of cooperative labor, production, consumption and sharing
of resources, the transmission of property and rights from one generation to another,
and the creation and maintenance of ties and alliances with other units through
Fig. 2. Model of the emergence of the household in Neolithic southeastern Europe (after
Tringham 1990a: fig.16.3).
Households through a Digital Lens 85
marriage and other forms of exchange—in other words, social reproduction (Rathje
and McGuire 1982). In the 1980s, these topics became the objects of investigation of
many (but not all) household archaeology studies. The constraints of logical positiv-
ist rules on hypothesis-testing in archaeology and the inhibitions in transcending
the empirical data of the archaeological record in the name of “science” prevented
the social form of the household (that is, who lives there, with whom, and how they
are related) from being included in these studies. However, these latter questions
had always been of essential importance to social anthropologists and historians
studying households who provided the inspiration for the archaeological studies in
the 1980s (Arnould and Netting 1982; Goody 1972, 1976; Hammel 1984; Hammel
and Laslett 1974; Laslett and Wall 1972; Netting etal. 1984; Wilk and Netting 1984;
Yanagisako 1979).
Social inequality is a basic premise of Marxist models in household archaeol-
ogy, but this differs from processual models of social complexity. In contrast to the
classic Marxist classication of pre-urban households as egalitarian, many of the
Neo-Marxist models embraced the idea of ephemeral inequality based on the ever-
changing pattern of cycles of household growth and decline (Godelier 1975; Goody
1958; Meillassoux 1978). Inequalities that result from differences in the cycles of
demographic and economic evolution may be hard to dene but are nevertheless
very real. Thus, at any one time, the households of a settlement will demonstrate
differences in membership, the composition of the labor force, and the structure
of dominance within the co-resident group and within the settlement as a whole
(Moore 1986). They will demonstrate differences in relations with groups outside
the village and, most importantly, differences in access to the products and processes
of production. This concept of small-scale social inequality is the basis of a number
of archaeological models that use the emerging importance of households as the
unit of social reproduction to explain larger social and economic transformations,
such as the intensication of production, the increase of the labor supply, and the
increase in cultural complexity, even urbanism (Frankel and Webb 2006; Tringham
1990a). For example, g. 2 is a chart to show the change in household structure dur-
ing the Neolithic-Eneolithic period in Southeast Europe. The chart was originally
created for the publication of the Neolithic village of Selevac (see below) (Tringham
1990a) to show the change from large settlements formed of aggregated households
acting as the unit of social reproduction (such as Selevac) to later Neolithic small
settlements (such as at Opovo) that were formed of isolated or a couple of house-
holds, interpreted in this case as junior households escaping from the strictures of
the senior households in aggregated settlements. The Early Bronze Age takes this
process of decentralization even further, still—it is hypothesized—with households
acting independently. Amidst all the changes in household relations and status, the
intensication of production continued to be driven by the contradictions gener-
ated by small-scale inequalities between households with differentiating access to
production and exchange.
Post-Processual Archaeologies
The archaeologists who have contributed most to sustaining interest in house-
hold archaeology and drawing it out of its position on the periphery of the discipline
have been those exploring the practice of feminist anthropology and theories of
Ruth Tringham
social practice whose standpoints come under the multicolored umbrella of post-
processual and/or interpretive archaeology. These standpoints were not at all re-
ected in my initial presentation at the “Women and Production in Prehistory”
conference of April 1988 (Gero and Conkey 1991). In spite of being inspired at this
conference to change direction toward the feminist critique of archaeology (Tring-
ham 1991: 93), this standpoint continued to be unacknowledged in my plenary ad-
dress at the Chacmool conference on “Households and Communities” in November
1988 (MacEachern etal. 1989). Nor, for that matter, is it reected in the concluding
chapter of the Selevac project report (see below), written in 1989, that focuses on
household archaeology (Tringham 1990a). By 1991, however, with Meg Conkey as
my colleague at U.C. Berkeley, with the publication of the “Women and Production
in Prehistory” conference, I embraced the epistemology of the feminist critique of
science, narrative as a legitimate format of presentation, a focus on life-histories of
people, places, and things, and most importantly households with “faces” (Tring-
ham 1991, 1994). My most recent exploration of recombinant histories and database
narratives, building on rather than rejecting previous standpoints, is discussed at the
end of this chapter, since it results from the development of the digital window on
household archaeology since 1991.
A common theme of these diverse post-structural theories has been their devel-
opment—especially in cultural geography and social anthropology—beyond Neo-
Marxist models of power and labor control to models that focus on the contexts of
daily practice in domestic arenas as being the most signicant places. Here, negotia-
tions take place within and between the house to construct, maintain, and trans-
form ideologies of gender, class, labor, production, and identity (Cresswell 2004; de
Certeau 1984; Massey 1994; Smith 2004; Thrift 1996). They challenge the search for
the universal category of “kin-based co-residential domestic group” and embrace
the richness of the diversity of the social context of domestic action. They lift the
household domain out of its previous position of assumed general knowledge and as
marginal to the great events of history. They provide a richly based, multiscalar theo-
retical framework to consider the role of the labor of players in prehistory: women,
men, and children.
To paraphrase—and slightly embellish—what I wrote in 2001 (Tringham 2001:
6928), at the beginning of the twenty-rst century, “what households do” is still a
focus of household archaeology, but the “doing” is far more complex than physical
action, comprising events and tasks that involve movement and embodiment, repe-
tition and habituation, by people with faces, within a context of other players and
the construction of place (Ingold 2000).
The Practice of Household Archaeology
There have been many changes in the standard practices of investigating house-
holds, some of which are enabled, improved, or made easier by digital technologies.
This conference has shown the multitude of ways in which information is being
squeezed out of the archaeological remains. Many of the methods have only come to
be used more commonly because of changes in the theoretical attitudes to the chal-
lenge of investigating households. For example, investigations of the use-life of arti-
facts grew out of an interest in site formation processes, itself a product of the need
Households through a Digital Lens 87
for middle-range research (Schiffer 1976). The speedy extension to include architec-
ture, however, which had not been part of the original site-formation processes suite,
developed, I believe, as a direct result of the methodological requirements for house-
hold archaeology (McGuire and Schiffer 1983). We have all experienced changes in
our favored mode of investigation. In some cases, the change might be the result of
a deliberate development of a methodology inspired by new questions, as with our
development of a strategy to investigate the destruction of houses by re; but in
other cases, it might be more a case of serendipitously falling into an investigative
strategy that is already in use by others, such as our adoption in the BACH area at
Çatalhöyük to adopt the micro-archaeology methodologies of prehistoric buildings.
Our choice of strategies for investigation is partially dependent on the archae-
ological, logistical, social, and political contexts in which we practice household
archaeology and the extent to which the practice of different methodologies has
been hindered or enabled and encouraged. What follows is not a general history
about digital technology and household archaeology in which my own experiences
can be treated as examples or case-studies from which to extrapolate the whole.
Instead, this chapter is something of a personal exploration of my own encounters
with the practice of investigating household archaeology. Later on, I will discuss the
construction of recombinant histories. At this point in the essay, however, I would
like to draw attention to the fact that this exploration is itself a recombinant history,
comprising a series of fragments from my own experience that, taken together, cre-
ate a story about this theme that revolves around four places, four different periods
in my life, four different periods in the history of household archaeology, and four
very different contexts of work, social practice, and history.
Sites of Investigation (fig. 3)
Southeastern Europe
Three of the places are located in southeastern Europe. The projects all investi-
gate the establishment of early agricultural (Late Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic) vil-
lages in the 5th–4th millennia ...
Selevac. The project at Selevac, near Smederevska Palanka in the heart of Ser-
bia (former Yugoslavia), was my rst experience in directing an archaeological proj-
ect. The National Science Foundation funded three eld seasons (1976–1978) and
a couple of subsequent study seasons. Thus, the rst eld season coincided with
the publication of Flannery’s (1976) “Early Mesoamerican Village.” Neither house-
hold archaeology nor architecture, however, gured in the excavation strategy of
my project, which was designed more to study the intensication of production and
sedentism by focusing on artifactual materials and relatively coarse-grained stratigra-
phy. Constructing the use-lives of aked stone, ground stone, and ceramics through
Middle Range theory played a large part in the research strategy (g. 4), building on
my research and teaching at Harvard University in contact traces (microwear) (Tring-
ham 1978, 1990b) and the fact that two project participants had been students of
Michael Schiffer (Cheryl Claassen and Carol Spears).
The publication of the project spanned the 1980s, with nal production of the
monograph in 1990 (Tringham and Krstic 1990). By this time, I had become in-
terested in the use-life of buildings and the investigation of architectural remains
Ruth Tringham
during the project at Opovo (following section), setting these investigations in the
theoretical framework of household archaeology. As can be seen from the concluding
chapter of the Selevac monograph, the 1970s excavation results were retrospectively
placed rmly in a model that integrated the transformation of Neolithic communi-
ties of southeastern Europe through the combined effect of increasing sedentism, in-
tensication of production, and the emergence of the household as an independent
unit of social reproduction, assuring the resistance to urban development for several
thousand years to come in this area (Tringham 1990a). The Selevac monograph may
denitely be classied as an example of history writ large.
Opovo. As became a pattern in my career (not one to be emulated), the proj-
ect at Opovo, located in the lower Tisza-Tamiş valleys of the area of Serbia known
as Vojvodina, began while the analysis and publication of Selevac was still in pro-
cess. This project was designed as a response to my growing interest in the study of
prehistoric architecture, to incorporate the details of a building’s destruction and
abandonment as well as its construction. This also became the focus of the career of
my Serbian collaborator, Mirjana Stevanović, who had been a student participant at
Selevac and with whom I directed excavations from then on. Together we devised
a strategy to excavate the use-lives of Neolithic burned wattle-and-daub houses of
southeastern Europe and put this strategy into practice at Opovo between 1983 and
1989 (Tringham etal. 1985, 1992). Many of our team members at Opovo had also
participated in the project at Selevac. Our Yugoslav co-director was Bogdan Brukner,
who directed the Neolithic excavations at the large-scale project at Gomolava. The
Opovo project, in sharp contrast to that of Selevac, exposed a large area (16×20 m)
with several partially superimposed complete houses (g. 5). Also, unlike the Selevac
Fig. 3. Map showing the of sites of investigation in this exploration of household
Households through a Digital Lens 89
project, the Opovo project was not funded by a steady stream of “hard” currency and
was constantly beset by the nancial hardship cause by the growing ination of the
Yugoslav dinar. In the end, ination along with a host of related economic, social,
and political crises erupted with the Yugoslav Civil War in 1991. Thus, the project
nished just before civil war. By the time of the Opovo project, I was on the anthro-
pology faculty at University of California, Berkeley and had access to the support of
that institution’s Quantitative Anthropology Laboratory.
The project at Opovo was an ambitious enterprise to put household archaeol-
ogy into practice, but this was a household archaeology that was heavily steeped in
Neo-Marxist theoretical models of small-scale ephemeral inequality in production
and access to resources between households. We made the assumption that each
building at the site represented a single household. Thus we studied the use-lives of
artifacts––the total range of production information from resource procurement to
deposition as archaeological record––in relation to their context in the use-lives of
the buildings. The Opovo project is probably most famous for its investigation of
the “Burned House Horizon” of Neolithic Southeast Europe. From the results of our
investigation, we extrapolated to the regional scale of southeast European Neolithic
settlements that houses were regularly burned deliberately as separate events at the
Fig. 4. Research design incorporating Middle Range theory-building used in the Selevac
project and later in the Opovo project (based on Tringham and Krstic 1990: figs. 1.5, 16.10,
Ruth Tringham
Fig. 5. Plan and photo of the excavated houses at Opovo (after Tringham etal. 1992: fig. 9).
Households through a Digital Lens 91
end of their use-lives. Our favorite interpretation of these data was that houses were
burned to create a permanent (if invisible sub-surface) marker of the house on the
landscape, contributing to the continuity of place and social memory (Stevanovic
1997, 2002; Stevanovic and Tringham 1998; Tringham 1994, 2000, 2005). In terms
of the study of household inequality, however, our sample of three complete and
two partial houses was far from ideal for the purposes of statistical evaluation and
extrapolation to the settlement as a whole.
Podgoritsa. True to pattern, I was tempted, while editing and writing the nal
report of Opovo, to join Douglass Bailey in a proposed project in Northeast Bulgaria
to do a household archaeology study of a small Eneolithic (4400–4600 ...; Pol ya-
nitsa Culture) settlement mound (“tell”) at Podgoritsa. Douglass had also been writ-
ing about the life-history of houses, specically on tell settlements in Bulgaria (Bailey
1990). He suggested that, linked to the developments in production and settlement
complexity, the Eneolithic period is characterized by an intensication of the expres-
sion of personal and group identity (Bailey 1996).
The National Science Foundation funded the single season of eldwork in sum-
mer 1995 carried out by a combined team of Bulgarian, American, and British ar-
chaeologists and geophysicists (Bailey etal. 1998). The team included a number of
former participants in the Opovo project, including Mirjana Stevanović and Nerissa
Russell. Michael Ashley, whose name will recur frequently as I discuss the digital
window, was also a member of the team. Mirjana and I hoped to apply here much of
the strategy that we had developed in Yugoslavia to investigate household archaeol-
ogy and the use-lives of buildings. At Podgoritsa, the core of the methodology for
excavating and recording the houses was structured to test (and challenge) the va-
lidity of the assumed synchronicity and coherence of the building horizon concept
(Tringham 2000). An important expansion of our research in Yugoslavia was that in
Podgoritsa we expected to nd more or less vertically superimposed sequences of
buildings that would make an important contribution to understanding the role of
households in the formation of tell settlements (Tringham 2000). Unfortunately, we
did not succeed in going below the uppermost level of houses before terminating
the project.
Anatolia: Çatalhöyük
Tells had comprised the focus of our research into early agricultural settlements
in Bulgaria where, in contrast to Yugoslavia and other West Balkan regions, they
formed from the Early Neolithic to Early Bronze Age. Similarly, Anatolian prehis-
toric studies have been dominated by eldwork on tell settlements. One of the most
famous (and largest) of these is Çatalhöyük, a 9,000-year-old Neolithic settlement
that was occupied for 1,400 years in the Konya region of Turkey. In both areas, it has
been traditionally suggested that tells formed because they played an important role
in the dynamics of increased large-scale agricultural and material production as well
as expressions of group identity. Ian Hodder obtained permission to renew research
at Çatalhöyük in 1993 (Balter 2005; Hodder 2006) to make these traditional descrip-
tions of tell settlements objects of investigation rather than taken-for-granted facts.
With his standpoint rmly in the practice theory of Post-Processual Archaeology,
his strategy of research was to understand the formation of the tell as a complex
organic evolution of building units, which may or may not (depending on the data)
Ruth Tringham
equate with a network of individual households. It was household archaeology in
everything but name.
After the demise of the Podgoritsa project, several of the team members went on
to join the rst season of excavation at Çatalhöyük in 1995. I had already refused
an invitation to join the Çatalhöyük team, being committed, I thought, to working
in southeastern Europe. In 1996, however, I accepted an invitation to visit the site
to plan a collaborative project to investigate the life-history of a specic building
(Building 3) in the context of neighboring houses on the peak at the northern end
of the East Mound. The project, known as Berkeley Archaeologists @ Çatalhöyük
(BACH), began in 1997 under the umbrella of the main Çatalhöyük Research Proj-
ect (CRP) with a team from the U.S.A., Serbia, U.K., and Turkey. The excavation of
Building 3 lasted until 2003, by which time all its walls, oors, and features had been
removed. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation through 2000,
after which it was funded by small grants and private gifts (Tringham and Stevanovic
There were a number of factors that made this project very different from those
I had conducted in southeastern Europe and much more conducive to a successful
investigation of household archaeology. There was already in place an interdisciplin-
ary team of the CRP who were prepared to integrate our and their results as a multi-
vocal enterprise. Their research aims were in line with ours in terms of constructing
life-histories of people, places, and things at multiple scales. Their collaboration
broadened the spatial exposure of excavated buildings in a way that could not be
done by a single project. The mud-brick architecture is not only well preserved, but,
unlike wattle-and-daub architecture, enables an archaeologist to follow in rich detail
the sequence of modications to a building during its life (Tringham and Stevanovic
2012b). A monograph—Last House on the Hill—comprises the nal paper published
report of the BACH project. 1
Changing Methods of Investigation
A surprising number of methods of investigation have been technologically ac-
cessible for many years (often decades) before they were actually applied to archaeo-
logical investigation. Many of them are improved by, but do not require, electronic
technology or digital formats of retrieval, presentation, and archiving. As mentioned
earlier, I believe it is the questions that we ask as archaeologists that will drive the
adoption of new methods rather than the “wow” factor of the techniques themselves. 2
Inequalities within and between domestic units—households—are manifested
archaeologically by the spatial differentiation of the production process, that is, in
the production, consumption, and distribution of food and nonfood resources. In
1. R. Tringham and M. Stevanovic (eds.), Last House on the Hill: BACH Area Reports from Çatal-
höyük, Turkey. Çatalhöyük 11. Monumenta Archaeologica 27. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of
2. As a matter of fact, Meg Conkey and I made this same point in a paper entitled “European
Theoretical/Social Archaeology: Studies in Ambiguity” presented in a symposium “Trowel and Error”
at the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology at Phoenix, AR (May, 1988), much
to the chagrin of chair T.Douglas Price.
Households through a Digital Lens 93
each case the pattern of economic activity (and inequality) should have a distinc-
tive appearance, demonstrating differential access to the materials, means, process,
and products of production. The expectation is that different households will show
differential access not only to the products of exchange with other groups but also
to the raw materials, techniques, and equipment for making use of resources, such
as food items, minerals, and ceramics. Such a differentiation of economic activity is
frequently, but not necessarily, accompanied by specic styles of material.
Spatial and Activity Area Analysis. The 2D and 3D plotting of individual arti-
facts and/or their clusters on oors and surfaces had been a signicant strategy for
the documentation of excavations since the 1930s characterized by large horizon-
tal exposure with or (especially) without stratied deposits. Early examples of such
research include the excavation of Late Neolithic (Tripolye culture) settlements in
the former USSR (Krichevski 1940) and investigation of the late Pleistocene hunter-
gatherer settlements in Paris Basin, such as Pincevent (Leroi-Gourhan and Brézellon
1972). The aim of these excavations was, as with Flannery’s Oaxaca excavations
and many others since, to identify activity areas, representing specialized activities
such as hide-cleaning or bead-making, or unspecialized areas of domestic chores
such as cooking. The ultimate aim of most of these studies was to extrapolate from
the sample to provide broadly applicable information on ecological adaptation and
cultural complexity. Later examples have added larger samples of materials beyond
diagnostic pieces and more complex statistical manipulation (Kent 1990).
Use-life. It was unusual (and perhaps still is) until the late 1970s for such plot-
ted distributions to include information on all stages of use-life. Procurement and
manufacturing information was important in terms of exchange and craft specializa-
tion, but information on consumption (use), maintenance (re-use) and deposition
were an untapped wealth until the studies on site formation and taphonomy were
brought into view by Middle Range Theory-building (Binford 1977; Schiffer 1976;
Tringham 1978). Contact trace experimentation and analysis of microwear and resi-
dues played an important part in these developments.
Artifact investigation at Selevac in the late 1970s took place in the middle of
these developments in the discipline. My emphasis at this time was monitoring
changing resource use through time with a view to investigating sedentism and
the intensication of production, so that spatial exposure across the site and iden-
tication of activity areas was very limited. All artifacts, however, whether lithics,
groundstone, ceramics, bone and antler were subjected to use-life analysis, in most
cases based on preceding experimental research (Tringham 1978, 1990b).
Unlike artifacts, archaeological architecture was not subjected to such Middle
Range research as use-life analysis until the 1980s (1983–84; McGuire and Schiffer
1983; Stevanovic 1997; Tringham 1994). 3 There is no doubt in my mind that its in-
clusion in such studies was the new interest in household archaeology in the early
3. Both Mirjana Stevanović and I presented the idea—taking off from the McGuire and Schiffer
(1983) article—at the Society for American Archaeology and American Anthropological Association
1984 annual meetings respectively.
Ruth Tringham
The built environment provides the essential context of co-resident domestic
groups. So it is not surprising that archaeologists interested in architecture and work-
ing in well preserved architectural contexts have led the eld of household archae-
ology. Our premise when beginning the work at Opovo, for example, was that the
primary requirement for the examination of the social context of production and
economic life at an archaeological site (in other words, of household archaeology) is
that a number of domestic architectural units be exposed by excavation. This would
enable a comparative view of co-resident domestic groups across the settlement at
any one time. Large architectural exposure has also facilitated the construction of
neighborhoods, specialized areas, and pathways (see Frankel and Webb 2006, Chap-
ter 18; Hodder 2006, Nishimura, Chapter 14).
The study of archaeological architecture in terms of the use-life of buildings
greatly enhanced these efforts. In this way the context and nature of the construc-
tion, maintenance, occupation, modication, and abandonment, destruction, and
replacement of a residence all become objects of investigation. Traditionally, they
would have comprised elements that were subsumed under the formal description of
the building. The investigation of a building through different stages of its use-life,
however, brings to light many important aspects that would otherwise have been
ignored; for example, modications such as the addition or removal of rooms during
the cycle of growth and decline of a domestic unit, efforts to prolong the use-life of
a building by repairs and renewals, symbolic emphasis placed on particular use-life
stages such as re-plastering, the destruction of old houses (for example by re), or
founding of new houses (Steadman 1996; Stevanovic 2012a; Stevanovic and Tring-
ham 1998).
Architecture at Opovo in the 1980s was treated as the dynamic context of
households that were in a constant ux in terms of their status in the village, draw-
ing on the Neo-Marxist models of inequality between households. Artifactual analy-
sis proceeded along the same lines of use-life analysis as at Selevac. The architectural
remains were also subjected to use-life analysis described above. Mirjana Stevanovic
(1997) and I were especially interested in the phenomenon that we referred to as the
“Burned House Horizon” (BHH), in which all the houses surviving archaeologically
in southeast European Neolithic and Eneolithic ended their days in a high tempera-
ture re. Interestingly our investigation supported the idea of households in the
BHH acting as independent units of social reproduction in that we determined—at
least in the Opovo excavation—that each re was deliberately set as an independent
conagration (Stevanovic 1997; Tringham 1994). After the project, our interpreta-
tions of this information varied, including a means to ensure continued knowledge
of the location of “dead” houses, symbolic funeral pyre for a household, and so
on (Chapman 1999; Stevanovic 2002; Tringham 2000, 2005). This was household
archaeology practiced “without faces,” but post-excavation incorporation of faces
(see below) was founded on an extraordinarily detailed architectural investigation
of the use-lives of ve wattle-and-daub houses.
The Harris Matrix is a good example of one those tools that has been around for
many years, needs no complicated equipment, but has only recently begun to be
incorporated into mainstream excavation practice as an extraordinarily useful tool.
It was developed by Edward Harris at Winchester, UK in 1973, and was adopted in
Britain by a number of urban archaeology projects, where it has become standard
Households through a Digital Lens 95
Fig. 6. Household investigation in the excavation of Building 3 at Catalhöyük: (a) use-life phases; (b) Harris matrix of platform F.162.
Ruth Tringham
procedure. It has also found popularity in archaeological projects in Europe and the
Near East (Harris 1979, 1998). However, it has been resisted as standard procedure
in North America, except on Historical Archaeological projects. As a method of de-
picting the stratigraphic position of each depositional event in the process of the
changing life of a building or a location, the Harris Matrix has played a fundamental
role in documenting the complexities and details necessary for household archae-
ology to work successfully. It is, however, dependent on a strategy of excavation
(single-context excavation) in which each depositional event is recorded as a unique
context or unit, along with its associated nds and samples. Ideally, each context
should be excavated in the reverse order to that in which it was created, according
to its “natural stratigraphy,”—that is, without using baulks and arbitrary spits. This
restriction might explain its lack of general adoption on prehistoric sites, especially
places with no clear architecture. At Opovo, we did excavate to a certain extent in
single contexts, but we did not use the Harris Matrix to present our stratigraphy.
Architecture at Çatalhöyük survived with its plastered mud bricks and plastered
clay oors and features in a much better state than the burned clay rubble of Opovo.
This fact certainly contributed to the feasibility of a single-context excavation strat-
egy and its representation in a Harris Matrix (g. 6a–b). An important factor, how-
ever, was the ability of this strategy of excavation and documentation to represent
the complex process of interweaving the history of people, places, and things within
the formation of the settlement mound, providing data for post-processual ques-
tions of everyday practices within the house (Hodder etal. 2007; Stevanovic 2012a;
Tringham and Stevanovic 2012).
Repeated Practices and Microarchaeology
An important shift in the treatment of, and thinking about, architectural remains
within the framework of household archaeology has been a growing emphasis on the
life-history of buildings rather than their use-life (Tringham 1994). This means that
the biography of a house is inextricably linked to the biographies of the people who
lived in and walked through the building. The everyday practices of these members
of the household comprised rhythms of tasks that were unique events in the history
of that place. Such multiscalar historically contingent places focus the archaeolo-
gists’ attention on dramas and events that went on within the household, inequali-
ties and communication between its members as they went about their daily tasks.
Thus, as I discussed above, this changing nature of household archaeology demands
for a detail of retrieval of data on everyday practices—microarchaeology—that could
have been carried out earlier but never was, simply because there was no demand
for the expenditure of time and funds needed in this kind of highly detailed work.
Microstratigraphy/micromorphology is one such source of the detailed infor-
mation. Microstratigraphic observations and sampling combined with micromor-
phological analysis provides the key to addressing the detailed record of everyday
practice. The analysis of the samples includes a detailed examination of the deposi-
tional and contextual relationship between “natural” and constructional and other
anthropogenic sediments, artifacts, and inorganic and organic remains, and eventu-
ally the identication of the processes of deposition and post-depositional altera-
tions. These techniques were developed in the 1960s by archaeologists analyzing
Households through a Digital Lens 97
Pleistocene and early Holocene deposits in caves. Their use on other kinds of ar-
chaeological sites has, until recently, been quite rare and generally without a regular
on-site micromorphologist (Courty etal. 1990). With the increased interest in the
detailed life-history of individual buildings that cannot be reconstructed without
these observations, the incorporation of micromorphologists in excavation teams
has become more frequent, one of the best examples being Çatalhöyük (Boivin 2000;
Courty etal. 1990; Matthews 2005a, 2012; Rosen 1993).
Microartifactual distribution differs from the spatial distribution of artifacts
mentioned above in relation to activity areas in that the data is not clearly visible as
artifactual and is not plotted individually. The source of the data is the heavy resi-
due by-product of otation samples—debris including microfauna, charcoal, shell,
insects, eggshell, micro-debitage of lithics, gurines, and beads, dung, plant materi-
als, coprolite fragments, etc.—that provides information on in situ tasks and actions
in and around a building in contexts where oors and features have been stripped or
cleaned prior to replastering or closure and abandonment, leaving very little macro-
artifactual data for retrieval. Flotation samples in many cases provide the most stan-
dardized—and often ubiquitous—data set across a site (Matthews and Hastorf 2000).
Since they are so closely tied to depositional events, their heavy residue content
provides essential information on the signicance of changing spatial conguration
within a building through time. They also provide information on repeated associa-
tions of task-specic debris, from which conclusions on rules about specialized areas
of buildings may be drawn (Rosen 1993). The success of the microartifactual distribu-
tion analysis is dependent on computational statistical evaluation and even incor-
poration into a GIS mapping program (Ullah, chap. 5 below). These have, however,
been around for much longer than the application of these observations.
Microarchaeology and repeated practices at Çatalhöyük. Microstratigraphic exca-
vation and observations and intensive sampling from building oors, plasters, and
walls for micromorphological analysis was a characteristic of the Çatalhöyük Re-
search Project from its inception in 1993, under the leadership of Wendy Matthews,
who played an important role in the design and implementation of its research
program, as well as training in the eld (Matthews 2005a, 2005b, 2012; Matthews
etal. 1996; Tung 2008). Arlene Rosen, who wrote one of the rst books in which mi-
cromorphology was applied to Holocene archaeology, was also a member of the CRP
team. She started a program of systematic sampling for phytoliths at the site (Rosen
2005), which complemented the systematic sampling for geochemical residues of
various kinds on the oors (Middleton etal. 2005). The intensity with which the
oors and buildings at Çatalhöyük have been sampled is very time-consuming and
expensive but has paid off in the extraordinary results that have been gained about
the life-histories of buildings at the site (Hodder and Cessford 2004).
In the publications of the 1995–1999 excavations at Çatalhöyük, it was pointed
out that, although the analyses of sampled sets—including those just described—
contributed to knowledge about the Neolithic houses in terms of the tasks, activities,
and repetitive practices that were carried out, the analyses of the heavy residues from
the ubiquitous otation samples in their architectural contexts made the greatest
contribution to understanding their spatial patterning (Cessford 2003; Cessford and
Mitrovic 2005; May 2005).
Ruth Tringham
Household Archaeology in the
Context of Digital Technology
I have chosen to focus much of this chapter on one aspect of household archae-
ology that has interested me personally and increasingly in the last 15 years: the
transformations that have been created in the eld of household archaeology by the
accelerating developments of digital technology. I believe, moreover, (and hope to
show by the end of this chapter) that these and future developments in digital tech-
nology hold the key to breathing life into the topic of household archaeology. The
extraordinary trajectory of computerized technology, digital formats of publication,
knowledge production through search engines, and communication via the Inter-
net has transformed our lives and the way we practice archaeology with such speed
that it is possible to trace these transformations within the professional career of a
single person who is still actively participating in those transformations (Tringham
2010). 4 I am obviously describing myself here, but the experience must have been
repeated for many other archaeologists. What I think is important, and I shall try to
express here, is that archaeological projects themselves and the fate of their data and
archives have also been participants in these transformations.
In this section of the essay I have selected certain domains of digital technol-
ogy that have come in and out of popularity. Actually, they were hailed at rst as
innovations that would solve all our problems in archaeology but gradually became
invisible and taken for granted through habituation. Digital technology in archae-
ology started with quantication and statistical manipulation, followed by digital
formats of documentation and mapping, and then followed on to the wonders of
3D and the creation of virtual immersive environments, and nally the ubiquity of
the Internet releasing us to enjoy the immediate satisfaction of communication any-
where, anytime, globally. In this parade of innovations, there are certain constant
elements whose transformations are worth bearing in mind (this list is not expected
to be denitive!):
Input of content into the digital format. The advent of the personal computer in
the late 1970s—and for me the joyful visual interface of the Apple Macintosh in
1984—freed the general public from the logistical inconvenience and tyranny (but
also expertise, security, and responsibility) of the computer specialists. The platform
through which we interface with the digital world is also an important considera-
tion: Unix, Linux, MS Windows, AppleOS. Speed and processing power of the com-
puters has made a huge difference in who can do what, and all of this comes down
to the price of hardware.
The software producers keep us in thrall to their updates and upgrades, which
are a sign of progress but also come at a price. Proprietary software is challenged by
the ever-growing availability of open-source software, often free or less expensive.
Storage is a volatile element (both in use and in pricing): where to put all the
products of our digital activity? The size of les has grown exponentially and laugh-
ably from a maximum of 100kb in 1984 to amounts currently measured in gigabytes
or terabytes. Parallel with this is the need to store these growing data either inside the
4. The gures from the Tringham (2010) article—most of which are relevant to this part of this
chapter—are reproduced in low resolution format at the following web-site: http://www.ruthtring-
Households through a Digital Lens 99
computer’s hard drive or in external drives or on various forms of removable media.
Many of the means of connecting to external media have fallen into oblivion and, if
we are not careful, those old media full of archaeological data will go the same way.
Now many store their data on-line, somewhere in cyberspace (the Cloud), arguably
the most secure and sustainable and also the easiest to access by a large audience.
Input devices by which the data can be captured, in addition to the mouse (not
introduced until the 1980s) and keyboard, include scanners, various kinds of laser
input devices, lmless still cameras whose quality now equals at an affordable price
that of lm cameras, and video cameras, some of which are lmless as well as tiny
and affordable. The BACH project is just one that was transformed by these develop-
ments (Tringham and Ashley 2012a)
The Internet was already being used by universities in the 1980s but only came
into its own with the establishment of the World Wide Web browser in 1994; the
path to a revolution in global communication and information-sharing was set
(Okin 2004). Recent aspects of the revolution include enormously powerful search
engines in common usage, ubiquitous communication through “social software,”
and accessible on-line databases through a browser interface.
Sharing the products of computer work has changed and remains among the
hardest aspects for an unguided person to handle. Printing on paper—a hard copy—
is still demanded by many for reasons of “security.” Digital publication is now be-
ing seen less of a challenge to the publication houses who are tending to “join the
enemy.” Digital publication of on-line materials is still fraught with the same intel-
lectual property issues as copying printed works. The barriers to sharing of digital
works, however, is at least being problematized by the establishment of such li-
censing as Creative Commons “some rights reserved,” 5 open source, 6 and the open
knowledge initiative. 7 The argument here is that while recognizing the importance
of acknowledging authorship, without the ability to share and re-use, digital data
will not survive.
Related to sharing is the growing need for standards of documentation of digital
works and the responsibility of authors to format their works for long-term durabil-
ity (using non-proprietary formats). Every work needs to be embedded with informa-
tion about who, how, and when the piece was created and modied—metadata—in
order to guarantee its long-term sustainability (Ashley 2008; Kansa 2005; Richards
2004, 2006). 8
Underlying all of these constant elements is one that is often overlooked—the
socioeconomic, sociocultural, and sociopolitical dimensions of using, adopting, re-
jecting, and creating digital technologies and products. Global inequality in access
to the Internet, for example, as well as computer hardware and software is an im-
portant aspect that has to be considered in a project going entirely digital. Another
5. Creative Commons: (accessed 06/30/12).
6. For example, The Open Source Geospatial Foundation: (ac-
cessed 06/30/12).
7. For example,The Open Knowledge Foundation: (accessed
8. See also the “Digging Digitally” blog: (ac-
cessed 06/30/12); “Open Archaeology” blog:
content&task=view&id=128&Itemid=141 (accessed 06/30/12).
Ruth Tringham
signicant aspect, at least in academia, is the low value that has traditionally been
given to digital publication compared to the denitive nature of paper publication.
This has led to a lack of motivation for many academics both young and old for
exploring digital authoring.
My experience with the use of computers started in the 1960s as a student par-
ticipant in the excavation of the Neolithic (Linear Pottery culture) settlement of
Bylany, Czechoslovakia, when I was introduced to the wonders of a card-punching
machine for analyzing pottery decoration (Tringham 2010). I had a closer contact
with punched cards as a lithic specialist at the Yugoslav-U.S. project to excavate the
Neolithic site of Divostin between 1969 and 1972. My participation in this project
spanned my move to the United States. I was invited by the director Alan McPherron
to visit his team in Pittsburgh, where we entered the card data into the mainframe
computer and nursed through the manipulation of their numbers with complex
statistical analyses. The quantication of the data from the Selevac project in the
later 1970s was modeled on the design of the Divostin analysis. In the eld, data
were entered in 80-column sheets. The eld sheets were transferred to punch cards
while I used the facilities of Harvard (1976–1978); punch cards were abandoned in
favor of direct data entry and tape storage when I moved to U.C. Berkeley and took
advantage of the small mainframe computer of the Quantitative Anthropology Lab
(QAL). Thus, the gap between eld practice and digital record was beginning to close.
However, the digitized data were mostly numeric and were stored in a mainframe
computer; it had to be manipulated by what I considered highly unfriendly Unix
commands. There was no possibility of linking the alphanumeric data to any visual
record. The photographs from Selevac were not digitized until the 1990s.
Digital Documentation
The introduction of the Macintosh personal computer in 1984, with its graphi-
cal user interface, was a revolution for me. It coincided with my second season at
Opovo, and I took my new Mac into the eld the following year, using it to update
a daily map of the excavation with the drawing program MacDraft and creating a
simple database with Filevision (a precursor of Filemaker) to link the spatial data
to information about the contents of units and method of excavation. For heavy-
duty digital recording, however, we still relied on the 80-column sheets that were
entered into the mainframe database in QAL at Berkeley. Gradually, however, in the
later 1980s we started to transpose some of this data to personal databases in Excel
and Filemaker. Thus, the PC revolution allowed the archaeologist during the 1980s
gradually to control and explore their data in the lab and in the eld. In addition to
creating drawings and maps, it had a huge impact on writing records, eld diaries,
letters, and grant proposals, so that typewriters eventually became obsolete.
Flatbed scanners in the late 1980s started a different revolution: the capture of
photographic images. But it was a relatively long journey from that point to photo-
graphs that are “born digital,” that is, recorded with digital cameras, and even longer
for digital video recording. Neither of these revolutions were part of the Selevac,
Opovo, or Podgoritsa eld research. In these projects, the capture of images was,
Households through a Digital Lens 101
therefore, highly selective and generally only of strictly professional subjects. When
one compares digital photographic and videographic record of those projects with
that of the BACH project at Çatalhöyük (where photography was exclusively digital
by 2000), the increase in visual information is signicant: much greater detail, range
of subject documented, and value as a research and presentation record (Tringham
and Ashley 2012a). Examples of less traditional subjects include time-lapse records,
the practice of excavation and laboratory analysis, discussions, and demonstrations
of the excavated area. The digital media also have embedded data about time of re-
cord, camera settings, and so on.
A third important aspect for archaeology that started in the 1980s was the avail-
ability of software to create relational databases with a graphical interface that could
be kept on your desktop and transferred from one computer to another. In the early
1990s, Michael Ashley used 4thDimension database software to transfer the Opovo
mainframe/Excel data to a locally running relational database. In 2001, this data was
in turn transferred to a Filemaker database that could be distributed on-line. In 1995,
using 4thDimension, he constructed a database for the Podgoritsa project. We were
disappointed, when we joined the Çatalhöyük project in 1997, that the project data-
base was maintained using Microsoft Access, Windows-only software. Even with the
exibility of an Intel-based Mac, this is still an inconvenience for those of us whose
platform of choice is not Microsoft Windows (Wolle and Tringham 2000).
For household archaeology, with its interest in spatial intra-settlement pattern-
ing, the promise of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the 1980s led to dis-
appointment for those (like myself) without access to high-end computers able to
handle large amounts of data. In the 1990s, GIS desktop applications again limited
those of us who did not favor the Windows platform for which the software was writ-
ten. For the most part, those who took advantage of the applications investigated
at regional rather than intra-settlement scales. In the Çatalhöyük Research Project,
we have participated in the forefront of many aspects of digital expression, but GIS,
which I believe is a crucial aspect of even the most humanistic standpoint and inti-
mate scale of household archaeology (Curry 1998), has only recently (in 2011) been
fullled in the project.
Immersive Digital Technologies
The development of computer-generated imagery (CGI) was motivated espe-
cially by the movie and computer games industry in the early 1990s. The potential of
its application in reconstructing the fragmented archaeological record is clearly huge
(Forte and Siliotti 1997). Its applications in archaeology, however, have always been
out of reach of an archaeologist not trained in 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
software such as Alias and 3DStudioMax, as I realized from my experience with Mi-
chael Ashley and Julian Liao in creating the Opovo burning house for the Chimera
Project (see below). It is a seductive idea to be able to recreate past landscapes and
buildings, as can be seen in the reconstructions of Mellaart’s excavated rooms in the
CD-ROM Çatal Hüyük (Detzler and Emele 1998; Emele 1998). 9 When the 3D model
9. The CD-ROM is now unobtainable, but one of their reconstructed rooms may be viewed at: (accessed 06/30/12).
Ruth Tringham
allows for travel through the reconstruction—a virtual immersion—the illusion that
the model is real can lead to a lack of critical awareness about the process of interpre-
tation on the part of the viewer, unless the process is made transparent (Forte 2011;
Pescarin etal. 2008; Tringham and Ashley 2007).
Virtual reality covers a number of formats that allow users to immerse themselves
interactively in a visual three-dimensional environment. QuickTime Virtual Reality
(QTVR) is an inexpensive accessible technology rst distributed by Apple in 1995:
an interactive virtual environment is created out of a 360º panorama of stitched im-
ages. The images may be photographs or CGI interpretive reconstructions. The inter-
activity is created by the user virtually standing in the center of the panorama and
bringing the panorama closer or changing the viewing angle or pressing a hotspot
to move into another panorama, altogether giving an illusion of moving in this
place/space. QTVR is the only virtual reality application that I have used in my re-
search, since it is an easy way give an illusion of immersion. Beginning in 1996, I
and, later, Michael Ashley created a number of such panoramas at Çatalhöyük that
always made a big impression at presentations of the project (Tringham and Ashley
2012a). Immersive 3D environments created out of the point cloud of a laser scan
that is then given a skin from a photo is perhaps a more valuable research tool for
archaeology and cultural heritage management but has generally been applied in
places where there is some clear standing architecture or landscape features. 10
True Virtual Reality models, in which a user can move through the model as in
a computer game, require a very different set of technologies, accessible to computer
graphics specialists, and popular with architectural historians with documents and
some standing architecture. 11 Its potential in prehistoric or household archaeology
has not yet been tapped.
Augmented Reality is the concept of blending (augmenting) data—information,
rich media, and even live action—with what we see in the real world. It is very
powerful and seductive. And until the last couple of years, it was really beyond the
means of most consumers and archaeologists. Since 2008, however, the camera and
screen embedded in smart phones and other mobile devices now serve as the means
to combine real world data with virtual data. Using GPS capability, image recogni-
tion, and a compass, augmented reality applications can pinpoint where the mobile
camera is pointing and overlay relevant information at appropriate points on the
screen . 12 Virtual worlds and computer games, like augmented reality, take the illu-
sion of immersion in a cyber-place one step further by adding avatars of real-time
players who have a telepresence and can affect the environment and communicate
with other players or elements in the world. With the example of the virtual world of
“Second Life” we can see that virtual worlds are less about creating illusions of real-
ity than they are about communicating and collaborating in real time (Bartle 2004;
Biocca and Levy 1995). Below I describe Okapi Island in “Second Life” based on our
research at Çatalhöyük.
10. For examples, explore the following site: (accessed 06/30/12).
11. A number of articles related to virtual reality models? can be found in the publications on
the EPOCH website:
&Itemid=302 (accessed 06/30/12).
12. An example created by the Museum of London is the iPhone app “StreetMuseum”: http://les/blogs/streetmuseum-looking-into-the.
Households through a Digital Lens 103
Hyperlinking—the ability to create nodes with links through which a user can
navigate around document(s)—is a fundamental part of World Wide Web brows-
ers using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), developed by George Landow and
his team in the late 1980s. Hyperlinking has also been used in standalone desktop
products, such as the hypertext ctional webs published by Eastgate publications in
the 1990s using their hypertext authoring platform Storyspace. 13 Whereas hypertext
links nodes of text, hypermedia webs are linked nodes of text and/or media such as
images and movies. These require more space and processing power on the computer
and in the 1990s were much more difcult to publish on the Internet. The Chimera
Web (see below) is an example of this kind of hypermedia web.
Lev Manovich took a rather different standpoint on hyperlinking when he for-
mulated his concept of the database narrative (Manovich 2007). He pointed out that
the opposition of database and narrative is a symbiotic one. Databases have a data
structure that contrasts to the algorithmic structure of a narrative. Not all interfaces
have an algorithmic structure to provide access to the database (see, for example,
the thematic collections of Remixing Çatalhöyük below). But other interfaces—with
a more obvious algorithmic narrative structure—can be drawn from the same data-
base, as we are doing with the Last House on the Hill (perhaps) and Dead Women Do
Tell Tales (see below). The potential of the database narrative concept is the creation
of a complex, uid—even ephemeral—web of alternating interfaces/narratives, as
Manovich himself created in his SoftCinema. 14
The World Wide Web started in 1993 with (what we now call) Web 1.0, in which
pages were authored and served to users who could search, explore links, receive, and
download the information. Among such sites, portals to organizations and archae-
ological projects have played an essential role in disseminating information. “Web
1.0” usually implies a gap between content provider and a “webmaster/mistress”
who updates the site; the lack of instant updating has resulted in many of these
valuable portals being out of date or even among the disappeared. This, for example,
was the fate of the BACH project website. 15 The portal of the Çatalhöyük Research
Project has been sustained, especially once (1998) its database was online (Wolle and
Tringham 2000).
Web-served databases meant that searching and downloading data from a large
database, such as the excavation database of the Çatalhöyük Research Project, could
be done directly from a web browser interface more quickly and without restric-
tion by operating system. 16 This development went hand-in-hand in the late 1990s
13. (accessed 06/30/12).
14. The Soft Cinema website includes samples of videos:
htm?reload (accessed 06/30/12).
15. The BACH website languishes at:
html (accessed 6/30/12).
16. The database may be reached at: (accessed
06/30/12). Since 2005, all the data and media of the ÇRP has been made openly sharable with a
Creative Commons 2.5 license.
Ruth Tringham
with high-speed Internet access, servers with greater storage and ubiquity, and more
powerful web-searching engines. This has revolutionized the way we do research,
teaching, and authoring with digital technology. The profusion of content accessible
to the world has led to challenges, however, with intellectual property (mentioned
previously), means to establish security of sensitive data, as well as the need for stan-
dards of documentation of the data. 17
Since 2000, the Internet is being transformed by the so-called “Web 2.0 inter-
faces” in which the content (media as well as textual commentary) can be uploaded
without any middleperson. What this implies is that updating and communication
is immediate. Archaeological projects are just beginning to take advantage of social
networking applications, such as Çatalhöyük’s Facebook group, Flickr image sets,
YouTube movies (Tringham 2012b), 18 and diary-like blogging, for example, of the
excavation process of the Prescot Street 2008 Dig. 19
Digital Window on Household Archaeology
In the preceding section, I have discussed the transformation of our means of
communication and the expression of popular culture and academic publication to
embrace and be dominated by digital formats in a remarkably short time, spanning
my postdoctoral professional career (Tringham 2010). Part of what we as archaeolo-
gists have been striving for is that the results of our archaeological investigations do
not themselves become part of the archaeological record, languishing and rotting
in a forgotten place. I believe that the digital formats have made (and hopefully
will continue to make) a signicant contribution to the long-term preservation of
archaeological archives and their accessibility as sources for information and re-
contextualization into new knowledge. These contributions are not inherent in digi-
tal technology but have to be enabled by the archaeologists who are providing the
content and the digital architects who help them make it happen. The operas that I
describe below represent different formats through which this contribution can hap-
pen. They are described chronologically so that you can see that we are approaching
ever closer to this goal.
Of these digital technological revolutions, I believe the one that has the greatest
signicance for our creativity as archaeologists is the potential to express the com-
plex interweaving of multiple lines of evidence, multiple scales of interpretation, the
ambiguity of meaning for multiple voices with alternative scenarios, and—most im-
portantly—to make these processes transparent and thus more engaging (Joyce and
Tringham 2007; Kenderdine etal. 2008; Pink 2006; Wolle and Tringham 2000). The
combination of feminist critique of science and digital technology has guided me
to using my imagination to build interpretive narratives out of our archaeological
databases in a way that has given me much greater creative satisfaction than writing
any paper publication could. The results are a series of household archaeology opera
17. I recommend the best practice guidelines at ADS:
g2gp.html (accessed 06/30/12).
18. Colleen Morgan has a useful summary of Web 2.0 applications for archaeology on her
Middle Savagery blog:
social-networking-tools-for-archaeology/ (accessed 6/30/12).
19. (accessed 6/30/12).
Households through a Digital Lens 105
(singular opus, like a musical composition) based in my research in southeastern
Europe and Anatolia.
The Chimera Project and the Chimera Web
The Chimera Project in 1993–94 was my rst experience with 3D visualization/
drawing software. Working with Michael Ashley, a senior at U.C. Berkeley at the
time, we had talked about ways to visually link archaeological data to its interpreta-
tion and the potential of CGI for immersing a user in the environment of the past.
As part of his senior thesis, Michael, along with Julian Liao—a graduate student in
architecture—created a model of one of the burned houses at Opovo in which im-
ages were juxtaposed in a montage to visualize its transformation from occupied
house to burned-out skeleton in its past landscape of reeds to archaeological place in
its modern landscape of cornelds.
In the following year, using new multimedia authoring software—Macromedia
Director—I started to expand on Michael’s idea, creating an interactive hypermedia
opus—the Chimera Web—with content from the Opovo project. Several of the steps
exploring households with faces that I had been describing in paper publications
in the early 1990s were given their digital expression in the Chimera Web. I have
described this process and the exhilaration of transferring from paper to digital for-
mats in a number of publications (Joyce and Tringham 2007). It was especially the
open-endedness and democratization of the digital format that I found inspiring,
in that it provided an opportunity to use data-centered imagination to present the
multi-vocality of alternative viewpoints and interpretations that were more engag-
ing to create and, I think, to “read” than the closed denitive story represented by
the printed word.
The narratives of the burning of House 2 are told through the voices of two
female survivors, Baba and Yaya. They did not really exist of course, but someone
like them certainly did. They are a medium though which the archaeologists give
voice to the past. These people are given ctional biographies and are placed on a
multi-scalar chronological chart at an appropriate point of Opovo’s stratigraphy,
associated with the biography of a house and household (Tringham 1994: g. 6).
At different periods of their lives, they embrace other Neolithic settlements of the
region. Their narratives are ction, but they are grounded in the archaeological data.
The Chimera Web was initially designed with a hypertext authoring program called
Storyspace that I used as a mind-mapping platform. The design (g. 7) ambitiously
aimed to link the imagined narratives to a web of data about the Opovo archaeolog-
ical project, the investigation of Neolithic house res, modern arson investigations,
the sociopolitics of archaeology in the Balkans, and the basis of the project in archae-
ological method and theory as well as the excavation database (for this point, see
above, regarding “4thDimension”). Unfortunately, the link to the database proved
elusive using the technology and expertise available to me at that time (1995–2002).
Unlike Rosemary Joyce’s hypertext “Sister Stories,” which was entirely authored
in Storyspace (Lopiparo and Joyce 2003), I chose to build the Chimera Web in the
multimedia authoring application Macromedia Director, in order to incorporate a
rich audio-visual content. The program could create simple animations and ani-
mated transitions as you pressed buttons and moved around the Web. Much, but
Ruth Tringham
Fig. 7. A simplified version of the structure of the Chimera Web with some nodes and links extracted from the
hypermedia web (after Joyce and Tringham 2007: fig.4).
Households through a Digital Lens 107
not all, of the Storyspace content was transferred to the Director version. The opus
was originally designed in 1995–96 to be published as a standalone DVD as a semi-
commercial product. This choice was partly determined by the inability of the World
Wide Web at that point (and several years after) to handle a complex web of inter-
active images and text. I was also nervous about putting my data and ideas on a
public and “insecure” place (Joyce and Tringham 2007). In the end, products on a
standalone DVD have almost passed into oblivion and the Internet has become the
dominant medium of digital publication. Moreover, the Chimera Web will no longer
function in Director. It is time for it to be migrated to a web-based platform, but its
content will probably be absorbed into Dead Women Do Tell Tales (see below), where
it will be transformed from a hypermedia web of narratives to a web of narratives
that articulate with an on-line database.
Database Narratives of Çatalhöyük
As mentioned above, the Çatalhöyük Research Project has an online database of
excavation data and a separate catalog of images. The BACH project has data within
this online database; its data are also stored in an online Filemaker database in which
both excavation data and media are integrated. Before the latter was constructed, the
images and selected video were served in a separate (Extensis Portfolio) online cata-
log that formed the basis for two very different interfaces: “Remixing Çatalhöyük”
in 2006–7 and “Okapi Island in Second Life,” established in 2007. These interfaces
both act as a means of sharing the archaeological research in a way that engages the
public in actively exploring and making meaning out of the on-line media database
of archaeological research—beyond just allowing access to search and see.
Remixing Çatalhöyük
Remixing Çatalhöyük 20 (g. 8a) grew out of the earlier Dig OpChat project (see
below, g. 8c), with the added responsibility of being funded by a US Federal Educa-
tion (FIPSE) grant. Public engagement with Çatalhöyük data is engendered through
a series of guiding thematic interfaces created by a team of media specialists and ar-
chaeologists, including me. For each theme, 50 items (images or videos) were chosen
from the BACH media database and provided with detailed captions and an accom-
panying introductory text. The public was encouraged to download the media and
re-contextualize them into new media pieces and then upload them as a contribu-
tion to the interpretive process. They could also explore the complete media data-
base further from this site. The themes include the Life Histories of People, Places
and Things, the Senses of Place, and Archaeology at Different Scales, all of which
express aspects of household archaeology investigated in the BACH project. As men-
tioned above, these thematic collections are not strictly database narratives in the
sense described by Manovich, since they do not really have a narrative algorithmic
structure. Yet, in our selection of the images and caption writing, they do approach
the format of the database narrative.
20. The project blog is at (accessed
6/30/12). Remixing Çatalhöyük in English or Turkish may be visited at http://okapi.dreamhosters
.com/remixing/mainpage.html (accessed 6/30/12).
Ruth Tringham
Fig. 8. Early approaches to database narratives using the BACH data: (a) Remixing Catalhöyük
(screenshot); (b) Okapi Island in Second Life (screenshot); (c) Dig OpChats (after Tringham
2004: fig.18).
Households through a Digital Lens 109
Okapi Island
Okapi Island, 21 like Remixing Çatalhöyük, is sponsored by the Open Knowledge
and the Public Interest (OKAPI) initiative at U.C. Berkeley. 22 It is an island in the on-
line virtual world of Second Life (see above) and allows virtual residents (avatars of
real-time players) to explore 3D reconstructions of Çatalhöyük (g. 8b). The island
engages the public in the multisensory experience as avatars of moving across the
mound as a modern location of archaeology or as a prehistoric place. Residents may
be given permission to build their own houses or furniture and facilities, using tex-
tures from the BACH media database. We have experimented with seasonal changes,
house res, and even role-playing group action. It has been a location for teaching
about daily life at the site now and in prehistory and for meetings and discussions,
even movie festivals.
Last House on the Hill
“Last House on the Hill” is the online digital mirror of the printed monograph
report of the BACH project Last House on the Hill (see p. 92, n. 1). In this opus,
the database of the excavated materials and media provides the basis from which to
draw the narratives about the household(s) that lived in the BACH Area, the people
who passed to and fro, and the archaeologists who also passed their seven years here.
This opus, which by denition is always a work in progress, will be launched to pub-
lic view in September, 2012. It fullls an ambition that Michael Ashley and I have
long held, that is, to embed, interweave, and otherwise entangle the data and media
from the archaeological excavations with their interpretation and meaningful pre-
sentation in an open-access, sharable platform. This kind of integration has become
possible only in the last few years with the availability of complex web publishing,
searching, and archiving features that can assure the long-term durability and integ-
rity of both data and its meaning (Ashley etal. 2012; Tringham and Ashley 2012b). 23
The archaeological project itself is considered the central node, the original
event that brought together people, places, things, and media and gave origin to the
complex network of information about the project (g. 9). The requirements for an
online, collections-based web-publishing platform are formidable due to the com-
plexity and sheer mass of data and media we wish to reconcile. The primary database
contains millions of records. The media alone consists of more than 15,000 im-
ages, hundreds of video clips, plus CAD drawings, illustrations, sketches, and plans.
This critical mass of archaeological documentation gains its full signicance for a
practice-based study of household archaeology if represented as the relationships
between people, actions, tasks, time, and space contingencies—all of which contrib-
ute to the creation of the archaeological record. Narratives may be drawn out of the
database through the lter of the alternating perspectives or standpoints of people,
21. Okapi Island could formerly be visited at (ac-
cessed 2/23/09). Other information about Okapi Island is still found at
projects/okapiisland-in-second-life/ (accessed 9/5/11) and http://www .ruth
Tringham/Okapi_Island.html (accessed 2/2/12). Unfortunately, due to the doubling of land rent on
SecondLife, Okapi Island itself has become archaeological as of February, 2012.
22. (accessed 6/30/12).
23. The progress of the Last House on the Hill is documented in its blog at: http://www.codi
.info/projects/last-house-on-the-hill/ (accessed 6/30/12).
Ruth Tringham
places, things, and media, which enable the re-contextualizing and remixing of the
content in the database.
Dead Women Do Tell Tales
To put the narratives that are drawn from the data into an interface (or more ele-
gantly, “outerface”) framework that is appropriate to the multiscalar study of social
practice in Neolithic households and neighborhoods for which the BACH project
itself was designed, groups of events have been identied at the core of the structure
of the opus: the events in archaeological (Neolithic) time and the subsequent forma-
tion of the archaeological record, and the recent events linked to the BACH excava-
tion project. Out of this structure, an endless conguration of people, places, and
things can be created as vignettes or narratives, seen as juxtapositions of image and
text or video montage or text alone. In g. 10, the static two-dimensional representa-
tion of such a conguration is attempted—with very unsatisfactory results—for a set
of data for the burial Feature 634.
Fig. 9. The structure design of the Last House on the Hill.
Households through a Digital Lens 111
“Dead Women Do Tell Tales” (still under construction 24) takes this exploration
of transparently entangling archaeological data and interpretation one step closer
to what Manovich has described as Database Narratives. Many of the fragments and
narratives of the Last House on the Hill feed into this opus. I have been thinking
about this project for many years as part of the rationale for working in Turkey after
a career, which up to 1997, had been focused in the prehistory of southeastern and
central Europe. “Dead Women Do Tell Tales” compares the Neolithic trajectories
of southeastern Europe and Anatolia, focusing on the contrasting attitudes to the
continuity of place and the role of the household in a complex social context (Tring-
ham 2000). In fact, in 2002 I had started this project under a different name as a
much simpler hypermedia web called Dig Opchats (g. 8c) that comprises vignettes
constructed out of the databases of the Opovo and Çatalhöyük projects (Tringham
2004). Both these operas chew at the question of why, if households are the unit of
social reproduction in the Neolithic of both southeastern Europe and the Near East,
is there such a contrast in the trajectory of the two regions toward the establishment
24. The progress of Dead Women Do Tell Tales is shared on its blog at: http://www.ruthtringham
.com/Ruth_Tringham/Dead_Women_Do_Tell_Tales.html (accessed 6/30/12).
Fig. 10. Some of the countless narratives that can be channeled from the database of
Feature 634 in Building 3 through the filters of people, places, things and media in the Last
House on the Hill.
Ruth Tringham
of centralized authority and urbanism in which the power of the individual house-
hold is lost? In focusing on this question, the project explores the contrast between
the everyday life and life-histories of people, places, and things on a settlement
mound (“tell”) and those on an “open” site (see also Tringham 2000).
“Dead Women Do Tell Tales” is a “recombinant history” made up of fragments
from the prehistory of households in Southeast Europe and Anatolia. The idea of
“Dead Women Do Tell Tales,” a hypermedia product with endless options and con-
gurations of media with which to build narratives of place and history, is based very
closely on the idea of database narratives discussed above (Anderson 2011; Manov-
ich 2007). Steve Anderson recognizes two directions in which historiography has
taken advantage of digital technology. On the one hand is the idea of amassing the
“total” historical record of events, facts, and media through accessible networked
interoperable databases. On the other hand, “digital technologies have enabled strat-
egies of randomization and recombination in historical construction resulting in a
profusion of increasingly volatile counter-narratives . . . and histories with multiple
or uncertain endings” (Anderson 2011: 125). Database narratives (or “recombinant
histories” as Anderson calls them) take advantage of both of these aspects of digital
technology. It is this idea of the fragmentary nature of memory and history drawn
from a database with structured relations that I apply to the sharing of past and pres-
ent places in this and the two preceding projects.
The fragments may be created out of text, lm, images, or animations contained
in the databases. They may be narrative fragments about the process of archaeo-
logical interpretation (from burned rubble to a mouse running out of the house
re), or the interpretation itself (what do you see 6,000 years ago when you burn a
house, alternative visualizations). As in the “Last House on the Hill,” images may be
combined to make a montage and then re-combined to make a very different nar-
rative, perhaps by the focus on a different actor, or task, or place, or time. Videos of
an excavation scene are re-contextualized in a ctional prehistoric place to remind
us that our interpretations are based on fragmentary data and the intentions of the
individual archaeologist. We can draw out of our database limitless such fragments—
narratives that are sparked by observing patterns in the spatial or chronological oc-
currence of artifacts in the excavation record, others by juxtaposing conversations
on a video with narratives from a text, or by images with diary entries. In this sense,
history is multi-formatted, cumulative, never complete, and hard to grasp as a deni-
tive story.
The “Dead Women Do Tell Tales” project is designed to comprise four forms of
publication that together create the recombinant prehistory. First are the accessible
and interoperable databases of the BACH and Opovo projects. Second are short nar-
ratives/vignettes (text fragments, video clips, image sequences) that are created by
re-purposing media from the primary database. Each vignette links through the data-
bases to other fragments (similarly to’s “readers who read this book
also read these . . .”). Third is the major database narrative—“Dead Women Do Tell
Tales” itself—in which I recombine all of the above into a history of people in dif-
ferent places at different times. The focus will be on women archaeologists, visitors,
and residents (of all ages) in the prehistoric places, on their multisensory experience
of the places, on their ability to create memories through reference to their bodies
and their world, and on the life-histories of themselves, their houses, their villages,
Households through a Digital Lens 113
their things. The narrative is non-linear but the lives of a single household in each
place can be followed in a plot that continues as a fragmented linear narrative, a kind
of mystery, drawing the reader of the narratives into the recombinant nature of this
history with no dened ending.
The nal publication form is an invitation to other users to create their own
recombinations of fragments, just as users of a database are invited to save their
search tables while exploring a regular on-line database. Out of these data are limit-
less strands that can be followed to explore people, places, things, and events that
are entangled in specic spatial contexts in the modern as well as the prehistoric
time-frame. Walls, baskets, burials, the procedures in their retrieval, the people who
excavate them—all can be used creatively to produce new narratives or readings that
I would not have had time or imagination to think of. The structure of the opus
guarantees that any interpretive narrative will be rmly anchored in the empirical
data of the projects, and at every step the author is required to argue and embed the
rationale for his/her interpretation in terms of plausibility.
Households through a Digital Lens
When I was writing chapter 22 of Last House on the Hill, which focuses on the
Senses of Place at Çatalhöyük (Tringham 2012a), I could do little more than suggest,
as tantalizing but disembodied fragments, such narratives as those proposed for Last
House on the Hill and especially for Dead Women Do Tell Tales, narratives that almost
certainly go beyond the strict empirical boundaries of the excavated data. To have
demonstrated the path by which I arrived at such fragments and its entanglement
with the data at its source would have taken a very long time as a linear text. And yet,
as I have repeated at numerous points throughout this essay, this is the detail and
complexity that will allow us to investigate the nature of everyday life and house-
holds in the past. The exciting potential of digital technology is that it allows us to
elegantly express that complexity in a way that, because of the seduction of audio-
visual expression, is nevertheless engaging to people who did not participate in these
projects. The alternative is to simplify the process, and to do so would ultimately be
creatively less satisfying.
My nal point is another that has occurred more than once in this chapter and
concerns the sustainability of our archaeological product, especially when born digi-
tal. For long-term preservation, two conditions need to be met. The rst is that the
data—the documents of our research—are “born archival” or at least embedded with
information in a non-proprietary format (Ashley 2008; Richards 2004). The second
condition is that the archive be usable, meaningful, and used. The databases of the
Opovo and Çatalhöyük Research Projects are openly sharable through Creative Com-
mons licensing, so that we have the exibility to create multiple narrative interfaces
such as those described previously. However, the interfaces are ultimately ephem-
eral—even those we are proud to call “engaging.” Moreover, just as I have described
in the time-frame covered by this chapter, their meaning and engagement and the
current meaning of household archaeology itself may not last. However, other in-
terfaces and narratives will emerge. It is important to recognize this, and keeping up
with the users of the opera is possible more easily in a digital than paper format. The
Ruth Tringham
whole effort is sustained on a strong foundation of a rich database of well archived
content that has been designed to last a very long time, even millennia!
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... Importantly, postprocessual critiques turned earlier models of the household as adapting to economic or political change (filtered down from the regional or community level) on their head. The household is now viewed as a context of daily practice, a window into the lives of a range of past peoples, including commoners, and a significant source of social change that researchers investigate through the study of internal dynamics, domestic social relations, common investments in residential activities, and interrelationships among households (De Lucia and Overholtzer 2014;Hendon 1996;Joyce 2000;Tringham 2012;Ur 2014). ...
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This review highlights archaeological investigations of precontact and historic house sites in Polynesia, a region noted for its diversity of chiefdoms in terms of scale and elaboration. Anthropological and historical perceptions of the Polynesian household have shifted over time, influencing the ways in which the household has been defined in archaeology. Early research emphasized houses as a unit of study within settlement pattern archaeology and as a means of delineating formal variability between sites and communities. Current studies stress a more holistic view of the household as a nexus of economic, social, and ritual activities. Diverse theoretical perspectives, such as the analytical concept of house societies, feminist archaeologies, landscape approaches, and agent-based models, have led to new archaeological approaches engaged with both the material and the nonmaterial aspects of the house and, in particular, how social relations structure the household. Current prominent themes include functional identification of house sites, understanding social variability, articulation of the household with the community, and comparative analyses of social complexity.
... The Çatalhöyük project has been emblematic in its attention to the active construction and curation of a contextual, reflexive and interactive record of the excavation, viewed both as object and as process, with future use in mind from the outset. Çatalhöyük excavator Ruth Tringham asserts that the "sustainability of our archaeological product, especially when born digital", requires two conditions to be met: "that the data-the documents of our research-are "born archival" […] and that the archive be usable, meaningful, and used" [112]. To meet these conditions, field recording, far from being seen as a mechanical task, is treated as inseparable from the categorization process and the cultural identification of particular archaeological entities in real time, the outcomes of which are made available for further curation as archaeologists work towards publication. ...
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As a “grand challenge” for digital archaeology, I propose the adoption of programmatic research to meet the challenges of archaeological curation in the digital continuum, contingent on curation-enabled global digital infrastructures, and on contested regimes of archaeological knowledge production and meaning making. My motivation stems from an interest in the sociotechnical practices of archaeology, viewed as purposeful activities centred on material traces of past human presence. This is exemplified in contemporary practices of interpretation “at the trowel’s edge”, in epistemological reflexivity and in pluralization of archaeological knowledge. Adopting a practice-centred approach, I examine how the archaeological record is constructed and curated through archaeological activity “from the field to the screen” in a variety of archaeological situations. I call attention to Çatalhöyük as a salient case study illustrating the ubiquity of digital curation practices in experimental, well-resourced and purposefully theorized archaeological fieldwork, and I propose a conceptualization of digital curation as a pervasive, epistemic-pragmatic activity extending across the lifecycle of archaeological work. To address these challenges, I introduce a medium-term research agenda that speaks both to epistemic questions of theory in archaeology and information science, and to pragmatic concerns of digital curation, its methods, and application in archaeology. The agenda I propose calls for multidisciplinary, multi-team, multiyear research of a programmatic nature, aiming to re-examine archaeological ontology, to conduct focused research on pervasive archaeological research practices and methods, and to design and develop curation functionalities coupled with existing pervasive digital infrastructures used by archaeologists. It has a potential value in helping to establish an epistemologically coherent framework for the interdisciplinary field of archaeological curation, in aligning archaeological ontologies work with practice-based, agencyoriented and participatory theorizations of material culture, and in matching the specification and design of archaeological digital infrastructures with the increasingly globalized, ubiquitous and pervasive digital information environment and the multiple contexts of contemporary meaning-making in archaeology.
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Based on five assemblages from various locations of the Great Hungarian Plain (Szajol-Felsőföld, Mezőkövesd-Mocsolyás, Öcsöd-Kováshalom, Polgár-Csőszhalom-dűlő, Berettyóújfalu-Herpály), this article analyses the composition and variation in Neolithic ceramic vessel inventories. Two of them were set in burned houses, filled with rich finds and sophisticated furnishings. One of them was a structured deposition that had been constructed for a specific reason. Other pottery assemblages were discovered in the middens of two villages. The capacity data from over 500 vessels was sufficient to illustrate the analytical options and outline a relevant interpretation framework.
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The aim of this study is to present the recent theoretical and practical aspects of household archeology, and spatial analysis methods in archaeology. In this respect, firstly, the concept of household archeology is defined, and its theoretical approaches are examined. After that, the current theoretical approaches to the common and different points of the concepts such as, “space”, “house”, “household”, “housing” in terms of space and spatial use were evaluated. This evaluation is followed by a general discussion of the theoretical and practical studies on the spatial analysis, which constitute the essence of this study. In addition, the methods used in the spatial analysis in archeology are widely introduced. Among the spatial analysis methods in archeology; ethnoarchaeological researches, space syntax analysis, the analysis of house floor assemblages (spatial distribution of house floor assemblages findings), microarchaeology and micromorphology, soil chemistry analysis, phytolite analysis are known to be applied. In the excavations attributed to the prehistoric period, the introduction of the methods used in the spatial analysis in the recent times has contributed to the understanding of the spatial uses of architectural remains in the context of the human-space relationship.
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This study aims to identify what the houses of prehistoric men and women were like on the European continent. The work focuses on the physical characteristics of houses, as archaeological records are limited and ethnographical knowledge is required to correctly interpret any remains excavated.
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The full release and circulation of excavation results often takes decades, thus slowing down progress in archaeology to a degree not in keeping with other scientific fields. The nonconformity of released data for digital processing also requires vast and costly data input and adaptation. Archaeology should face the cognitive challenges posed by digital environments, changing in scope and rhythm. We advocate the adoption of a synergy between recording techniques, field analytics, and a collaborative approach to create a new epistemological perspective, one in which research questions are constantly redefined through real-time, collaborative analysis of data as they are collected and/or searched for in an excavation. Since new questions are defined in science discourse after previous results have been disseminated and discussed within the scientific community, sharing evidence in remote with colleagues, both in the process of field collection and subsequent study, will be a key innovative feature, allowing a complex and real-time distant interaction with the scholarly community and leading to more rapid improvements in research agendas and queries.
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Despite the capacity of virtual reality (VR) to recreate and enhance real and virtual worlds, many applications in Archeology aim at the photorealistic depiction of architectural spaces. On the other hand, little is known about their real communicational effectiveness. In this context, the EU-funded project {LEAP] proposed the concept of Cultural Presence as the theoretical and methodological foundation for a new kind of VR-mediated experience, and the UNESCO World Heritage Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey) was chosen as case of application. During this process, a survey of design pipelines in Digital Archeology indicated that, to build such experiences, a new design and evaluation method may need to be adopted. This paper presents the process of building and testing “3D⋅CoD,” a new methodology for the design of VR-mediated experiences. Initially, different archeologists working at Çatalhöyük were engaged in a first workshop, aimed at establishing a specific instantiation of Cultural Presence and how to depict it by means of VR. To that end, observation, questionnaires, multimodal, and statistical analyses were used. The results of this field work were translated into a codesign hands-on methodology (“3D⋅CoD”), which was tested in a second workshop, with a different group of archeologists. In this case, observation and debriefing were used. The results of this evaluation suggest that codesign strategies are suitable for the creation of VR-mediated experiences, but that equally important is (1) to consider the codesigners’ concept of Archeology and (2) to think in terms, not of 3D models, but of Cultural Heritage goals and human experiences.
This article explores how everyday material culture participates in processes of identity negotiation. It focuses more specifically on the role of figurines in embodying, constructing, and transforming Moche identities, in particular gender and collective identities, among communities of the north coast of Peru during the first millennium CE. The mobilization of figurines in social relations is studied through an approach which takes into consideration how stylistic and iconographic choices, the materiality of objects, and practices of production and consumption intersect in specific contexts. Results demonstrate that figurines materialized ideas about religion and gender which differed from those materialized by other media, were ubiquitous in the daily life of all Moche people, and contributed to constructing a cohesive and culturally Moche colonial identity among colonists settling in the Santa Valley. Moche figurines, and everyday material culture in general, therefore played a pivotal role in mediating personal experiences, social identities, and wider sociopolitical phenomena such as colonization.
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Archaeology in the Making is a collection of bold statements about archaeology, its history, how it works, and why it is more important than ever. This book comprises conversations about archaeology among some of its notable contemporary figures. They delve deeply into the questions that have come to fascinate archaeologists over the last forty years or so, those that concern major events in human history such as the origins of agriculture and the state, and questions about the way archaeologists go about their work. Many of the conversations highlight quite intensely held personal insight into what motivates us to pursue archaeology; some may even be termed outrageous in the light they shed on the way archaeological institutions operate-excavation teams, professional associations, university departments. Archaeology in the Making is a unique document detailing the history of archaeology in second half of the 20th century to the present day through the words of some of its key proponents. It will be invaluable for anybody who wants to understand the theory and practice of this ever developing discipline. © 2013 Michael Shanks, Christopher Witmore and the estate of William Rathje for selection and editorial matter.
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This report provides the preliminary results of an archaeological project currently underway in the Vojvodina, Yugoslavia. The project focuses on the site of Opovo-Ugar Bajbuk, which lies in the lower valley of the Tamiš River, north of the Danube. Excavation of the site began in the summer of 1983. Materials so far uncovered indicate that the site represents a late neolithic/early eneolithic settlement, belonging to the Vinča-Pločnik culture. The project is designed to investigate problems generated by earlier research efforts in the area of the late neolithic and early eneolithic of SE Europe. In addition, it provides an opportunity to study variation within the Vinča culture, in terms of its regional setting and its economic activities.
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A single season of field work was carried out in 1995 at the Podgoritsa Tell, an Eneolithic (5th millennium B.C.) settlement mound located between the villages of Dralfa and Podgoritsa in the Turgovishte region of NE Bulgaria. Results provide significant new data about the physical and social dimensions of early agricultural settlement tells in SE Europe. Most important is the first discovery of architectural structures and activity areas located outside of the topographic circumference of an Eneolithic tell. Additional, and equally unprecedented, information from geophysical and soil coring investigations proves that the land around the Podgoritsa site went through cycles of use and disuse. These cycles were determined by variations in the level of the local water table. Evidence of a bank and ditch structure on the western edge of the tell raises the possibility that the site's inhabitants may have been actively managing local water supplies. The firm evidence for off-tell activity (which explodes the myth that the modern visible topographic limits of a tell represent the limits of activity) and the possibility of 5th millennium hydrological engineering have important consequences not only for our understanding of the SE European Copper Age but also for future strategies of tell excavation across SE Europe and western Asia.
Technologies of History is an engrossing and innovative consideration of how history is constructed today, exploring our most basic relationship to history and the diverse contributions of visual and computational media to conceptions of the past. Embracing the varieties of history offered by experimental film, television, video games, and digital media, Steve F. Anderson mines the creative and discursive potential of this profane and esoteric historiography. He offers a highly readable and consistently fascinating discussion of historiography in visual media, with an emphasis on alternate or fantastic histories, including Star Trek time travel episodes, fake documentaries, films created from home movies and found footage, and video games about cultural traumas such as the siege at Waco and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Examining artifacts from the most commercial Hollywood product to the modernist avant-garde, this bold and ambitious polemic seeks to address historians, media scholars, and general readers alike, encouraging all to recognize, engage with, and perhaps even learn from these heterodox histories and the powerful sway they hold over our historical consciousness.
The concept of middle-range theory, arising over three decades ago in sociology, is reviewed. The concept was proposed as an approach to theorizing, urging consolidation of high-order theories with low-order empirical studies. The critical elements in such hierarchies are theories of a middle-range of abstraction. However, most current conceptions of "middle-range theory" in archaeology are far more narrowly conceived. Derived primarily from Binford's work, they continue the New Archaeology's attempt to develop a materialist epistemology for archaeology. In this view, principles of site formation processes are nearly synonymous with "middle-range theory." The dangers to theory-building of this approach are outlined. Examples of middle-range theory that expand our capacity for explanation of cultural behavior are presented.
The recent research activity of contract archaeology is reviewed from the perspective of research design and its essential features. Some of the difficulties currently encountered in contract research are attributed to vague notions of research design, lack of general models and methods in the science of archaeology, and ineffective research organizations. It is argued that American contract research offers an unprecedented opportunity to test theories of human behavior, provided the profession can make the necessary organizational shifts in research orientation and structure. Some examples of various applied research designs are examined to indicate the kinds of successful adaptations being made in the contract sphere, as well as outright scientific contributions to the discipline. We conclude that contract archaeology has already provided at least three benefits to the profession (1) by forcing researchers to cope theoretically and methodologically with heretofore unexplored and unexplained archaeological remains, (2) by promoting a scientific merging of historical and prehistoric archaeology, and (3) by stimulating archaeologists to probe the resource base in new and explicit ways for all possible dimensions of significance.
A revision of the author's thesis, University College, London Includes index