OKAPI Wins Open Archaeology Prize

December 11, 2007

Alexandria Archive Institute Press Release, November 30, 2007:

Scholars from UC Berkeley swept the Open Archaeology Prize competition, held at the 2007 meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR). One of a series of awards around “open archaeology” funded primarily by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, this particular Open Archaeology Prize targeted members of ASOR, a long-standing organization of archaeologists conducting research in the Near East. The winners, who were selected based on their project’s scholarly merit, potential for reuse in research or teaching and availability on the web in a free and reusable format, were announced last week at ASOR’s annual meeting in San Diego.

First Prize, Senior Scholar
First prize for a Senior Scholar was awarded to the team led by Ruth Tringham (Professor, Department of Anthropology) and Noah Wittman (Program Manager, Open Knowledge and the Public Interest) for their website “Remixing Çatalhöyük” (http://okapi.berkeley.edu/remixing). Remixing Çatalhöyük has been variously described as a database narrative and as a multimedia exhibition and research archive. Launched in October 2007, it features the investigations and data of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH) and their colleagues at the Neolithic tell settlement of Çatalhöyük, Turkey. The aim of the website, accessible in English or Turkish, is to engage the public of all ages in the exploration of primary research data through four themed collections that are selected from the research database. One theme on the Life-History of People, Places, and Things – also includes a K-12 activity module. The public are invited to download media items that are licensed with a Creative Commons 3.0 license, create original projects and contribute their own “remixes” about Çatalhöyük. Tringham and Wittman write that the developers of this resource “hope that this project will inspire other researchers to openly share their research data and engage broad public audiences.” Remixing Çatalhöyük represents a groundbreaking effort toward sharing and elucidating the past, and we certainly hope other projects will follow their lead.

First Prize, Junior Scholar
First prize for a Junior Scholar was awarded to Catherine Foster (PhD student, Department of Near Eastern Studies) for her project “Household Archaeology and the Uruk Phenomenon: A Case Study from Kenan Tepe, Turkey” (http://nes.berkeley.edu/~cpfoster/). Catherine is awarded first place for developing a website on her research involving household studies of a Late Chalcolithic community in the Upper Tigris region of southeast Anatolia. Foster explains that the ultimate goal of this project is to create an open access micro-artifact database that can be used as a reference resource for other scholars wishing to embark on this type of analysis. Because it will be open access, other scholars will be able to add to the database with high-resolution scans and descriptions or alter categories as developments are made. She states, “To my knowledge, no such database is freely available over the Internet and will be a valuable resource as the inclusion of microarchaeological techniques in Near Eastern excavation projects becomes more and more commonplace.” Foster’s project demonstrates a solid foundation in open access and a visionary approach for future sharing of research in archaeology.

Runner Up
A second prize of $200 in books, co-sponsored by the David Brown Book Company, was awarded to Justin Lev-Tov (Statistical Research, Inc.) for his project “Hazor: Zooarchaeology” (http://www.opencontext.org/database/project.php?item=HazorZooPRJ0000000010). This project presents zooarchaeological identification and analysis of nearly 10,000 animal bones from Late Bronze Age and Iron Age contexts at Hazor, research Justin conducted as part of the Hazor Excavations in memory of Yigael Yadin. By sharing this dataset in Open Context with a flexible license for reuse, Justin is improving access to high-quality research and original data that accompany published syntheses. This dataset has been accessed over 11,000 times since it was uploaded to Open Context in Fall 2006. We hope to see more related content from this time period available in open access formats so that Justin’s dataset becomes even more valuable through comparison with other sites.

The ASOR Open Archaeology Prize competition is sponsored by the Alexandria Archive Institute, promoting the development and use of open educational resources in archaeology and related disciplines. The competition aims to enhance community recognition of open scholarly communication and receives generous support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David Brown Book Company and the American Schools of Oriental Research.


Remixing Çatalhöyük Launches

October 5, 2007

Remixing Çatalhöyük


The OKAPI team is pleased to announce the launch of Remixing Çatalhöyük, a multimedia exhibition and research archive featuring the investigations and discoveries of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük and their colleagues. Located in central Turkey, Çatalhöyük (“cha-tal-hu-yuk”) is the site of a Neolithic farming community that flourished from 9,400 until 7,700 years ago. We invite the public to explore themed collections, create original projects, and contribute their own “remixes” of Çatalhöyük.

Remixing Çatalhöyük was constructed during the Spring 2007 semester by a team of UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty, working in close collaboration with the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH). Remixing Çatalhöyük highlights and supports a multi-vocal approach to history, where the global, online community is invited to participate in the dialogue alongside the physical, local community. The OKAPI and BACH teams hope that this project will inspire other researchers to openly share their research data and engage broad public audiences.

Web Site Design
Remixing Çatalhöyük features a tripartite design, including a research archive, themed collections and an interactive web exhibition.

Research ArchiveThe Research Archive includes more than 65,000 photos, videos, articles and other multimedia research materials–all freely available under Creative Commons NonCommercial Attribution licensing.

Life Histories Themed CollectionThe Remixing team curated and adapted research materials into four Themed Collections designed to engage public in the process of archaeology and support a wide range of “k to grey” teaching and learning scenarios:
Life Histories of People, Places and Things
Senses of Place
Archaeology at Different Scales
The Public Face of Archaeology
The themed collections feature intro articles, intro videos, K-12 activities, and 200 carefully selected and annotated multimedia resources from the research archive.

Site PlanThe Web Exhibition was designed to spark interest and provide context for numerous research materials. The interactive Site Plan (at right) allows users to zoom in and roll-over excavation site features. The Timeline (at right), Map and People gallery orient visitoTimeliners and highlight the project’s multi-vocal, multi-scalar approach to archaeology.

K-12 ActivityK-12 Activity
In this unique activity co-developed by a team of archaeologists, teachers, and curriculum developers, students use archaeological evidence and their own imaginations to reconstruct life in a Neolithic household, more than 9,000 years ago. The activity is designed for middle school students and can easily be adapted for other ages. This activity complies with Section 6.1 of the California History-Social Science Content Standards for sixth grade students, which requires that “Students describe what is known through archaeological studies of the early physical and cultural development of humankind from the Paleolithic era to the agricultural revolution.”

Ruth's RemixOn Remixing
Remixing Çatalhöyük is designed to advance the discovery of new ideas by facilitating the reuse of resources and ideas developed by the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük. The site features student projects, faculty presentations, multimedia websites, and other “remixes” of Çatalhöyük research data. We hope these examples inspire others to remix and reuse research data from this and other projects.


Visitors are encouraged to download, remix materials, and share their remixes using Archaeoblender. Archaeoblender was developed by the OKAPI team using ccHost, an open-source application developed by the Creative Commons for sharing and remixing multimedia content.

Second LifeOKAPI Island
Virtual Residents of Second Life –a multi-user online environment—can visit Okapi Island to explore 3D representations of Catalhoyuk as it exists today and as it may have looked in the past. During the Fall 2007 semester, a dozen students, faculty and staff will be completing construction of Okapi Island and preparing for a public program.

Okapi Island, location of Çatalhöyük in Second Life. Come Visit! http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0

Okapi Island Project Wiki (Join Us!)

We provided a text version of the site to improve accessibility for users with low speed connections, screen readers, iPhones or other special needs.

The entire site (with the exception of the research database) was translated into Turkish by UC Berkeley Anthropology graduate student Burcu Tung and proofed by Stanford Anthropology graduate student Elif Babul. Tesekkür.

To maximize visibility and reuse, we have (or will soon) republished materials from Remixing Catalhoyuk in multiple locations, including Flickr, YouTube, Apple Learning Interchange, Connexions, Internet Archive, Wikiversity, WikiEducator, and CyArk. A future report will document the quantity and nature of traffic we receive from each site.

On Building Themed Collections
The design of our themed collections was greatly influenced by the process, products and findings of the Calisphere Themed Collections project as documented in “Handful of Things” article by Mankita et al in May 2006 issue of D-Lib Magazine.

Tips, Tools, and Templates
We paid special attention to documenting our process so that others could reuse our tools and techniques. This information is available in the Tips, Tools, and Templates section of the site.

Project Sponsors:
Paul Grey, Principal Investigator, Scholar’s Box; Professor of Engineering, UC Berkeley
David Greenbaum, Project Director, Scholar’s Box; Director of Data Services, UC BerkeleyRuth Tringham, Principal Investigator, Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk
Michael Ashley, Manager, New Programs, Office of the CIO, UC Berkeley

“Remixing” Team:
Noah Wittman, Project Director, Remixing Çatalhöyük
Ruth Tringham, Content Direction, Pilot Instructor; Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley; Principal Investigator, Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH) Project
Burcu Tung, Content Developer and Turkish Translations, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley
Elizabeth Ha, Media Manager, Video Production
Adrian Van Allen, Web & Interaction Designer
Ruth Tepper Brown, EditorOna Johnson, Curriculum Developer
Denise Phelps, Digital Media Specialist
Michael Ashley, Information Architect
Marc Moglen, Second Life Audio Producer
Daniel Wei, Second Life Scripting and Modeling
Elif Babul, Turkish Proofing
Joseph Coburn, Interactive Designer, Demonstration Tool
Rockman et al, Evaluators

Special thanks to the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük and colleagues for sharing their content and expertise.

This project was made possible with funding from the US Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE Grant #P116B040739). Additional support was provided by the Gilbert Fund, UC Berkeley’s Office of the CIO, Open Knowledge and the Public Interest, Multimedia Authoring Center for Teaching Anthropology, and the Archaeological Research Facility.

Okapi Island in Second Life: thoughts for Fall 2007

August 31, 2007

Posted by Ruth Tringham
We have three aspects of Çatalhöyük that can be built in Second Life. In principle, I would say that we will get more kudos from involving our modellling etc in the real world of the Catal project than if the reality is manipulated or Disneyfied:

1) Çatalhöyük Today
This plays on the idea that people are as interested in the process of what we do as they are in the results of our research and what we conclude. In Second Life we can do a great deal to express the process through:
• Videowalks, accurately across the site, guided or not
• Videos of archaeologists at work
• Interviews with archaeologists
• Conversations and meeting archaeologists and others working at the site
• Remediations of the sensuous experience and memories of the place
• Hand and tool ballet videos

2) Çatalhöyük Past
This enables a visualization of the past place at Çatalhöyük, but again transparency is the key, as well as accuracy rather than simplification, and should be based on the areas that have been excavated:
• Reconstructed buildings BUT the Mellaart reconstructions should be in the accurate “SOUTH” area – we have already talked this through. And the reconstructions should be problematised rather than presented as “correct” (this idea of using Second Life as a platform for making visualizations open to critique I think holds true for all of this section).
• Reconstructed sounds, and views, including the view of the mound from off the mound.
• Reconstructed walks through the prehistoric settlement, based on the excavated areas.
• It would be great to be able to model the mound to show its changing height and shape. But I’m not sure how this could be achieved since the archaeological data does not yet exist.

3) Çatalhöyük Mystery (this came up in Ruth Galileo’s two-hour meeting on Okapi Island with Zed Marseille)
This gives residents of the island an encouragement to explore those part of the mound that have not yet been explored (the . This could actually play into the more formal use of the island as an educational or learning platform:
• What might lie underneath, an opportunity for people to build their own imagined Çatalhöyük houses and things. An experimental miniSand Pit that we administer
• How do we investigate what lies beneath. An opportunity to create a learning platform for discussing/demonstrating method of field enquiry: reconnaissance, survey, excavation, labwork, funding (Anthro 2 style games cf BBC and OccanneechiTown)

4) Okapi Island Database
It occurred to me during the spring and especially the summer that the Okapi Island project in Second Life is yet another outerface or narrative for our Catal Research Media Archive that forms the basis for the narratives of Remixing Catalhoyuk and Remediated Places. If this is the case, then perhaps we should think of having a mirror database on Okapi Island from which to draw the many “narratives” that we and others will create on Okapi Island.

There are a couple of major challenges with this amazing idea. Both of these challenges seem as such because of my ignorance of the technology and protocols involved, so they may or may not be obstacles/challenges at all:
1. Can we run a database of media in Second Life without incurring enormous uploading expenses.
2. If in Second Life we wanted/needed to draw on an existing research archive (the Catal one, as with Remixing Catal), would that mean that our Second Life residents/visitors would be taken out of Second Life into the First Life of the WWW?

5) Museum/Exhibition/Meeting/Performance Space
At the moment some of us are referring to the Okapi Island structure at the bottom of the mound as a “museum”, others as an “Interpretive Center”; others as the meeting room. I see this place as very important and definitely multi-functional. I will show you the plans for the new Catal museum outside Kucukkoy which is also devised as a complex multi-functional space, not to use as a model, but to make sure we are thinking outside the box with our “museum”.

I think of this place more in terms of the functions I have put in the title to this section, perhaps more like the San Francisco Exploratorium or the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, but perhaps Noah will think these places even too conventional.

Should this place be our portal, where you arrive when you fly in – perhaps into an open air Atrium, where a number of guides await you….. Don’t lets forget a Turkish translation in some parts of this area. It should definitely have a conference area that will be a regular venue – perhaps another part of that lovely walled garden open to the sky…

6) Graffiti Wall
I like the idea, taken from one of the Flickr groups I am a member of called Graffiti, of having a wall somewhere on Okapi Island – maybe in that “Mystery Area” where the visitor remixes or ideas can be posted/uploaded. The uploads would be inspired by or recontextualizing the Catalhoyuk media, but might comprise art pieces, images, video, a poem, etc.

7) Times to meet
I think we need to different kinds of time to meet;
1. A regular meeting of the Okapi Island production and management team (officers and owner): RET would prefer Tuesday pm. I would be prepared to start at 4pm PST.
2. Meeting with our local and international collaborators, visitors, conferences etc. The best time for this is 11.0 am PST. This works for everyone to the Istanbul line. It won’t work so well for Australia, but at the moment our collaborators are not in that direction.

Brown Bag Presentation: Building Digital Collections for Campus Scholarship and K-12 Education

July 16, 2007

TITLE: Building Digital Collections for Campus Scholarship and K-12 Education
SPEAKER: Noah Wittman
DATE: 12 pm Wednesday, July 18
LOCATION: Room 101A, 2195 Hearst St.

KEYWORDS: Digitization, Digital Asset Management, Licensing, Metadata, Creative Commons, OAI-PMH, Dublin Core, Second Life, Remixing, Çatalhöyük, Curiosity Box, OKAPI, Themed Collections, Exhibitions, Extensis Portfolio, ccHost, Scholar’s Box, FIPSE, Calisphere, Anthropology, Translation/Localization, K-12, Web 2.0, Open Source

DESCRIPTION: Noah Wittman will share progress on the US Department of Education Scholar’s Box project, describing diverse technologies, practices, and models for building digital collections. In particular, Noah will discuss recent efforts to (1) pilot digital asset management tools and services for the UC Berkeley Anthropology Department and (2) develop teaching collections and an online exhibition featuring archaeological research materials—more than 75,000 photos, videos, and articles–describing Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic settlement located in modern-day Turkey.

Learn more about the Scholar’s Box project:

Presentation_Slides(PDF) 2MB

Presentation Slides (PDF) 20 MB  (Better Quality Images)

Web Exhibition Nominated for 2007 MUSE Award

May 8, 2007


kam_shotExtremophiles in Kamchatka, an online exhibition produced by OKAPI program manager Noah Wittman, was recently nominated by the American Association of Museums for a 2007 MUSE Award

Extremophiles in Kamchatka




Remixing Catal Intro Video

March 27, 2007

Progress continues to be made on the Remixing Catal Project. A draft of an intro video for one of the four themed collections has just been created and uploaded on youtube:

Archaeoblender and ccHost

March 17, 2007

ccmixterWe recently selected ccHost software to support multimedia publishing and remixing as part of the Scholar’s Box project. Developed by a team at the Creative Commons, ccHost is open-source software for facilitating sharing and remixing of multimedia content in much the same way that blogs and rss feeds do for text. The Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that promotes flexible copyright licensing for authors and artists.

ccHost is the engine behind ccMixter, an online community for sharing and remixing music. To get a sense of how this online community functions, we suggest visiting the recent remix contest with Mali recording artist Vieux Farka Touré. Contestants remixed numerous vocal and instrumental tracks provided by Farka Touré with spectacular results.

archaeoOur vision is to employ ccHost for remixing the social sciences. Archaeoblender (our working title) will allow faculty, students, K-12 educators and the public to upload and share their own multimedia content or remixes, including works derrived from the more than 50,000 photos and videos from archaeological excavations that we will be publishing later this year. We believe that Archaeoblender will be a useful and empowering platform for sharing student multimedia projects, lesson plans, presentations and other multimedia resources that currently have no home.

Right now, we are working with ccHost lead developer Victor Stone to define requirements and plan for next stage of project development. Archaeoblender will launch on June 30, 2007.