Talk:Computational archaeology

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proposed merging Archaeoinformation science into Computational archaeology[edit]

The article on archaeoinformation science says that computational archaeology is another word for the same thing, and as far as I can tell the articles do describe the same or very similar fields.

In case the merge is approved, some considerations in choosing the title for the merged article:

  • In favour of "computational archaelogy":
    • "Computational archaeology" has far more Google hits than either "archaeoinformation science" or "archaeoinformatics" (which doesn't exist as an article but is another synonym listed under "archaeoinformation science").
    • "Computational archaeology" has more links to it than "archaeoinformation science", which indicates that
      • this is where people are more likely to look for this subject and
      • fewer changes to links would be required after the merge
    • This is analogous to other subject designations like computational sociology and could thus more easily be guessed.
  • In favour of "archaeinformation science":
    • This is the more fleshed-out article of the two.

In my opinion, the reasons for choosing "computational archaeology" are stronger.

Joriki 07:04, 30 June 2006 (UTC)


Clearly as they stand these articles describe the same thing. However as a researcher within the field described by both I do not recognise either title as the one in common use in the English-speaking world. I would have looked for "archaeological computing", which is the title of the long-running newsletter in this area, of several MSc courses and research groups in the UK (see the links at end of the Archaeoinformation science article) and of the international mailing list ARCHCOMP-L (though this is subtitled "Computational Archaeology Discussion List"!). It is also how the CAA UK chapter describes the scope of its interests. -Drallim 21:22, 3 July 2006 (UTC) (former CAA UK chapter steering committee member and organiser of the CAA UK 2000 conference)


(previously commented on archaeology project talk page). There is or ought to be a subtle differentiation between the two.
  • Computational archaeology should mean number crunching i.e. all the various computationally intense analyses and computer models that support archaeological research.
  • Archeoinformation science wouldn't necessarily include the mathematical modelling implicit in computational modelling, but should include the management of (unstructured) information such as archaeological reports, this can include management of information outside computers (e.g. old fashioned libraries and archives), as well as computer related issues such as GIS, taxonomies and searching. However, other than GIS, the archeoinformation science article talks almost exclusively about computational methods.
  • I'm not sure the difference is sufficient to support having two articles, so I would suggest having either archeoinformation science or archaeological computing as the generic term. Viv Hamilton 07:46, 29 July 2006 (UTC)


As a non-UK researcher, I am more used to the terminology used in countries outside the UK. Most European universities have English translations for their courses and you will find things like Italian "archeoinformatica" or German "Archäoinformatik" which translates well to "archaeoinformatics" or "archaeoinformation science". People from the continent will also be used to terms like "geoinformation science", "bioinformatics" etc., which do not seem to appear in Wikipedia at all. If we accept the UK terminology, then sth. like "archaeological computing" will probably be the best choice. Outside the UK, people will associate these terms primarily with number-crunching, which is precisely *not* what I intended for the article on archaeoinformation science. In writing this article, it was my intention to state that an information science for archaeology needs to uncover fundamental structures and properties of the archaeological knowledge building process, our discipline's problem structures and ways to adequately represent archaeological phenomena in a computer. It goes without saying, that this involves mathematical and computational methods, all sorts of software, statistics and algorithm design. As has been stated here before, applications are of a much wider range than just laboratory computing. Go ahead and call it "computational archaeology", but the current wikipedia definition of "computational archaeology" is only a small subset of what "archaeoinformation science" emcompasses. For the sake of non-UK readers, the terms "archaeoinformatics" and "archaeoinformation science" should be left in the text as synonyms and the necessary links be set up in Wikipedia Benjamin Ducke 09:59, 25 August 2006 (CET).

I'm with Benjamin Ducke on this, and I suggest that the articles merge into Archaeoinformation science. The distinction I see, followed in parallel terms like Bioinformatics, is that that Archaeoinformatics is an area of research that seeks to contribute to archaeological theory- and knowledge-building in new ways by reconceptualising archaeological problems in ways that allow computational power to be used. Some of these problems, such as modelling the origins of reciprocity, require much thinking about how to actually solve using a computer; yet, ironically, at the same time being too complicated to solve using any other means. Computational archaeology is a more methodological and problem-oriented process---number crunching, perhaps---that is focussed on specific well-defined problems (e.g., the calculation of a viewshed and its correlation to settlement patterns in a GIS-based landscape study; or the generation of an isovist for a study of visibility within a built struction; or the use of a Monte Carlo method to generate confidence intervals for a study of spatial patterns). The distinction reflects the difference commonly drawn between GISc and GIS, with the former being a more theoretical area of research, and the latter essentially a technical and methodological tool. I thus say merge, and we add a heading in Archaeoinformation science called Compuational Archaeology that sets out this distinction. Rattus 03:43, 28 August 2006 (UTC).
 : I agree with a merge computational within Archaeoinformatics as it maintains a consistent standard and theme across the sciences in wiki Boris 22:21, 24 October 2006 (UTC)