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Friday, April 1 • 14:45 - 15:10
S04-04 Row, row, row your boat gently… upstream: A methodological approach to access Portuguese bioarchaeological data using a computer database

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Row, row, row your boat gently… upstream: a methodological approach to access Portuguese bioarchaeological data using a computer database

Cristina Barroso Cruz, Ana Seabra, Filipa Neto

In Portugal data from archaeological fieldwork is recorded in a computer database created and managed by the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage. The Endovélico database was developed as an alternative to consulting archaeological reports, recognising the need to make this information more easily available. Later on, a bioarchaeological module was added acknowledging the specificity and relevance of the information regarding human remains. In fact, the creation of bioarchaeological databases is fairly debated given the complexity of combining biological and cultural data in the same platform and its contribution to understand past populations. If systematized, bioarchaeological evidences inform about health and disease patterns, migration, demography and sociocultural elements unavailable in other sources. Despite the added-value of Endovélico, there are some obstacles limiting its use, as the preliminary results of the studies performed on bioarchaeological field reports and on the database (Cruz, 2011; Cruz et al., 2015) have showed: the use of diverse terminology in technical and scientific descriptions, different report criteria, lack of defining categories in the database and the need to readjust the database to better fit the bioarchaeological information. Overall, it was possible to identify a lack of uniformity in registering and reporting bioarchaeological information as the main problem, compromising a more effective use of any computer program relying on data consistency to manage and generate information. These outcomes resulted in the development of a methodological approach that aims to solve the inconsistency problem at the source – the excavation field – and not at the final stage of the process – the digital record. The methodology proposed implies the development of a bioarchaeological glossary, field and report standards that will be interconnected with the way data is updated in Endovélico. With this strategy, bioarchaeological information can more effectively be used by national and international researchers, allowing the understanding of past-populations.

avatar for Cristina Barroso Cruz

Cristina Barroso Cruz

Researcher, Interdisciplinary Center for Archaeology and Evolution of Human Behavior

Friday April 1, 2016 14:45 - 15:10 CEST
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