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Category doubts

 
 
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Author elsslots
Admin
#1 | Posted: 20 Dec 2015 00:00 
While we're discussing the value of individual WHS by category, in some cases we come to the conclusion that sites better belong with a different category. Or that a new category should be created. Or that a site is attached to more than one category (which should be avoided).

I propose to leave them where they are now for discussion sake.
After we've finished the WHS Top 200 excercise, we can look into the categories themselves.

Any doubts we encounter on the way we can add to this topic, so we have them ready for later on.

Author elsslots
Admin
#2 | Posted: 20 Dec 2015 00:01 
Solivagant:
Koutammakou -Have been there. It shouldn't really be included in a category for "Urban Landscape" - the location of the Takienta houses is very rural. It DOES in my view justify inclusion under the Cultrual Landscape category


Author elsslots
Admin
#3 | Posted: 20 Dec 2015 01:47 
elsslots:
Tsodilo (San) (maybe better move to Rock Art)


Author elsslots
Admin
#4 | Posted: 22 Dec 2015 00:14 
Assif:
Nasca lines (here I don't understand why Nasca line enters here whereby other prehistoric Precolumbian sites such as Samaipata, Tierradentro, Diquis, Poverty Point and Head-Smashed-In are absent.)


Author elsslots
Admin
#5 | Posted: 22 Dec 2015 00:15 
reconsidering prehistoric category
Assif:
Biblical Tells (actually not prehistoric, these cultures were literate)Kakadu (better under rock art)Matobo (better under rock art)Tsodilo (better at rock art)


Author elsslots
Admin
#6 | Posted: 22 Dec 2015 00:40 
winterkjm:
I think traditional villages belong in a different category. Shirakawa, Fijian Tulou, Tusi, Xidi/Hongcun and Hahoe/Yangdong are representative examples of East Asian traditional villages or clan villages. These should be discussed in a different category.


Author elsslots
Admin
#7 | Posted: 23 Dec 2015 13:00 
Remove from Archaeological Site, Far Eastern (needs a new category?)
Khuft:
Kyoto - Y - not really archeological, but select for its myriad of emblematic temples as well as for the Nijo palaceNara - Y - similar to Kyoto; for its temples (incl. Todai-ji with giant buddha, and Kasuga shrine)


Author elsslots
Admin
#8 | Posted: 24 Dec 2015 00:35 
Move away from Classical Greek?
Assif:
Ephesus (better under urban continuity?)Paphos (better under urban continuity?)Tauric Chersonese (better under urban continuity?)


Author elsslots
Admin
#9 | Posted: 24 Dec 2015 00:37 
Move away from Middle Eastern?
Assif:
Beni Hammad (better under Near Eastern archaeology)Byblos (better under urban continuity)Erbil (better under urban continuity)Harar (already had it under African towns)M'Zab (better under African towns, similar to Ghadames)Shakhrisyabz (better under Asian towns together with Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand)Tabriz Bazaar (better under trade like La Lonja de la Seda at Valencia)


Author elsslots
Admin
#10 | Posted: 25 Dec 2015 02:01 
Regarding post-medieval European:

echwel:
I'm not quite sure what's the time frame on this one. From medieval to late 19th/begin 20th century? Imo 19th/20th century should be excluded/ discussed in its own category.


Author Assif
Partaker
#11 | Posted: 5 Jan 2016 21:18 | Edited by: Assif 
Since Solivagant has opened this discussion about the assignment I wanted to sum up some principles about my understanding of how categories are/should be assigned.

1) Categories should best represent the essence of the nomination should be closely linked to the OUV.
2) At best each site should have a single category assigned.
3) For sites with multiple emphases two categories should be allowed, as should be the case with mixed sites.
4) More than two categories should best be avoided.

Some cases to be thought about:

1) We have CL as a category (which we could split up into the four connections we have). Should this be the essence of the OUV? Clearly defined CLs are for example often gardens, continuing CLs are often agricultural, relict CLs are often archaeological sites, etc. Do we want to assign them twice or once? I would propose that we assign them once only.

2) We have categories which are archaeological sites as well as categories which are single buildings. What do we do with single buildings that are archaeological sites (for example ancient bridges, ancient forts, ancient burial sites)? Should they be assigned once or twice, and if the former to which? The same is true of archaeological sites that are religious (e.g., ancient churches) or archaeological sites that are townscapes. I would propose to assign all archaeological sites only to their archaeological category and the ones that still stand to the structure/religion/townscape category.

3) We have categories for Phoenicians, Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, but only one category for Precolumbians or Eastern Asians. Should we further divide Precolumbian for example (Mesoamerican Precolumbian cultures, Inca sphere, North American Precolombian) or unify the others (ancient European sites (including Romans, Greeks, Byzantines, Thracians), Middle Eastern archaeology (including Egypt and Phoenicians)?

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#12 | Posted: 6 Jan 2016 04:35 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Assif:
I wanted to sum up some principles about my understanding of how categories are/should be assigned.

The 4 principles extracted by Assif from the assignment of WHS to categories as currently existing are "correct" IMO.

As the other 3 suggestions identify, what we perhaps lack at the moment is a similar set of "principles" as to how the "Categories" themselves should be determined. This is not of course totally independent from the rules as to how the assignment should be done since it is a combination of the 2 sets of rules which creates the total "assignment"
Among those which I remember were things like
a. Try to avoid categories with "too few" WHS - ok some WHS are "unique" but most are comparable in some way with others -and, since identification of such common aspects is one of the main reasons for "categorisation", we should not lose this by dividing into too many different ones. We never formally defined what "too few" might be but I guess 5 or 6 was an ideal minimum if not a hard rule. "Bahai" and "Caribbean" have slipped in with a single rep only and I feel should be reconsidered.
b. Try to avoid Categories with "too many" WHS. If a category gets up to 40 or 50 it begins to lose meaning and hints that a tighter definition might be worth having. "CL" and "Christian" are the worst at the moment and any reconsideration of category definitions should attempt to address these (As Assif does for the CL category!)
c. Try to avoid purely "geographical" categories - ie "where" they are rather than "what" they are. Whilst a geographical location can act as a proxy for Cultures/civilisations it seemed better to use these latter. Some of the current ones which might "sound" Geographical (E.g "Latin American") are in reality "cultural" but there are also a few which perhaps should be renamed to emphasise their "cultural" identity (E.g "Pacific".
d. Try to avoid having too many Categories - around 60 was our target - giving an average of around 15-20 per category

No doubt others were used or "emerged" and Assif has suggested 3 more. The first 2 seem to be an improvement and it would be interesting to "work them through" with some examples to identify and "iron out" difficulties. The 3rd one raises a valid issue and presents 2 possibilities without of course proposing one or the other!!

As I mentioned earlier, the current definitions and assignments were largely created over 10 years ago and rather got "overtaken" as a subject of interest by "Connections" and were never really critically assessed by a "body" of "experts"! I think the current exercise has shown that the ability to compare WHS in terms of "What they are" at approximately this level of granularity (in addition to our other 2 "comparison" lists - by "period of creation" and by "Detailed attribute"- ie "Connections") IS worth having. Also, that the original definitions and assignments have stood up reasonably well in the face of their first real "test" but are certainly both capable of being improved!

One other possibility I would throw in is the possibility of having "subcategories" (1 level!!) within the categories. This would require a bit of work by Els but is not I think a major matter of principle (???? Els!!). "Category" would still constitute the "Index" and could still appear on the page for each site as defining its category (but would it be difficult to create a single "title" made up of Cat and subcat?). However, within a Category, the grouping and sequencing would be by subcategory - thus permitting e.g "Pre-Colombian" to be divided in any number of smaller groups we wanted/found significant or useful. It wouldn't matter then if for instance there was a subcategory of 1. This could be a way of addressing the problem posed by Assif in his 3rd proposal?? We could still easily compare WHS across the wider Category whilst differentiating them within it. So e.g the Meltwaterfalls suggestion for handling the large Christian category which we have adopted for this exercise (ie. dividing them into Churches, Cathedrals, Residential etc) could be easily adopted permanently whilst still maintaining the overall "Christian" category to facilitate comparison with number of sites for other major religions which might not need such a sub-categoristion on their smaller numbers (though it would cause no real problem to adopt similar categories for at least some of them too or, alternatively, ones more appropriate to the religions such as "Temples", "Shrines" etc

Author Assif
Partaker
#13 | Posted: 6 Jan 2016 22:28 | Edited by: Assif 
Solivagant:
One other possibility I would throw in is the possibility of having "subcategories" (1 level!!) within the categories.

I do not know if this is feasible, but I think it's a good ideas, at least for some categories. As Solivagant says, we have already done the same for the sake of discussion of the top 200.
This would in fact be a 3 level subcategory, as we already have the larger chunks such as religious sites, secular buildings, human activity and the like.

Solivagant:
it would be interesting to "work them through" with some examples to identify and "iron out" difficulties

Just to show one example with my second proposal. Let's take the category Burial sites: http://www.worldheritagesite.org/categories/category50.html

How do we judge if a burial site is an archaeological site or not? Some of them clearly are (Sammallahdenmäki, First Qin Mausoleum, Pecs), some of them clearly are not (Taj Mahal, Yasawi Mausoleum, Skogskyrkogarden), but what about Memphis, Etruscan necropolises or the Korean dolmens? They are no ruins and have never been uncovered as they mostly remain standing throughout history after their erection.
Another problem is that in order to avoid double categories burial (a subcategory of secular buildings) should also exclude sites the OUV of which lies mainly in their religious aspects. However, since burial is often associated with religion this would be difficult. For some it is clear they could be moved to a religious category (Yasawi Mausoleum), for some it is clear they should not (Taj Mahal, First Qin Mausoleum, Skogskyrkogarden), but what about Memphis for example? Are the pyramids mostly a religious building? One could of course argue that their architecture as a representation of Egyptian culture and art gives them their OUV regardless of their religious significance, but couldn't the same be argued regarding many Gothic cathedrals?
We could draw a line between living and extinct religions. What should we do with Pecs? (well it is an archaeological site) And Buganda? It is not archaeological and it is a religious site for the Buganda people. Where does its OUV derive from? Should it be under the supercategory of a secular building?

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#14 | Posted: 7 Jan 2016 02:57 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Assif:
How do we judge if a burial site is an archaeological site or not?

Hmm - seems to create as many "problems" as it solves?
A few thoughts.
The more one "unpacks" the phrase "Archaeological site" the harder it becomes to pin it down!! Wiki defines it as "a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric or historic or contemporary), and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record. Sites may range from those with few or no remains visible above ground, to buildings and other structures still in use."
We have 17 categories under "Archaeological site" -all except "Rock art" relating to a particular Culture or civilisation (assuming that "Pacific" really means "Pacific cultures". Clearly those which are "Roman" are going to be pretty old but a much morre modern Industrial site for instance can just as easily be considered "archaeological". What do we really "add" by calling it an "Archaeological site -Roman"? Why not just "Roman" or "Viking"?

Going a bit further with this logic. We seem to have 2 main category "slices" through the cultural sites
a. Which "Culture" created them - these are covered by 2 different "super categories - "Archaeological sites" (Roman, Viking etc) and "Urban Landscape" (Mediaeval European, Latin American etc). A site's culture is in effect a shorthand for "when" it was created and "where" it exists -some cultures are very goegraphically constrained whilst others are, of course very extensive. It could be arued that we could treat a site's "Where" as a separate "category" but we already have a "country" slice "given" to us (from which we can identify e.g "region") so I am going to lump this aspect in with the "when" issue
b. What they (primarily) are - these are covered by the super categories of "Secular Structure", "Religious structure", "Human Activity".

Now, of course every site possesses both of these attributes - its "when/where" and its "what". And there lies the logical issue we are facing - which of these 2 aspects do we use primarily to give it a "category". If a site belongs to an old/significant culture and if it consists o a lot of different "whats" we have tended to use the "culture". If it is a rather simple "what" we have tended to use its type. But there are lots of sites where we have been inconsistent and also where it has been a hard case.

Perhaps we should accept that each Cultural site needs 2 categories to cover each of these 2 aspects and thus avoid this difficulty which is akin to trying to "square the circle" by banging together 2 different aspects into a single set of categories? A potential problem is that we already have ways of slicing sites by their "When" and their "What" - ie. Our "Timeline" and our "Connections". Both of these are a lot more detailed than the level we are working at for "Categories" but occasionally they begin to meet - eg We don't have a Connection for "Roman" but we do for "Phoenician". Now there are more sites in the Phoenician "Connection" than there are in the Phoenician "Category" because the former includes any site where Phoenician culture played a part whilst the former only contains those which are significantly "Phoenician". Perhaps it doesn't matter So we already live with this "semi-overlap" but would need watch out that we don't get too detailed in determining "Cultural" Categories. The same point applies to "what" the site is. We have a Category for "Mines" but we also have a "Connection" for Iron, Copper, Silver etc. Again the "Connection" covers the aspect found anywhere in the site whilst the category only intneds covering the main aspect.

Because we operated at the "Century" level for the Timeline under cultural sites there isn't going to be too much overlap with Cultural sites described at the "Culture/Civilisation level. But that wouldn't be thee case with Natural ones. It wouldn't seem necessary to have "when" categories for these as they are already covered by the geological periods in the Time-line. So we would concentrate on the "What" as per the current "Categories" plus or minus a few changes?.

Author Assif
Partaker
#15 | Posted: 7 Jan 2016 08:04 | Edited by: Assif 
I
Solivagant:
Perhaps we should accept that each Cultural site needs 2 categories to cover each of these 2 aspects and thus avoid this difficulty which is akin to trying to "square the circle" by banging together 2 different aspects into a single set of categories?

What should we then do with such cases as urban continuity? Let's take Mexico City for example. Would it then have a Town for a What as well as Aztec and Colonial for its where/when? This would mean some sites would necessarily have three categories. I don't find it bad though.
Solivagant:
We don't have a Connection for "Roman"

We do have a connection for Roman colonies though that covers everything Roman outside of Italy.

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