4.9 Database format

Archive: An archaeological database of higher-order settlements on the Italian peninsula (350 BCE to 300 CE)

All of the data are contained in a spreadsheet, or 'flat file database'. A relational database would have allowed for greater efficiency in storage and the avoidance of data redundancy, but this solution is less functional in relation to the project's open access objectives. Beyond issues of interoperability, relational databases require greater investment of time to create (which must be balanced against the gains achieved) and can be harder for other users to rebuild and query. Further, the spreadsheet can be directly uploaded into GIS software as an attribute table without the need for complex querying before or after import, although for some GIS software it may need to be saved first as a comma delimited .CSV file.

The spreadsheet has been structured in such a way that it can be queried to produce answers to the project's broad range of research questions: each row reflects one site, and each column, a category of data or degree of confidence in those data. All categories of information can be cross-referenced and quantified, singly or in groups. It is possible to conduct analyses on every geographical level between individual site and the whole peninsula. It has an absolute chronological structure which allows for settlement patterns of distinct periods to be isolated and compared. Further, through integration with basic geographical data, it is possible to use GIS to visualise and analyse spatial patterns and to present and disseminate the results. In particular, it has been possible to establish geographical connections between contemporary phenomena, stimulating further analyses.