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from South Central Indiana, US
| New Message Posted!2012-09-21 14:45  |
On 2012-09-20 16:07, jazzrabbit wrote:
I think usability has to be borne in mind. ...
My suggestion would be. For general public users, lay people without professional level knowledge, I think you would be best going with broad period based dating. Maybe getting as granular as early, mid, late per period. The periods being Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, Iron and so on. ...
Stick with the very well established BC/AD dating system...
So, get locations categorised into broad periods, allowing for more accurate sub periods. So Bronze Age would be fine, as would Early Bronze Age. ...
Then, in a second phase, allow for maybe a date range for a given location, with maybe its foundation given as its start, and falling out of use as its end. ....
So, a more scientific search for locations, based on date, would be a date range, and any location that has its period of use falling within that date range, would be considered a match. ...
When you then add a system for specifying events, then you can get even more granular and specify events as points in time, and these can also be searched for within a given date range. ...
I find myself in basic agreement with all these points. However, I will point out that names for basic "ages" vary by the culture. "Bronze Age" is meaningless if you are talking about the Maya, but there are similar descriptors that can be referenced to a brief article, on "Dates used on the Megalithic Portal", or the like.
I am personally in agreement with jazzrabbit on BC/AD vs. BCE/CE. For the older layman the earlier nomenclature is still more commonly understood. It is a difference without a distinction. I've not understood the point of it and it provides additionally opportunity for typos since "BCE" and "CE" contain the same letters. However, it's not worth arguing about if there is a "majority" opinion.
[ This message was edited by: bat400 on 2012-09-21 14:59 ]
| New Message Posted!2012-09-20 16:07  |
Hey, hi everyone. Just chipping in with my own date related thoughts...
I think usability has to be borne in mind. Dates really can be entered in a number of different formats, to differing tolerances. Ultimately though, what matters is how you interrogate that data and get results that are of use to you.
My suggestion would be. For general public users, lay people without professional level knowledge, I think you would be best going with broad period based dating. Maybe getting as granular as early, mid, late per period. The periods being Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze, Iron and so on.
Stick with the very well established BC/AD dating system. It does obviously have links to a religious structure, but I think using Christ as a specific measurement point is as good as any? If other sites or users want to run these dates through to a different dating system (Chinese?), thats up to them and their dates are equally as valid.
I think beyond this, very specific dating information, that current science has supplied should certainly be considered for inclusion and this could then be used as the basis of a more scientific date specification system.
So, get locations categorised into broad periods, allowing for more accurate sub periods. So Bronze Age would be fine, as would Early Bronze Age.
Then, in a second phase, allow for maybe a date range for a given location, with maybe its foundation given as its start, and falling out of use as its end.
So, a more scientific search for locations, based on date, would be a date range, and any location that has its period of use falling within that date range, would be considered a match.
When you then add a system for specifying events, then you can get even more granular and specify events as points in time, and these can also be searched for within a given date range.
To give you some background. I have been working on a site, for the last two years or so, with another guy. We have been aiming to produce a more generic cataloging system, based on locations and functionality. A part of that also involves time categorisation. The tricky thing for us is that we want to span from modern dat, through to geological epochs. So I have been thinking on this particular problem for a while now.
I think the key here is to keep things as simple as possible at point of use. Whilst also not throwing away data that could be of use to those with a more professional need. Not easy....
from New Zealand
| New Message Posted!2012-08-02 08:43  |
I am just doing a book review: "Thirst" by Steven Mithen, Professor of Early Prehistory at the University of Reading. On page 22 he says "Archaeologists who study the Paleolithic period prefer to use "years ago" but Neolithic and Bronze Age specialists prefer to use either BC or BCE".
By "years ago" he refers to 1950 (not 1948 as stated in other posts here).
I like the terms Bronze Age or similar era descriptions as they are wider ranging than specific dates for sites which often have a long period of use. The more we get into technical dating the harder it is to indicate on site pages and the harder it is for the average visitor to Megalithic Portal to comprehend. Let's keep it simple, after all professionals will understand what we mean by Bronze Age in Britain but ordinary folk will be bamboozled by technical calibrated
radio carbon dates with standard deviation spreads.
As to whether we use AD and BC, or BCE I think that everyone is familiar with BC and AD -even atheists, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, so ignoring the religious argument I am in favour of retaining AD and BC too.
from Surrey, UK
| New Message Posted!2012-07-12 16:24  |
Yes indeed - one being here
I'm sure our date collection would be useful eventually for wider analysis if we include enough reference data - we can make it available to download as a further step. I'll get onto some coding as soon as our event at the end of July is over.
| New Message Posted!2012-07-12 00:22  |
Realised you are also missing a fairly obvious age type; Historical. Obviously only applies to a limited number of sites and all Roman and after but suspect there must be at least one on here
I haven't got far enough into the Bayesian Analysis Longbarrow paper to know how specific the spacial location of the individual RC dates needs to be to be useful for that technique, but I wonder if the RC dates are stored with enough accuracy whether a similar technique across comparative sites is possible. Ie using data entered on here eventually.
[ This message was edited by: juamei on 2012-07-12 00:22 ]
from Near Nelson, Lancashire
| New Message Posted!2012-07-11 22:13  |
Make it simple, keep AD and BC. If we get rid of AD we might as well get rid of everything, including Christianity. We have had to put up with CE - Christian Era - please do not fiddle with AD. It means after Christ Anno Domini. My Christian faith is a comfort to me, but not to others it seems. If you get rid of it, you might start to loose contributors. I for one will be using AD.
from Surrey, UK
| New Message Posted!2012-07-11 19:37  |
I was just thinking the same thing last night Juamei, I think we need to add a field for 'type of date'. Also not made clear previously is that for radiocarbon dates, rather than 'start of use' and 'end of use' the spread is a reflection of the accuracy of the date - fundamentally you are just be indicating a single date but with limitations on accuracy, which would have to be a bit of a simplification.
We can also have 'rough' dates indicated such as 'Bronze Age' or 'Early Medieval' - these would show as the generally accepted overall 'start' and 'end' of the time period.
That would make the Date types:
Accumulated Bayesian RC date
Date using comparative dating
Historical date (edited - ASB)
Other date (I'm sure there are other types we've not included)
Approximate Epoch (ie Bronze Age)
That last category would also help us get started as I could (for example) take all the Stone Circles and give them an overall approximate date of Late Neo / Early BA. The same for other types of site where this would be obvious.
A second more accurate date could then be added later - but probably not for many stone circles, which are notoriously hard to date!
On who will check these dates, they would be Wiki style user editable - by members only and with changes logged with an email to me. In other words it would be a crowd sourced project with associated possible accuracy problems, but with such knowledgeable and eagle eyed contributors these things usually work out over time.
[ This message was edited by: Andy B on 2012-07-12 16:27 ]
| New Message Posted!2012-07-11 15:42  |
I think the nature of the data should govern how the dates are stored. The dates (for uk sites) will come from 4 main sources presumably (other methods eg Optical dating would perhaps fall under the RC dates)
- A set of individual Radio carbon dates with associated probability and provenances.
- Accumulated RC dates using Bayesian statistical modelling (re Whittle, Bayliss & Healey)
- Dendochronology dates such as from the Sweet Track
- Comparative dating methods for sites which do not have their own dates through excavation.
The first three can be thought of as distinct to that site, but are obviously of different accuracy and hence objective value. The fourth however is subject to change dependent on research into other sites which are "similar" to the site being dated. Causewayed enclosures in the North of England will now be considered to have been used within a shorter lifespan as a result of the Bayesian work.
So perhaps the bst you can do with the fourth is to assign a site type to a site and then provide approximate dates for that type?
from OXFORDSHIRE, UK
| New Message Posted!2012-07-08 23:31  |
Most sites do not have specific dates associated with them, for date they are classified as being Neolithic or Bronze Age or Iron Age or Roman et cetera. these groups depending on where you are geographically have different date ranges. If you look back through literature published in the last 50 years you will find that the date ranges of different periods have changed too.
The classification of sites to particular date ranges can be subjective and open to argument.
lots of sites have multiple phases of use, excavations might show a site that has been in use for hundreds or thousands of years. what date are you going to put on your database for the site?
Are you going to moderate the dates that people apply to sites.
Is it easy to check dates?
I suggest you keep clear of using BP for all your dates, most people don't know what it means and it will cause confusion. depending how you write BP it means slightly different things - if you think "how many different ways are there that you can write it" -- the answer is "too many".
I suggest you just stick with BC/AD or BCE/CE as most people can understand those.
If you need to do dates I would suggest displaying generalised date ranges for sites at a faily low resolution in blocks of say 250 years.
Where there are specific dates obtained through scientific analysis you should put them in the site description and say what the dates actually relate to (and ideally reference your source).
from Surrey, UK
| New Message Posted!2012-07-07 16:29  |
...I remember Pete G asked for a 'rock type' field some time ago. Rather than add this to the main table this might be a good place to add it - although it's only specific to some types of site (ie stone ones) it's debatable whether it really needs whole field of it's own.
The rock types could actually just be stored as a note in the Visit log - ie that's what Pete G could use his visit log for