University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Open source software and quantitative archaeology: converging trajectories?
Stefano Costa, Luca Bianconi

Last modified: 2011-12-23


In 2008 the IOSA Project started dealing with quantitative archaeology from a number of points of view: writing freely available documentation for statistical software, developing a dedicated software library for radiocarbon calibration, and most recently salvaging legacy software from obsolescence by rewriting a software program from the late 1980s.

 Despite being widely recognised as one of the most advanced programming languages and data analysis environments, there has been little emphasis on R in Italian archaeology: apparently those using it do not care to let others know about it, let alone sharing their scripts and problems. The quantitative archaeology wiki (, despite its fragmentary nature, has not attracted any relevant contribution from Italy.

Similar considerations also apply for the IOSACal project, that still has a potential to become a full-fledged radiocarbon calibration and analysis environment.

We had no reaction to the mentioned projects from Italy, and in particular we identified a lack of will and expertise in using statistical software. However, open source software has momentum in Italy, and we think quantitative archaeology should try to follow that momentum. Furthermore, we believe that linking statistical analysis with the shared development of software programs (even as short scripts) and raw data is key to the sustainability of such an approach. 



Open source software; Italy; Radiocarbon calibration