Sunday, March 11, 2018
A friend of mine replied to my post on the inaccuracy and unsuitability of Pleiades data for scholarly work. (http://mycenaeanatlasproject.blogspot.com/2018/02/pleiades-data-does-crowd-sourcing-for.html)
I reproduce his letter here:
"Pleiades isn't structured to provide a single, accurate set of coordinates, though I think it hopes to evolve in that direction. Its most useful role currently is as a set of identifiers that allow links to superior gazetteers. For example, the huge error for ancient Messene is the result of displaying a calculated representative point that includes one spurious DARMC location (from the modern village of Messene), in addition to a mildly inaccurate DARMC location plus a very accurate DARE location. (DARE has assimilated a bunch of Google Earth-validated ToposText points for Greece, and from other sources as well, but uses Pleiades IDs as an easy pivot to other resources). Some of the tools Pleiades funding has produced for the purpose of improving its data are not being used very much -- one problem being a technological gap between laborious on-the-ground collectors ... and people who automate things."
Now I look at it piece by piece (original letter in red, my replies in black)
"Pleiades isn't structured to provide a single, accurate set of coordinates,"
So then where do we go from here?
" ..., though I think it hopes to evolve in that direction."
Spoiler alert: they're not going to. This would involve an enormous amount of work - actual scholarship. They're not going to commit to this because they think that this can be done on the cheap - through copying other data sets or through crowd sourcing. That's not the way that any of this works. My experience with them is that they will correct an error if you bring it forcefully to their attention but not otherwise.
"For example, the huge error for ancient Messene is the result of displaying a calculated representative point that includes one spurious DARMC location (from the modern village of Messene), in addition to a mildly inaccurate DARMC location plus a very accurate DARE location. (DARE has assimilated a bunch of Google Earth-validated ToposText points for Greece, and from other sources as well, but uses Pleiades IDs as an easy pivot to other resources). "
You've explained Messene but what about all the other errors? Nor have you questioned my estimate that approx. 1/3 of Pleiades has serious errors. What you're describing sounds like a real incestuous tangle. I don't even want to get into unpacking this beyond saying that topographical accuracy does not come from copying other data sets. It's like the old saw about buying a used car: you're just buying someone else's problems.
" Some of the tools Pleiades funding has produced for the purpose of improving its data are not being used very much -- one problem being a technological gap between laborious on-the-ground collectors (like me) and people who automate things. "
Sounds like you're describing Recogito. Is that what you mean? Are there other tools that they support? I tried out their conversion tool Geocollider. It failed miserably.
Everything about Pleiades/Pelagios/Peripleo is sham. The Barrington Atlas data was useful for its printed purpose but now they're trying to roll that data over into the digital world where its approximative nature makes it unfit for use. And they've wrapped the whole thing up with bad and outmoded ideas - not from scholarly practice, from anthropology or toponymy or history or classical studies or any other relevant discipline - but from computer science. None of what they're doing (crowd sourcing and linked data) has anything to do with any scholarly practice or purpose but this is what they're selling and they're getting pots of money for it. In the end actual scholars wind up exactly where they started - having to do the topography of the Mediterranean from scratch. I actually know a fellow (from a very prestigious school) who's preparing a study of Mediterranean habitations. I was shown one of his spreadsheets and it was stuffed with errors since he had relied on Pleiades. In fact that's where my blog post came from.
I've asked myself what their game is. I suspect that what they want is to license their data (or perhaps their follow-on project Pelagios/Peripleo) to schools for so much per seat and deny access to non-customers. That's a time-honored approach in Computer Science. First get a lot of contributors to fork over their work for nothing under the name of something noble-sounding like 'Open Data' or the 'Semantic Web'. Second, license the whole to third parties and keep all the money.
Although I'm not sure that they can really carry this out successfully because it's the Underpants Gnomes business model.
DARE: The Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire. https://dare.ht.lu.se/
DARMC: The Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations. https://darmc.harvard.edu/
Underpants Gnomes: https://vimeo.com/79954057
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Mounds, tumuli, and magoulas are symbolized with a mound icon:
Generalized vases finds are depicted like this:
Sites that are characterized principally by sherds use this icon:
Now that I have them displayed it appears that the quality is poor and the images blurry. Remember that the originals are 32 pixels square and have been grossly enlarged to be visible in this post. They look much better when displayed on the map. Here's a map of Achaea with all the icons showing:
I think this makes a nice addition to the site and gives it a more intuitive appearance and feel.
There are some cautions:
First, many sites can be characterized in a multitude of ways. Sites can be habitations, have mounds of sherds, and incorporate burials. What icon do I use in that case? I have attempted to use an icon that accounts for the preponderant importance of the site. In the previous case I would use a habitation icon since the idea of habitation is probably the most important thing about that site. There are, on the other hand, many sites which are indicated by an abundance of sherds and which are thought to have been sites but with no other evidence than the just sherds. In that case I would probably use the sherds icon.
So the icons are just indicators. They're an attempt to make the landscape more intuitively understandable but keep in mind that a single icon cannot and will not fully characterize the site.
Aside from that the new icons operate in exactly the same way that the old ones did. They feature tool-tips and an info box with a link to a full page report on the site. There are still a few of the old orange paddle icons around. These are for sites such as caves, wells, walls, etc. for which no new icons have been designed.
There have been no icon changes for the modern features. They are still shown by a red paddle with an 'F' on it.
Here's another example - a map of the Argolid and southern Attica in the LHIII:
Software elements on the helladic.info website have been updated to support the new icons.
In addition to the icons there is a new database which was delivered on March 2, 2018. It adds sundry minor corrections as well as thirty new sites, primarily in Crete. The new DB is rev 0053.
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Monday, February 26, 2018
But who were these elites? How did they come to gain control over free peasants and convert them into slaves of the grain? Why were they able to maintain their power? And what happened on those frequent occasions when the elites lost their power and the State disintegrated? Why did all this happen?
Of course there are.
 Scott  122.
The Tongan inasi and the Hawaiian Makahiki have their roots in the proto-Polynesian first-fruits festival. See Kirch  194, 214, 255. Items appropriable in the Tongan inasi listed in Clark , p. 10494, 'Imported items included yams, ...'.
Clark : Clark, Geoffrey R., Christian Reepmeyer, Nivaleti Melekiola, Jon Woodhead, William R. Dickinson, and Helene Martinsson-Wallin. 'Stone tools from the ancient Tongan state reveal prehistoric interaction centers in the Central Pacific', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (111:29), 10491-10496, July 22, 2014. Online here.
Kirch : Kirch, Patrick Vinton On the Road of the Winds; An Archaeological History of the Pacific Islands before European Contact. University of California Press. 2017. ISBN: 978-0-520-29281-9
Sunday, February 25, 2018
|From my error worksheet. Y-dimension is error in m.|
Crowd-sourcing in toponymy studies does not appear to work.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
1) Pelagios Commons here links directly to a discussion of Tim Berners-Lee idea of Linked Data here.
Friday, February 9, 2018
Here's a bar chart of 5,000,000 runs. Each cell from L to R represents an additional 73 m. in error.