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XRONOS - Open Access Database for absolute chronological archaeological information

English title XRONOS - Open Access Database for absolute chronological archaeological information
Applicant Hinz Martin
Number 198153
Funding scheme COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology)
Research institution Abteilung Prähistorische Archäologie Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Prehistory
Start/End 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024
Approved amount 319'930.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Prehistory
Information Technology

Keywords (5)

Information Science; Digital Repositories; Archaeology; 14C; Dendrochronology

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Für die Zeiten und Räume übergreifende Analyse der Entwicklung menschlicher Gesellschaften sind umfangreiche Datenrepositorien vor allem von Datierungen essentiell. Das Projekt XRONOS wird hierfür die umfassendste Datenbank für radiometrische und dendrochronologische Datierungen schaffen.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziele des Forschungsprojekts

Archäologie ist längst keine reine Spatenwissenschaft mehr. Wichtig sind heute auch übergreifende Rekonstruktionen zeitlicher Veränderung von Gesellschaften und ihrer Beziehung zur Umwelt. Hierzu sind Datensammlungen essentiell, um grossräumige Veränderungen und Phänomene zu erkennen und auszuwerten. Einige Wissenschaftler sprechen von der Dritten Wissenschaftlichen Revolution und dem Einzug von Big Data in die Archäologie.

Absolute Datierungen spielen dabei eine entscheidende Rolle. Wollen wir Entwicklungen verstehen, müssen wir wissen, was in welcher Reihenfolge und mit welcher Geschwindigkeit stattgefunden hat. Handelt es sich um grossräumige Entwicklungen, dann sind Raum und Zeit übergreifende Datenbanken die Voraussetzung.

Die große Zahl heute verfügbarer Daten erfordert geeignete Werkzeuge, um sie zu verwalten und zugänglich zu machen. Mit XRONOS schaffen wir die umfassendste Datenbank für die wichtigsten Datierungsmethoden: Radiokarbondatierungen und Dendrochronologie. Beginnend in der Schweiz, wird sich der Rahmen der Datensammlung im Laufe des Projektes auf Europa ausdehnen, und schliesslich soll die Datenbank genaue zeitliche Bestimmungen für archäologische Fundorte weltweit beinhalten.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts

Aufbauend auf einer solchen Datensammlung kann mittels Datenmodellierung und Big Data Analyse aus einer Vielzahl von einzelnen Daten Erkenntnisse zu einem Verständnis der zeitlichen Phänomene und Dynamiken in vergangenen Gesellschaften gewonnen werden. Dies wird es ermöglichen, völlig neue wissenschaftliche Fragestellungen zu bearbeiten und archäologische Daten in völlig neuen Kontexten gesellschaftlich relevant machen.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.12.2020

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Quantifying human impacts to tease apart cultural and climatic drivers of Holocene vegetation change Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Klimawandel, Mobilität und Transformationsprozesse Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Time and Temporality in Archaeology. Approaching Rhythms and Reasons for Societal (Trans)formations Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure

Abstract

In the spirit of the Open Science, the XRONOS project proposed here aims at developing a worldwide unique and novel database, to compile and manage the two most important forms of absolute chronological information - radiocarbon and dendrochronological data - to enable a multitude of transdisciplinary research projects on population dynamics, human-environmental dependencies and thus fundamental transformations in the European past.Archaeology today can no longer gain knowledge about social, cultural and economic processes of past societies without scientific absolute-chronological methods and their wide application. The large number of dates available today require appropriate tools to manage them and make them accessible. Based on that, data modelling can be used as a method to draw conclusions from a variety of individually information-weak data. Both are decisive, but not yet sufficiently implemented prerequisites to reach an understanding of the temporal phenomena and dynamics in past societies (Kristiansen, 2014). However, the basis of any empirically based modelling is the availability of data: Currently, all scientific disciplines face a revolution in the way data is disseminated and used (Bronk Ramsey et al., 2019). This novel, cross-disciplinary circulation and utilisation makes it possible to deal with completely new scientific questions and makes archaeological data relevant in thoroughly new contexts. For example, analysis of past climatic changes and their long-term effects rely on information from archaeologists to estimate the impact on human and biotic activities (Kintigh et al., 2015, 7-8). An important source of such information is absolute chronological data.The two most important absolute-chronological methods are dendrochronology (tree-rings) and radiocarbon dating (14C method). The first provides year-accurate dating of preserved wooden material (construction woods, tools, even charcoal), a unique temporal high-resolution information of prehistoric societies. Where dendrochronology is not applicable, 14C offers the best alternative, providing probabilistic results of dating of a broad range of organic material. Since sampling material is abundant and less sensitive to preservation conditions the method is particularly useful for data driven time models. Accordingly, the number of dates has been increasing rapidly in the last decades. Without repositories, most comprehensive analyses are no longer feasible. To date, there is no overarching database that continuously compiles both, 14C and dendrochronological data and makes them accessible in a long-term perspective. In the spirit of Open Science the aim of this proposal is to establish such an open access database. Our primary goal will be to collect 14C and dendrochronological data for Switzerland and neighbouring countries as extensively and comprehensively as possible. However, the project is designed to allow an extension beyond the spatial focus originally defined at any time. With its longstanding expertise in dating techniques, the University of Bern is ideal to host such a project. Bern holds a key position with regard to the combination of 14C and dendrochronological data for use in research in the humanities and is one the most competent locations worldwide in the production and analysis of scientific absolute datings: • The first radiocarbon dating laboratory in Switzerland was founded in Bern in 1957 and it was here that the famous Oeschger counter was invented.. Since 2013 LARA provides the expertise for the measurement of 14C data using AMS. • In Switzerland and Bern, the first dendrochronology laboratories began work at the end of the 1970s. Today we have two laboratories in Bern, one at the cantonal heritage agency and the other at the University of Bern.The project will be an absolute novelty and has been in demand for years as a cross-institutional desideratum. As an indispensable tool it will enable future cutting edge inter- and transdisciplinary research on temporality in archaeology, paleoecology and adjacent fields.To date, there is no overarching database that continuously compiles and maintains this kind of data from different methods and makes them accessible in a long-term perspective. In the spirit of Open Science, the aim of this proposal is to establish such an open access database. It will be an absolute novelty and has been in demand for years as a cross-institutional desideratum. As an indispensable tool it will enable future cutting edge inter- and transdisciplinary research on temporality in Archaeology, Paleoecology and adjacent fields. With its longstanding expertise hereof, the University of Bern is ideal to host such a project.The two most important dating methods are dendrochronology (tree ring analysis) and radiocarbon dating (14C method). The first provides year-accurate dating of preserved wooden artefacts, a unique temporal high-resolution information of prehistoric societies. Where dendrochonology is not applicable, 14C offers the best alternative, providing probabilistic results of dating. Since sampling material is abundant and less sensitive to preservations conditions the method is particularly useful for calculating data driven time models. Accordingly, the number of datings has been increasing rapidly in the last decades. Without repositories, most comprehensive analyses are no longer feasible.Bern holds a key position with regard to the combination of 14C and dendro data for use in research in the humanities and is one the most competent locations worldwide in the production and analysis of scientific absolute datings: • At the University of Bern the Oeschger counter was a revolutionary instrument for measuring 14C activity with unprecedented accuracy developed back in 1955 (Delley, 2014). Based on this, the CEP provides radiocarbondating since more than 50 years. Since 2013 the Laboratory for the Analysis of Radiocarbon with AMS (LARA, +Szidat et al. (2014)) provides the expertise for the measurement of 14C data using AMS. • The Archaeological Service of the Canton of Bern since the 1980s runs a laboratory for dendrochronological investigations, which is in close interaction with the IAW.
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