Catalhoyuk diaries: August 2006

It's hard to believe my time here has flown so quickly. I’m sad to be leaving on Friday, and I feel like there’s not enough time to get everything I want to done before I go. The Istanbul team left today and some specialists are starting to leave, so the site already feels a little like it’s winding down for the season.

This season I've mostly been concentrating on working through recording structures and developing the interface for a unified Clay Objects database application.

I've been talking about my ideas this application for the past two years so it's great to finally get a chance to make it real. I've had lots of intense discussions with pottery, figurines and building materials specialists as well as a new member of the team who is looking at the changes in the fabric of the site across artefact types and excavation processes.

Working with someone who'll actually be benefiting from this unified approach to recording, and re-examining existing recording so that as far as possible clay fabrics or matrices are recorded according to diagnostic evidence (particularly someone with a background in geology who is able to bring a lot of technical expertise to the project) has been a real advantage.

I've also been working with the Human Remains team on their database, but they've made my job easy by developing their own forms based on the data structures I sent from London. They've been really inspiring – it's one thing to tell people that they have the power to create their own interfaces and queries, but it's so much better to see people actually do it.

In between that (and sometimes the development happens in-between solving other problems) I've been dealing with smaller fixes to existing databases, dealing with network issues and all kinds of things that you come up when people ask you any computer-related questions.

My brain has been working overtime; there are so many new ways of interrogating the databases now that everything is becoming integrated that the possibilities seem endless. We’ve had a few seminars, and people presenting their PhD research, and I come out with ideas for new improvements every time. It’s also been fascinating hearing how their data translates into a picture of life lived on the mound.

The model of creating 'new' database applications by combining existing data across specialisms with new interpretation and specialist recording will be the basis for the architectural and beads databases, and I'm already excited by that. One idea that fascinates me is the idea of recording things like that the wall paintings in the database so they can be linked to other representational artefacts like figurines and stamp seals. A 'representational database' could look at similarities and differences in images across all and any materials or artefact types. Do wall paintings show the same kinds of artistic, personal or cultural concerns as the figurines? Do certain types of features occur with certain kinds of representational artifacts?

Anyway, I don’t want to hog the internet computer, so it’s back to work for me.

[Originally published on, August 2, 2006]