2.2.3 Tabulating the data from the artefact catalogues

For the information in the Excel spreadsheets to be queried in a database, the cells for each entry needed to be arranged into fields that each contained only one specific type of information, as relevant to the aims of this project (e.g. a catalogue number, artefact description or provenance). Because of the correcting procedure, some of this organisation occurred automatically, but some information again had to be manually 'dragged and dropped' into the correct fields.

Once the original data were formatted correctly, new fields were created to add in further information, specifically chronological information and the interpretative categories, such as activity, gender, and status categories, used in this project. Ascribing these interpretative categories required considerable decision-making by Penelope Allison, often including on-going adjustment of these decisions and these categories (see Allison in this volume.

When all these fields and their data were complete, including the addition of interpretative fields, the final addition to the artefact data table was the insertion of further fields with SQL-consistent abbreviations of the descriptive field entries to be used in the GIS analyses - i.e. the fields with dates or building phases, and those with activity and gender categories. Full-text descriptive fields could not be used for analysis. ArcGIS requires field names that are SQL (Structured Query Language) consistent. This is the standard language used with relational databases where each entry must have a maximum of eight characters and contain only alphanumeric characters or underscores (e.g. not question marks). These SQL abbreviations were created and inserted into the relevant fields (Table 1). These then became the codes that were used as the fields in the summary artefact queries.

Table 1: Sample of SQL abbreviations

Artefact use categorySQL abbrev.Gender categorySQL abbrev.
dressD child Ch
dress-combat equipment DE child? ZCh
dress? ZD female Fe
dress?/cloth working? ZD_C female? ZFe
dress?/cloth working?/toilet? ZD_C_T female?/child? ZFe_Ch
dress?/cloth working?/writing? ZD_C_W male Ma
dress?/combat equipment? ZD_E male? ZMa
dress?/combat equipment?/horse equipment? ZD_E_H male?/female? ZMa_Fe
dress?/horse equipment? ZD_H N/A U

The end product of this process was a digital version of each original printed artefact catalogue, largely translated into English. This digital version was in the form of a spreadsheet, or data table, which contained the descriptive information from the printed catalogues, plus interpretative categories (e.g. dress, combat equipment, male, female, etc.), additional chronological information (e.g. date ranges for specific brooches), and SQL abbreviations. Each artefact was presented in a single row of data cells in the spreadsheet, arranged into fields, each of which contained a specific type of information.

However, although these tables of artefact data, with their respective provenance codes, and the provenance data tables were now fully formatted, they were still not ready for plotting the artefact distribution in ArcGIS.


© Internet Archaeology/Author(s) URL:
Last updated: Mon Jun 30 2008