Extraire et structurer des informations géographiques sur les lieux de fouille archéologiques : le référentiel du site de Bibracte (mont Beuvray, Morvan) - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
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Extraire et structurer des informations géographiques sur les lieux de fouille archéologiques : le référentiel du site de Bibracte (mont Beuvray, Morvan)


Our proposal will present a case study on modelling archaeological places as part of research project “Bulliot, Bibracte et moi”, with a thesaurus of mount Beuvray’s field names in connection to excavation sites. Bibracte, a Gaulish oppidum, capital of the Aedui, was situated on top of this mount, near modern-day Autun in Burgundy. Archaeological research took place in two periods. From 1864 to 1907, excavations were carried out under the direction of Xavier Garenne, Jacques-Gabriel Bulliot and Joseph Déchelette. Then in 1984, research started again with the creation of European Archaeological Center, combining a research center and a museum. The thesaurus of mount Beuvray in addition to linking place names and excavation sites aims to retrieve data and information in legacy systems, to map relations between the 19th century archives and contemporary documentation, that is to say heterogeneous and dynamic archaeological data from distributed sources. We use Opentheso, a web-based thesaurus management tool dedicated to the management of vocabularies, developed by the CNRS. This software makes it possible to export data in SKOS format, a standard way to represent knowledge organization systems using the Resource Description Framework (RDF). According to authority repositories such as Rameau or IdRef, geographical names are divided into several categories: human geography which consists of administrative divisions and human constructions, ancient geographical names and physical geography including geographical features and natural regions. It appears necessary to combine controlled vocabulary and data model in order to finely describe the concept of place – as geographical space - and concept of place name – how we name this space. But modelling archaeological places provides challenges to semantic web ontology research. Field names are not stable or reliable identifiers. Place name’s spelling is not fixed (Côme-Chaudron, Comme Chaudron, Caume Chaudron, CC, Come Chaudron). Different names are used from different times and authorities. Geographical boundaries may vary. As an example, Parc aux Chevaux area increases as archaeological discoveries progress and this term was not used as a toponym before the Bulliot excavations. The meaning of the place name may change although the name remains the same: start from original field name then change in cadastral plot, excavation site and finally with archaeological structures (e.g. hydraulic structures, religious institutions, dwellings or workshops) from different periods. So, we process two kinds of multilayered data : geographical areas and archaeological structures. Before the Napoleonic cadastre, the section state in 1792 of the village of Glux (Current Territory of Bibracte) uses place names to locate properties and calculate taxes. Without maps, the areas delimited by these toponyms have become approximate or even impossible to identify today because it only made sense if accompanied by a local oral tradition contemporary to the register. By mapping land use from 1811, the Napoleonic cadastre resolved this problem of transmitting the location of properties. But the new criteria of taxation due to the empire, by modifying and multiplying the boundaries of plots, forced expert surveyors to adapt old toponyms to new surfaces. In consultation with the local authorities, only the most representative toponyms have been selected and allocated to the modified area. During the cadastral regrouping from the 1960s, the place names suffered new cuts on the maps of the territory around mount Beuvray. Moreover toponymy was early associated with archaeology, particularly for prospecting and etymology of place names. Handle with care, recent studies show that etymology is not a science in archaeology but only a question. In Bibracte from the first excavations, the old names of place names and the new names were mixed without distinction as archeologic and spatial indicators of the excavated structures (e.g., Champlain, Les Barlots, Côme-Chaudron). The old toponyms have been often diverted from their original meaning and today it is difficult to differentiate the true from the false (how delimit Place de la foire between La Terrasse or La Chaume ?). Modelling archaeological places is also modelling change in scientific knowledge. We need to express hierarchical link between two place names and the change in hierarchy (e.g. Is monastery part of “Patûre du Couvent”? if so, which is broader?) Information may be uncertain or conflicting, for instance, “Fontaine aux Larmes » and « Pierre de la Wivre » overlap according to some authors, some others distinguish between them. Bulliot and Déchelette named PC 33 (Parc aux Chevaux 33) two different structures located in two different places. We don’t know today where was the “Oval House” discovered in 1864. Each concept of place must be connected into temporal and geographical boundaries and with a bibliographical reference. This is the same approach when different structures have occupied the same place with different names. It’s the case of a domus built on a basilica and a forum (Pâture du couvent); or Saint-Martin chapel built on a temple and Saint-Pierre fountain built on a thermal bath. To model the excavated areas and establish a spatial chronology, a part of our job is to differentiate the old toponyms from the toponyms invented since the beginning of the excavations by studying how the localities are formalized on the maps, in particular the old cadastres. Places and place names are central resources for indexing, aggregating and finding information. But toponyms are not stable and reliable identifiers. We should document each concept with machine readable and transparently modelling archaeological place definition related to a scholar and his works. The inventory of places and place names of mount Beuvray and their chronological, orthographic and spatial variables should enable us to standardize the scientific references necessary today for data retrieval and reuse.
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hal-02882058 , version 1 (26-06-2020)


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Emmanuelle Perrin, Philippe Chassignet. Extraire et structurer des informations géographiques sur les lieux de fouille archéologiques : le référentiel du site de Bibracte (mont Beuvray, Morvan). Assises MAGIS 2020, GRD MAGIS, Jun 2020, Paris, France. ⟨hal-02882058⟩
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