Using Linked Open Data to Improve Data Reuse in Zooarchaeology

Keywords: Annotation, Data publishing, Integration, Data modeling, Zooarchaeology


The inability of journals and books to accommodate data and to make it reusable has led to the gradual loss of vast amounts of information. The practice of disseminating selected sub-sets of data (usually in summary tables) permits only very limited types of reuse, and thus hampers scholarship. In recent years, largely in response to increasing government and institutional requirements for full data access, the scholarly community is giving data more attention, and solutions for data management are emerging. However, seeing data management primarily as a matter of compliance means that the research community faces continued data loss, as many datasets enter repositories without adequate description to enable their reuse. Furthermore, because many archaeologists do not yet have experience in data reuse, they lack understanding of what “good” data management means in terms of their own research practices. This paper discusses Linked Open Data (LOD) as an approach to improving data description, intelligibility and discoverability to facilitate reuse. I present examples of how annotating zooarchaeology datasets with LOD can facilitate data integration without forcing standardization. I conclude by recognizing that data sharing is not without its challenges. However, the research community’s careful attention and recognition of datasets as valuable scholarly outputs will go a long way toward ensuring that the products of our work are more widely useful.

Author Biography

Sarah Whitcher Kansa, The Alexandria Archive Institute & Open Context, 125 El Verano Way, San Francisco, CA 94127.

Sarah Whitcher Kansa directs the non-profit Alexandria Archive Institute, working with researchers to publish open access data with Open Context.


Arbuckle, B. S., S. W. Kansa, E. Kansa, D. Orton, C. Çakırlar, L. Gourichon, L. Atici, A. Galik, A. Marciniak, J. Mulville, H. Buitenhuis, D. Carruthers, B. De Cupere, A. Demirergi, S. Frame, D. Helmer, L. Martin, J. Peters, N. Pöllath, K. Pawłowska, N. Russell, K. Twiss, and D. Würtenberger. 2014. Data Sharing Reveals Complexity in the Westward Spread of Domestic Animals across Neolithic Turkey. PLoS ONE 9:e99845. Doi:

Clason, A. T. 1972. Some Remarks on the Use and Presentation of Archaeological Data. Helinium 12:139-53.

Conolly, J., S. Colledge, K. Dobney, J. -D. Vigne, J. Peters, B. Stopp, K. Manning, and S. Shennan. 2011. Meta-Analysis of Zooarchaeological Data from SW Asia and SE Europe Provides Insight into the Origins and Spread of Animal Husbandry. Journal of Archaeological Science 38:538-545. Doi:

Driver, J. C. 1992. Identification, Classification and Zooarchaeology. Circaea 9:35-47.

von den Driesch, A. 1976. A Guide to the Measurement of Animal Bones from Archaeological Sites, Peabody Museum Bulletin 1, Cambridge, MA.

Faniel, I., E. Kansa, S. W. Kansa, J. Barrera-Gomez, and E. Yakel. 2013. The Challenges of Digging Data: A Study of Context in Archaeological Data Reuse. JCDL 2013 Proceedings of the 13th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries: 295-304. New York, NY: ACM. Doi: . [Preprint available online at].

Grigson, C. 1978. Towards a Blueprint for Animal Bone Reports in Archaeology. In Research Problems in Zooarchaeology, edited by D. R. Brothwell, K. D. Thomas, and J. Clutton-Brock, pp. 121-128. Institute of Archaeology Occasional Papers 3, London.

Jones, E. L. and C. Gabe. 2015. The Promise and Peril of Older Collections: Meta-Analyses and the Zooarchaeology of Late Prehistoric/Early Historic New Mexico. Open Quaternary 1:Art. 6. Doi:

Kansa, E., S. W. Kansa, and B. Arbuckle. 2014. Publishing and Pushing: Mixing Models for Communicating Research Data in Archaeology. International Journal of Digital Curation 9:57-70. Doi:

Marwick, B. 2015. Geoarchaeology of Aboriginal Landscapes in Semi-Arid Australia. S. J. Holdaway and P. C. Fanning. 2014. Geoarchaeology 30:459-461. Doi:10.1002/gea.21522.

MacKinnon, M. 2004. Production and Consumption of Animals in Roman Italy: Integrating the Zooarchaeological and Textual Evidence. Journal of Roman Archaeology, Supplement 54.

McKechnie, I., D. Lepofsky, M. L. Moss, V. L. Butler, T. J. Orchard, G. Coupland, F. Foster, M. Caldwell, and K. Lertzman. 2014. Archaeological Data Provide Alternative Hypotheses on Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii) Distribution, Abundance, and Variability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111:E807-E816. Doi:

Payne, S. 1973. Kill-Off Patterns in Sheep and Goats: The Mandibles from Aşvan Kale. Anatolian Studies 23:281-303.

Sasson, A. 2010. Animal Husbandry in Ancient Israel: A Zooarchaeological Perspective on Livestock Exploitation, Herd Management and Economic Strategies. Equinox, London.

Thomas, R., M. Holmes, and J. Morris. 2013. “So Bigge as Bigge May Be”: Tracking Size and Shape Change in Domestic Livestock in London (AD 1220–1900). Journal of Archaeological Science 40:3309-3325.

Vines, T. H., A. Y. K. Albert, R. L. Andrew, F. Débarre, D. G. Bock, M. T. Franklin, K. J. Gilbert, J. -S. Moore, S. Renaut, and D. J. Rennison. 2014. The Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age. Current Biology 24:94-97. Doi:

How to Cite
Kansa, S. W. (2015). Using Linked Open Data to Improve Data Reuse in Zooarchaeology. Ethnobiology Letters, 6(2), 224-231.