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Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice

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Discussion group for the members and faculty of the NEH Funded Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice ( organized by Michigan State University’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences

McMichael: Digital Catalog of Cappadocian Ceiling Crosses

This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Eric Kansa 5 years, 5 months ago.

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    Daniel Pett

    Hey Sis,
    Happy Christmas! How are things? Sorry for not giving feedback sooner on your project plan, life is hectic!
    Good vision statement that I’ve read through again just now. First off, what do you need from us as mentors to help you deliver your project? Then a few questions:
    a) Deposition – you mention two repos, what would they be. Pleiades is mentioned as an aside. Do you want to contribute to Pelagios for instance?
    b) OpenContext is cited again and again through people’s vision statements, can Eric cope with all the extra work that this might pile on him?
    c) Are you planning to apply stuff you learnt at LAWDI as well to your data?
    d) Can I see your database? Do you need help to make it better? What system is it in now?
    e) How comfortable are you with WordPress?
    f) Are you planning multi-lingualism?

    Catch up soon.


    Catherine Foley

    Hi ~

    I am not sure if I am meant to call you Alice, Alice Lynn, or A.L. Please advise!

    Like Dan I am curious about the current state of your database and what it includes. I recall from your lightening talk in August that you have loads of photographs of the ceiling crosses that are the focus of your dissertation. You mention “monument data” in your vision document. What is the exact nature of this data? Is there information about the site location (geo-spatial), materials, techniques, what? Knowing a bit more about the data and the system it is currently will allow me, Dan, and Eric to give you more input about your proposed project.

    The WordPress KORA plugin will work well for the photographs and surrounding metadata. It will not be a good “publication” option for what I imagine is your structured “monument data.”

    Anyway, Matrix is prioritizing work on the plugin so we should be able to get it out to Institute folks in relatively short order (March 2016, we hope).


    A.L. McMichael

    Hi, big bro Dan and Catherine.
    Happy new year! I’ve been mulling over your questions through the holidays, and they’ve been very helpful, thanks.

    An update on my data collection: it’s dependent in my dissertation data, which is mostly collected but needs to be fact-checked. (This project is the data set that is Appendix A: a catalogue raisonné of all the monumental crosses that decorate ceilings in the region). I hope to get this completed in Feb-March at Dumbarton Oaks. I’m trying very hard to finish a dissertation draft in the next month so that I can have a little more freedom to sort out the data. The ultimate goal is to defend the dissertation in April, so keep those fingers crossed, please.

    Per Dan’s questions a and b)
    The data set for this project is fairly small: about 50 ceiling crosses with their metadata (i.e., monument names (most have several), placement of the ceiling cross (i.e. in the church nave or a narthex or tomb), location (geo location and valley/town), date (painfully approximate; I might use periods via PeriodO), description, type of ceiling cross (painted, carved). Each entry will have 1-2 photos.

    I mentioned Pleiades as separate deposit from Open Context because I talked to Tom Elliott and my data for this project is a bit too “granular” since it’s about specific architectural features within monuments. However, the monuments themselves are Pleiades-appropriate so I’ll be “recycling” this data once it’s clean. Also, good question about the Open Context workload via MSUdai. (Eric, any thoughts?) I’d also love to work with Pelagios, too, but I’m trying to reign in this project; ideally I’d see that as a next step once I’ve achieved my minimum viable product (as they say).

    At present my data base is [brace yourself] a Google spreadsheet. Yes, I’ll definitely need help in cleaning it up, and hopefully making it more Linked-Data friendly. I definitely want it to be more in the LAWDI spirit, but I have trouble envisioning what that will look like—I’d really appreciate concrete suggestions as to specific ways to do that. I’ve looked at several controlled vocabularies, and The Cultural Objects Name Authority (CONA) from Getty is one that has a lot of potential for my data (and I will need some help interpreting the rights issues surrounding controlled vocabs). Am hoping Catherine and Eric will have some thoughts on that.

    I’m quite comfortable with WordPress and have built sites in .org, .com, and C-Box. I’m not “fluent” in php yet, but I can usually install plugins just fine.

    I’m not planning anything extensive that is multi-lingual, but some of my monument names are in Turkish. This has given me font issues in the past on my Documenting Cappadocia website (see the link in the section below for an example), and I imagine the Linked Data formats will need to sort that out. Would love to discuss this further.

    Per Catherine’s comments:
    I’m definitely interested in brainstorming with you about what the WP KORA plugin can actually produce. My original thought was that each ceiling cross would have a little “page” or entry with its metadata and photo, something like the entries I have on my other Documenting Cappadocia website. (Here’s an example post).

    By the way, I should clarify that I’m treating my Documenting Cappadocia site is a separate project from this Catalog capstone project. Documenting Cappadocia is older, in progress, and broader than my dissertation; it’s the one for which I have hundreds of photos that I’ll eventually need to process and post. This capstone project catalog is using related data (and there’s some cross-over), but it’s a much more contained and smaller data set, and one that will be vetted by more scholars since I’ll have to defend it as part of my dissertation and then do the Open Context deposit.

    Also, I usually use A.L. in writing and Alice Lynn (a double first name) in real life—they’re completely interchangeable. Dan and my three-year-old nephew call me Sis, and I even answer to that, too! ?

    Cheers, y’all!


    Eric Kansa

    Hi Alice,

    Yeah, we discussed this in the summer and on my end (Open Context) I think this is still feasible provided the data are clean and you have very clear pointers to images and other media files in your data (and the file names match!). In mid-April through mid-June I’m at my availability ‘maximum’ and have blocked off most of that time for MSUDAI (but I do have smaller batches before). My time and effort is pretty minimal provided the data are clean. Since most folks are also using Kora, that means the dublin core metadata used for Kora can be used for Open Context (for the most part), which makes it all easier.

    I think your typology will probably be MUCH more specific than what the Getty vocabularies ( and what the British Museum ( offers. So, one important contribution here is that you can define types other people can reference and use as linked data. Where relevant vocabularies don’t exist, your project should put effort into publishing typologies that can be referenced and reused by others. So, it would be great to also think about ways to document different types in your typology with some text, images, etc. so that other researchers would be able to understand them. While it may take some time for other researchers to publish relevant data, at least when they do, your material would be an excellent source to reference.



    A.L. McMichael

    Faculty mentors, I did some meditating about names and metadata in my latest blog post. I’m also heading to Dumbarton Oaks research archive in two weeks, which means I’ll be able to fact check and clarify my data. I will definitely have more questions soon about cleaning the data.

    A question for you all: is there a good tool/method for commenting and conversing about a spreadsheet?




    Kate Ellenberger

    Alice, could the plugin ( work? Or if you can put the spreadsheet in google drive they have decent commenting and note features cell-by-cell.


    A.L. McMichael

    An update that I sent to Dan and Eric over email, that seemed worthy of documenting here. Some questions/thoughts/issues with my dataset.
    <div><b>Spreadsheet </b></div>
    <div><b>Some things to consider: </b></div>

    • As you can see, many of these categories are made up for this data set. I’m having trouble envisioning how to reconcile this data set with Dublin Core. Help?
    • Spreadsheet Row 2: I will delete this from the spreadsheet and use the information for the documentation. (Is that a metadata schema?)
    • I’ve contacted Adam Rabinowitz about getting my categories into PeriodO’s data set.
    • I need to add better location information: for some, I only have the location of valley/town, and for others I have GPS information from EXIF data in digital photos. I plan to use an approximate location for any monuments that aren’t locked/protected or that are in someone’s backyard/barn.
    • Right now the spreadsheet is organized by location, so I put the valley/town category first, and monument name second.
    • The naming has gotten weird because of the hierarchy of locations. Since “ceiling cross” is so granular, there are often several ceiling crosses in the name monument. I have tried to add additional naming conventions such as “encircled cross 2.” Thoughts?
    • I have some decisions to make for the cross iconography, category, and description columns. My committee wants me to add tags or categories to describe them, which I think is a good idea.
    • Are there other categories of information that seem lacking that I need to consider?
      It looks like Turkish words/characters are fine in Open Context. I need to correct quite a few names in my spreadsheet (such as changing Goreme to Göreme), which I think should be fairly simple in Open Refine.



    Eric Kansa


    A few notes of response:

    (1) Yes the Turkish diacritical marks are OK in Open Context (any UTF-8 characters work), the only issue I’ve seen is getting Excel to read the UTF-8 correctly with CSV dumps from Open Context. Libre Office handles it just fine, but Excel chokes on them.

    (2) Not all of your fields will map cleanly to Dublin Core. That’s OK!! You’ve got some fields that work for Dublin Core. For instance the “Cited In” field can be related to the Dublin Core terms “is referenced by” or “references”.  The PeriodO periods would probably relate to Dublin Core “temporal”.  Other fields are a bit more custom to your dataset.

    (3) It would be good to add a column to provide a URI for each one of the places in (location / valley / sites) in your  dataset. Geonames and Pleiades will be good to reference. When publishing with Open Context, we’ll make sure those places reference the gazetteer URIs you provide.

    (4)  On the issue of naming architectural features, you’re probably going to have to make up some identifier system to keep different ceiling crosses distinct.  You could be arbitrary like “Ceiling Cross 1”, “Ceiling Cross 2”. Or it could have some meaning “Ceiling Cross Northwest”. Or you can make it generic, and say “Architecture Feature 1”, “Architecture Feature 2”, etc. Then you can prove a descriptive attribute for “Architecture Feature 1” to call it a “Ceiling Cross”.  Most of the data we publish tends to use these sorts of generic identifiers (“Bone 1121”, “Sherd 23”, etc.), so I think that would work fine. Just to reduce chance for confusion, make sure your identifiers are unique for the whole scope of the project, so you don’t have multiple “Ceiling Cross 1” or “Architecture Feature 1” labels that actually refer to different real-world features.

    (5) On the category issue, it would be excellent for you to provide a definition for each category. Open Context would publish your definition, and each one of your category concepts / terms would have it’s own URI where that definition would exist. If some of the terms link up with the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT), that would be great to note also. Open Context can note equivalences to the AAT or note that maybe one of your terms is a more specific kind of classification to some more general category in the AAT.

    I hope this help!





    A.L. McMichael

    Hi, all.

    Just a quick update for my faculty mentors. Here’s my latest blog post. The tl;dr version of it is that I’m still cleaning data, but almost done. After our last round of emails, I realized that my recording of the data was nonsensical in some places and I knew what to do, but it just needed more attention. I will have the data set ready for action on Monday.

    My revised expectations for the institute revolve around really focusing on getting a quality data set together and ready for peer review. I have a feeling sitting down with Dan in real life to deal with Open Refine will be incredibly helpful. Then I can discuss getting it ready for peer review with Eric and KORA options with Catherine, maybe later in the week. (Eric, I’m still planning to submit to Open Context peer review, but I know this will probably have to be post-Institute so I hope we can chat about logistics next week).

    My major goal for the institute is the clean data set, and I know I can get some visualizations of it to present at the end of the week.

    Looking forward to seeing you all soon!


    Eric Kansa

    Hi Alice Lynn,

    Sounds great. Once you’ve put your data through Refine and feel like it is clean and consistent, please do send it on to us. We can provide another outside editorial eye, and then start working with you on peer review. It seems like your content will be in multiple places, so we’ll want to cross-reference so that we link all the different places on the Web that host your material.

    Looking forward to catching up in Lansing!

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