Website Review: Çatalhöyük

Full Name: Çatalhöyük Databases On-Line
Content: collection of databases containing comprehensive field notes, data, artifacts, etc. from the ongoing excavations (1993-present)
Authorship: Çatalhöyük Research Project, director Ian Hodder (Stanford University)
Host/Maintenance: University of Cambridge, UK; University of Cambridge (UK) and Museum of London (UK); continuously updated
Permanence/Archiving: no information (there is a mention in the project blog of the documentation for the original database design having gone missing)
Licensing: All content on the site, unless otherwise noted, covered by a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license; not clear how one should cite items

entry page

Usefulness: A comprehensive database of the field data from a 25-year excavation of an important archaeological site; this is still a rare occurrence, esp. detailed information from research done by many teams from different institutions; it is intended primarily for a scholarly audience
Ease of Use: Navigation is rather hierarchical, with no good site-wide search capabilities; nevertheless, it’s not too hard to get a hang of the design
Appeal: The system is reasonably well designed but most entries such as features, units and the like lack good photographic documentation or illustrations; the format is adequate and professional but not exciting
Accessibility: The Çatalhöyük website is easy to find: no. 1 hit on Google for the site name; a simple tab design leads easily into the database section
Credibility: An impressive international array of participating academic institutions give the site credibility; the content is very useful for archaeologists and readily available thanks to the CC licensing approach
Reuse: Data can be exported in either plain-text, tab- or pipe-delimited format (sometimes the server timed out though before delivering the links to these files)

example of an artifact page

example of an artifact: data retrieved as plain text file

example of an artifact: data retrieved as tab-delimited file

The Çatalhöyük Database is a fine example of making field data of an ongoing long-term excavation available. An interesting offshoot of the research at this Turkish site is Remixing Çatalhöyük, an interactive website utilizing a data subset (Building 3) excavated by UC Berkeley archaeologists. Another example of reuse of the CC-licensed Çatalhöyük database is the Science Museum of Minnesota’s kids educational Mysteries of Çatalhöyük! An Archaeological Investigation . It would be interesting to see more examples like these. Maybe I missed one? Please leave a comment.

Remixing Çatalhöyük entry page

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