Cesar Gonzalez-Perez, Patricia Martín-Rodilla, Charlotte Hug
Research and practice in archaeology often generates, and needs to manage, a large amount of information, which exhibits complex relationships and categorisation phenomena. The quality of the conceptual models that we use when gathering, organising, processing and reporting this information determines, to a large extent, the quality of our work. Creating explicit, high-quality conceptual models is a crucial task in any information-intensive endeavour, and especially in those where the complexity of the information means that intuition alone is not sufficient.
This workshop will provide an exhaustive, hands-on introduction to conceptual modelling in archaeology, by using two related technologies. First of all, the workshop will introduce CHARM (Cultural Heritage Abstract Reference Model, www.charminfo.org), an abstract and wide representation of the basic concepts that we can use to compose models of the archaeological record and related information. CHARM will be used to introduce attendees to a formalised way of thinking about archaeological entities and the valorizations that we make about them, using their own terminology and conceptualizations, but without losing the ability to interoperate and share information with one another. Special attention will be paid to issues such as how to represent material and performative entities as well as agents, valorizations and representations.
Secondly, and at the same time that CHARM models are developed, the discipline of conceptual modelling, often seen as pertaining to the engineering world, will be introduced to attendees. This introduction will be achieved by experimenting with ConML (www.conml.org), the language in which CHARM is expressed, rather than through theoretical explanations. ConML is a simple, high-level, affordable, powerful modelling language specifically designed with the humanities and social sciences in mind. In addition to supporting most of the object-oriented structural modelling constructs, ConML extends them with concerns that are rarely seen in industry-standard approaches but which are extremely important in archaeology, such as the ability to express temporality and subjectivity in conceptual models.
The workshop will assume no previous knowledge of conceptual modelling, although it will assume familiarity with archaeological concepts and practice. Participants will be asked to undertake an extensive array of exercises and practical cases in the archaeological domain, either individually or in small groups, throughout the workshop. The maximum number of participants is estimated at 20.
The workshop organisers have carried out similar experiences in the form of postgraduate courses at CSIC and as workshops at various editions of the CAA conference over the past few years, with excellent results in all cases; archaeologists, historians and architects with no previous exposure to conceptual modelling were capable of creating good-quality models after a few hours of practice. The organizers have extensive experience in using conceptual modelling in archaeological domains for over 15 years.