University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Data-oriented approach versus process-oriented approach : from Computing to Archaeology
Djindjian François

Last modified: 2011-12-23


In the computing sciences, the opposition between the process-oriented approach and the data-oriented approach has been well known since the first computers :
- Process-oriented, for example, includes real time computing, automats, communication and protocols, etc.
- Data-oriented, for example, includes databases, transactional computing, data retrieval systems, multimedia systems, ontologies, GIS and the web, etc.
In archaeology, the history of the application of computer sciences has focused on the role of data retrieval systems since the 1960s: various data banks, artefact corpora, survey and excavation data recording, archaeological maps, multimedia databases, CRM, GIS, Websites, etc.
Until now, the process-oriented approach has not been explicitly formalized although it is present everywhere in archaeology, for example:
- In the archaeological BPM (Business Process Management). Using AIS (Archaeological Information Systems) in an urban context by defining precisely the business processes of archaeological research and management. By defining the organization of an archaeological profession and the more rational and complex realization of AIS applications and software architecture.
- In the processes of archaeological methods which allow the improvement of the relationships between recorded archaeological data and the target data necessary for the reconstruction of past societies (such as the generalized taphonomic processes used in Geo-archaeology, Zoo-archaeology, etc.),
- In the systemic processes of past societies which archaeology is trying to reconstruct, such as: technical systems, economic systems, management systems, societal attitudes, adaptation to the environment, cultural change, etc.
This paper will describe the progressive development of how the process approach can complement the data approach, and argue for a significant evolution for the archaeology of the XXI century, not only for archaeological business and methods, but also for the systemic capabilities for reconstructing past societies.