ArchaeoWiki:Content Goals

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ArchaeoWiki's Goals

In the most general sense, ArchaeoWiki has three goals:

1. To give archaeological sources visibility, especially those that wallow in the obscurity of 'grey literature'
There are too many well-written and insightful monographs, journal articles and technical reports that are only known to and cited by small communities of archaeologists and remain invisible to those outside such circles. Even when this material is primarily geared towards a regionally-specific topic, the information can often be useful to archaeologists in seemingly unrelated research contexts. Citing these resources within a dynamic knowledge base like ArchaeoWiki makes it possible for the entire archaeological community to find and integrate this literature into their own areas of familiarity and thereby inject diversity into otherwise insular knowledge bases.

2. To provide linkages between archaeological source material and related subject matter to facilitate learning and research
ArchaeoWiki gives resources visibility and links them to topics of relevance. Users can easily see what pages cite a given reference or, conversely, what references apply to a given subject page. These linkages can be an avenue for exploring basic relationships between content and source material, but can also be used to compile bibliographies framed by topical themes. While a given source may be well-known for discussing Topic A, the relationships created in ArchaeoWiki can also draw a user's attention to how Topic B is addressed in the same work.

3. To promote discussion and collaboration in a dynamic environment accessible to all interested parties
Traditional publishing contexts can provide only a narrow range of perspectives and have exceptionally limited capability for constructive discussion. As a consequence, it is difficult for archaeologists new to or revisiting a given topic to evaluate how accepted a given position is within the wider archaeological community. Peer evaluation, criticism, discussion and collaboration are limited to small interaction communities; the rest of the research community at large does not benefit from these exchanges and has few options other than trusting the validity of mainstream published sources. Moving away from this stagnation and communicative exclusivity, ArchaeoWiki provides a means of engaging with the broader archaeological community in an inclusive and equal fashion. Users are free to present opposing views with well-reasoned arguments and reference-supported evidence, both within the content pages themselves and in each page's associated 'Talk' page. New ideas can be promptly integrated into the discourse surrounding a topic and the community can weigh-in immediately.

Subject-Specific Content

Use the information below as a guide to the kinds of information that would be useful to include in articles on certain subjects. Feel free to add information that does not fit into the categories below and expand the lists on this page if crucial topics have been omitted.


The information provided for archaeological sites should address the following, as applicable:

  1. Significance - Why is this site notable and what does it contribute to archaeological knowledge in both regional and global senses? This information is essential to justify inclusion within ArchaeoWiki. Significance can be expressed as brief, concise statements or explicitly throughout the page content.
  2. Location - Where is the site located on the globe and where does it fit within regional geographic frameworks? Site locations should be kept reasonably vague so as to protect sensitive sites from unauthorized disturbance. Even if published literature provides precise coordinates, it is strongly suggested that the page only provide approximate coordinates no closer than 1 km from the actual site location.
  3. Content - What kinds of artifacts were recovered and what kinds of features/architecture have been documented? Complete site assemblages need not be detailed, but some kind of summary should be provided so the reader has an idea what kinds of material culture were encountered. Most importantly, links should be created to specific types of material culture pages to encourage interconnections within and between ArchaeoWiki content pages, and this can most easily be done in such a tagged format. Detailed descriptions of specific content are encouraged if the content in question provides unique insights that can be further linked to other pages on the site and elsewhere.
  4. Research History - Where possible, a listing of all (or only significant) research projects to occur on the site should be provided along with the periods of investigation and citations of significant literature that resulted.
  5. Temporal and Cultural Affiliations - List the temporal periods and/or cultural traditions that have been associated with the site based on typological, relative, or chronometric dating methods.
  6. Alternative Names - If the site is known by more than one name, or the site has a code designation, such as the Borden Block System in Canada, these should be listed. If one site has more than one commonly known name, alternate content-void pages redirecting to the site's main page are acceptable.
  7. Type - If the site has been ascribed a certain functional or contextual type, state what it is and why it has been categorized as that type.
  8. Size - The dimensions of the site, as defined by survey, excavation and other investigations, should be provided.
  9. Landscape Context - Describe the placement of the site in/on the landscape, its relationship to waterbodies, topography, and other archaeological sites, as applicable.

Material Culture

  1. Significance - State the significance of this particular material culture type/class/unique specimen in regards to archaeological study or interpretation. For example, explain its role in relative or absolute dating, cultural history reconstruction, technological developments, etc.
  2. Alternative Names - If the given artifact type/class has alternative (colloquial, technical, scientific) names, list them.
  3. Description - Provide a description of the physical form of the material culture, including all significant variants. Provide links to (sub)pages if any variants warrant their own pages. Provide as much detail as possible so as to facilitate identification in field and lab settings. Include high-quality, technical photographs of specimens showing the range of variation within the type (if applicable) and specific attributes/features of note.
  4. Geographic Distribution - Describe, in a general sense, where this material culture is encountered in the archaeological record. Add or modify pages for significant archaeological sites to include this material culture type under the [[Assemblage has:]] tag so that maps can be generated showing specific locales where this type of artifact has been found.
  5. Materials - List the kinds of materials used to make the artifact/object in archaeological assemblages.
  6. Technology - Outline (and link to, where appropriate) any special technologies or techniques employed in the creation, use and/or maintenance of the material culture in question. For example, different hafting arrangements for composite tools, alternative weaving techniques, specialized smelting technology.
  7. Type Site - Indicate and link to, if appropriate, the archaeological site where a given artifact 'type' was first identified and cite the accompanying literature.
  8. Attributes & Metrics - Provide metrics and attributes for individual specimens or samples of specimens to outline ranges of variability and to facilitate specimen identification.
  9. Temporal and Cultural Affiliation - State the time period and/or range from which the given material culture is thought to have originated. Provide relative and absolute dates, if available.
  10. Associated Material Culture - Identify and link to any other forms of material culture that are associated in a significant way to the specific material culture under discussion.

Features and Architecture

  1. Significance - Explain why this feature or architectural subject is important to archaeology regionally or globally. For example, a particular kind of tomb structure may represent an important technological development for its builders, or a sweat lodge depression might be important for signifying a particular form of social structure.
  2. Description - Provide details about the form of the feature or architectural subject, and any specific elements of note that define the subject
  3. Alternative Names - List any other terms by which the subject may be known colloquially or academically.
  4. Metrics - Cite size ranges for the subject, as applicable, including metrics for specific elements if they do not warrant their own article.
  5. Geographic Distribution - Indicate in general terms where the feature or architectural subject is found globally. Link to archaeological site pages and indicate on those pages that this kind of thing was encountered there.
  6. Materials - Indicate what kinds of materials are used to create the subject, if applicable.
  7. Technology - List and link to technologies involved in the creation, modification, use and maintenance of the subject, if applicable.
  8. Temporal-Cultural Affiliation - Identify the time period(s) and cultural traditions/entities with which the subject is typically associated. Provide relative and chronometric dates where possible.
  9. Similar or Related Features/Architecture - Provide a list of similar or related archaeological phenomena that can provide the reader with comparative subjects for identification or interest purposes.
  10. Specialist Links - Link to external sources that cover the subject in great detail. This is likely to happen for architectural subjects, especially in 'Classic' cultural contexts in the Mediterranean.
  11. Unique Subjects - Avoid writing pages on unique subjects of this kind unless they have exceptional significance and are not treated elsewhere in any reasonable detail. For example, the Parthenon is covered sufficiently in several other online sources. That being said, if specific subject matter related to the subject is decidedly lacking in other resources, a page will be allowed.

Temporal-Cultural Periods

  1. Significance - State why the given period is important to regional and/or global archaeology.
  2. Alternative Names - List alternative names that appear in the literature and cite relevant references.
  3. Definition - Where applicable, identify when and by whom the period was (re)defined.
  4. Date Ranges - Provide bracketing years for the period in question. Calibrated calendar dates are preferred but provide uncalibrated dates and non-calendrical dates as appropriate/available.
  5. Geographic Relevance - Indicate to which regions of the world this period applies. If the same term is used in different contexts, create subpages to disambiguate.
  6. Cultural Relevance - Specify the general cultural contexts to which the period applies.
  7. Diagnostic Material Culture - Where applicable, link to pages on classes of material culture that are diagnostic for the given period. For time periods associated with many cultural contexts, use your best judgment as to how many examples to include. If desired, include a query table that randomly selects a number of artifacts dating to the given period.
  8. Significant Sites - As above, list a select number of significant archaeological sites with pages on ArchaeoWiki. Try to represent as many cultural contexts as possible.

Cultural Entities

  1. Temporal Range - Indicate, to the extent possible given relative and chronometric dates provided in reliable sources, the beginning and end dates for the cultural entity/
  2. Geography - Describe where this cultural entity is found throughout the world. Where appropriate specify core and peripheral areas
  3. Material Culture - Provide a list of material culture types or variants that are diagnostic of this cultural entity.



Aside from the usual referencing information (author, year, publisher, etc.), try to annotate reference pages with the following kinds of information. In the reference input form, you can add aditional information in the Abstract, Annotations, and Free-Text boxes; however, reference pages can be later edited like normal pages.

  1. Abstract - Give a brief synopsis of the work or provide the official abstract distributed with the work.
  2. Significance - While the use of the resource for supporting statements in another page is sufficient to warrant its inclusion on ArchaeoWiki, provide any other reasons why this resource is of special note. For instance, it may contain the first use of a given term, it may be an important text for a given school of thought, or it may be the only extant source that describes a given form of Material Culture in any great detail.
  3. Terminology - Provide explanations of key terms discussed in the work and link to related pages on ArchaeoWiki or an external source, as appropriate.
  4. Arguments - If the author(s) makes specific claims or arguments, summarize them and link to relevant sources or topical pages.
  5. Related Resources - Link to related works, such as responses or critiques, or papers dealing with very similar topics. Do NOT simply link to other works by the same author unless the subject matter is related.
  6. Relevance - Indicate if a given work or its core concept(s) are considered outdated, cite any works that state this and explain why this opinion has been expressed.
  7. Rarity - If the work is unique or otherwise exceptionally rare, indicate institutions that have original copies OR digital resources where the work can be accessed freely.
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