Open Osteological Data - Two Imperial Roman Cemetery Populations
7/31/2014 Kristina Killgrove 1 comment
I defended my dissertation, Migration and Mobility in Imperial Rome, four years ago. Because of my interest in open access and because my NSF grant required a data access statement, I've been thinking for four years about how best to open up all the data I collected.At first, I was worried about opening up the data because I wanted to get a job.I got a job in 2012 at the University of West Florida.
Then I worried about opening up the data because I needed to publish and get tenure, but growing interest in open data among scholars made me conflicted. So I compromised: I posted all published isotope data as bare-bones Excel files. But divorcing these data from their larger context didn't sit well with me.
Roman Osteology Database ScreenshotI'm entering my third year at UWF, and I see no reason to hold back the database any longer. While I'm still a ways from making my tenure case, I've been steadily publishing the plethora of data I generated during my dissertation fieldwork, so I feel confident in my ability to research, analyze, and write on bioarchaeology.More importantly, though, I think I'm just done with this project.That's not to say there isn't more to write or that there aren't more data to analyze or that I'm not still interested in this time and place. There's a ton of dental and skeletal pathology data, for example, that I haven't tackled. But I want to move on to other projects, and at this point I worry that I'm becoming too myopic. Honestly, Imperial Rome tends to do that -- it sucks you in, making you think it is, was, and ever will be the most important city in the world full of the most important people in history. Roman imperialism is calling out for more diverse perspectives, though. The rise in osteological analysis of Romano-British cemeteries, for example, is created a multifaceted Empire. And new multidisciplinary studies in the Transatlantic slave trade are raising the question of potential comparative work with slavery in the Roman world. I still love answering questions about population interaction in the past, but I might try focusing that interest on times and places like Medieval Berlin, Greco-Roman Italy, or Pre-Emancipation Southeast U.S. Still, I am working on skeletons from various time periods at Gabii, so I haven't abandoned Roman bioarchaeology. And I might yet publish dental pathology data (or enlist a grad student to do it for a thesis)...At any rate, you can find my Access database on GitHub at this link. Please use it if you're interested in comparative data sets, if you want to check my work, if you disagree with my interpretations, or if you just like reading databases. I only ask that you credit me appropriately. (If you want to collaborate further for a publication, though, I'm happy to do that as well.)