Database applications in Archaeology

My first encounter with databases was in the late seventies, when I was introduced to network databases on mainframe computers. I constructed a database for artefact description, but found it rigid and impossible to use for any reasonable analytical purpose.

As I became familiar with relational databases in the early nineties my hesitation wavered, and together with Jens Andresen I began a major database project (IDEA - Integrated Database for Excavation Analysis) focused on the recording and analysis of excavations.

The IDEA project became an eye opener to the potentials of databases, but also to the limitations of relational database theory when applied to complex dynamic data. I became worried that the use of databases might block the dynamic development of classification schemes in archaeology through rigid data standards.

This led me into work with object oriented database design to cope with complexity and dynamically changing data structures. It became the Archaeoinfo project, where I developed a flexible recording system based on an object oriented approach to database construction.

Archaeoinfo project

List of papers on databases in archaeology