A tool for multimedia excavation reports.
University of Southampton, Department of Archaeology,
The discipline of archaeology has long been plagued by the problem of how to adequately publish
its results within financial limits and reasonable time spans. It has been recognized for some time
that archaeological data is multimedia in its nature and that hypermedia publishing may offer a
solution to some of the discipline's problems. Previous examples of such electronic publication in
archaeology have required extensive input in computing time which is expensive and has not
speeded up the publication process.
This work is based on the concept that by using hypermedia technology which allows
archaeologists to 'slot' their data into a system with relative ease from the start of the postexcavation
process, instead of later on in the publication stage, the effort required to compile and
complete the electronic archive can be reduced dramatically. A thorough examination of the postexcavation
process revealed several key requirements for such a computer tool that would be
applicable during post-excavation to enable later publication in the electronic medium. The need
for flexibility, requiring no change in established working practices and data structures used was
identified as being particularly important.
To address this problem and provide a tool that could address archaeology's requirements the
principles of open hypermedia were investigated. Its high degree of flexibility, preservation of
original data files and the possibility of modular extensible program architecture indicated that it
provided part of the solution required. The open hypermedia system Microcosm, developed at the
University of Southampton, was used to produce an electronic excavation report and archive. The
main part of this work consisted of adapting Microcosm to archaeological requirements by adding
three Microcosm filters specially written for his project. The system was tested on a sample
archive consisting of the published report and archive of the excavations at St.Veit Klinglberg in
Austria. This key study is made available in the electronic format on CD-ROM with this thesis.
The approach taken here has contributed to the application of multimedia in archaeology in four
areas. Firstly it recognized the need and provided a prototype for an overall tool for the
compilation of hypermedia archives that would be universally applicable through the
archaeological community. Secondly it has successfully addressed the need for flexibility required
for this tool, databases and data sets can be incorporated regardless of their specifics. Specifically
archaeological requirements for hypermedia have been identified, in particular the need to enable
multiple linking, allowing the information for more than on item of interest to be displayed
simultaneously and in conjunction. Finally, this work shows that the successful provision of an
electronic excavation archive with a report is possible and could reduce the cost and time scale of
the post-excavation process.
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