Open Context


Biometrical Database of Near East and Eastern Mediterranean Fauna

A large-scale, community-wide project to build a massive body of integrated, openly-available zooarchaeological data, with a specific focus on measurement data

Project Abstract

What is the Biometrical Database of Near East and Eastern Mediterranean Fauna?

The Biometrical Database of Near East and Eastern Mediterranean Fauna is a large-scale data integration project with a goal of building up a massive body of openly-available zooarchaeological data, with a specific focus on measurement data, in order to facilitate and improve research and instruction globally. This project represents a collaboration among many colleagues located across the globe, who recognize the research and teaching potential of access to large databases of related content. Zooarchaeology is particularly amenable to data sharing because practitioners collect large quantities of data in somewhat more “standardized” formats than seen in other archaeological sub-disciplines. Project data published here in Open Context are available openly for download and reuse.

Who Can Participate?

Participation in this project is open to anyone collecting primary zooarchaeological (or related) data from sites of any period in the Near East and Eastern Mediterranean. Its success relies on broad participation from the zooarchaeology community. This is an ongoing project, so please get in touch with the editors if you are interested in participating (Justin Lev-Tov, Project Manager / Sarah Whitcher Kansa, Open Context Editor).

How to Submit Data

Option 1: Contribute your (specimen-level) data to the overarching biometrical database project.

The biometrical database will be a single project (called a "data publication") in Open Context. It will be called the "Biometrical Database of Near East and East Mediterranean Fauna" project. You can see it as working like an edited volume, where each of you is a contributing author to the volume (like a chapter), and Sarah and Justin are the co-editors. The project will have a project description page in Open Context, and all contributed data will be added to this one project. The "sub-project" page will include important background information about your dataset (see below). A good example of this is the in-progress Archaeology of Mesoamerican Animals project , which has separate sub-projects for each chapter.

How to contribute data for Option 1: For this option, we request only specimens that you have taken von den Driesch measurements on. For those specimens, we need the following data from you, ideally in a spreadsheet (or comma-separated values [CSV] format) “dumps” of tables from a relational database): site name, period, date range (in cal. BCE), context information (area, locus, general context description), analyst name, unique specimen number (“ID #”), taxon, element, proximal fusion, distal fusion, and all von den Driesch measurements (in mm). We have created some sample tables to help guide you.

Open Context has very flexible tools for importing data organized in very different table structures. We mainly encounter difficulties if data are "lumped" together in "comments" fields. For example measurements coded as "Dp: 20.1; Bp: 22.2" in a single cell are too time-consuming and error prone for us to import. If you're unsure about your formatting, please share your spreadsheet with us and we can work with you on how to format it to easily import to Open Context. We also ask that you send an overview of the site the bones came from, with information about the excavation and any methodological information you’d like to include. We work with you over email to include all the appropriate metadata for the project. Click here to see an example of project documentation. Please note, we also welcome supporting digital images of drawings or photographs and in some cases even 3D models. If you choose to contribute such media, make sure the media resources can be clearly and unambiguously associated with specific bone specimens. If the media is/are in an unusual format, discuss with us the best format to use for import.

Option 2: Publish your own full dataset as a separate project in Open Context and also link it to the biometrical database.

You may have an entire dataset that you want to share via Open Context (including specimens beyond those with von den Driesch measurements). That is, you don't want to go through your data and pull out only the relevant data we request for the biometrical database in Option 1. You'd rather share your full dataset. In this case, you can contact Sarah Kansa (Open Context Editor) about publishing your dataset as a stand-alone "data publication" in Open Context, and then having the relevant metrical data from your data publication linked up with the biometrical database project. This is a good option for people who would like to publish and archive a full project, perhaps related to a conventional publication you're preparing. The data would still be interoperable with the biometrical database project described in Option 1 above, but would be in its own distinct data publication because the data include more information than requested for the biometrical database.

In this example, Max Price has published his full dataset, but certain specimens (those with measurements) will work with the biometrical database project. Open Context will automatically include citation information for Max Price’s data, along with data contributors, for users of biometrical data.

A few additional notes:

  1. Please Send Specimen Records only, not "Aggregated Data": Please note! We will only publish records documenting individual bone specimens. Aggregate bone data (lumped by site, phase, context, taxon, or element) is not useful for data integration. That is, rather than ranges, averages, or other summaries of measurements; we work with the specific individual measurements per specimen. Publication of individual specimen records provides much more analytic flexibility and offers more potential to support new research.
  2. Copyright Permissions: In keeping with "best practices" for scientific data publishing and archiving, Open Context publishes content under a Creative Commons Attribution or Public Domain license (as you choose). Open Context claims no ownership and requires no transfer of copyright to publish. Creative Commons licenses gives Open Context permission to publish and archive data. Creative Commons licenses also grant reuse permissions to other individuals and programs, provided those reuses properly attribute data contributors with clear citations.
  3. Citation and Attribution for Contributors: Open Context issues DOIs (library backed identifiers commonly used by journals) for each project (analogous to a journal article or book) and for each sub-project (analogous to a chapter in an edited volume) contribution. You will always be clearly identified as the author of any data you contribute. This pertains to your entire dataset, and also to each individual specimen you contribute.
  4. Preservation and Archiving: Open Context archives data with the California Digital LIbrary, the central digital repository of the University of California system. For additional protections, Open Context archives media with the Internet Archive (a leading digital library) and the German Archaeological Institute maintains a full and complete mirror of Open Context on its own cloud-computing infrastructure.
Banner image modified from the original by Matt Krause on Flickr "No more figs, but plenty of sheep", shared with a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

Annotations (1)

Property or Relation Value(s)
Editorial Note

Open Context editors work with data contributors to annotate datasets to shared vocabularies, ontologies, and other standards using 'Linked Open Data' (LOD) methods.

The annotations presented above approximate some of the meaning in this contributed data record to concepts defined in shared standards. These annotations are provided to help make datasets easier to understand and use with other datasets.

Suggested Citation

Open Context Editors. "Biometrical Database of Near East and Eastern Mediterranean Fauna". (2020) . Released: 2020-06-03. Open Context. <>

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Page created by Open Context editors. Not reviewed.

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Copyright License

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