Networking the Teams and Texts of Archaeological Research at Çatalhöyük

Allison Mickel1 and Elijah Meeks
1Stanford University

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From the introduction to a forthcoming chapter:

Assembling the diverse bodies of data collected over the 20 years of excavation at Çatalhöyük has required an equivalent assemblage of researchers representing wide-ranging disciplinary traditions. The team has in turn produced a large and varied body of documentation. Team members are linked to each other by participating in the research teams together, as well as by co-authoring excavation records and reports, and the network produced by these linkages enables the flow of data and the production of multidisciplinary knowledge about the past.

In 2013, the authors sought to map out the paths by which data flows through the collective of researchers and records at Çatalhöyük. To do so, we created a social network displaying Çatalhöyük research participants, archive reports, and teams as nodes, broken out by year. Authorship of an archive report connects individuals to documents, and membership in a team links people to teams. We analyzed the structure of this social network, in order to investigate how groups form within the group of researchers at Çatalhöyük and to suggest how data and interpretations move through the project. We also applied topic modeling to the corpus of archive reports, as well as diaries, to identify the presence and movement of ideas and languages through the network of humans and texts that enable the production of knowledge at Çatalhöyük.

Through this analytical approach, we have been able to discover some individual researchers, teams, and reports especially productive at connecting different kinds of experts in the research process. We have been able to create a typology of collaboration, and to develop some measures by which to see which groups are most dominant and most consistently well-represented through the years of the project. Our analysis, furthermore, has emphasize the dynamic nature of the research network at Çatalhöyük through time, recognizing that it is constantly shifting and that these constant changes have an evident impact on how archaeologists draw conclusions from the data gathered.