University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

Font Size: 
Formalization of scientific process and conceptual modelling for the study of territorial and products distribution dynamics (ArchaeDyn II programme)
Xavier Rodier, Laure Saligny, Frédérique Bertoncello, François Favory, Elise Fovet, Christina Gandini, Estelle Gauthier, Murielle Leroy, Laure Nuninger, Nicolas Poirier, Olivier Weller

Last modified: 2012-01-02


The aim of the ArchaeDyn programme is the study of territorial dynamics, based on comparison of areas over a large time span from Neolithic to Modern times through varied topics. This study uses a lot of archaeological inventories, made up in the framework of other scientific programmes, all of them heterogeneous in terms of sources, dating and locations. By using these inventories, built up for various purposes, the team of ArchaeDyn has implemented an analytical approach in order to share these datasets and to produce indicators and analysis models so as to compare spaces over large time spans.

The synchronic and diachronic comparisons require the formalization of the studied objects and of their treatments and analysis. This paper will present both the formalization of the scientific process used in ArchaeDyn programme, a conceptual modelling of the studied systems and their components and the construction of indicators describing the spaces under study. The aim is to clarify the transition between, in input, an archaeological feature (a site or an artefact) or a recording unit (survey area), and, in output, the characterization of spaces describing a system which is our research topic (agricultural area, settlement pattern or diffusion area).

The formalization of entities created or used during the process is a prerequisite for a conceptual modelling. These entities can be arbitrary (a collecting unit of a field survey), unambiguous (an archaeological site interpreted as an establishment or an area of manuring or a hoard) or abstract (a cell in which can be aggregated a number of qualitative and quantitative archaeological information). The approach is described by the successive steps corresponding to semantic, spatial or temporal analytical processes. For each process, a series of indicators allows the construction and the definition of new entities. The identification and the succession of these entities and of these processes make it possible to pass from the prospecting level to the level of complex objects as the studied territories and spaces. These complex objects, agricultural areas or settlement patterns or consumption areas, are the subsystems composing the dynamics of human territorial occupation.

The main contribution of this formalization is the synthetic description of the tested hypotheses and the implemented approach. In addition, it provides for the research team a collective validation of its reasoning.


scientific process; conceptual modelling; spatial dynimics; settlement pattern; diffusion area