Open Data as Public Archaeology: The Monumental Archive Project

Katherine Cook


The value of open data is transforming archaeological practice while also introducing new concerns relating to the ethics of studying the dead. This paper uses the Monumental Archive Project, recently launched as a public database of cemetery records from Barbados, as a case study to critically examine the realities of platforms created to bring together academic and general audiences in open mortuary archaeology. Digital literacy and support structures are significant barriers to digital data within the discipline, while the impact of open data on the public(s) that archaeologists seek to engage and collaborate with is rarely considered let alone measured. Is it possible to serve diverse audiences with a single platform? What are the implications (social, ethical, emotional) for sharing cemetery data? When digitizing the dead, strategies in platform design, marketing and communication for public interest and use becomes even more complex and necessitates further attention.


Caribbean; cemetery; digital archaeology; data; historical archaeology

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Copyright (c) 2018 Katherine Cook

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ISSN: 2171-6315

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