University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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The AIS Matrix: Beyond Harris and the CIDOC-CRM
geoff carver

Last modified: 2011-12-16


Max Adams once criticized the Harris Matrix for focusing only on stratigraphic relations, thereby effectively ignoring the many associations linking archaeological entities. While it is possible that his point was never taken up because the Harris Matrix essentially did what it was intended to do, the problems of how to implement an “Adams Matrix” might have seemed insurmountable at the time.

This paper reconsiders Adams’s approach in the light of an increasing need to correlate ever-increasing amounts of archaeological data. As part of something which has been roughly labelled “AIS” (an “Archaeological Information System” as a specifically archaeological counterpart to the more geographically oriented

GIS), the “AIS Matrix” provides a system for defining the types of relations between any number of types of entities and their attributes. Written as an RDF or OWL file and employing the “triple” structure of the CIDOC-CRM, the “AIS Matrix” is simple to construct and implement using existing technologies (XML, SQL, etc.), and provides a framework further classification and analysis.


CIDOC-CRM; relations; data modelling; pointclouds; databases