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Planning Archaeological Infrastructure for Integrative Science

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Although the project focuses on investments in archaeology and closely related fields, its explicit and fundamental objective is to propose investments that will directly and importantly enhance the infrastructure for scientific research. This includes addressing the needs of transdisciplinary researchers who are attacking fundamental questions about the long-term interactions of human societies and their environments.

A fundamental challenge of science is to confront the complexity of human societies and their interactions with the natural environment. Societies are shaped by evolutionary processes and constrained by their natural and social environments, which they simultaneously modify. Because of this complexity, understanding coupled human and natural systems must be seen as an enterprise that broadly engages social, behavioral and economic sciences, as well as the range of natural sciences. A transdisciplinary science that proposes to systematically understand the complex processes that operate on centennial or millennial scales and that encompasses segments of societies that are absent from or under-reported in recorded history must take advantage of archaeological data and knowledge. Reconstructed archaeological sequences are effectively completed “experiments” in the long-term operation of social and ecological dynamics played out in highly diverse social and natural environments.

Through two workshops, this project sought to develop a compelling plan for how computational infrastructure investments in the data-intensive discipline of archaeology can most effectively serve the needs of the scientific community and contemporary society more broadly. The workshops were coordinated by a steering committee (Team Members listed below) who selected the participants, set the agenda and crafted the final report detailing the infrastructure recommendations. The first workshop, composed of distinguished scholars (primarily archaeologists), developed and published a set of 25 grand challenges for archaeology. The second workshop, incorporating both archaeologists and scholars in other fields, identified cyberinfrastructure investments that would best serve the discipline in addressing those grand challenges.

Although the project focused on investments in archaeology and closely related fields, its explicit and fundamental objective is to propose investments that will directly and importantly enhance the infrastructure for scientific research. This includes addressing the needs of transdisciplinary researchers who are attacking fundamental questions about the long-term interactions of human societies and their environments. It also addresses the needs of researchers in other disciplines for archaeological data, such as ecologists investigating long-term biodiversity using dated animal and plant remains from archaeological sites. Archaeological data and research results are essential to addressing such fundamental questions as the origins of the human species and culture, the origin of civilizations and their waxing and waning, the response of societies to long-term climate changes, and the systemic relationships of human induced changes in the environment.

Publications:
Kintigh, Keith W., Jeffrey H. Altschul, Ann P. Kinzig, W. Fredrick Limp, William K. Michener, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Edward J. Hackett, Timothy A. Kohler, Bertram Ludäscher, and Clifford A. Lynch (2015). Cultural Dynamics, Deep Time, and Data: Planning Cyberinfrastructure Investments for Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Practice 3(1):1-15. DOI: 10.7183/2326-3768.3.1.1

Kintigh, Keith W. (2015). Extracting Information from Archaeological Texts. Open Archaeology. (in press)

Kintigh, Keith W., Jeffrey H. Altschul, Mary C. Beaudry, Robert D. Drennan, Ann P. Kinzig, Timothy A. Kohler, W. Fredrick Limp, Herbert D.G. Maschner, William K. Michener, Timothy R. Pauketat, Peter Peregrine, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Tony J. Wilkinson, Henry T. Wright, and Melinda A. Zeder (2014). Grand Challenges for Archaeology. American Antiquity 79(1): 5-24

Kintigh, Keith W., Jeffrey H. Altschul, Mary C. Beaudry, Robert D. Drennan, Ann P. Kinzig, Timothy A. Kohler, W. Fredrick Limp, Herbert D.G. Maschner, William K. Michener, Timothy R. Pauketat, Peter Peregrine, Jeremy A. Sabloff, Tony J. Wilkinson, Henry T. Wright, and Melinda A. Zeder (2014). Grand Challenges for ArchaeologyProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111(3): 879-880. 

Team Members:

Keith Kintigh, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Ann Kinzig, Arizona State University School of Life Sciences
Fred Limp, University of Arkansas Department of Geosciences
Jeremy Sabloff, Santa Fe Institute
William Michener, University of New Mexico University Libraries
Jeffrey Altschul, Statistical Research, Inc.