I’ve taken the first step, and identified four types of construction methods for pärlhänge, or bead pendants. But before I can begin analyzing the details, I need to carefully construct my data collection system. I stumbled across a good article by Heather Christie, on the Visual Classification of Beads. She lists a number of important details to include, with reasons that have helped me focus. Because a main goal of understanding what was done is to be able to recreate these types of pendants, I need to include descriptive details that are relevant to that goal. A pdf by Malin Crona, written for Dan Carlsson’s field school on Gotland includes a number of useful images and descriptive categories
Another issue I face is lack of access. I’m deeply interested in pre-1600 dress accessories, primarily from Europe, but live in the rural central United States. I can’t touch the objects, so I will have to interact with them via published reports, photographs, and museum online collections. I also don’t speak every language that every museum website is written in, and that can limit my access. (However, I’ve found generally that switching to the “English” pages of a website means I will have access to less information. I tend to struggle through the various native language advanced search pages, to get the most out of the resource.) But my analysis will need to document how I “know” what I claim to know – be it published details, or measurements and descriptions taken from photographs. In addition, the Chaos of Bead Reporting may limit what information I have available, as not every site or museum uses the same classification system, and may not even have a bead specialist involved in the excavation or collection management.
It needs to be easy to input data, and work across a variety of platforms. I use and carry 3 separate computers – each running a different operating system, and each with different access limitations. So using a Google form for data entry is going to be the best choice. Google forms will dump the data into a spreadsheet, where it can be manipulated further. I must stretch my current knowledge, and learn to add a file upload option, so a photo of the item in question can be uploaded. I can also use images in the survey questions, which may help with speed and consistency in data entry.
I have created a preliminary data collection tool, but still need to add options, and improve the output structure. I’ve added Swedish descriptors where available (the Crona paper was especially helpful). Heather Christie recommends using the bead chart by Beck, Classification and Nomenclature of Beads and Pendants, which is clearly a resource I need to acquire.
I’m still struggling with recording multiple bead types most accurately, in comparison to the pendant overall. Because this analysis is mostly focused on what construction structure is used to create the pendants, I’m not collecting all the data possible on the beads. Google Forms does have limits, as any free resource is likely to have. Because I’ve include a image upload option, I will have a visual reference to eliminate duplicates and help fill in the details. I may end up creating a separate database just for the beads on the pendants, but not today.
So I encourage you to look at the form, think about the structure, and give me feedback. I’m going to keep tweaking it for awhile, before I start adding data, but appreciate your feedback.
I’m also working on a google map for the findspots.