Web-based Research Tools for Mediterranean Archaeology

January 4th, 2008 by Tom Elliott

Workshop at the 2008 annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Chicago

Sunday, 6 January 2008, 9:00 a.m. – noon, Water Tower, Bronze Level, West Tower, Hyatt Regency Hotel

Moderators: Rebecca K. Schindler and Pedar Foss, DePauw University

In recent years several powerful web-based research tools for Mediterranean archaeology have emerged; this workshop brings together researchers who are building and/or maintaining them. Having examined each other’s projects beforehand, presenters demonstrate their own projects, assess their functionality and usefulness, and discuss future needs and possibilities.

The projects range from macro-scale (country- or Mediterranean-wide metadata) to micro-scale (specific sites and artifact types). Two initiatives are on-line databases for archaeological fieldwork: Foss and Schindler demonstrate MAGIS, and inventory of survey projects across Europe and the Mediterranean; Fentress demonstrates the Fasti OnLine, which records excavations in Italy and several neighboring countries. Both projects employ web-based GIS to allow spatial and database searches. With the release of Google Earth and Google Maps, GIS functionality for tracking landscapes has become widely available to mainstream, not just specialist, users. Savage offers the Jordan Archaeological Database and Information System (JADIS) as a case-study of how Google-GIS functionality may be employed in archaeological research.

Numerous archaeological projects use the web to present and collect data (to varying degrees of detail). Watkinson and Hartzler demonstrate the Agora Excavations on-line, an example of how the web can clearly present a complex, long-excavated site through its organization of artifacts, documentary materials, and visual interfaces. Heath then gives a close-up look at the on-line study collection of ceramics from Ilion; what is the potential for Web-based reference collections to enhance the study of ceramic production and distribution?

ArchAtlas, presented by Harlan and Wilkinson, and the Pleiades Project, presented by Elliott, both seek to link geo-spatial and archaeological data through on-line collaborations. These projects raise issues of interoperability and shared datasets. ArchAtlas aims to be a hub for interpretive cartographic visualization of archaeological problems and data; Pleiades is developing an atlas of ancient sites. Finally, Chavez from the Perseus Project considers the challenges of accessibility, sustainability, and viability in the ever-changing world of technology — how do we ensure that these projects are still usable 20 years from now, and what new resources can we imagine developing?

These projects are representative of the types of on-line initiatives for Mediterranean archaeology in current development. Their tools enable the compilation and dissemination of large amounts of information that can lead to interesting new questions about the Mediterranean world. This is a critical time to step back, assess the resources, and consider future needs and desires.

Panelists:

  • Pedar Foss (DePauw University)
  • Elizabeth Fentress (International Association for Classical Archaeology)
  • Stephen Savage (Arizona State University)
  • Bruce Hartzler and Charles Watkinson (American School of Classical Studies at Athens)
  • Sebastian Heath (American Numismatic Society)
  • Tom Elliott (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
  • Debi Harlan (Oxford University)
  • Toby Wilkinson (British Institute at Ankara)
  • Robert Chavez (Tufts University)

One Response to “Web-based Research Tools for Mediterranean Archaeology”

  1. Tom Elliott Says:

    I’ve posted my slides.

Leave a Reply