New data publications in Open Context highlight early globalization

What does a fragment of a Canton blue and white porcelain plate from the early 19th century in Alaska have in common with a stone jar from the mid-18th century Northern Mariana Islands? Give up? Both were published in Open Context this week!

The two projects these objects come from also share a common theme— documenting early globalization in the greater (much greater!) Pacific region. The Asian Stoneware Jars project, authored by Peter Grave of the University of New England (Australia), presents data on the likely provenance and production dynamics of large stone jars, many found in dozens of shipwrecks in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Using a variety of analytical techniques to detect trace elements, Graves and his team identified that the stoneware vessels originated in at least seventeen discrete production zones ranging from southern China to Burma, providing insights on the transport of goods around the globe during the 14th- 17th centuries.

The Mikt’sqaq Angayuk Finds project (authored by Amy Margaris, Fanny Ballantine-Himberg, Mark Rusk, and Patrick Saltonstall, in collaboration with the Alutiiq Museum) catalogs finds from an historic Alutiiq settlement of the early 19th century on Kodiak Island. The site was a springtime encampment occupied only briefly by a small number of individuals, likely Alutiiqs conscripted into service to provision the residents of Russia’s first colonial capital in Alaska (St. Paul Harbor, now the City of Kodiak). Ceramics of Russian, British, and Chinese origin, together with a variety of artifacts of local manufacture, reveal a settlement that saw the interface of two cultures and participation in an increasingly global economy.

Both publications currently carry a three star rating as they await external peer review. The star ratings are part of a new system Open Context uses to help users understand the editorial status of the publication (ranging from one star for demonstration projects to five stars for peer reviewed projects). Open Context’s Publishing page has more details on how the star ratings work.