Filter for visualizing chronology on Open Context

Visualizing and Navigating Chronology in Large Digital Collections


Digital archaeological data are increasingly disseminated through data repositories and publishers. Archaeological data are scalar, ranging from individual objects to macro phenomena that span millennia and continents, which presents a key challenge for the discovery and visualization of relevant digital data. The nested (quad-tree) indexing strategy that is widely used for Web-based maps offers an efficient way to index and aggregate spatial data and enable faceted search applications. Quad-tree indexing has not yet been adequately developed for chronological information. Chronological information in archaeology is often expressed as time spans, with early and late dates bracketing the duration (and uncertainty) of ancient events and processes. Early and late date estimates can be used to define a two-dimensional space that can be recursively represented in a quad-tree index. Using quad-tree indexing for both time and space metadata, we present a customized user-interface integrated in Open Context ( that can facilitate visualization of spatial and temporal components of archaeological data. We offer the underlying open-source code on GitHub ( to encourage further work on developing tools to visualize space and time in archaeology. Greater efforts in developing visualization tools appropriate for archaeology can enable the discovery of unknown patterns and relationships in digital archaeological data.

Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA