Archaeological database management systems serve the basic and important functions of ordering, archiving, and disseminating archaeological data. The increased availability of computers and data storage over the past two decades has enabled the exponential growth of archaeological databases and data models. Despite their importance and ubiquity, archaeological database systems are rarely the subject of theoretical analysis within the discipline due to their ‘‘black box’’ nature and the perceived objectivity of computerized systems. Inspired by H. Martin Wobst’s meditations on materiality and disciplinary ethics, in this paper I explore how archaeological database systems structure archaeological interpretation and disciplinary practice. In turn, I offer suggestions for how archaeological database systems can better support pressing anthropological research topics of the 21st century including multivocality, participatory research and ethics, social memory, and social complexity studies.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/angela_labrador/9/