International Council
for Archaeozoology

The Open Zooarchaeology Prize

The Junior Researcher Open Zooarchaeology Prize is awarded for the best open-access, open-licensed contributions to zooarchaeology reporting new data or reusing existing open access data and presented in a paper or poster at an ICAZ International Conference by a junior researcher (current student or degree in the past 10 years). The 2023 competition is the fifth time the contest has been held, the first being at the 2006 ICAZ meeting in Mexico City.

The 2023 Competition

This year’s competition was open to students or early career researchers (degree in the past 10 years) who presented a paper or poster at the Cairns conference that created or drew on open data. The top contribution was determined by a panel of judges based on scholarly merits and the potential for its data to be discovered and reused in research and teaching.

We are grateful for their careful consideration of the entries. 2023 judges:

  • Melanie Fillios (University of New England, Australia)
  • Christian Gates St-Pierre (Université de Montréal, Canada)
  • David Orton (University of York, UK)

The 2023 Winner

The 2023 Winner is Kathryn McKenzie for the project "Open Science and Digital Data for Zooarchaeological Comparative Collections: Emerging Capacities for Indigenous Knowledge and Environmental Research on the Northwest Coast of North America" in the session "Opportunities and Challenges in Improving Stewardship of Physical and Digital Collections".

You may download Kathryn’s slides here: https://osf.io/v2f8d (also see below for additional resources).

In her ICAZ conference presentation, Kathryn shared her MA thesis research on the University of Victoria Zooarchaeology Lab, an osteological comparative collection containing over 2,900 modern specimens of fish, mammals, shellfish, and birds. Her research explores physical and digital collection management to improve access, discovery, interoperability, and reuse by employing open science initiatives. She explores digital opportunities to connect and enhance research capacity through biodiversity repositories and workflow platforms. This enables the lab to adopt open science and Indigenous data sovereignty principles to better facilitate archaeological, biogeographical, ecological, and ethnobiological research on human-animal relationships.

To add depth to each skeletal specimen, Kathryn transcribed and digitized attributes from ~2,900 catalogue cards. Using Darwin Core standards, she annotated specimens with archaeological, taxonomic, geospatial, biometric, and Indigenous language data. This citable “extended specimen” collection was uploaded an occurrence dataset to the Canadensys and Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) repositories. Her ICAZ presentation also describes the interdisciplinary collaborative development of a geocoder to generate specimen collection location coordinates and Indigenous language areas. This augmented collection connects archaeologists, Indigenous communities and scholars, educators and students, and members of the wider scientific research community globally and regionally across the NWC of North America with free and open access data.

The dataset and components are publicly accessible and available online without requiring specialized protocols or tools. Data can be viewed (sorted/filtered on the GBIF and geocoded sites) and are downloadable in structured, open-standard, machine-readable format (CSV), non-machine-readable format (PDF), and/or proprietary format (XLSX).

Citations:

1. McKenzie K, McKechnie I (2023). University of Victoria - Zooarchaeology Lab Collection. Version 1.10. University of Victoria. Occurrence dataset https://doi.org/10.5886/jej09d accessed via GBIF.org on 2023-11-26.

2. McKenzie, K, McKechnie I (2023). UVic Zooarchaeology Lab (UVicZL) Data Management. OSF. osf.io/45bw9 .

Access:

1. GBIF: https://www.gbif.org/dataset/5b11525e-c116-48a0-956f-4147ecd97237

2. Canadensys: https://data.canadensys.net/ipt/resource?r=faunal_collection

3. OSF: https://osf.io/45bw9/

4. Zooarch Map and Database: https://zooarch-demo.fly.dev/geocoded/geocoded

The dataset (CC4.0 license) is accessible by anyone and can be shared and reused by researchers and educators. Zooarchaeology analysts who frequently use the collection to identify faunal remains should appropriately cite the collection, as our methods and data transparency are improved when bone identification is paired with specific comparative specimens. Global biodiversity researchers have filtered and downloaded collection data, citing it 32 times since 2021. The highly granular descriptions of taxonomies, locations, and biometrics (sex, age, weight, length, etc.) allows these “extended specimens” to be integrated into larger natural history data aggregations applicable to ecological, historical, biological, and interdisciplinary research.

Highlights from the judges:

This is a tour-de-force of best practice when it comes to making a comparative collection visible and accessible… [as a] a resource for future research.

[The project’s] visibility and hence reuse potential has been maximized [with] Darwin Core standards and deposition in GBIF and other repos, while the addition of thorough provenance information and Indigenous language data - and the use of platforms to visualize these - greatly increases the utility of the resource.

The data is openly accessible on a large variety of formats and repositories, and already being reused and cited.

Much of the value in the work presented here will lie in setting a new standard for collections catalogues in our discipline.

[The project] clearly exemplifies what can be accomplished in the digitization of comparative reference collections… a model project that should be widely appreciated.

About the winner: Kathryn is an anthropological archaeologist and Master of Arts candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Victoria (UVic), located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. She is a MITACS Accelerate Intern with the Hakai Institute, and a member of the Historical Ecology and Coastal Archaeology (HECA) Lab. Kathryn holds a BSc in Anthropology with a minor in Business from UVic where she received a NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA). She is interested in how zooarchaeology and historical ecology can be applied to study human-animal relationships. A life-long learner, she has drawn upon her former career as a management accountant to guide her through the complexity of graduate studies research and project management. For her thesis, focusing on zooarchaeological comparative collections, the UVic zooarchaeology lab’s collection has been an invaluable resource and has become an exemplary model of an open collection. She hopes to broaden her work with “extended specimen” faunal biodiversity datasets to more collections. She also wishes to integrate 3D printing, digital technologies, and Indigenous languages for collaborative educational outreach and cultural heritage projects. She can be contacted by email at mckenzie.kateeATgmail.com and followed on X @mckenzie7katee.

Previous Winners:

View the results of past Open Archaeology Prize competitions.