June 08, 2008


Live blogging the UCLA/Getty Storage Symposium (part 9)

There was sunshine, coffee and cookies—not for me, I'm a diabetic :-( —and we're back in the auditorium of the Fowler Museum. John Lynch (UCLA) presents: Tracing Portable Archaeological Finds: The UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology and the Challenges of Digital Archaeology. It's all about context! We gather more of it nowadays than ever before but our publishing and storing of it hasn't changed: paper. Digital publishing has all these advantages: updatable, as many images (in color) as you want, etc. But we still usually make facsimiles of the paper versions. The UEE is going further, e.g., geographical and geospatial searching/interacting. You can take info and use it in Google Earth, even with, for instance, chronological evolution of a site and its 3D-reconstructed buildings. The process of going back and gathering the data for 3D models of excavated buildings can lead to correction of the original (paper) publication, e.g., Robert Cargill's new theory on Qumran. The technology used by the Wii (with its handheld location determination in reference to a fixed point) could allow for easier collection of geospatial data. Open-access, public data is what is needed: complete, timely. He mentions the Open Context database and pointed me out as the one to ask expert questions... A typical report is an interpretation of what was excavated, which is good, but why not also publish all primary data to allow colleagues to searching across excavation datasets and solving new questions. It does also allow for long-term preservation of data as copies spread all over the world. Why is the new approach not widely adopted? Sharing is not encouraged: data receives its value from being secret, you need it for publications that will give you tenure. Furthermore, policies in different countries and licensing authorities are not yet requiring open access. There is also the problem of technical difficulties. Open Context uses ArchaeoML, an XML-based format. The content of the UEE will be peer reviewed and authors' rights will be reserved for limited time.

Liz Werden presents Condition Change at Painted Rock: 3D Laser Scanning for Conservation Documentation. Painted Rock is located inside Carrizo Plain National Monument, in San Luis Obispo county, California. By the way, I notice that the official website of the National Monument doesn't seem to mention the rock art, which is probably for the better. Oddly enough the US Geological Service has pictures up on their website (see the photo I used). She mentions that for every day of scanning, you have to count on 5 days of processing.

Craig Mauzy (American School of Classical Studies at Athens) talks about Analog to Digital: Transforming the Agora Collections to the 21st century. The ASCSA has been excavating the Agora in Athens, Greece, for the past 77 years. He shows an interactive QTVR (Quicktime Virtual Reality) tour of the Agora site. They are mandated by Greek policies to eventually provide open access to their excavation data and research. Nearly 400 houses were on top of the excavation site before work was started in the 1930s. They are now transferring the card catalogue into a digital database and scan the photographic archive. When they are excavating today, they enter items immediately into the database.

That concludes the symposium. It was very interesting. I hope I didn't bore some people too much ;-)

Update: I corrected a location name.


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