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In trying to create an overarching organization scheme for ArchaeoWiki content, we quickly came to realize that less is more. While we experimented with a variety of structures, all attempts to impose a categorical format resulted in a system that was more of a burden than a benefit. In the end, we settled on the system described below, one that relies far more heavily on making connections between topics than dropping them into pre-determined boxes. Perhaps the most significant benefit it provides is the freedom to easily expand and alter our organization as ArchaeoWiki grows.

Basic Structure - Categories

MediaWiki, the platform on which ArchaeoWiki is built, has a standard Category tag that allows users to assign a given article to one or more groups. Assigning the tag [[Category:Fruit]] to a page would include that article in the category called 'Fruit' where, it is presumed, one would find numerous articles on various kinds of fruit. Each category gets its own page where all articles assigned to that category can be accessed. In addition, a category can be identified as a sub-category of another so that all members of the sub-category belong to the parent category but not vice versa. Such relationships can be expanded to provide a neat, top-down structure to organize articles.

That being said, ArchaeoWiki only uses Categories at the most superficial level because additional features included in ArchaeoWiki (see following section) provide more advantageous organizational benefits. Only eight categories are presently used and new categories may not be created. All content articles fall into one of these categories:

  • Cultural Entity - Primarily archaeologically-defined cultures, complexes, and traditions, but may also include past manifestations of modern cultures
  • Material - Any substrate used, modified, or created by humans, or related to human activity
  • Material Culture - Physical artifacts, constructs, and other media found in the archaeological record
  • Method - Definitions and descriptions of archaeological methods of survey, excavation, data recording, analysis, etc.
  • Site - Summaries of significant locations of human activity
  • Temporal-Cultural Period - Defined time frames typically associated with a given cultural entity or pattern of human activity
  • Theory - Ideas, concepts, and paradigms used in archaeology, past and present.
  • Technology - Articles on 'ways of doing', largely related to the manufacture, use, and modification of material culture

Note that there is no People category in the list above. At this time, ArchaeoWiki does not allow articles about notable ancient or historical individuals, nor notable archaeologists. This may change in the future, but for now we suggest you instead link relevant articles to an exterior source.

Advanced Organization - Tags

Instead of using sub-categories as the primary means of organizing articles, ArchaeoWiki relies on property tags to relate similar topics and content. For example, rather than creating a category called 'Ceramic Ware' and ascribing all relevant pages to that category, a single Property called 'Artifact Type Is' can be attached to relevant articles indicating that the artifact type is 'Ceramic Ware' ([[Artifact Type Is::Ceramic Ware]]). Although the difference may seem trivial, there are important implications worth mentioning; most notably, the relationships between categories need not be rigid since the criteria for membership in a particular category does not necessitate mutual exclusivity. In other words, you can place an article into a category and not worry about to what other categories it belongs. You can simply tag a given article as belonging to whatever group is applicable and it will always be associated.

To illustrate, let us consider a ground bone fishing harpoon head. Rather than attempting to create a nested category structure to accommodate the morphological type, material, method of manufacture, and function of the artifact (e.g. Artifact - Bone Artifacts - Ground Bone Artifacts - Fishing Gear), ArchaeoWiki allows you to categorize the article called 'Harpoon Head' as [[Category:Material Culture]] and then add the tags [[Is Made From::Bone]] [[Is Fishing Gear::True]] [[Is Made By::Grinding]]. Consequently, if you wanted to get a list of all types of fishing gear made from bone, you could simply include a query for those properties {{#ask:[[Category:Material Culture]] [[Is Made From::Bone]] [[Is Fishing Gear::True]]}}


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