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Harris-Matrix as key for understanding time in cemeteries

Claudia Maria MELISCH | Peter RAUXLOH | Natasha POWERS (Humboldt-University, Berlin, Germany) Keywords: cemetery, Harris Matrix, relative chronology of archaeological contexts Abstract: The beauty of the Harris-Matrix for the understanding of the relative/ real chronology in cemetery excavations was up to now not really exploited. Such a statement might sound arrogant and exaggerated in the ears of experienced archaeologists, but it’s nevertheless true. The reason for this is the lack of a common tool that enables the archaeologist to join partial matrices and to implant additional data into the matrix. The importance of the Harris-Matrix was first and foremost seen in the graphical display of the relative chronology – but the Harris-Matrix is much more powerful than that. In fact, the graphical display of the relative chronology of contexts is only the surface. If the amount of contexts from an excavation exceeds a certain number, the conventional graphical display of the Harris-Matrix becomes useless. But the math behind the Harris-Matrix doesn’t! By using an interactive graphic format for displaying the relative chronology of archaeological contexts, we created a surprisingly mighty tool that unveils the capacity of this kind of information for the first time and revealed a great potential for further analysis and dating, especially for graves. We have introduced certain aspects of the project “Medieval Space and Population” before in CHNT, but now we can harvest from the previous developments and our interactive Harris-Matrix is the key tool to for choosing radiocarbon-samples, for understanding and correcting the map of the cemetery and for applying a time-component onto the succeeding burials, based on scientific dating. Relevance conference | Relevance session: New international research Innovation: The transformation of the Harris-Matrix into an interactiv graphic format revealed a mindblowing capacity. References: Harris Matrix – new format=new potential Dating graves, safely separating medieval and early modern period graves by sampling according to the...

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The Harris Matrix Composer – A New Tool to Manage Archaeological Stratigraphy

Wolfgang NEUBAUER1 / Christoph TRAXLER2 (1VIAS – Vienna Institute for Archaeological Science / 2Vienna University of Technology, Austria) Goal of Presentation: Introduction of the new Harris Matrix Composer, an application that supports the creation and administration of a Harris Matrix according to the theory of Dr. E.C. Harris. The Harris Matrix – formulated by Dr. Edward C. Harris in 1973 – is the established way of representing the archaeological stratigraphy of an excavation. The Harris Matrix is a sequential diagram defining stratigraphic relations between stratigraphic units. It is an important method to document the stratification that is destroyed by the excavation process and hence a vital tool for stratigraphic analysis. Although the Harris Matrix has become a quasi standard of archaeological stratigraphy, only a few software tools exist to create and edit these diagrams. An evaluation of these tools showed that they do not completely comply with the theory or suffer from poor usability. Therefore we decided to develop a new application addressing these issues, called Harris Matrix Composer (HMC). Dr. Harris was involved in the evaluation of early prototypes to guarantee compliance with his theory. User tests were undertaken to discover and handle usability problems. The main component of the HMC is a graph editor with an intuitive graphical user interface for creating and editing a Harris Matrix throughout the entire stratigraphic excavation process. Users add graphical symbols that represent stratigraphic units (either deposits or surfaces) and determine their stratigraphic relations by drawing edges between two such symbols. The application supports valid Harris Matrix creation and indicates invalid units and relations. In addition to stratigraphic relations, temporal relations can be added by drawing special edges or grouping units into periods. Phases define structural relations, like posts or postholes of a dwelling. The HMC will be developed into a powerful interface to a GIS system, like ArcGIS to access single surface maps and related databases for visualization and stratigraphic analysis by selecting units of the Harris Matrix. In a similar way it will work together with the point cloud editor SCANOPY to filter these vast data sets. A trial beta version and further information is available at the web...

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The use of formal ontology languages in Harris Matrix Models – Benefits, Problems and Visions

Christian ANSORGE / Anja MASUR / Paul MITCHELL (Vienna, Austria) Outline: In this talk we would like to discuss the use of ontology as a tool for sharing, storing and analyzing large and extended Harris Matrix models. In fact the Harris Matrix as an early kind of formal knowledge representation can be seen as an ontology with limited properties. Therefore it is already appropriate to be used within a machine readable knowledge model. Like an ontology the Harris Matrix Model is a formal conceptualization of a certain domain. Abstract: At present we are faced with a growing development in the field of information infrastructure. It is nine years since Berner-Lee’s famous article declaring the “Semantic Web” in 2001. In many fields of science connecting and efficiently using already existing information is becoming more important than the gathering of new data. As a key technology of the Semantic Web ontologies support the discovery and the integration of data from different fields and sources. In their role as mediator between human understanding and formal knowledge representations used by machines they are important parts of several information infrastructures today. As far as archaeology is concerned we are faced with a very special field of science and a more traditional understanding of information. Data collected in the field is often gathered and stored using different types of data with no usable relation between them. In this context we have to distinguish between information implicitly known by humans and explicit formal information accessible and also usable by machines. In this talk we would like to discuss the use of ontology as a tool for sharing, storing and analyzing large and extended Harris Matrix models. In fact the Harris Matrix as an early kind of formal knowledge representation can be seen as an ontology with limited properties. Therefore it is already appropriate to be used within a machine readable knowledge model. Like an ontology the Harris Matrix Model is a formal conceptualization of a certain domain. The Harris Matrix could benefit by being represented as a formal ontology language in two different ways. On the one hand we can identify a wide range of internal...

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The Harris Matrix and its digital visualisation in rescue excavations in Lower Austria and Vienna

Paul MITCHELL / Oliver RACHBAUER (Vienna, Austria) This talk reports about the use of the Harris Matrix on large rescue excavations and the experiences made with the digital visualisation of the Matrix. From relatively small beginnings in 2003/2004, a series of large scale urban rescue excavations has taken place in Vienna, Tulln and Mautern, all involving thousands of, and in one case nearly 9000, stratigraphic units. These excavations were carried out by the organization Archäologie Service on behalf of the Archaeological Department of the Federal Department of Monuments and included the single layer excavation method and the digital documentation of all contexts through TachyCAD or ArchCAD. The Harris Matrix was compiled on paper parallel to the excavations and in most, but not all, cases first visualised digitally afterwards. After initial use of ArchEd, a switch was made to Stratify, including in one case its use in post-excavation analysis. The speakers were among the many people involved in this process and their report will concentrate on the experiences made, the lessons learned and the questions raised. Keywords: Harris Matrix, matrix software, praxis...

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What does the Harris Matrix mean? Some thoughts on the multilinearity of the stratigraphic sequence

David BIBBY (Uni Konstanz, Germany) Most sites are made of any number of partially independent stratigraphic series, for wich many permutations are possible. These so called multilinear stratigraphic sequences are best visualised by the Harris Matrix, which can be advantageously employed as a tool for coping with this difficult phenomenon. Without the introduction of non-stratigraphic dating or equating information (finds, scientific dates, other a priori knowledge about the site and its features) an almost infinite number of relative chronological constellations are possible, even for a relarively small site. Dating/equating information fixes the position of individual contexts on separate lines of the multilinear sequence (i.e. those contexts with no physical contact of immediate stratigraphic relevance to each other) in an absolute chronological relationship, without overtuning the sequences on the individual lines. In this way groups of contexts across the multilinear sequence can be created, and attributed to phases and periods. This subject was discussed in a paper given in Vienna in 2002, the emphasis then being on the mathematics of stratigraphic multilinearity. Whilst this mathematics is fascinating in itself, the emphasis here is on how these concepts can help the archaeologist and stratigrapher to interpret his/her site and divide it into meaningful phases and periods. How far can the stratigraphy of a site be phased and is this phasing objectively quantificable? Can the phaseability and in turn the interpretability be meaningfully compared between sites? During the workshop the author would like to discuss the possibilities computer technology might offer both for calculating the maximum number of permutations for any multilinear stratigraphic sequence and for its semi-automatic “reduction” into phases and...

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