Electra Atlantis: Digital Approaches to Antiquity


Tom Elliott (tom.elliott@nyu.edu)

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September 02, 2014

Corinthian Matters

A Review of Corinth in Context

If you just haven’t found time in the last couple of years to look at the book, Corinth in Context: Comparative Studies of Religion and Society (2010) edited by Steven Friesen, Dan Schowalter, and James Walters, Amelia Brown’s recent review at BMCR provides a synopsis of the book. I would venture to guess this will be the last review. Unlike earlier reviews at The Expository Times, The Journal of Theological Studies, and the Journal for the Study of the New Testament, which focused generally on the chapters related directly to New Testament studies (Erastus, house churches, and Christian meals), Brown summarizes the entire book at length. And this may be the only formal review of the book that is free and accessible to anyone, not locked behind a subscription wall.

Heritage Bytes

Upgrading Open Context

With summer wrapping up and a new fellowship about to begin, it’s time to share some updates about Open Context. Warning! Much of this post is pretty geeky. So if you don’t enjoy geeking out on the nitty-gritty of archaeological informatics issue, you’re welcome to move on to something else!

I’m busy working with John Ward on completely rebuilding Open Context from scratch. Open Context is now over 7 years old, and has already gone through two significant revisions. Our current effort to rebuild Open Context marks the most radical rebuild yet. We’re moving away from PHP and MySQL toward Python and Postgres.

Open Context and Python

Both Python and Postgres give us more options for enhanced geospatial data management. Also, Python has a large array of powerful open source Natural Language Processing, Linked Data, and other scientific computing packages available. Again, these ready made tools will give us more options to further enhance Open Context.

I’m finding Python (with the Django framework), pretty straightforward and easier to write more intelligible and hopefully easier to maintain code. So, despite having to overcome some initial learning-curve obstacles, I think we’re making rapid process. Here’s the new code repository for Open Context’s first iteration in Python: https://github.com/ekansa/open-context-py

Consolidating Some Experience

Since the last major revision of Open Context in 2009-2010, we’ve increasingly emphasized participation in “Linked Open Data“. For Open Context, this mainly means we annotate certain data by referencing stable Web identifiers (URIs) to concepts curated by experts at other institutions.  However, it took some time to learn how and where we we should use Linked Data to enhance the data we publish (we’re still learning!). Until now, we took tentative and incremental steps in working with Linked Data; we didn’t invest a huge amount of effort in reorganizing Open Context’s schemas (ways of organizing data) and software to better manage Linked Data.

Thus, Open Context’s current PHP code based reflects a pretty organic and not-so-systematic approach to implementing Linked Data. Some other features we’ve added over the years, especially with regard to the faceted search, are also not so systematic. This has led to a lot of sprawl in the current version of Open Context. Just like sprawl isn’t great for communities, it’s also not great for software. The boated code in Open Context makes it harder to maintain. It needs a very comprehensive overhaul – which is exactly what we’re doing.

What’s Next? Lot’s of GeoJSON(LD)…

We’ve published over 50 datasets, many of which are very large from research projects across the globe. We’ve now got a better understanding of some of the key issues and requirements for managing this kind of scale and diversity of archaeological data. At the same time, the archaeological “information ecosystem” has also grown. Our community has made great strides in sharing more and more interoperable data.

One exciting recent development centers on the uptake of GeoJSON. GeoJSON is a simple and easy to use format for sharing geospatial data. It is widely used and widely supported by Web mapping software and desktop GIS software. Sean Gillies, one of the architects of GeoJSON (while he was with Pleiades) organized an ad hoc, bottom up, push to combine GeoJSON with JSON-LD, a new W3C standard for expressing Linked Data. The goal of JSON-LD is to combine the ease of use of JSON with the semantic precision of Linked Data. Merging GeoJSON with JSON-LD can therefore be a powerful, but low-barrier-to-entry (meaning you don’t have to be a maladjusted nerd to participate) way for sharing archaeological data.

So, we’re deprecating Open Context’s current XML format that was based on ArchaeoML. David Schloen of the OCHRE project designed ArchaeoML, but the OCHRE project has also outgrown that schema. I’ve already migrated all of Open Context’s data into a new organizational schema that retains the powerful modeling features of ArchaeoML, but uses GeoJSON-LD (not ArchaeoML-XML) as the main way of representing and sharing these data. By design GeoJSON-LD is good for sharing linked data, and because GeoJSON-LD is backward compatible with all sorts of tools that support GeoJSON, Open Context’s new data will be much easier to consume immediately without writing custom software. For example, it does a good job of mapping sample Open Context GeoJSON-LD records (see examples). The software for doing all of this is much more compact and simple than the versions of Open Context we’re replacing.

The DINAA project is a key driver in motivating changes to Open Context’s approach to modeling archaeological data. So far, the DINAA project has published about 340,000 archaeological site file records generously contributed by state site file managers. We’ve annotated these site file records with a controlled vocabulary of archaeological time periods (in draft stage) to facilitate searches across state boundaries. We’ve also experimented with new ways of indexing numeric date ranges. However, Open Context’s current index only allows 1 numeric date range / per site record. This overly simplifies important aspects of reality, in that sites typically have gaps or hiatuses in occupation. While episodic occupation is described by the controlled vocabulary of periods, it also needs to be described with numeric date ranges. The next revision of Open Context will do this.

In addition to better meeting needs for DINAA, the new GeoJSON-LD approach will support some “event-like” data modeling that can have other useful applications. An “event” is basically an abstract entity that takes place at some time and at some place (even if time and place are only vaguely described). The most sophisticated, elaborate and comprehensive event model used in archaeology is the CIDOC-CRM. We’re referencing some of the CIDOC-CRM for our event modeling. However, for better and for worse, we’re less interested in semantic perfection than pragmatic usability, so our event modeling takes most of it’s cues from a simple optional extension to GeoJSON-LD discussed here. Adding some event modeling will be useful for representing where an object was found and where it may have been made (such as this Late Roman coin found at Petra but minted in London).

All of this may sound complicated, but it really isn’t that bad. We’re actually simplifying things and cleaning up our act. We’ll get more capability with less software by choosing somewhat better models and abstractions.

Better Search

Open Context’s current implementation of faceted search needs some attention. It’s hard to use because there are too many facets without clear organization and we do not make numeric fields easy to query. Fortunately, John Ward, an experienced developer with expertise in enterprise search, is leading  revisions on this critical bit of Open Context. Again, the focus is on making much smaller and easier to maintain code and taking better advantage of mature open source software (Apache Solr). In addition to a tuned-up search interface, we’ll also have a GeoJSON-LD search API. We’re also sticking with the old-but-super-useful Atom feed API as an option for getting search results from Open Context. Atom might not be as hip as GeoJSON, but it still has great utility in sharing lists of search results.

Better User Interface Design

We’ll be using GeoJSON-LD as a common representation format for all Open Context data. In addition to making publicly-available, machine-readable data, we’ll be reading GeoJSON-LD data ourselves to show records in our own interface. The open source Bootstrap libraries provide the layout, typography, styling, and various interactive features (drop-down lists, tabs, accordion boxes).  The new (to us) grid layout will be very mobile friendly and will re-size well. Here’s an early draft example:


Showing main description

Showing main description

Showing links to other loci with the main description collapsed

Showing links to other loci with the main description collapsed

Showing main media with descriptions and links to other loci collapsed

Showing main media with descriptions and links to other loci collapsed

When will it be done?

We’re making great progress, but we still have a tremendous amount of work to do. In all likelihood, I will be wildly wrong in guessing when this will be finished, except that it’ll need months more concerted effort. I’ll post more as we get ready to deploy the next upgrade to Open Context.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

OmnesViae: Roman Routeplanner: a reconstruction of an antique Roman map with internet technology

OmnesViae: Roman Routeplanner: a reconstruction of an antique Roman map with internet technology
OmnesViae.org is an initiative by René Voorburg. It is born out of a fascination for the culture of the ancient Romans. OmnesViae wouldn't have been possible without Richard Talbert's research work on the Tabula Peutingeriana.
Between March and September 2011, I've spent hundreds of hours of scarce spare time creating OmnesViae. Therefor I would like to thank my wife Mariet above all for her patience with my obsessive zeal.
OmnesViae is not just the work of one person. The website http://www.tabula-peutingeriana.de/ by Martin Weber proved to be a useful reference and a handy source for current day place names. The geolocations in OmnesViae are for a large part obtained from the Pleiades initiative. Many people gave me feedback or helped me with translations. I particularly would like to thank Maria Tzaneti, Marlene Sturm, Tim Koster, Martin Weber, Hans de Bode, Ben Mugnier, Eric Rulier, Wouter Kool, Aad Oliehoek and Claude Chauviere.


I don't claim ownership of any underlying data, not even for the parts that are the fruit of my own research work. I kindly ask the creators of derived works to make the data behind those works also freely available. When using data or output from OmnesViae, please create a link or reference to this work. Please let me know when you use OmnesViae in your publications or derived works.


You can help to improve OmnesViae!
  • Not all places have a geolocation yet. The route network of the Peutingeriana can offer a great help in finding candidates for the locations of currently un-alocated places. Let me know if you have aquired evidence for a missing location. When adding new locations I aim to cooperate with the Pleiades initiative.
  • Routes sometimes follow strange curves or even cross themselves. The cause for this might be (copying?) errors in the Tabula Peutingeriana itself (this seems to be the case near 'Catispi') but incorrect geolocations could also be a cause. Substantiated suggestions for the better gelocations for given places are very welcome. I aim to cooperate in this with the Pleiades initiative.
  • In reality, a planned route is not always the shortest possible route. This is caused by missing distance figures on the Peutingeriana. My aim is to solve this by adding reconstructed distances when required. Please let me know if you have suggestions for connections where the lack of a distance figure leads to suboptimal routes.
  • I think it would be great to have OmnesViae available in each language spoken in the countries that were part of the Roman empire. If you are willing to help, please let me know and I'll be happy to send you some instructions.

The Stoa Consortium

Digital Classicist New England seminar 2015 CFP

[original link]

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the third series of the Digital Classicist New England (Boston?). This initiative, inspired by and connected to London’s Digital Classicist Work in Progress Seminar, is organized in association with the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University. It will run during the spring term of the academic year 2014/15.

We invite submissions on any kind of research which employs digital methods, resources or technologies in an innovative way in order to enable a better or new understanding of the ancient world. We encourage contributions not only from students of Greco-Roman but also from other areas of the pre-modern world, such as Egypt and the Near East, Ancient China and India.

Themes may include digital editions, natural language processing, image processing and visualisation, linked data and the semantic web, open access, spatial and network analysis, serious gaming and any other digital or quantitative methods. We welcome seminar proposals addressing the application of these methods to individual projects, and particularly contributions which show how the digital component can facilitate the crossing of disciplinary boundaries and answering new research questions. Seminar content should be of interest both to classicists, ancient historians or archaeologists, as well as to information scientists and digital humanists, with an academic research agenda relevant to at least one of these fields.

Anonymised abstracts [1] of 500 words max. (bibliographic references excluded) should be uploaded by midnight (CET) on 01 November 2014 using the special submission form. When submitting the same proposal for consideration to multiple venues, please do let us know via the submission form (to be posted later).

Seminars will run from mid-January through April 2015 and will be hosted at Brandeis, Holy Cross, Northeastern and Tufts. The full programme, including the venue of each seminar, will be finalised and announced in December. In order to facilitate real-time participation from California to Europe, seminars will take place in the early afternoon and will be accessible online as Google Hangouts.

As with the previous series, the video recordings of the presentations will be published online and we endeavour to provide accommodation for the speakers and contribute towards their travel expenses. There are plans to publish papers selected from the first series of the seminar as a special issue in an appropriate open access journal.

[1] The anonymized abstract should have all author names, institutions and references to the authors work removed. This may lead to some references having to be replaced by “Reference to authors’ work”. The abstract title and author names with affiliations are entered into the submission system in separate fields.

Organizing committee:

Marie-Claire Beaulieu, Tufts University
Gregory Crane, Tufts and Leipzig
Stella Dee, University of Leipzig
Leonard Muellner, Brandeis University
Maxim Romanov, Tufts University
David A. Smith, Northeastern University
David Neel Smith, College of the Holy Cross

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Some Quick Notes on Intensive Survey Method in the Argolid

This weekend I finally got around to putting together my various notes from database and GIS crunching and field observation on the Western Argolid Regional Project. Since we’re still working to analyze finds from this season, our main body of data derives from artifact densities. That being said, we have been able to spend a little time figuring out what variables had the greatest influence on artifact recovery throughout the survey area.


Visibility. The overall visibility in the survey area was right around 50%. Surface visibility did not correspond with artifact densities in a linear way, as survey archaeologists have come to expect. The highest artifact densities peaked first in units with 50% visibility and then in units with 70%—90% densities before dropping off in units with 100% artifact densities. In fact, units with 100% visibility produced fewer artifacts per ha then the average for all units. This serves as a useful reminder that visibility and artifact densities are independent variables even if the drop in density at 100% visibility hints that something strange must occur to artifact recovery rates in fields which have been finely plowed and cleared of all vegetation.

Surface Clast Size. We also recorded surface clast size for each field. Most of our fields consisted of 19-75 mm coarse gravel and these fields along with those with cobble sized (>75 mm) surface clast produced the highest densities. The average visibility in these fields falls between 41% and 53% respectively. Cobbles tended to produce more artifacts per ha than average visibility alone might suggest, but not by a vast margin (1040 artifacts per ha rather than the 913 artifact per ha that units with 50% visibility tend to produce). Units with coarse gravel were consistent with visibilities. Interestingly, units with fine gravel or sandy soil produced fewer artifacts than their average visibilities would suggest. Sandy soils, although relatively rare, had 41% visibility but produced only 390 artifacts per ha. It’s tempting to see sandy soils as recently deposited riverine sediments, but they don’t necessarily pattern that way across the survey area.

Background Disturbance. Recently, survey archaeologists have begun to think about background disturbance as a major influence on artifact recovery. This term describes the amount of objects in the soil matrix that distract the eye from the ceramic and man-made lithic objects we are supposed to be identifying.  We recorded background disturbance as either light, moderate, or heavy (or none). Our data showed that units with moderate and light background disturbance performed more or less consistently with their visibility. Units with heavy, background disturbance, however, had much higher than average visibilities (70%) and much lower than predicted artifact densities than this visibility alone would predict. This suggests that high background disturbance might influence recovery rates in a substantial way.

Dominant Vegetation Height. For each unit we recorded the dominant vegetation height. This correlated strongly with surface visibility – as one might expect – with densely overgrown units with vegetation head high or higher (!) having average visibility in the teens (18% and 17% respectively), and waist high vegetation averaged a paltry 33% visibility. Interestingly, head high or higher vegetation produced lower artifact densities than suggested by visibility alone, but we’ve long reckoned that our visibility scale runs to imprecise with very low visibility fields. Units with vegetation at knee height coincided produced densities that coincided with expected visibility, but units with ankle height vegetation produced more artifacts than one might expect from visibility alone.

These short studies demonstrate that artifact recovery rates are influenced by a range of variables present in the landscape. Using visibility and artifact density as a baseline for understanding artifact recovery allowed us to recognize the influence of a range of variables that impacted field walker performance. The highest recovery rates appear to come from units with cobble or coarse gravel, ankle high vegetation, plowed, loose soils, and light or moderate background disturbance producing visibilities of between 70% and 90%.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Erga-Logoi: Rivista di storia, letteratura, diritto e culture dell'antichità

Erga-Logoi: Rivista di storia, letteratura, diritto e culture dell'antichità
Online ISSN: 2282-3212
Print ISSN: 2280-9678
Erga-Logoi è una rivista, soggetta a peer-review, di storia, letteratura, diritto e culture dell'antichità; un concetto, quest'ultimo, da intendere in senso ampio sul piano dell'estensione geografica e cronologica. Il titolo è stato scelto per sottolineare, evocando il proemio metodologico di Tucidide - benché la contrapposizione abbia ovviamente, in quel contesto, valore diverso -, l'intento di guardare al mondo antico prestando attenzione sia al "fatto" (gli eventi storici, la produzione artistica, la cultura materiale), sia al "detto" (il discorso poetico, letterario, storico, normativo nella sua forma orale e scritta). 

Di conseguenza, la Rivista propone con convinzione un approccio unitario al mondo antico, respingendo prospettive settoriali in favore di un'impostazione fortemente interdisciplinare: l'unica che può consentire un'adeguata comprensione della civiltà complessa e articolata, sul piano cronologico, geografico e soprattutto contenutistico, che il mondo antico ha espresso.
La Rivista, che esce con cadenza semestrale, è dunque aperta a contributi di carattere storico, filologico, letterario, archeologico, artistico, giuridico; ha carattere multilingue e intende con ciò contribuire allo sviluppo di un dibattito internazionale sul mondo antico e sulla sua eredità.

Erga-Logoi is a peer-reviewed journal of ancient history, literature, law and culture, as broadly conceived in geographical and chronological terms. Evoking Thucydides' methodological exordium (although in that context the opposition obviously has a different value), the name of the Journal was chosen to reflect its intention of looking at the ancient world paying attention to both “facts” (historical events, artistic production, material culture) and “words” (literary, historical, legal production in its oral and written forms).
On these bases, the Journal embraces a unified approach to the ancient world, rejecting sectional perspectives for an interdisciplinary focus, reflecting these complex articulated civilizations. 

The Journal, published every six months, is open to contributions of a historical, philological, literary, archaeological, artistic, and legal nature. It is multilingual, thereby aiming to foster the development of international debate on the ancient world and its legacy.

Vol 2, No 1 (2014)

Table of Contents

Fine dell'impero romano ed escatologia PDF
Giuseppe Zecchini 7-19
«Attica in Syria». Persian War Reenactments and Reassessments of the Greek-Asian Relationship: a Literary Point of View PDF
Silvia Barbantani 21-91
Una clausola maniliana in Prudenzio (C. Symm. I 279) PDF
Silvia Arrigoni 93-102
Villae e bolli inediti su lateres nel comprensorio del Lago di Bracciano PDF
Giuseppe Cordiano, Antonietta Barricelli, Elena Insolera, Alessandra Lazzeretti, Stefania Russo, Diletta Tesei 103-154
Cadmo di Mileto, primo storico dell’Occidente: i dati biografici PDF
Federica Fontana 155-180

Vol 1, No 2 (2013)

Table of Contents

Des eunuques dans la tragédie grecque. L’orientalisme antique à l’épreuve des textes PDF
Dominique Lenfant 7-30
Le ambiguità di un reliquiario. Il «braccio di s. Ermolao» nella pieve di Calci (Pisa) PDF
Francesco D'Aiuto 31-72
L’octroi de la citoyenneté romaine aux Latins: un anachronisme de Cassius Dion PDF
Gianpaolo Urso 73-83
Sondaggi sulla presenza di Pitagora negli scritti ciceroniani: le sezioni frammentarie del “de re publica” e il “de legibus” PDF
Andrea Balbo 85-103
I Greci e l'aborto fra teoria politica e prassi medica. Per una rilettura di Platone, Aristotele e Ippocrate PDF
Rita Laura Loddo

Vol 1, No 1 (2013)

Table of Contents

Sophokles’ Lucky Day: Antigone PDF
Robert Wallace 7-22
Zonaras abréviateur de Cassius Dion. À la recherche de la préface perdue de l’Histoire romaine PDF
Valérie Fromentin 23-39
Persio e il suicidio di Catone. Sulle tracce di un esercizio scolastico antico (Pers. III 44-47) PDF
Luigi Pirovano 41-60
Démosthène, Sur la couronne, 296 et le vocabulaire grec de la mutilation corporelle PDF
Yannick Muller 61-86
La strutturazione del potere seleucidico in Anatolia: il caso di Acheo il Vecchio e Alessandro di Sardi PDF
Monica D'Agostini 87-106

Excellence: Tyrtaeus’ own View. A Literary Analysis of Fragment 9 PDF
Carmen Sánchez-Mañas

Source: Journalism Code, Context & Community

Event Roundup, Sept 2

By Erika Owens

Event Roundup, Sept 2

The hacking in Buenos Aires continues on Thursday at La Nacion.


Know of any upcoming fellowship or conference proposal deadlines? Have an upcoming event? Let us know: source@mozillafoundation.org.

The Signal: Digital Preservation

Stewarding Early Space Data: An Interview with Emily Frieda Shaw


Emily Frieda Shaw, Head of Preservation and Reformatting at Ohio State University

Preserving and managing research data is a significant concern for scientists and staff at research libraries. With that noted, many likely don’t realize the length of time in which valuable scientific data has accrued on a range of media in research settings. That is, data management often needs to be both backward- and forward-looking, considering a range of legacy media and formats as well as contemporary practice. To that end, I am excited to interview Emily Frieda Shaw, Head of Preservation and Reformatting at Ohio State University (prior to August 2014 she was the Digital Preservation Librarian at the University of Iowa Libraries). Emily talked about her work on James Van Allen’s data from the Explorer satellites launched in the 1950s at the Digital Preservation 2014 conference and I am excited to explore some of the issues that work raises.

Trevor: Could you tell us a bit about the context of the data you are working with? Who created it, how was it created, what kind of media is it on?

Emily: The data we’re working with was captured on reel-to-reel audio tapes at receiving stations around the globe as Explorer 1 passed overhead in orbit around Earth in the early months of 1958. Explorer predated the founding of NASA and was sent into orbit by a research team led by Dr. James Van Allen, then a Professor of Physics at the University of Iowa, to observe cosmic radiation. Each reel-to-reel Ampex tape contains up to 15 minutes of data on 7 tracks, including time stamps, station identifications and weather reports from station operators, and the “payload” data consisting of clicks, beeps and squeals generated by on-board instrumentation measuring radiation, temperature and micrometeorite impacts.

Once each tape was recorded, it was mailed to Iowa for analysis by a group of graduate students. A curious anomaly quickly emerged: At certain altitudes, the radiation data disappeared. More sensitive instruments sent into orbit by Dr. Van Allen’s team soon after Explorer 1 confirmed what this anomaly suggested: the Earth is surrounded by belts of intense radiation, dubbed soon thereafter as the Van Allen Radiation Belts. When the Geiger counter on board Explorer 1 registered no radiation at all, it was, in fact, actually overwhelmed by extremely high radiation.

We believe these tapes represent the first data set ever transmitted from outside Earth’s atmosphere. Thanks to the hard work and ingenuity of our friends at The MediaPreserve, and some generous funding from the Carver Foundation, we now have about 2 TB of .wav files converted from the Explorer 1 tapes, as well as digitized lab notebooks and personal journals of Drs. Van Allen and Ludwig, along with graphs, correspondence, photos, films and audio recordings.

In our work with this collection, the biggest discovery was a 700-page report from Goddard comprised almost entirely of data tables that represent the orbital ephemeris data set from Explorer 1. This 1959 report was digitized a few years back from the collections at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as part of the Google Books project and is being preserved in the Hathi Trust. This data set holds the key to interpreting the signals we hear on the tapes. There are some fascinating interplays between analog and digital, past and present, near and far in this project, and I feel very lucky to have landed in Iowa when I did.

Trevor: What challenges does this data represent for getting it off of it’s original media and into a format that is usable?

Emily: When my colleagues were first made aware of the Explorer mission tapes in 2009, they had been sitting in the basement of a building on the University of Iowa’s campus for decades. There was significant mold growth on the boxes and the tapes themselves, and my colleagues secured an emergency grant from the state to clean, move and temporarily rehouse the tapes. Three tapes were then sent to The MediaPreserve to see if they could figure out how to digitize the audio signals. Bob Strauss and Heath Condiotte hunted down a huge, of-the-era machine that could play back all of the discrete tracks on these tapes. As I understand it, Heath had to basically disassemble the entire thing and replace all of the transistors before he got it to work properly. Fortunately, we were able to play some of the digitized audio tracks from these test reels for Dr. George Ludwig, one of the key researchers on Dr. Van Allen’s team, before he passed away in 2012. Dr. Ludwig confirmed that they sounded — at least to his naked ear — as they should, so we felt confident proceeding with the digitization.

Explorer I data tape

Explorer I data tape

So, soon after I was hired in 2012, we secured funding from a private foundation to digitize the Explorer 1 tapes and proceeded to courier all 700 tapes to The MediaPreserve for thorough cleaning, rehousing and digital conversion. The grant is also funding the development and design of a web interface to the data and accompanying archival materials, which we [Iowa] hope to launch (pun definitely intended) some time this fall.

Trevor: What stakeholders are involved in the project? Specifically, I would be interested to hear how you are working with scientists to identify what the significant properties of these particular tapes are.

Emily: No one on the project team we assembled within the Libraries has any particular background in near-Earth physics. So we reached out to our colleagues in the University of Iowa Department of Physics, and they have been tremendously helpful and enthusiastic. After all, this data represents the legacy of their profession in a big picture sense, but also, more intimately, the history of their own department (their offices are in Van Allen Hall). Our colleagues in Physics have helped us understand how the audio signals were converted into usable data, what metadata might be needed in order to analyze the data set using contemporary tools and methods, how to package the data for such analysis, and how to deliver it to scientists where they will actually find and be able to use it.

We’re also working with a journalism professor from Northwestern University, who was Dr. Van Allen’s biographer, to weave an engaging (and historically accurate) narrative to tell the Explorer story to the general public.

Trevor: How are you imagining use and access to the resulting data set?

Emily: Unlike the digitized photos, books, manuscripts, music recordings and films we in libraries and archives have become accustomed to working with, we’re not sure how contemporary scientists (or non-scientists) might use a historic data set like this. Our colleagues in Physics have assured us that once we get this data (and accompanying metadata) packaged into the Common Data Format and archived with the National Space Science Data Center, analysis of the data set will be pretty trivial. They’re excited about this and grateful for the work we’re doing to preserve and provide access to early space data, and believe that almost as quickly as we are able to prepare the data set to be shared with the physics community, someone will pick it up and analyze it.

As the earliest known orbital data set, we know that this holds great historical significance. But the more we learn about Explorer 1, the less confident we are that the data from this first mission is/was scientifically significant. The Explorer I data — or rather, the points in its orbit during which the instruments recorded no data at all — hinted at a big scientific discovery.  But it was really Explorer III, sent into orbit in the summer of 1958 with more sophisticated instrumentation, that produced that data that led to the big “ah-hah” moment. So, we’re hoping to secure funding to digitize the tapes from that mission, which are currently in storage.

I also think there might be some interesting, as-yet-unimagined artistic applications for this data. Some of the audio is really pretty eerie and cool space noise.

Trevor: More broadly, how will this research data fit into the context of managing research data at the university? Is data management something that the libraries are getting significantly involved in? If so could you tell us a bit about your approach.

Emily: The University of Iowa, like all of our peers, is thinking and talking a lot about research data management. The Libraries are certainly involved in these discussions, but as far as I can tell, the focus is, understandably, on active research and is motivated primarily by the need to comply with funding agency requirements. In libraries, archives and museums, many of us are motivated by a moral imperative to preserve historically significant information. However, this ethos does not typically pervade in the realm of active, data-intensive research. Once the big discovery has been made and the papers have been published, archiving the data set is often an afterthought, if not a burden. The fate of the Explorer tapes, left to languish in a damp basement for decades, is a case in point. Time will not be so kind to digital data sets, so we have to keep up the hard work of advocating, educating and partnering with our research colleagues, and building up the infrastructure and services they need to lower the barriers to data archiving and sharing.

Trevor: Backing up out of this particular project, I don’t think I have spoken with many folks with the title “Digital Preservation Librarian.” Other than this, what kinds of projects are you working on and what sort of background did you have to be able to do this sort of work? Could you tell us a bit about what that role means in your case? Is it something you are seeing crop up in many research libraries?

Emily: My professional focus is on the preservation of collections, whether they are manifest in physical or digital form, or both. I’ve always been particularly interested in the overlaps, intersections, and interdependencies of physical/analog and digital information, and motivated to play an active role in the sociotechnical systems that support its creation, use and preservation. In graduate school at the University of Illinois, I worked both as a research assistant with an NSF-funded interdisciplinary research group focused on information technology infrastructure, and in the Library’s Conservation Lab, making enclosures, repairing broken books, and learning the ins and outs of a robust research library preservation program. After completing my MLIS, I pursued a Certificate of Advanced Study in Digital Libraries while working full-time in Preservation & Conservation, managing multi-stream workflows in support of UIUC’s scanning partnership with Google Books.

I came to Iowa at the beginning of 2012 into the newly-created position of Digital Preservation Librarian. My role here has shifted with the needs and readiness of the organization, and has included the creation and management of preservation-minded workflows for digitizing collections of all sorts, the day-to-day administration of digital content in our redundant storage servers, researching and implementing tools and processes for improved curation of digital content, piloting workflows for born-digital archiving, and advocating for ever-more resources to store and manage all of this digital digital stuff. Also, outreach and inreach have both been essential components of my work. As a profession, we’ve made good progress toward raising awareness of digital stewardship, and many of us have begun making progress toward actually doing something about it, but we still have a long way to go.

And actually, I will be leaving my current position at Iowa at the end of this month to take on a new role as the Head of Preservation and Reformatting for The Ohio State University Libraries. My experience as a hybrid preservationist with understanding and appreciation of both the physical and digital collections will give me a broad lens through which to view the challenges and opportunities for long-term preservation and access to research collections. So, there may be a vacancy for a digital preservationist at Iowa in the near future :)

SCARLET (Special Collections using Augmented Reality to Enhance Learning and Teaching)

Leeds College of Music AR Project

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 10.57.16

Over the past couple of months Jisc Mimas have been involved in leading the technical development of a new Augmented Reality resource around the music production studios in Leeds College of Music working with Craig Golding and Ruth Clark. It hopes to support students  working/studying in the music studios by displaying 3D visual overlays, technical documentation and other media assets, linking them to the physical production equipment in front of them. Using iPads, students stand in front of the production desk and the Augmented Reality software tracks the 3d object before snapping different coloured content accurately over it providing the user with a way to interact with different parts, surfacing contextual material. More information about the content and student feedback will appear here in the following few weeks.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Journal des Savants

 [First posted in AWOL 23 February 2011. Updated 2 September 2014]

Journal des Savants
eISSN: 1775-383X
Couverture de la revue 
431 Issues
4598 Articles
Le Journal des Savants est le plus ancien journal littéraire d'Europe. Fondé en 1665 par Denis de Sallo, conseiller au Parlement de Paris, sous le regard bienveillant de Colbert, il bénéficia du patronage royal en 1701. Supprimé en 1792, il fut rétabli et réorganisé en 1816 : jusqu’en 1900, il fut édité aux frais de l’État par un bureau présidé par le Garde des Sceaux, puis le ministre de l’Instruction publique et réserva ses colonnes aux membres de l’Institut. Voué de nouveau à disparaître pour des raisons de restrictions budgétaires, c’est tout naturellement que l'Institut de France, qui avait pris à sa charge les frais d’impression pour les années 1901 et 1902, se substitua à l’État. Néanmoins, ne pouvant consacrer de manière continue des fonds nécessaires à la publication du Journal des Savants, l’Institut de France proposa à l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres d’en accepter la charge, qu’elle assura à partir de 1909 grâce à des crédits prélevés sur la Fondation Dourlans. A la charge exclusive de l’Académie depuis cette période, le Journal des Savants accueille des articles originaux marquant des avancées significatives dans les disciplines relevant de sa compétence, tant en raison de leurs résultats que pour l’aspect nouveau de leur méthode.

Available periods  :






September 01, 2014

Samuel Fee (Arranged Delerium)

Design Salaries

A new academic year starts today at W&J. In addition to just learning for the sake of becoming a better human being, so folks are more pragmatic in their thinking and considering what kinds of jobs they might get with their degrees from CIS. Of… Continue reading

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

A Guide to Industrial Tourism in the Bakken

During my free moments, I continue to work on my tour guide of the Bakken. I have an idea that I’ll publish in Tom Isern’s Center for Heritage Renewal Circular Series at North Dakota State or failing that at the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. 

Williston Type2

I posted a rough version of the introduction here. Today, I’ll include the first part of the first which runs from Minot, ND to Tioga, ND and introduces the intrepid traveler to the Bakken oil patch. I apologize in advance for the roughness of this draft!

The main point of entry into the Bakken is the city of Minot (pop. approx. 41,000). Minot is the county seat of Ward county and sometimes referred to as the “Gateway to the Bakken” Minot is served by Delta airlines, has an Amtrak station, and sits astride Route 2. Route 2 serves as one of the major arteries for the oil patch. It is the northernmost east-west highway in the U.S. and follows the route of the Great Northern Railroad and it sometimes shares with railroad the term “The Highline.” The route runs from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Everett Washington and the stretch from Minot to Williston, North Dakota is among the most scenic drives in North Dakota.

Proceeding west along this route takes you through heart of both workforce housing and the productive activities of the oil boom. The transformation of this corridor is historically striking. The traffic along Route 2 picks up noticeable west of Minot, and the number of fleet pick-up trucks with corporate names stenciled on their flanks will become more common as will tractor trailers carrying equipment west into the oil patch. The border between Ward and Mountrail Counties is pocked with “prairie potholes” or small lakes amidst rolling hills.

Upon entering Mountrail County, the evidence for both the economic opportunities and social and environmental challenges of natural resource extraction becomes more and more visible among the communities in this region. These communities had only limited experience with the potential and pitfalls of dramatic growth in population as well as day-to-day industrial activity and had generally settled into quiet obscurity. They had generally experienced steady decline in population from their heights in the 1950s brought about by a combination of agricultural prosperity and an earlier oil boom which was felt especially further west in Williams County. A slightly interruption in the region’s population decrease occurred during a short oil boom in the the 1980s, but this did little to interrupt the overall pattern for the region. The first places on this itinerary to show evidence for recent transformation are the small towns of Blaisdell (unincorporated) Palermo (ca. 82 in 2013), Stanley (pop. 1,458 in 2010), and Ross (ca. 109) in Mountrail County (ca. 9,376 in 2013) in Mountrail County and Tioga (ca. 1565 in 2013) in Williams County have received the brunt of the most dramatic changes. The strange contrast between the historical lack of development, investment, or visible change and the recent boom has drawn travelers, journalists, tourists, and scholars, to the area. The bustle of the road east from Minot offers just a preview of the activity of the oil patch, and the traveler might succumb to feeling like they’re heading up the river into a Heart of Darkness.

The first distinct evidence for the economic challenges of the area comes in the area of housing which appears before any oil activity. Within 3 miles of county line modular workforce housing appears. On a low rise to the north of the Route 2 approximately 2.5 miles west of the county line, in a township called Egan (pop. 64), is a group of approximately 15 “stackable” mobile housing units. The units stand 150 m to the north of the main road and are called Egan Crest reminiscent of some affluent suburb. Each unit is based on the dimension of standard “high-cube” shipping containers (40 ft or 12.19 m long and 8 ft or 2.44 m wide) with 9.6 ft (2.86 m) tall roofs. These mobile, modular apartments have been stacked two high and feature housing for 2 workers un each 20 ft crate. In the region, they’re know as “stackables” and are seen as a welcome upgrade from life in RVs or or larger more formal workforce housing deeper in the patch. The “stackables” do not have security around them are and apparently are well-insulated and comfortable. Their isolated and scenic position surrounded by rugged farmland gives them a both serenity and vulnerability.

Some 2 mile further west and immediately to the south of Route 2 is Blaisdell RV Park. This park is the first of the informal and scrappy RV parks that make up so much workforce housing in the Bakken. The leveled area of tan gravel is situated some 100 m south of Route 2 and entered at its northeastern corner. Passing a somewhat forlorn play area, there is parking in front of a administrative building with some common area. The park itself is comprised of nearly 100 small units about half of which are small mobile homes and the other half are RVs. In 2014, two large residences carved out of semi-trailers stood at the south end of the rows introducing some of the innovative architectural approaches to life in the Bakken. The units along the west side of the park are rented like hotel rooms whereas the eastern side of the park offer lots available for rent. To the south of the park is Blaisdell Rodeo which convenes each year in early August. The town of Blaisdell is north of Route 2 and is worth a short visit to see the school house and a wood-framed prairie church.

Continuing west along Route 2, past the turn off to Palermo …

Perseus Digital Library Updates

Digital Classicist Seminar New England — Spring 2015: Call for Papers

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the third series of the Digital Classicist New England (Boston?). This initiative, inspired by and connected to London’s Digital Classicist Work in Progress Seminar, is organized in association with the Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University. It will run during the spring term of the academic year 2014/15.

We invite submissions on any kind of research which employs digital methods, resources or technologies in an innovative way in order to enable a better or new understanding of the ancient world. We encourage contributions not only from students of Greco-Roman but also from other areas of the pre-modern world, such as Egypt and the Near East, Ancient China and India.

Themes may include digital editions, natural language processing, image processing and visualisation, linked data and the semantic web, open access, spatial and network analysis, serious gaming and any other digital or quantitative methods. We welcome seminar proposals addressing the application of these methods to individual projects, and particularly contributions which show how the digital component can facilitate the crossing of disciplinary boundaries and answering new research questions. Seminar content should be of interest both to classicists, ancient historians or archaeologists, as well as to information scientists and digital humanists, with an academic research agenda relevant to at least one of these fields.

Anonymised abstracts [1] of 500 words max. (bibliographic references excluded) should be uploaded by midnight (CET) on 01 November 2014 using the special submission form. When submitting the same proposal for consideration to multiple venues, please do let us know via the submission form (to be posted later).

Seminars will run from mid-January through April 2015 and will be hosted at Brandeis, Holy Cross, Northeastern and Tufts. The full programme, including the venue of each seminar, will be finalised and announced in December. In order to facilitate real-time participation from California to Europe, seminars will take place in the early afternoon and will be accessible online as Google Hangouts.

As with the previous series, the video recordings of the presentations will be published online and we endeavour to provide accommodation for the speakers and contribute towards their travel expenses. There are plans to publish papers selected from the first series of the seminar as a special issue in an appropriate open access journal.

[1] The anonymized abstract should have all author names, institutions and references to the authors work removed. This may lead to some references having to be replaced by “Reference to authors’ work”. The abstract title and author names with affiliations are entered into the submission system in separate fields.

Organizing committee

Marie-Claire Beaulieu, Tufts University
Gregory Crane, Tufts and Leipzig
Stella Dee, University of Leipzig
Leonard Muellner, Brandeis University
Maxim Romanov, Tufts University
David A. Smith, Northeastern University
David Neel Smith, College of the Holy Cross

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

Quinto Convegno Piccoli Musei: focus su Musei accoglienti

musei-accoglienti-convegnoL’Associazione Nazionale Piccoli Musei organizza il 26 e 27 settembre 2014 a Viterbo il Quinto Convegno dell'Associazione dal titolo "Musei accoglienti: una nuova cultura gestionale per i piccoli musei". L'evento è realizzato in collaborazione con la Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell’Etruria Meridionale e con l’Incubatore Culturale Icult-BIC Lazio con il patrocinio del Comune di Viterbo e della Provincia di Viterbo.

ASOR Blog (American Schools of Oriental Research)

Finding Common Ground: Roman- Parthian Embassies in the Julio-Claudian Period

At the 2013 ASOR Annual Meeting, Jason Schlude (Duquesne University) and Benjamin Rubin (Williams College) presented their paper, “Finding Common Ground: Roman- Parthian Embassies in the Julio-Claudian Period.” Abstract from the Program Book Diplomatic embassies between Parthia and Rome were a relatively frequent occurrence during the first centuries B.C.E. and C.E. Scholars have traditionally characterized […]

Archeomatica: Tecnologie per i Beni Culturali

L’uso dei Sistemi WEB - GIS per una moderna documentazione del Patrimonio Archeologico e Culturale

gis-patrimonio-culturale-ass-minervaL'Associazione Culturale Minerva organizza a settembre un Laboratorio per gli studenti della Scuola di Lettere e Beni Culturali di Ravenna e per ogni persona interessata all’uso delle tecnologie GIS applicate alla documentazione, gestione e fruizione del Patrimonio Archeologico.
I partecipanti al corso lavoreranno attivamente sulla documentazione di scavo acquisita dalla Missione Italiana a Shahr-i Soktha (Iran), elaborando una piattaforma Web GIS della necropoli di questo scavo straordinario.

III Scuola di Spettroscopia Infrarossa per i Beni Culturali

Il Centro Conservazione e Restauro "La Venaria Reale" organizza la terza edizione della Scuola di Spettroscopia Infrarossa applicata alla diagnostica dei Beni Culturali. Quest'anno la scuola si svolgerà dal 27 al 30 ottobre 2014 mediante lezioni teoriche e dimostrazioni pratiche.

August 31, 2014

Juan Garcés (Digitised Manuscripts Blog)

A Calendar Page for September 2014

For more information about the Huth Hours, please see our post A Calendar Page for January 2014. September marks the beginning of the wine-making season in the northern hemisphere, and this is as true today as it was on the pages of our medieval calendar. In the opening folio, the...

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative

ASOR Syrian Heritage Initiative
The Department of State and the American Schools of Oriental Research have established a 12-month, multipronged program — the Syrian Heritage Initiative (SHI) — to plan and implement cultural property protection and preservation projects in Syria in the short- and long-term to address the ongoing crisis and to prepare for the inevitable reconstruction process. SHI consists of three major units: cultural heritage communications, satellite remote sensing and mapping, and preservation planning. SHI remotely monitors and evaluates risks, evaluates damage, and ultimately seeks to increase risk preparedness, mitigate adverse impacts, and preserve vital human resources and infrastructure for the future. SHI develops durative institutional collaborations and broad coalitions of CPP experts and other stakeholders to achieve results. ASOR represents the ideal umbrella organization for SHI given its long record of successful scientific cooperation with Syria, its international outreach capacity, and its impressive institutional infrastructure.

August 30, 2014

Stefan Baums and Andrew Glass (Gandhari.org Blog)

Manuscript Growth and Episodic Composition

Last week, at the XVIIth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Vienna, I presented the paper “Manuscript Growth and Episodic Composition: Commentaries and Avadānas in Early South Asia” in which I argue that several of the Gāndhārī scrolls containing scholastic texts and narrative sketches show signs of having been compiled and added to over a period of time. Proceedings for the conference panel, containing an extended version of the paper, are in the early planning stages. In a side note of my paper, I also announced a recent discovery that I made when reading the Khotan Dharmapada with my students and that may be of wider interest: The colophon of this scroll does not (as per Brough’s edition) specify the monastery where it was written, but rather that the scribe was a certain Dharmaśrava. I briefly present the evidence in my article “Gandhāran Scrolls: Rediscovering an Ancient Manuscript Type,” and am working on a comprehensive discussion of my new reading of the Khotan Dharmapada colophon and its implications.

Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

Going a-Rome-ing in August

Readers of twitter will be aware that I went to Rome last Friday, coming back Monday afternoon.  I booked only a couple of weeks earlier, so I had to pay a large sum to the airline.  But the hotel was cheap, relatively.  Even so, the money seemed to vanish!

Going to Rome in August was a bit different.  The traffic is much reduced.  But the sun was truly brutal.  It was 32C in the shade every day – although on Sunday night there was rain and a thunderstorm – which made it impossible to do much outdoors.

Sites close, also.  I walked to the Trevi fountain on my first evening there, only to find it drained and empty.  I had hoped to go and see the Mithraeum of Santa Prisca, which is open at 4pm on the 4th Sunday of the month; but it was closed because it is August.

I stayed at the Hotel Nerva, which is behind the ruins of the temple of Mars Ultor, and right on the imperial forums.  I was shown to my garret – rooms in Rome always seem very small – but fortunately the aircon was on, if not as cool as I would have liked.  I asked for, and  got, a desktop fan as well, which helped quite a bit.

The staff ordered a number of items for me in advance, and also, at my request, asked for the ticket for Santa Prisca.  This is useful if you don’t speak Italian.  They ordered me a “Roma” pass which gave me free use of the underground (trains also airconditioned; stations not), as well as the train to Ostia.  Interestingly I found that you can buy this pass in the arrivals hall at Ciampino, while waiting for your luggage.  They also got me a ticket for the Vatican museums for 10:30 on Monday, although I could have bought this online and printed it off myself.


On Saturday I spent most of the morning at the Museo Nazionale in the Baths of Diocletian, opposite Termini railway station.  It was air-conditioned, it had toilets – although not toilet seats, curiously -, a vending machine for bottled water and sweeties, and … practically no visitors.  This made it ideal for photographing some of the exhibits.  It was also very interesting to find that some exhibits which had been absent last year had returned, and vice versa.  I took quite a collection of photos of the Mithras exhibits using the 10mp camera on my mobile phone.  I’ve not yet done more than copy the photos to my hard disk, however.

Some of the finds from the Mithraeum of S. Stefano Rotondo

Some of the finds from the Mithraeum of S. Stefano Rotondo

For lunch I ventured out to one of the tourist bar-restaurants nearby, and was duly scalped for poor quality food.  Avoid “steak” – I have twice been offered some mass of stringy fat with bits of meat interspersed in it. The bread was nice, but the waiter whisked it away before I could eat much of it!


After that, I headed downtown.  For I had discovered that my 11 euro ticket for the museum would also admit me to the museum site at the Crypta Balbi, where I knew that there was a Mithraeum.  This too was largely empty, and I was able to get myself onto an Italian-speaking tour of the basement areas, including the Mithraeum – rather disappointing, the latter.  The staff were very helpful.  But I must say that the printed materials were profoundly confusing, and it took quite some effort to get oriented!  Upstairs there were Mithraic artefacts!

Remains of a tauroctony in the museum of the Crypta Balbi.

Remains of a tauroctony in the museum of the Crypta Balbi.

Then I walked up to the Pantheon, and then back to the hotel to snooze for a very necessary hour.  Then in the evening I went out, bought a panini at a food shop, and then I sat in the shade next to the Colosseum, and watched the people go to and fro, until the sun went down.

On Sunday I used my Roma pass and took the tube to Pyramide, transferring from there to the train for Ostia Antica (also free).  I have never seen a sign indicating which train is for Ostia Antica; but if you look inside, the tube-train-like panels above the doors indicate the stations to be visited.  The train was airconditioned, which was nice.  On arrival at the station, I walked to the ruins, and became aware how hot it was.  It seemed an interminable walk from the ticket office to the cafeteria, which – and I recommend doing this – I visited first.  It was empty, but I got some food, bought and drank more water, bought a 2 euro site plan in the bookshop, and then I looked to see where the Mithraea were.

Then I ventured out to see if I could find a particular site.  It was bestially hot, and I quickly became aware that it was no fun at all.  I was unable to locate the Mithraeum, and I realised that all I wanted to do was go back to Rome.   So I did, getting back around noon.  It was very good to get back to my nice cool room!

Far too hot in Ostia.

Far too hot in Ostia.

But the room had not been made up!  So I ventured out, and ended up wandering up the backstreets, eventually emerging at Termini.  There is a large Spar supermarket on the far side of the station, which is worth being aware of.  Then back, and, after lying around a lot, out back to the Colosseum.  It was rather threatening with rain.  I walked down to where the Septizonium used to be, but couldn’t see much sign of it.  Then back.  I bought an umbrella from a street vendor, and sat near the Colosseum.  Then it rained!  Up went my umbrella, while everyone else ran for cover, except for a woman sitting not that far from me who got progressively drenched.  For some reason she didn’t have, or buy, an umbrella.  I felt a little sorry for her; but not enough to forgo my own umbrella!  Eventually I spoke to her, and she turned out to be a sports journalist from Plymouth.

On the Monday I went to the Vatican museum.  The pre-booked ticket meant that I could go through the entrance immediately without queuing; but the desks inside to exchange it for a ticket were a disaster.  I emerged feeling very stressed.  I went first to the Pio Christiano gallery, and found the statue of Hippolytus there.  Fortunately this gallery was empty, and indeed was closed later.  The bad news was that the statue was just a cast.  Then to the cafeteria!  Then I went in search of the Mithras monuments, which were in the “room of the animals”, but impossible to see from more than a distance.  There were also some monuments in the Chiaramonti gallery.  But on the whole the experience was awful – a great, sweaty crush of people in corridors too small for them, and no way out.  I felt quite claustrophobic at one point, and eventually ducked under a rope and escaped!!

After that, I went back to the hotel, and got a car to the airport.  I arrived 2 hours before hand, and it took an hour to get through baggage checkin and security.  After sitting on a chair for half an hour, I went through and they were just boarding the priority passengers.  So I had no real time to wait.

I don’t think that I would go to Rome in August again.  It is just too hot to stand in the sun.  But it was very interesting to see, all the same.

UPDATE: The Mithras tauroctonies in the Chiaramonti gallery are these.  Unfortunately none of my photos came out well.

Mithraic monuments in the Chiaramonti gallery in the Vatican museum

Mithraic monuments in the Chiaramonti gallery in the Vatican museum

The Homer Multitext

New content, new contributors

Eric Raymond popularized the phrase "release early, release often" as a philosophy for software development. It works for digital scholarhip, too.

We're happy to announce today an early release of a facsimile browser incorporating new material from our photography in the Escorial last summer. The digital facsimile edition requires data about the manuscripts (including what folios appear in what sequence), an index aligning each folio with a canonical citation of lines of the Iliad, and an index identifying which side of which folio each image illustrates. A group of dedicated and talented volunteers (some shown in the photo) has been meeting regularly on Friday afternoons to put this material together for the E3 manuscript, prior to beginning work on a full diplomatic edition of the text (as others are already doing for the Venetus A and Venetus B codices).

Perhaps even more remarkable than the volunteers' rapid mastery of E3's Byzantine script is the fact that all of the students are in their first year of Greek. If you're not accustomed to learning about the transmission of Homer from first-year Greek students, a Friday afternoon with this group is enlightening.

You will undoubtedly see postings on this blog in the future announcing further releases of material from "Team E3." In addition to the puzzles they've had to solve to make today's release available, they are compiling careful observations that will lead to a helpful guide to the paleography of E3, and have already noted a number of unpublished or unappreciated discrepancies bewteen E3 and other manuscripts that are forcing all of us working on the Homer Multitext project to reassess entirely the traditional scholarly views on the (b) family of manuscripts of the Iliad.

The E3 group has currently indexed more than half of the manuscript: we're including folios 1 recto - 109 recto (covering Iliad books 1-8) in today's release.

Our profound thanks to all members of the group (alphabetically):

  • Matthew Angiolillo
  • Neil Curran
  • Maria Jaroszewicz
  • Alex Krasowski
  • Becky Musgrave
  • Kathleen O'Connor
  • Anne Salloom
  • Megan Whitacre

Roger Pearse (Thoughts on Antiquity, Patristics, putting things online, and more)

Having the right tools

It is wonderful what a difference it makes to have the right tools.

Years ago I obtained a thesis from the US, for which I was charged like a wounded bull.  It was printed double-sided, and I had no sheet-feeder able to handle that.  Today I found two very old Finereader projects on disk, neither comprising more than 70 pages, and both clearly scanned by doing a bunch, first one side, then the other.  It must have been very labour-intensive, for I never proceeded further.

Anyway a correspondent caused me to look for it again.  Thankfully I was able to find the paper copy.  But these days I have a Futijsu Scansnap which is designed to turn bunches of papers into PDFs.  It made short work of the whole document.  Then I numbered the pages in Adobe Acrobat, which revealed one case where two pages had gone through.  I also found that a few pages had acquired a vertical line; these I rescanned.

At the moment Adobe is OCRing the PDF for me.  When it is done, I shall have a nice, compact, 400 dpi copy of the whole thing.

I hardly ever consult the thing; but at least, if I so wish, I can do so easily.

That little document reader was a splendid investment.  When I think of the pain I endure with things which won’t go into it, I am deeply impressed.

There are other advances also.  At my current workplace they have one of these combined scanner-printer-photocopier.  It has a sheet-feeder for copies, and outputs scans to PDF.  I have used it to scan a load of paper articles early one morning into PDF.  But … if you look closely … it will scan A3 as well, through the same A4-looking sheetfeeder.  Which means that even bulky old A3 copies – and who hasn’t got at least some of these? – can be turned into PDFs and the paper discarded!

Worth looking out for at your work.  After all, it doesn’t use consumables, and is way faster than any home device.  Just make sure nobody is likely to object.

August 29, 2014

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Monograph Series: Fieldiana Anthropology

Fieldiana Anthropology: A Collection of Digitized Books
Publications from the Chicago Field Museum's Fieldiana Anthropology series, digitized with permission of the Museum. The collection is a subset of the University of Illinois Digitized Books Collection.
Listed below are those titles relating to antiquity (old world):
Japanese temples and houses / Fieldiana, Popular Series, Anthropology, no. 14 External Link 
Gunsaulus, Helen Cowen, 1886-1954.

Report on the excavation of the "A" cemetery at Kish, Mesopotamia. Part I / Fieldiana Anthropology M External Link 
Mackay, Ernest John Henry, 1880-1943.

Three Etruscan painted sarcophagi / Fieldiana, Anthropology, v. 6, no.4 External Link

Tarbell, Frank Bigelow, 1853-1920.

Catalogue of bronzes, etc., in Field Museum of Natural History: reproduced from originals in the Nat External Link 
Tarbell, Frank Bigelow, 1853-1920.
Dorsey, George Amos, 1868-1931 [editor] Curator of [Anthropology] Dept. at Field Museum of Natural History

The giraffe in history and art / Fieldiana, Popular Series, Anthropology, no. 27 External Link 
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934.

Chinese clay figures. Part I. Prolegomena on the history of defensive armor / Fieldiana, Anthropolog External Link 
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934.
Moodie, Roy Lee, 1880-1934.
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934, ed. Curator of Anthropology

Sino-Iranica; Chinese contributions to the history of civilization in ancient Iran, with special ref External Link 
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934.

Catalogue of Chinese rubbings from Field Museum / Fieldiana, Anthropology, new series, no.3 External Link 
Walravens, Hartmut, 1944-
Tchen, Hoshien
Starr, M. Kenneth
Schneider, Alice K.
Newton, Herta

The Field Museum-Oxford University expedition to Kish, Mesopotamia, 1923-1929 / Fieldiana, Popular S External Link 
Field, Henry, 1902-

Old Akkadian inscriptions in Chicago Natural History Museum; texts of legal and business interest /  External Link 
Gelb, Ignace Jay, 1907-1985
Martin, Paul S. (Paul Sidney), 1899-1974. editor Chief Curator, Department of Anthropology
Ross, Lillian A. editor Associate Editor, Scientific Publications

A Sumerian Palace and the "A" cemetery at Kish, Mesopotamia. Part II. / Fieldiana Anthropology Memoi External Link 
Mackay, Ernest John Henry, 1880-1943.
Langdon, Stephen, 1876-1937, contributor, Professor of Assyriology, Jesus College, Oxford.
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934, ed. Curator of Anthropology

Ancient seals of the Near East / Fieldiana, Popular Series, Anthropology, no. 34 External Link 
Martin, Richard A. (Richard Arthur)

Ostrich egg-shell cups of Mesopotamia and the ostrich in ancient and modern times / Fieldiana, Popul External Link 
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934.

An annotated bibliography on the origin and descent of domestic mammals, 1900-1955 / Fieldiana, Anth External Link 
Angress, Shimon, 1924-1958.
Reed, Charles A. Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University
Ross, Lillian A. editor 

Jade: a study in Chinese archaeology and religion / Fieldiana, Anthropology, v. 10 External Link 
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934. 

Egyptian stelae in Field Museum of Natural History / Fieldiana, Anthropology, v. 24, no.1 External LinkAllen, Thomas George, b. 1885
Martin, Paul S. (Paul Sidney), 1899-1974. editor
Report on excavations at Jemdet Nasr, Iraq / Fieldiana, Anthropology Memoirs, Vol. 1, No. 3 External Link 
Mackay, Ernest John Henry, 1880-1943.
Langdon, Stephen, 1876-1937, contributor, Professor of Assyriology, Jesus College, Oxford.
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934, ed. Curator of Anthropology

Notes on turquois in the East / Fieldiana, Anthropology, v. 13, no.1 External Link 
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934.

Ivory in China / Fieldiana, Popular Series, Anthropology, no. 21 External Link 
Laufer, Berthold, 1874-1934.

Mummies / Fieldiana, Popular Series, Anthropology, no. 36 External Link 
Martin, Richard A. (Richard Arthur)

Ethan Gruber (XForms for Archives)

xEAC pre-production release ready for wider testing

xEAC (https://github.com/ewg118/xEAC), an open source, XForms-based framework for the creation and publication of EAC-CPF records (for archival authorities or scholarly prosopographies) is now ready for another round of testing. While xEAC is still under development, it is essentially production-ready for small-to-medium collections of authority records (less than 100,000).

xEAC handles the majority of the elements in the EAC-CPF schema, with particular focus on enhancing controlled vocabulary with external linked open data systems and the semantic linking of relations between entities. The following LOD lookup mechanisms are supported:

  • Geography: Geonames, LCNAF, Getty TGN, Pleiades Gazetteer of Ancient Places
  • Occupations/Functions: Getty AAT
  • Misc. linking and data import: VIAF, DBpedia, nomisma.org, and SNAC

xEAC supports transformation of EAC-CPF into a rudimentary form of three different RDF models and posting data into an RDF triplestore by optionally connecting the system to a SPARQL endpoint. Additionally, EADitor (https://github.com/ewg118/eaditor), an open source framework for EAD finding aid creation and publication can hook into a xEAC installation for controlled vocabulary as well as posting to a triplestore, making it possible to link archival authorities and content through LOD methodologies.

The recently released American Numismatic Society biographies (http://numismatics.org/authorities/) and the new version of the archives (http://numismatics.org/archives/) illustrate this architecture. For example, the authority record for Edward T. Newell (http://numismatics.org/authority/newell), contains a dynamically generated list of archival resources (from a SPARQL query). This method is more scalable and sustainable in the long run than using the EAC resourceRelation element. Now that SPARQL has successfully been implemented in xEAC, I will begin to integrate social network analysis interfaces into the application.
More information:

Pleiades Project News

Ryan Horne Assumes Co-Managing Editor Role

The Pleiades Editorial College is pleased to announce that, concurrent with his role as Acting Director of the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ryan will work with Tom Elliott to manage the day-to-day and strategic operational aspects of Pleiades.

The Signal: Digital Preservation

Upgrading Image Thumbnails… Or How to Fill a Large Display Without Your Content Team Quitting

The following is a guest post by Chris Adams from the Repository Development Center at the Library of Congress, the technical lead for the World Digital Library.

Preservation is usually about maintaining as much information as possible for the future but access requires us to balance factors like image quality against file size and design requirements. These decisions often require revisiting as technology improves and what previously seemed like a reasonable compromise now feels constricting.

I recently ran into an example of this while working on the next version of the World Digital Library website, which still has substantially the same look and feel as it did when the site launched in April of 2009. The web has changed considerably since then with a huge increase in users on mobile phones or tablets and so the new site uses responsive design techniques to adjust the display for a wide range of screen sizes. Because high-resolution displays are becoming common, this has also involved serving images at larger sizes than in the past — perfectly in keeping with our goal of keeping the focus on the wonderful content provided by WDL partners.

When viewing the actual scanned items, this is a simple technical change to serve larger versions of each but one area posed a significant challenge: the thumbnail or reference image used on the main item page. These images are cropped from a hand-selected master image to provide consistently sized, interesting images which represent the nature of the item – a goal which could not easily be met by an automatic process. Unfortunately the content guidelines used in the past specified a thumbnail size of only 308 by 255 pixels, which increasingly feels cramped as popular web sites feature much larger images and modern operating systems display icons as large as 256×256 or even 512×512 pixels. A “Retina” icon is significantly larger than the thumbnail below:

Icon SizesGoing back to the source

All new items being processed for WDL now include a reference image at the maximum possible resolution, which the web servers can resize as necessary. This left around 10,000 images which had been processed before the policy changed and nobody wanted to take time away from expanding the collection to reprocess old items. The new site design allows flexible image sizes but we wanted to find an automated solution to avoid a second-class presentation for the older items.

Our original master images are much higher resolution and we had a record of the source image for each thumbnail but not the crop or rotation settings which had been used to create the original thumbnail. Researching the options for reconstructing those settings lead me to OpenCV, a popular open-source computer vision toolkit.

At first glance, the OpenCV template matching tutorial appears to be perfect for the job: give it a source image and a template image and it will attempt to locate the latter in the former. Unfortunately, the way it works is by sliding the template image around the source image one pixel at a time until it finds a close match, a common approach but one which fails when the images differ in size or have been rotated or enhanced.

Fortunately, there are far more advanced techniques available for what is known as scale and rotation invariant feature detection and OpenCV has an extensive feature detection suite. Encouragingly, the first example in the documentation shows a much harder variant of our problem: locating a significantly distorted image within a photograph – fortunately we don’t have to worry about matching the 3D distortion of a printed image!

Finding the image

The locate-thumbnail program works in three steps:

  1. Locate distinctive features in each image, where features are simply mathematically interesting points which will hopefully be relatively consistent across different versions of the image – resizing, rotation, lighting changes, etc.
  2. Compare the features found in each image and attempt to identify the points in common
  3. If a significant number of matches were found, replicate any rotation which was applied to the original image
  4. Generate a new thumbnail at full resolution and save the matched coordinates and rotation as a separate data file in case future reprocessing is required

You can see this process in the sample visualizations below which have lines connecting each matched point in the thumbnail and full-sized master image:

The technique even works surprisingly well with relatively low-contrast images such as this 1862 photograph from the Thereza Christina Maria Collection courtesy of the National Library of Brazil where the original thumbnail crop included a great deal of relatively uniform sky or water with few unique points:

Scaling up

After successful test runs on a small number of images, locate-thumbnail was ready to try against the entire collection. We added a thumbnail reconstruction job to our existing task queue system and over the next week each item was processed using idle time on our cloud servers. Based on the results, some items were reprocessed with different parameters to better handle some of the more unusual images in our collection, such as this example where the algorithm matched only a few points in the drawing, producing an interesting but rather different result:

Reviewing the results

Automated comparison

For the first pass of review, we wanted a fast way to compare images which should be very close to identical. For this work, we turned to libphash which attempts to calculate the perceptual difference between two images so we could find gross failures rather than cases where the original thumbnail had been slightly adjusted or was shifted by an insignificant amount. This approach is commonly used to detect copyright violations but it also works well as a way to quickly and automatically compare images or even cluster a large number of images based similarity.

A simple Python program was created and run across all of the reconstructed images, reporting the similarity of each pair for human review. The gross failures were used to correct bugs in the reconstruction routine and a few interesting cases where the thumbnail had been significantly altered, such as this cover page where a stamp added by a previous owner had been digitally removed:

7778 original7778 reconstructed









http://www.wdl.org/en/item/7778/ now shows that this was corrected to follow the policy of fidelity to the physical item.

Human review

The entire process until this point has been automated but human review was essential before we could use the results. A simple webpage was created which offered fast keyboard navigation and the ability to view sets of images at either the original or larger sizes:

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 18.42.23This was used to review items which had been flagged by phash as less than matching below a particular threshold and to randomly sample items to confirm that the phash algorithm wasn’t masking differences which a human would notice.

In some cases where the source image had interacted poorly with the older down-sampling, the results are dramatic – the reviewers reported numerous eye-catching improvements such as this example of an illustration in an Argentinian newspaper:

Illustration from “El Mosquito, March 2, 1879″ (reconstructed).



This project completed towards the end of this spring and I hope you will enjoy the results when the new version of WDL.org launches soon. On a wider scale, I also look forward to finding other ways to use computer-vision technology to process large image collections – many groups are used to sophisticated bulk text processing but many of the same approaches are now feasible for image-based collections and there are a number of interesting possibilities such as suggesting items which are visually similar to the one currently being viewed or using clustering or face detection to review incoming archival batches.

Most of the tools referenced above have been released as open-source and are freely available:

Shawn Graham (Electric Archaeology)

Play along at home with #hist3812a

In my video games and history class, I assign each week one or two major pieces that I want everyone to read. Each week, a subset of the class has to attempt a ‘challenge’, which involves reading a bit more, reflecting, and devising a way of making their argument – a procedural rhetoric – via a game engine (in this case, Twine). Later on, they’ll be building in Minecraft. Right now, we have nearly 50 students enrolled.

If you’re interested in following along at home, here are the first few challenges. These are the actual prompts cut-n-pasted out of our LMS. Give ‘em a try if you’d like, upload to philome.la, and let us know! Ours will be at hist3812a.dhcworks.ca

I haven’t done this before, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.

Introduction to #hist3812a

Challenge #1


  1. Fogu, Claudio. ‘Digitalizing Historical Consciousness’, History and Theory 2, 2009.
  2. Tufekci, Zeynep. ‘What Happens to #Ferguson Affects Ferguson: Net Neutrality, Algorithmic Filtering and Ferguson. MediumAugust 14 2014


A basic Twine that highlights the ways the two articles are connected.


Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account (if you don’t have a public folder, just right-click and select public link – see this help file). Share the link on our course blog:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.


Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

A history of games, and of video games

Challenge #2

Read & Watch:

Antecedents (read the intros):

Shannon, C. A Mathematical Theory of Communication  Reprinted with corrections from The Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 379–423, 623–656, July, October, 1948. http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/ms/what/shannonday/shannon1948.pdf

Turing, Alan Mathison. “On computable numbers, with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem.” J. of Math 58 (1936): 345-363. http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/Turing_Paper_1936.pdf

Cold War (watch this entire lecture): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_otw7hWq58A


Dillon, Roberto. The golden age of video games : the birth of a multi-billion dollar industry CRC Press, c2011.

Christiansen, Peter ‘Dwarf Norad: A Glimpse of Counterfactual Computing History’ Play the Past August 6 2014 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=4892


A Twine that imagines what an ENIAC developed to serve the needs of historians might’ve looked like, ie explore Christiansen’s argument.


Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.


Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

Historical Consciousness and Worldview

Challenge #3


Kee, Graham, et al. ‘Towards a Theory of Good History Through Gaming’ The Canadian Historical Review
Volume 90, Number 2, June 2009 pp. 303-326.


Travis, Roger. ‘Your practomimetic school: Duck Hunt or BioShock?’ Play the Past Oct 21 2011 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=2067

Owens, T. ‘What does Simony say? An interview with Ian Bogost’ Play the Past Dec 13, 2012 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=3394

Travis, Roger. ‘A Modest Proposal for viewing literary texts as rulesets, and for making game studies beneficial for the publick’ Play the Past Feb 9 2012 http://www.playthepast.org/?p=2417

McCall, Jeremiah. “Historical Simulations as Problem Spaces: Some Guidelines for Criticism”. Play the Past http://www.playthepast.org/?p=2594

(Not assigned, but more of Travis’ work: http://livingepic.blogspot.ca/2012/07/rules-of-text-series-at-play-past.html)


A Twine that exposes the underlying rhetorics of the game of teaching history.


Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.


Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

Critical Play Week

Challenge # 4


Keep notes on the discussions from the critical play session; move around the class, talk with people about what they’re playing, why they’re making the moves they’re doing, and think about the connections with the major reading.

(nb, I’ve assigned all the students to bring in video games, board games, in both sessions this week that we’ll play. We might decamp to the game lab in the library to make this work. This group will observe the play. I’ve also pointed them to Feminist Frequency as an example of the kind of criticism I want them to emulate).


Devise a Twine that captures the dynamic and discussions of this week’s in-class critical play. Remember, for historians, it may be all about time and space.


Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.


Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.

Material Culture and the Digital

Challenge #5


Montfort et al, ‘Introduction’, 10 Print http://10print.org/ (download the pdf)

Montfort et al, ‘Mazes,’ 10 Print http://10print.org/ (download the pdf)

Bogost, Ian, Montfort, N. ‘New Media as Material Constraint: An Introduction to Platform Studies.’ 1st International HASTAC Conference, Duke University, Durham NC  http://bogost.com/downloads/Bogost%20Montfort%20HASTAC.pdf


Make a Twine game that emulates Space Invaders; then discuss (within the Twine) the interaction between game, platform, and experience. Think also about ‘emulation’…


Play one of these games, reviewing it via Twine, thinking about in a way that reverses the points made my Montfort & Bogost (ie, think about the way the physical is represented in the software).


Put your Twine build (the *html file) into the ‘public’ folder in your Dropbox account. Share the link on our course blog by:

  1. Create a new post.
  2. Hit the ‘html’ button.
  3. type:
  4. Preview your post to make sure it loads your Twine.


Explore others’ Twines and be ready to discuss this process and these readings in Tuesday’s class.


Corinthian Matters

Ann Brownlee on the Potter’s Quarter

It must be a sign of the official end of summer in the U.S. that the Penn Museum Blog has been running a series of final field reports on field work and study at archaeological sites in Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Xinjiang, Turkey, and Greece.

One of these posts comes from Ann Brownlee, Associate Curator of the Mediterranean Section of the Penn Museum, who writes about her summer work studying the Archaic pottery and vase painting from the Potter’s Quarter.

I am writing from the site of Ancient Corinth, where excavations under the auspices of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens have been going on since the late 19th century….At Corinth, I am working on late seventh and early sixth century BCE pottery from the area known as the Potters’ Quarter.   Up next to the city wall on the west side of the city, the Potters’ Quarter is one of the sites around the city where pottery was produced.   The Potters’ Quarter was excavated by Agnes Newhall Stillwell, a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, for several years beginning in 1929, when she was a fellow at the American School.  No kilns where the pottery was fired have been discovered in the Potters’ Quarter, but the large quantities of damaged–misfired, cracked, misshapen–pottery as well as much material associated with pottery production, especially try-pieces, that are found in fills and deposits make clear that pottery was produced nearby.

I am working on the very large quantity of material from a well–Well 1929-1 in Corinth nomenclature–in the Potters’ Quarter.  The well was dug in the 7th century BCE and once it went dry, it was filled up with quantities of pottery, discarded no doubt from nearby potteries.  Some of the pottery from the well was published by Stillwell and J. L. Benson (Corinth XV:3:  The Potters’ Quarter: The Pottery.  Princeton 1984), but much remained unstudied and that is what I am working on.  I am particularly interested in the different painters whose work is represented in the well’s contents, and here I’ll focus on the painters of the shape known in Corinth as the kotyle.  It’s the same as a skyphos, a deep two-handled drinking cup, and the kotyle is very common in Corinthian pottery of the late seventh to mid-sixth centuries BCE.   Some Corinthian kotylai (the plural ofkotyle) are very fine, but not the ones I’m working with.   An example, Corinth C-31-46, (fig. 2) from elsewhere at Corinth shows the shape–only one handle is visible here–and the decorative scheme, which includes a figural zone that here has an elongated panther and part of another animal.

Read the full post here.

Samuel Fee (Arranged Delerium)

Web Design Process

In reflecting on the workflow debate, it became obvious to me that it all comes back to the process – it’s not really about tools. And if folks are conflating the two (as I did in my earlier post), they are missing the point. Since… Continue reading

Ethan Gruber (XForms for Archives)

Extended Linked Data Controlled Vocabulary in xEAC and EADitor

Getty TGN

Last week, the Getty announced the latest installation of their linked open data vocabularies: the Thesaurus of Geographic Names. Like the previously released AAT, the TGN is available through a SPARQL endpoint. After returning from the Semantic Technology and Business conference in San Jose (which I have discussed in another blog post), I set out to integrate TGN lookups into the various cultural heritage data frameworks that I'm developing.

Both xEAC and EADitor have been extended to enable lookups of the Getty TGN through their editing interfaces. The functionality is identical to the occupation and function lookups in both systems. 1. The user performs a text search for a term, 2. the XForms engine submits a SPARQL query to the Getty endpoint, and 3. the user then selects the appropriate item from a list generated from the SPARQL response. See the example from xEAC, below:

The geographic lookup mechanism in xEAC also includes an option for geographic names in the Library of Congress Name Authority File.


SNAC Integration

In addition to extending the geographic lookup functionality in both EADitor and xEAC, I have also implemented a SNAC lookup in both applications. With the addition of two URL parameters, the search results page in SNAC can provide the raw cross query XML response instead of the default HTML. I hope that SNAC will eventually provide a documented search API that returns results in a more formal standard, like Atom.

In xEAC, the lookup will embed the SNAC URI into the otherRecordId and source in the EAC-CPF control. Nothing else is pulled from SNAC at the moment, either into the EAC record or into the public user interface, although this could change eventually.

In EADitor, the persname, corpname, and famname element components have been extended to include the SNAC lookup in addition to VIAF and xEAC (if a xEAC instance has been added into the EADitor settings). The SNAC URI is stored in the @authfilenumber of the associated EAD element.

SNAC URIs that are embedded into EAD finding aids (like the URIs from other linked open data vocabulary systems) will be included in the RDF serialization of the archival collection data. This may pave the way for users of EADitor to make their content accessible through SNAC, or whatever international archival entity system evolves from SNAC, by means of linked open data technologies.

Ethan Gruber (Numishare)

Report from SemTechBiz + Getty TGN in nomisma.org

I spent last week in San Jose, attending the Semantic Technology and Business conference, where I participated in a LODLAM-sponsored workshop aimed at providing an introduction to linked open data technologies to a library, archive, and museum audience.

I was asked to provide a somewhat hands-on demo of SPARQL. My presentation, from 0 to 60 on SPARQL queries in 50 minutes provided a brief outline of the sorts of linked data methodologies we're employing in our numismatic projects--particularly nomisma.org and OCRE--and the SPARQL queries that make them possible. I started fairly simply and built up to more complex queries of weight analysis and geographic distribution of coin types. By downloading SPARQL queries with geographic data as a CSV file from the nomisma.org endpoint, I was able to import the CSV directly into Google Fusion tables to generate maps. I have placed the content of the slideshow up on Dropbox as a PDF.

The audience consisted mainly of cultural heritage professionals, although there were some industry professionals in attendance. The feedback I received was positive overall (judging by the Twitter stream, in any case), but I did receive comment about the model and ontology (or lack thereof) that we have employed in nomisma.org. Rest assured that we are working on a formal ontology and refined data model that conforms to data/computer science standards. No more URIs used simultaneously as classes, properties, and instances!

On another note, the Getty Museum announced last week the release of their Thesaurus of Geographic Names as linked open data (following the Art and Architecture Thesaurus). I have extended the nomisma editing interface (as well as the Kerameikos.org one) to enable Getty TGN lookups for mints and regions in order to link nomisma ids with Getty ones. Through this mechanism, we can establish links between Pleiades and TGN places, although there are certainly more ancient places in Pleiades than in nomisma, which are purely numismatic.

The text search yields a response of matches from the Getty SPARQL endpoint. The user can read the scope note for further context about the use of the TGN id and make the appropriate selection of skos:exactMatch or skos:relatedMatch.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

New Open Accces Journal: Studia academica Šumenensia

Studia academica Šumenensia
ISSN 2367-5446

The main purpose of this periodical is to allow various topics of the history and archaeology of the Balkans and South– Eastern Europe which are quite often highly controversial to be discussed by the broader scholarly of the region. This is why the SAŠ is published entirely in international languages – English, German, French, Italian, Russian and Spanish. In order to broaden the range of the discussion, an interdisciplinary approach will be employed and historians, archaeologists, classicists, epigraphists etc. will be invited and most welcomed.

New Open Access Journal: Science and Technology of Archaeological Research: An open access journal Online

Science and Technology of Archaeological Research: An open access journal Online
ISSN: 2054-8923
STAR is for authors who are concerned with maximizing the impact of their research and who need to publish in the literature rapidly.
Online submission to STAR is now open >
Full list of Editor-in-Chief specialties and Editorial Board profiles >
STAR seeks to provide a dynamic, international and high quality open access forum for rapid publication of archaeological research resulting from the application of scientific and computational methods. The journal embraces the full breadth of archaeological enquiry, with no periods, regions or site types excluded. For publication in the core journal, STAR stipulates only that the article demonstrates the significance of the scientific or computational methods used to archaeological enquiry. STAR aims to provide first editorial decision within four weeks and articles will be published online within five weeks of acceptance. The full potential of the online format will be used to showcase current imaging methods, data and analysis.

Article Publication Charges (APCs)
UK & ROW          USA              Europe
£750                    $1200            €900
It is not yet possible to submit your papers using an online system. Please express your interest in submitting to the journal by emailing the editor most relevant to your submission. 

Members of the Society for Archaeological Sciences receive full waiver of Article Publication Charges as a benefit of their membership

James Cummings (In my )

Report on DHOxSS 2014


The Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (DHOxSS) is the annual training event at the University of Oxford which took place this year on 14 -18 July 2014. This year it took place primarily at Wolfson College and IT Services. The DHOxSS is a chance for for lecturers, researchers, project managers, research assistants, students, and anyone interested in Digital Humanities to learn new skills and find out about the DH research taking place in Oxford. DHOxSS delegates are introduced to a range of topics including the creation, management, analysis, modelling, visualization, or publication of digital data for the humanities. Each delegate follows one of the five-day workshops and supplements this with additional keynotes and morning parallel lectures. For more general information see: http://dhoxss.humanities.ox.ac.uk/2014/about.html 

DHOxSS 2014 Organisational Committee

The organisation of DHOxSS is a collaborative undertaking and overseen by an organisational committee representing the major DH stakeholders at the University of Oxford. For DHOxSS 2014 the organisation committee consisted of:

  • James Cummings, Director of DHOxSS, (IT Services)
  • Ylva Berglund Prytz (IT Services)
  • David De Roure (Oxford e-Research Centre)
  • Linda Edgar (IT Services)
  • Andrew Fairweather-Tall (Humanities Division)
  • Christine Madsen (Bodleian Libraries)
  • Eric Meyer (Oxford Internet Institute)
  • Kevin Page (Oxford e-Research Centre)
  • John Pybus (Oxford e-Research Centre)
  • Sebastian Rahtz (IT Services)
  • Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries)
  • Kathryn Wenczek (IT Services)
  • Martin Wynne (IT Services)

Content of DHOxSS 2014

The DHOxSS has a fairly regular daily structure of:

  • 9:30-10:30 Additional Plenary Keynotes or Parallel Lectures
  • 10:30-11:00 Break
  • 11:00-12:30 Individual Workshops
  • 12:30-13:30 Lunch
  • 13:30 – 14:00 Travel Time for those switching venues
  • 14:00-16:00 Workshops Continue
  • 16:00-16:30 Break
  • 16:30-17:30 Workshops Continue
  • Evening Events

Additional Plenary Keynotes or Parallel Lectures

Each morning DHOxSS 2014 started with either a plenary (opening or closing) keynote lecture  or a choice of three parallel lectures. Delegates registered their choices when booking onto the DHOxSS which enabled us to put each in the most suitable room available to us at Wolfson College.


All workshops at DHOxSS run for the full 5 days. Delegates chose a single workshop and stayed with that workshop for the entire week. They are not usually allowed to switch workshops part-way through since this causes problems for workshop organisers and in some workshops it is difficult for those who switch to catch up. Each year some do, and this year there was a £25 administration fee for doing so to discourage it. All workshops had at least one organiser local to the University of Oxford, who acts as the point of contact for organisational and administrative queries concerning the workshop. Workshop organisers were responsible for designing and running the program of the workshop, providing the necessary information about it, liaising with the speakers, and ensuring it runs smoothly. Organisers also often were speakers on that workshop.

The workshops for DHOxSS 2014 were:

  1. Introduction to Digital Humanities
  2. Taking Control: Practical Scripting for Digital Humanities Projects
  3. Data Curation and Access for the Digital Humanities
  4. A Humanities Web of Data: Publishing, Linking and Querying on the Semantic Web
  5. Using the Text Encoding Initiative for Digital Scholarly Editions

1. Introduction to Digital Humanities

The Introduction to Digital Humanities workshop at DHOxSS 2014 was organised by Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford). This was the most popular workshop at the summer school and included a survey of many Digital Humanities topics with contributions from many speakers: Alfie Abdul Rahman (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), John Coleman (Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics, University of Oxford), James Cummings (IT Services, University of Oxford), David De Roure (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), J. Stephen Downie (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Kathryn Eccles (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Amanda Flynn (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Alexandra Franklin (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), David Howell (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Zena Kamash (School of Archaeology, University of Oxford), William Kilbride (Digital Preservation Coalition), Matthew Kimberley (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Ruth Kirkham (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), Eric Meyer (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Meriel Patrick (IT Services, University of Oxford), Michael Popham (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), John Pybus (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), Mia Ridge (Open University), Judith Siefring (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Ségolène Tarte (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Abigail Williams (Faculty of English, University of Oxford) and James Wilson (IT Services, University of Oxford).

2. Taking Control: Practical Scripting for Digital Humanities Projects

The Taking Control: Practical Scripting for Digital Humanities Projects workshop at DHOxSS 2014 was organised by Sebastian Rahtz (IT Services, University of Oxford). This workshop taught students the skills of transforming data from one format to another for a variety of purposes. It included talks from Alexander Dutton (IT Services, University of Oxford), Janet McKnight (IT Services, University of Oxford), Sebastian Rahtz (IT Services, University of Oxford) and Scott Wilson (IT Services, University of Oxford).

3. Data Curation and Access for the Digital Humanities

The Data Curation and Access for the Digital Humanities workshop at DHOxSS 2014 was organised by Kevin Page (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford) and Megan Senseney (CIRSS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).This workshop provided a strong introductory grounding in data curation concepts and practices, focusing on the special issues and challenges of validity and meaning for reuse of humanities research data. As part of this workshop invited experts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign participated and helped organise this workshop. We are especially indebted to them for this. This workshop included talks from: Lair Barrett (Taylor & Francis / Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Jonathan Bright (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), J. Stephen Downie (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Tanya Gray Jones (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Scott Hale (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Neil Jefferies (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Kevin Page (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), Carole L. Palmer (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Allen H. Renear (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Sally Rumsey (Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford), Ralph Schroeder (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Megan Senseney (CIRSS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Nicholas Weber (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).

4. A Humanities Web of Data: Publishing, Linking and Querying on the Semantic Web

The A Humanities Web of Data: Publishing, Linking and Querying on the Semantic Web workshop at DHOxSS 2014 was organised by Kevin Page (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford). This workshop introduced the concepts and technologies behind the Semantic Web and taught attendees to publish their research so that it is available as Linked Data, using distinct but interwoven models to represent services, data collections, workflows, and — so to simplify the rapid development of integrated applications to explore specific findings — the domain of an application. Talks on this workshop were provided by: David De Roure (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), Dominic Oldman (British Museum), Kevin Page (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford), John Pybus (Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford) and Sebastian Rahtz (IT Services, University of Oxford).

5. Using the Text Encoding Initiative for Digital Scholarly Editions

The Using the Text Encoding Initiative for Digital Scholarly Editions workshop at DHOxSS 2014 was organised by James Cummings and Lou Burnard. This workshop provided a mix of lectures and practical exercises introducing the use of the TEI Guidelines for the creation of scholarly digital editions. Marjorie Burghart (L’Ecole des Hautes Etude en Sciences Sociales, Lyon / DiXiT), Lou Burnard (Lou Burnard Consulting), James Cummings (IT Services, University of Oxford) and Magdalena Turska (IT Services / DiXiT, University of Oxford).

Poster Session

DHOxSS 2014 featured a Poster Session at the welcoming reception at the Oxford University’s Natural History Museum. This is was a lovely location for a reception and poster session and it was enjoyed by all.  Presenter’s contributions were peer-reviewed by the DHOxSS Organisational Committee. Presenters were either attending the DHOxSS 2014 or were members of the University of Oxford. This poster session has several benefits in that it enables delegates to present the work they are undertaking to other participants at the DHOxSS, but also helps to justify their participation in this training event in some institutions. Moreover, participation by members of the University of Oxford who are not speakers or delegates at the DHOxSS gives an additional dissemination route advertising the DH work of the University.

  1. James Cummings (IT Services, University of Oxford) CatCor: Correspondence of Catherine the Great
  2. Rebecca Dowson; Margaret Linley (Simon Fraser University) Book Ecology and Migrating Collections: SFU Lake District Digital Humanities Project
  3. Bronwen Hudson (University of Vermont)
  4. Clare Hutton (Loughborough University) Collating Joyce’s Ulysses in the Digital Environment
  5. Alison Kay (Northumbria University)
  6. Hestiasari Rante; Michael Lund; Heidi Schelhowe (University of Bremen / Electronics Engineering Polytechnic Institute of Surabaya) A digital tool to support children understanding and designing the traditional batik patterns within a museum context
  7. Vincent Razanajao; Francisco Bosch-Puche; Elizabeth Fleming (Griffith Institute, University of Oxford) The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs, and Paintings
  8. Magdalena Turska et al. (IT Services, University of Oxford) The DiXiT Project
  9. Sarah Wilkin and Ylva Berglund Prytz (IT Services, University of Oxford) The Oxford Community Collection Model
  10. Pip Willcox (Curator of Digital Special Collections, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford) The Bodleian First Folio project
  11. Nicola Wilson (University of Reading) Modernist Archives Publishing Project
  12. Martin Wynne (IT Services, University of Oxford) CLARIN
  13. Mary Erica Zimmer (Boston University) Browsing the Bookshops of Paul’s Cross Churchyard

Evening Events

Monday Evening — Welcome Drinks Reception and Poster Session

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

On the evening of Monday 14 July 2014, there was a DHOxSS welcome reception from 7pm at Oxford University Museum of Natural History which has recently re-opened after a lengthy refurbishment. This reception gave DHOxSS delegates a chance to meet and talk to the other delegates and speakers. There was a peer-reviewed poster session (as described a above) at this event.

Tuesday Evening — Guided Walking Tour of “Oxford Past and Present”

On the evening of Tuesday 15 July 2014, there was an Oxford Official Guided Walking Tour of “Oxford Past and Present”. This is the tourist information office’s main introductory tour of Oxford. The guides led delegates through the heart of the historic city centre illustrating the history of Oxford and its University and describing the architecture and traditions of its most famous buildings and institutions.

Wednesday Evening — DHOxSS Dinner at Wadham College

Wadham Hall

On the evening of Wednesday 16 July 2014 the DHOxSS Dinner was held in Wadham College Hall. A pre-dinner drinks reception was followed by a three-course meal in a stunning Oxford setting! A menu for the DHOxSS dinner is still available. There was no specific dress code for the event. The cost of the DHOxSS dinner (£52.50) was not included in the registration fee.

Thursday Evening — TORCH Open Lecture

Torch Public Lecture

Martin Roth, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, gave the annual TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) open lecture at the DHOxSS 2014. This free public lecture was on the evening of Thursday 17 July 2014 held at the Mathematics Institute. Delegates and Speakers from DHOxSS 2014 reserved a place when registering for DHOxSS.

More information was available from: http://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/martinroth.

Friday Evening — Informal Pub Trip

Victoria Arms Pub

On the Friday evening just after DHOxSS ended some organisers and delegates of DHOxSS 2014 walked from Wolfson College lodge to the nearby Victoria Arms public house. It is described on their website as: “The Victoria Arms sits on the banks of The Cherwell River, just a short way from the dreaming spires of Oxford city centre, but you could be in the depths of the countryside. With large sweeping gardens down to the river we are a perfect spot in the summer, whether you walk, drive or come by river on a punt.”

Teaching Venues

The DHOxSS 2014 three teaching venues, all within a 20-30 minute walk of each other. A Google Map of the important venues and routes is available at: http://tinyurl.com/dhoxss2014-map.

Morning Venues

The DHOxSS registration and all morning sessions were at Wolfson College (Linton Road, Oxford, OX2 6UD). Some information and photos of the teaching spaces at Wolfson College are available at https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/conference/rooms. Information concerning travel to Wolfson and a map of the site are available at: https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/how-get-here. We used the Leonard Wolfson Lecture Theatre, seminar rooms 1 to 3, and the Buttery as teaching venues.

Afternoon Venues

Most workshops the afternoon sessions were in the Thames Suite at IT Services – Banbury Road (13 Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6NN). Some information and photos of the Thames Suite at IT Services is available at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/thamessuite/tour/.

The afternoon of the first day of the Introduction to Digital Humanities workshop took place at the Pitt Rivers Museum (the entrance is via the Oxford University Museum Natural History on Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PW. The Pitt Rivers’ entrance is at the far side of the ground floor). For the rest of the week the Introduction to Digital Humanities workshop remained at Wolfson College all day.

Both the Introduction to Digital Humanities workshop (except Monday) and the Data Curation and Access for the Digital Humanities workshop spent all day at Wolfson College in the Lecture Theatre and Seminar Room 3 respectively. This was facilitated by the Introduction to Digital Humanities workshop being a lecture-based workshop and not needing computers for practical exercises and the Data Curation and Access for the Digital Humanities workshop used student laptops and DHOxSS also provided some borrowed from IT Services.

Future DHOxSS should consider the use of student laptops to enable a greater number of workshops or larger ones that are not limited to the size of teaching rooms in IT Services.

Videos, Podcasts, Photos, and Social Media


This year, prior to the DHOxSS, two videos were created advertising Digital Humanities at Oxford. These included one on the DHOxSS itself:


as well as one more generally on Digital Humanities at Oxford:



As part of our commitment to the creation of open educational resources the DHOxSS filmed the opening keynotes and additional parallel lectures.  These are available at http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/digital-humanities-oxford-summer-school.

Episode Title

Ukiyo-e to Emoji: Museums in the Digital Age
Beyond Digital Humanities: Skills, Application and Collaboration
Electrifying the ‘Via Lucis’: communication technologies and republics of letters, past, present and future
Creating and Sustaining DH Teams: Scaling from the Smaller to the Larger, from the Individual to the Institution and Beyond
Restoration and revelation: how digital images are far more than simply photographs in the digital medium
Ancient Lives: Classics and Digital Humanities at Oxford
Panel – The Future of Data Access and Preservation
Obtaining the Unobtainable: The Holy Grail of Seed Funding for Small-Scale Digital Projects
If a picture is worth 1000 words what’s a medium quality scan worth?
Panel – Scholarly Digital Editing
Community, Community of Practice, and the Methodological Commons

At DHOxSS 2014 the budget for this was postponed until other expenses had been finalised. It is recommended that this be included in the initial budget for DHOxSS 2015.


As of DHOxSS 2014, an open flickr group https://www.flickr.com/groups/dhoxss was created and some attendees uploaded photos.

Social Media

The @DHOxSS twitter account was used extensively before and during DHOxSS 2014, and one delegate created an archive of @DHOxSS and #DHOxSS tweets. Various other social media were used as advertising locations, including popular DH mailing lists.

Mobile Events App

We trialled an event app http://guidebook.com/g/rbkxa9vs/ which received 106 unique downloads. The points of access for these were: iOS: 36; Android:28; Web:42. The guidebook.com events app enabled us to provide information concerning the summer school, maps, a detailed (and personalisable) schedule, information on evening events, sponsors, as well as various connections to social media. The use of mobile event apps may become an expected part of events like DHOxSS and the summer school should consider leveraging any solution adopted by DHOxSS stakeholders.

DHOxSS Statistics


The registrations for DHOxSS 2014 were:

Registration Type Numbers
Oxford Students or Staff 11
Students 31
Standard 65
Corporate 2
 Total 109

This includes one registration attending the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme who did not attend workshops and at least another one who was unable to attend in the end. Only 11 registrations were from the University of Oxford. Although this is a reduction from 17 at DHOxSS 2013, this is because of the reduction in DHOxSS Oxford bursaries from 10 to 5. It would be beneficial to find other sources of funding or agreements to encourage the training of University of Oxford DPhil students and early-career researchers. The majority of registrations were ‘Standard’ registrations which includes anyone not in education or working for a commercial corporation. Students from any university and staff from the University of Oxford received a slightly discounted registration fee.

This was the first year that DHOxSS had block bookings, where 10+ bookings from a single institution received a 10% discount. This required a single purchase order payment and for the originating institution to aggregate the booking details. This resulted in a booking of 14 registrations from the University of Edinburgh. However, there were additional administrative burdens and we should work to streamline this in some way in the future.


Country of Origin

The majority of DHOxSS 2014 delegates came from the United Kingdom, with 11 from Oxford, 42 from the rest of the UK, and 16 from the USA. If added together Europe as a whole is the second largest contingent after the UK.

Country Number of Students
Oxford 11
Other UK 42
USA 16
CA 5
GR 4
SE 4
ZA 4
ES 3
FR 3
IT 3
NL 3
PL 3
IE 2
BR 1
CL 1
DE 1
DK 1
FI 1
TR 1



As discussed above there were evening events each night. The numbers below are students who registered for these events.

Event Number of Students
Monday Poster Reception 97
Tuesday Walking Tour 64
Wednesday Dinner 56
Thursday TORCH Lecture 79



DHOxSS acted as a broker for accommodation at Wolfson College for the week of DHOxSS 2014. This does not include speaker bookings at Wolfson, Keble, and St Hugh’s colleges.

Day Number of Student Accommodation Bookings
Sunday 54
Monday 58
Tuesday 58
Wednesday 59
Thursday 58
Friday 36



Of the 108 students attending workshops 75 were women and 33 were men.  This means that 69.44% of DHOxSS 2014 registrants were female. However, a strong caveat must be made here: this is apparent gender, based solely on my own observations. DHOxSS 2014 did not collect gender statistics but I’ve chosen to monitor such metrics unofficially because I want to ensure that we continue to offer a welcoming environment to all those wanting DH training, what workshops are preferred, and how this may compare to other DH events. This means that I have made my own determinations of apparent gender using basic binary categories. Clearly in a modern world this is not sufficient or representative of gender self-identity, but is only intended as a basic metric. I do not think the increase from 67% in 2013 to 69.44% is statistically significant given the increase in numbers this year.

Workshop Men Women Total
Data Curation and Access 2 10 12
Humanities Web of Data 5 10 15
Introduction to Digital Humanities 14 40 54
Practical Scripting 2 10 12
TEI 10 5 15
  33 75 108

I’m not sure if there are any conclusions that can be drawn from the attendance. Clearly we offer a welcoming environment for women interested in DH but do not have any clear data on why this may be so.



We were able to keep the costs for registration the same as the previous couple years because of getting a good deal from Wolfson College. Registration included the costs of the venues, lunch, workshops, speaker’s expenses, and some of the evening events.

Registration Type Fee
Student (any institution/level) or University of Oxford Staff:You are enrolled as a (full-time or part-time) student at any educational institution at any level or are a member of staff of the University of Oxford 475 pounds
Standard: You work for an educational institution, library, charity or non-commercial organisation in any capacity 575 pounds
Commercial: You work for a commercial or corporate organisation 675 pounds

The DHOxSS attempts to be cost-neutral but any profits are put back into the following year’s summer school.

The DHOxSS is only able to run because of the selfless donation of time of the Workshop Organisers, Speakers, Event Administration and others. In 2014, as with previous years, the event administration and overall organisation was donated by IT Services. No speakers were paid to appear at DHOxSS 2014 but reasonable travel and accommodation costs were paid from the income of registration fees. The amount of time in aggregate donated by speakers, organisers, and administration is immense, and we are extremely grateful for this as the event would be impossible without it.

We had 4 sources of income: Registrations, Accommodation, Banquet Tickets and Sponsorship. From these we raised approximately 78,000 pounds. The accommodation expenses were directly passed on with no profit being made. The general headings of expenses (in order of cost) were: hire of venues with day delegate rate including lunches, delegate accommodation, speakers expenses, banquet, welcome drinks reception, registration materials (bags, badges, lanyards, etc.), filming, documentation, a contribution to the TORCH drinks reception, walking tour, and marketing. Precise amounts for each of these (and their breakdown) will be made available to the organisational committee.  The most significant costs any year are that for the Venues (and usually this involves a day delegate rate which includes lunch) and when we are handling it the accommodation. Of the income of approximately 78,000 pounds, we had expenses of approximately 77,700 pounds, which includes a deposit for DHOxSS 2015 to St Anne’s College.


Both delegates and speakers were asked to fill in feedback surveys in order to capture what worked well, and what could improve. A synthesis of this feedback will be provided to the DHOxSS 2015 organisational committee to help improve the DHOxSS for next year. 45 Delegates responded to the survey (at time of writing). A summary of their feed back is:

  • Plenary and parallel lectures: Most feedback found these ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ with comments noting some problems with the venue or audio-visual. Any negative comments on content were primarily describing a mismatch between the advertised abstract and the talk so we should remind speakers to take care when crafting their abstracts.
  • Workshops: These were ranked on the ‘level of teaching’, ‘speed of teaching’, ‘range of topics’, ‘quality of lectures’, ‘quality of practicals’, and ‘Overall quality of teaching’. All scored highly with mostly ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’. The Introduction to DH workshop had some comments about the lack of practicals (this was predominately a lecture-based workshop). Some other workshops received comments that the speed of teaching was occasionally too fast in some technical talks.
  • General aspects of the DHOxSS as a whole: Delegates were asked to rank “overall academic content”, “balance of workshops vs lectures”, “balance of academic vs social content”, and “having multiple venues”. Each were almost entirely ranked ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’. Suggestions were made that each lecturer should produce a 1-page handout of key terms/points and related reading, several mentioned the distance of Wolfson College to the city centre, but many positive comments were also received.
  • Teaching Venues: The teaching venues (Wolfson College: Lecture Theatre, Seminar Rooms 1-3 and Buttery; Pitt Rivers Museum, and IT Services: Isis, Evenlode, and WindrushRooms) were all ranked. Mostly these received ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ ratings, but there were negative comments concerning the Wolfson College rooms relating to the heat (the week of DHOxSS was particular warm and the ‘passively cooled’ rooms of Wolfson’s Auditorium do not seem to cope well with this) and constant noise of staff and college members outside the Buttery. A minority did not think the Pitt Rivers lecture theatre was a satisfactory venue.
  • Food and Drink: Delegates ranked the Breakfasts at Wolfson, if staying there, Morning and Afternoon Tea Breaks, and Lunch.  Generally these were good, but there were suggests for more variety, more fruit and salad, not only at lunch breaks but fruit as an option instead of biscuits at breaks. Alternatives to tea and coffee were also suggested.
  • Evening Events: Delegates ranked the quality of food/drink, locations, quality of event, etc. for each of the evening events. All of these score highly. The location and posters at the welcome reception were praised. The walking tour was a great success. The responses from the banquet thought the after dinner talk was too long, and while the location was excellent, the food perhaps a bit overpriced. The TORCH lecture was ranked well, but some comments indicate that it was seen as too general.
  • Overall Organisation: The delagates ranked registration, administration, online payment store, announcements/publicity, joining instructions, support during DHOxSS, website information, a/v and teaching facilities, and wolfson accommodation (if stayed there). These were all ranked quite strongly as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’. with Wolfson’s accommodation receiving a few lower scores. Comments simultaneously thought Wolfson was great and complained about their beds/pillows, while other comments praised the running and communication received from event administrative staff.
  • How did they find out about the DHOxSS: Over 90% of respondents found out about DHOxSS from Colleague / Word of Mouth or the Website. Some noted that they found out from colleagues at their University or from an announcement during the DHSI summer school in Victoria.
  • Mobile Events App: Those who downloaded the mobile events app were asked to rate its usefulness. 83%  (of 21) thought it was good or excellent. Comments noted that the social aspects didn’t really kick off…as social media already fulfils that need, or that it was overly complex for what it provided.
  • Workshops/Lectures/Tech for future DHOxSS: Asked to provide suggestions for next year. These ranged wildly with Visualisation, Mapping, Digital Publishing, Corpus Linguistics, and XSLT being mentioned multiple times. A variety of other technologies, tools, and topics were also mentioned: all of these will be fed back the DHOxSS 2015 Organisational Committee.

Plans for DHOxSS 2015

DHOxSS 2015 will be held from the 20-24 July 2015 at St Anne’s College and IT Services. We are starting the planning for this and will be setting the registration charges as soon as we have a clearer idea of all of the expenses.  The organisational committee has been re-formed to give a wider distribution across the stakeholders of the University. If you want to subscribe to our DHOxSS announcements mailing list, email: dhoxss-announce-subscribe@maillist.ox.ac.uk and confirm by replying to the confirmation email that gets sent to you. We will notify this mailing list when registration opens.

If you have any additional feedback or suggestions for 2015 do not hesitate to contact the Director: James.Cummings@it.ox.ac.uk.

ASOR Blog (American Schools of Oriental Research)

WorldMap – Geospatial Visualization and the Digital Humanities

By: Jeff Howry, Ph.D., Research Associate, Semitic Museum WorldMap is a collaborative, interactive web-based mapping platform, not just a static presentation of map data.  Users can contribute data to build their own maps or add their own data layers using any of 13 different base maps provided by Bing, Google, ESRI, OpenStreetMap and others.  Users […]

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Friday Varia and Quick Hits

I had a hectic week, you know, by sabbatiquoll standards. I got some writing done, did some reading, and have an exciting trip to Bismarck for a State Historic Preservation Board meeting tomorrow. Fortunately, the fall weather this week has made me feel more in the academic mood.

Anyway, college football starts this weekend, the NFL next week, we’re getting into the heart of the NASCAR and Formula 1 season, and there’s a bit of intriguing cricket right now in Zimbabwe in the South Africa, Australia, Zimbabwe tri-series. So I have lots to do to distract me in coming weeks (plus a relentless series of academic deadlines to keep me in line).

To start the long weekend right, here’s a little gaggle of quick hits and varia:

CanWePlayNowCan we play now?

Shawn Graham (Electric Archaeology)

Web Seer and the Zeitgeist

I’ve been playing all evening with Web Seer, a toy that lets you contrast pairs of Google autocomplete suggestions. As is well known, Google autocomplete suggests completions based on what others have been searching for given that pattern of text you are entering. This is sparking some thoughts on how I might use this to think about things like public archaeology or public history.

As Alan Liu put it,

But for now, enjoy the pairings that I’ve been feeding it….

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.58.44 PM

In ancient/modern


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.57.17 PM

Greek versus Roman


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.52.25 PM

What School Should I Go To?


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.46.18 PM

Games and Literature


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.42.20 PM

Getting Down to Brass Tacks


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.35.24 PM

Drunkards and Teetotallers, never the twain shall meet


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 8.09.24 PM

Historians v Archaeologists, a Google Cage Match


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 7.55.55 PM

The DH Dilemma


Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 7.55.08 PM



Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 7.52.58 PM

Two Solitudes Redux

August 28, 2014

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Dissertation: The Religious Iconography of Cappadocian Glyptic in the Assyrian Colony Period and its Significance in the Hittite New Kingdom

Grace White dissertation now available online
August 28, 2014
The dissertation of Grace White entitled The Religious Iconography of Cappadocian Glyptic in the Assyrian Colony Period and its Significance in the Hittite New Kingdom is now available online through the Dissertations page of the Research Archives. The study was completed in December 1993 for the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. The purpose of White's study "is to analyze the themes and motifs on native Anatolian seal impressions representative of the Cappadocian glyptic of the Assyrian Colony period. The analysis is made from many points of view and on many levels. The local glyptic is studied in the context of other glyptic styles, such as Old Babylonian, Old Assyrian, Middle Assyrian, and Mitannian. A precise identification of objects utilized on the local Anatolian glyptic is attempted, using textual evidence and giving archaeological parallels for pottery types, etc."
Seal drawing by Grace White, plate 13
 And see

New Open Access Journal: Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED) Journal - Call For Papers

Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED) Journal

Submitted work should be double-spaced throughout, and should be prepared in conformity with The Chicago Manual of Style. 16th Edition.
Footnotes are preferred over endnotes. Articles should be in Times New Roman 12 pt. font.
Submissions can take the form of notes or observations (1/2 - 3 pages) or short articles (4-8 pages, plus references) relating to epigraphic studies.

Epigraphic Studies includes: 
  • historical or philological aspects of inscriptions
  • art historical aspects of inscriptions and their surrounding decorative motifs
  • digital humanities or information/library studies approaches relating to inscriptions
  • numismatics and sigillography  

We especially welcome articles on inscriptions from the CCED online collection and editions of unpublished inscriptions. 

All content submitted to the Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED) Journal shall be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Only License, the terms of which can be found at
This license allows for all submitted content to be used free of charge so long as proper attribution is given.

The Signal: Digital Preservation

Perpetual Access and Digital Preservation at #SAA14

A panel discussion at the SAA 2014 conference. Photo credit: Trevor Owens.

A panel discussion at the SAA 2014 conference. Photo credit: Trevor Owens.

I had the distinct pleasure of moderating the opening plenary session of the Joint Annual Meeting of COSA, NAGARA and SAA in Washington D.C. in early August. The panel was on the “state of access,” and I shared the dais with David Cuillier, an Associate Professor and Director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, as well as the president of the Society of Professional Journalists; and Miriam Nisbet, the Director of the Office of Government Information Services at the National Archives and Records Administration.

The panel was a great opportunity to tease out the spaces between the politics of “open government” and the technologies of “open data” but our time was much too short and we had to end just when the panelists were beginning to get to the juicy stuff.

There were so many more places we could have taken the conversation:

  • Is our government “transparent enough”? Do we get the “open government” we deserve as (sometimes ill-informed) citizens?
  • What is the role of outside organizations in providing enhanced access to government data?
  • What are the potential benefits of reducing the federal government role in making data available?
  • Is there the right balance between voluntary information openness and the need for the Freedom of Information Act?
  • What are the job opportunities for archivists and records managers in the new “open information” environment?
  • Have you seen positive moves towards addressing digital preservation and stewardship issues regarding government information?

I must admit that when I think of “access” and “open information” I’m thinking almost exclusively about digital data because that’s the sandbox I play in. At past SAA conferences I’ve had the feeling that the discussion of digital preservation and stewardship issues was something that happened in the margins. At this year’s meeting those issues definitely moved to the center of the conversation.

Just look at this list of sessions running concurrently during a single hour on Thursday August 14, merely the tip of the iceberg:

There were also a large number of web archiving-related presentations and panels including the SAA Web Archiving Roundtable meeting (with highlights of the upcoming NDSA Web Archiving Survey report), the Archive-IT meetup and very full panels Friday and Saturday.

saa-innovator-owensI was also pleased to see that the work of NDIIPP and the National Digital Stewardship Alliance was getting recognized and used by many of the presenters. There were numerous references to the 2014 National Agenda for Digital Stewardship and the Levels of Preservation work and many NDSA members presenting and in the audience. You’ll find lots more on the digital happenings at SAA on the #SAA14 twitter stream.

We even got the chance to celebrate our own Trevor Owens as the winner of the SAA Archival Innovator award!

The increased focus on digital is great news for the archival profession. Digital stewardship is an issue where our expertise can really be put to good use and where we can have a profound impact. Younger practitioners have recognized this for years and it’s great that the profession itself is finally getting around to it.

Center for History and New Media

Virginia Child Custody Project

ChildCustodyProjectThe Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media is pleased to announce the launch of the Virginia Child Custody Project. This freely available website explores child custody in Virginia and nationally within a broad historical and legal context with the goal of providing an impartial, interdisciplinary resource grounded in humanities scholarship.

With funding from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at George Mason University, the website presents framing essays by leading scholars and practitioners on key issues in the complex field of child custody. Essays address topics such as the history of child custody in Virginia, the definition of family and child custody issues, child custody in the media, alternative dispute resolution, and the “best interests of the child” standard.

Authors include:

CHNM envisions expanding the project in the future to include custody laws and cases, recent research projects and studies, resource reviews, and links.

Digital Humanities Questions & Answers » Recent Topics

Arno Bosse on "How do I best convert hundreds of TEI P5 documents to plaintext?"

I'd like to use the available corpora in the German Text Archive (http://www.deutschestextarchiv.de/download) to train OCR software. For this I need these texts as plaintext. All the German Text Archive texts however are all TEI P5 tagged. How do I best convert these (hundreds..) of documents into plaintext?

I'm comfortable on the command line and with small shell scripts but I wouldn't be able to write an app to make use of a public API to such a service. Ideally I'd like to find some tei2text-ish command line tool but the ones I've found in googling around and looking on GitHub don't appear (to me, leastways) to be suitable for TEI texts.

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Teaching Thursday: Teaching Naked and New Class Design

Over the past few weeks I’ve worked my way deliberately through Jose Antonio Bowen’s Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. (Jossey-Bass 2012). It is a nice, single volume, highly accessible summary of the last decade of thinking on how technology has changed teaching. Nothing in this book is revolutionary or even counter-intuitive (despite the provocative title), but it was the perfect read as I began to think about designing a new class over my sabbatiquol

My course will be a mid-level survey of the ancient world. The course has a few strategical goals within our curriculum. First, it is designed as a more in-depth treatment of Greek and Roman antiquity than I offer in a 100 level “Western Civilization” survey course. The hope is for it to provide a more solid foundation for both majors and non-majors who want to take upper division courses on the ancient world. Second, I am anticipating the time when the department will no longer support the teaching of 100-level Western Civilization courses. This year, we have begun to offer World History, and it is clear that old-heads like me who cling to their Western Civilization courses will soon lose the battle. Since Western Civilization classes make up 40% of my teaching load and I’m not qualified (in particular) to teach World History, I need to find a new course to teach each semester. My hope is that this ancient history course will be my bread and butter. 

The book is pretty rich with ideas, but I found four compelling take-aways as I move forward in my course design.

1. Bloom’s Taxonomy. My colleague, Eric Burin, has been using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a road map for a series of assignments in his upper level history courses. Bloom sees learning (to simplify radically) moving from simple forms of thinking, like remembering, to more complex, creative tasks. Bowen, too, likes the way that Bloom thinks about learning, but supplements it with the work of L. Dee Fink. Fink stresses the institutional and personal context for engaging Bloom’s taxonomy. Collaborative learning – like what I’ve done in the Scale-Up classroom – creates a learning experience that could help facilitate or even accelerate the moving from one point in Bloom’s taxonomy to the next in our effort to produce more sophisticated reasoning. (Even if you don’t buy Bloom’s whole deal, most teachers recognize the value of moving from simple tasks to more complex tasks over the course of a semester long class.)

2. Commenting without Grades. I was heartened to see that Bowen advocated making comments on work without providing grades. I’ve started to do this more and more and used it as key part of how I guide students in the Scale-Up class. In this class, students work in 9-student teams to write a chapter for a Western Civilization textbook. I only provide comments on the first few drafts of their chapters and only (very reluctantly) offer a tentative grade on the penultimate draft (after succumbing to student pressure to tell them “what they would get if they turned it in like it is now.” Generally, I give them 2 letter grades lower than I think it deserves since these grades are meant for guidance). In general, commenting without grades has worked to encourage more attention among students (and myself, frankly) to the process and less on the product (i.e. the grade). Students will still complain that I comment too harshly, but they much more frequently ask how to fix the problem in their paper rather than asking me to reconsider my comments.

3. Low Stakes Work. The past few years, I’ve had a genuinely ambivalent relationship with low stakes work. In my Scale-Up class I used weekly quizzes that were not worth many points to keep students focused on tasks. While students generally found these annoying, they found it annoying mostly because they did not want to stay on task rather than finding difficult or annoying the little exercises worth a small number of points. The downside of low-stakes work is most students still value grades over learning and it requires me as a faculty member to dedicate more energy to work that is not worth much in terms of grades while still keeping a high level of consistency and attention on graded work. In other words, student culture means that an attention to learning has to exist alongside their own interest in grades, not in addition to it. 

4. Role of Lectures. My original design for the class involved dividing the semester into 5, 5-class modules. Each of these modules will include two lectures, two guided, primary source discussions, and a short project that is begun in class. This makes time in class for lectures, but the balance remains shifted toward discussion and creative work. While I’ve slowly moved away from traditional lectures in classes, this past fall, I tried a lecture based upper level course with the hope that student interest in the topic and a more flexible “conversational” lecture style would make students excited about the topic. In general, this approach was a failure despite having pulled it off successfully in past years. Students today don’t have much time for in class lecturing. 

So, I am thinking about preparing the 10 lectures that I’d give over the course of the semester as podcasts and give them to the student to listen to outside of class. This would then free up 10 class meetings per semester. As Bowen has noted, lectures can easily be moved outside the classroom opening up class time to discussing narrative and content, exploring sources more carefully, and more complex and possible collaborative in-class “active” learning activities. 

Now getting students to listen to podcasts is another matter entirely…

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

The Trendall Research Centre for Ancient Mediterranean Studies Extensible Database

The Trendall Research Centre for Ancient Mediterranean Studies
The Trendall Research Centre has the following objectives:
  • To maintain and extend both the library and the archive through the acquisition of books and periodicals relating to the general area of Greek and Roman culture, and of photographs of South Italian red-figure vases.
  • To make available, at the Director's discretion, the resources of the Centre to all scholars and graduate students, whether from Australia or overseas, who wish to use the library and archive.
  • To promote research in the general area of Ancient Mediterranean studies, particularly in the archaeology of South Italy and Sicily during the Classical period.
  • To disseminate within the general community in Australia the results of the latest research in Greek and Roman art and archaeology through the sponsorship of conferences, lectures and seminars.

Trendall Research Centre Extensible Database (XDB)

You may only use the Trendall Research Centre databases for academic / research purposes.
No part of the database whether image, text or program may be reproduced for any purpose.
Use of the database is logged and monitored regularly.
Trendall Research Centre, La Trobe University holds copyright on all data presented here.
Images have been protected by registration software (Netimage, France) and digital fingerprinting (Datamark, UK and IBM, US).
Attempting to reproduce or alter an image in any way is an offence punishable under international law.
You may continue to search the Trendall Research Centre databases without logging in or if you want to preserve your Photograph Album for future sessions you may register and login to your account.
Please note, you must have cookies enabled on your browser in order for this site to operate correctly.
In order to see the images you must also enable JAVA and ensure that any firewall you have allows both ports 80 and 81 through.
If you wish to suggest additions or corrections to the database, please contact the Database Director, Mark Kosten.
Email: m.kosten@latrobe.edu.au
Tel: 03 9479 3348
Trendall Research Centre is not able to reply to requests for photographs of objects,
nor can it give permission for images to be reproduced in any form.
Such requests must be directed to the museum or collection owning the object.

ASOR Blog (American Schools of Oriental Research)

Fellowship Report: Archaeology, Photography, Culture

By: Timothy Snow, Heritage Excavation Grant Recipient This summer, I had the opportunity to work with the Karak Resources Project, which excavates an Iron Age site of Khirbat Mudaybi, located about a 45-minute drive southeast of Karak. This was made possible with an excavation scholarship from ASOR. I express thanks for the donors who have provided […]

Corinthian Matters

Eastern Korinthia Survey and the Isthmus in Google Earth

Some time ago, I started playing around with the connection between Google Earth and ArcGIS. You can easily export GIS layers as a KMZ file that will open in Google Earth. It provides another interesting way to view and analyze data spatially, and the files can be shared quickly with other Google Earth Users.

Consider, for example, this digital map of Harrisburg, PA, which projects a GIS layer of the city as it appeared in 1900 over the modern urbanscape. As part of a new Digital Harrisburg initiative at my college, we’ve been linking the population recorded in US Census Data from the turn of the 20th century with to digitized maps of the city. The shape files of two wards projected over recent satellite images of the capital of Pennsylvania show how much the city has changed in the last century.


I hadn’t done this kind of thing for the Corinthia until I started playing around with it last week. Here’s an aerial of the Isthmus of Corinth. Light green shade represents the survey units of the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey.


And a closer view of the images in the areas of Kromna, Perdikaria, the ancient quarries, and on the Corinth-Isthmia road.


Another view of the proximity of these survey units to Isthmia: the Rman Bath and Bzyantine fortress are clearly labeled.


And if you have never seen the site of Isthmia from the air, it’s splendid. You can make out the fully excavated area. The light green shade in the lower right represents nearby EKAS survey units.


At some point in the not too distant future, I’ll release some of the cultural data I’ve been collecting in GIS—like sites, canals, walls, and the isthmuses of the ancient Mediterranean—as KMZ files. No promises on when. I’m never on time.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED)

Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED)

The Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED) was founded in order to archive, catalogue, and digitize epigraphic materials. The digitized images are to be placed online, allowing scholars easy access to these documents.

The Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents (CCED) is a non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteer information professionals and graduate students in Information Studies.

Our goal is to become a repository for world inscriptions.

The CCED would be pleased to consider accepting additional collections to add to our online library. Those wishing to donate/make available an epigraphic collection to the Canadian Centre for Epigraphic Documents should contact the CCED before submitting any material.

Many epigraphic texts are in danger of being lost through environment, negligence, or willful destruction. The CCED regularly works with collections that contain only extant copies of deteriorated or now missing inscriptions. To enable us to continue our work conserving and placing rare and endangered documents online, please consider donating to the CCED.

Help us to protect our world heritage in texts.

DigPal Blog

Directions to Nash Lecture Theatre (K2.31), Strand Campus KCL

It may surprise you to learn that one of our most popular blog posts is the now legendary "Directions to Council Room" which we put together for the first DigiPal Symposium back in 2011. We had no idea at the time quite how popular that particular blog post would be, but we're glad that it is has turned out to be the most comprehensive guide to finding the Council Room at KIng's College London on the web. There's legacy for you. Possibly even impact? Inspired by this, the following is a step-by-step photoguide to finding the Nash Lecture Theatre (K2.31), the venue for DigiPal IV. Fastened your seatbelt? Good, then, then off we go.

First of all, you'll need to make your way to the entrance to the Strand campus of King's College London (WC2R 2LS). See map below.

Next, head through the revolving doors:

Ahead, to the right of you there will be a reception/help desk. Keep walking straight on, past the lifts on your right. You'll pass through a reddish crossbeam and pilars and will find yourself heading down a long corridor, past a cleaner's cupboard on your left (don't worry if you miss this landmark):

Eventually, after a couple of minutes worth of corridor walking, you'll see the Great Hall on your left. Or rather, a sign telling you that the Great Hall is being refurbished. Sorry, no dancing this time around.

At this point, you may either carry on going and take the lifts a little further down on your left (press "2" for Level 2) or turn right into the foyer area and head up the staircase on your right.

Immediately in front of you at the top of the staircase, you'll see the chapel:

At this point, turn left and head down the corridor. (If you took the lift, turn right as you exit the lift and head down this same corridor):

You'll pass various rooms (including the Council Room on your left). Keep heading down the corridor until you see a sign on your left that says "The JKTL Nash Lecture Theatre". You have reached your destination.

Directions to Nash Lecture Theatre (K2.31), Strand Campus KCL

It may surprise you to learn that one of our most popular blog posts is the now legendary "Directions to Council Room" which we put together for the first DigiPal Symposium back in 2011. We had no idea at the time quite how popular that particular blog post would be, but we're glad that it has continued to prove a useful guide to finding the Council Room at King's College London. There's legacy for you. Possibly even impact? Inspired by this, the following is a step-by-step photoguide to finding the Nash Lecture Theatre (K2.31), the venue for DigiPal IV. Fastened your seatbelt? Good, then off we go.

First of all, you'll need to make your way to the entrance to the Strand campus of King's College London (WC2R 2LS). See map below.

Next, head through the revolving doors:

Ahead, to the right of you there will be a reception/help desk. Keep walking straight on, past the lifts on your right. You'll pass through a reddish crossbeam and pillars and will find yourself heading down a long corridor, past a cleaner's cupboard on your left (don't worry if you miss this landmark):

Eventually, after a couple of minute's worth of corridor walking, you'll see the Great Hall on your left. Or rather, a sign telling you that the Great Hall is being refurbished. Sorry, no dancing this time around.

At this point, you may either carry on going and take the lifts a little further down on your left (press "2" for Level 2) or turn right into the foyer area and head up the staircase on your right.

If you opt for the staircase route, then immediately in front of you at the top of the stairs you'll see the chapel:

At this point, turn left and head down the corridor. (If you took the lift, turn right as you exit the lift and head down this same corridor):

You'll pass various rooms (including the Council Room on your left). Keep heading down the corridor until you see a sign on your left that says "The JKTL Nash Lecture Theatre". You have reached your destination.

August 27, 2014

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Journal: Bulletin of the Society for Arabian Studies

[First posted in AWOL 1 November 2009. Updated 27 August 2014 (web site no longer active - the following links are at the Internet Archive)]

Bulletin of the Society for Arabian Studies
ISSN: 1361-9144
The Society publishes an annual Bulletin in the Spring giving information on research, publications, field work, conferences and events in the Arabian peninsula in fields ranging from archaeology and history to natural history and the environment. It also carries feature articles and book reviews.
The Bulletin is sent free to all members of the Society. Current and back issues can also be purchased at the Arabian Seminar in July each year or from the Editor. Printed copies of the Bulletin are £5.00 each. The current and recent issues may also be downloaded free of charge in pdf format by clicking on the cover images below.
Current Issue, 2010Issue 14, 2009
Issue 13, 2008Issue 12, 2007Issue 11, 2006

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

A Tourist Guide to the Bakken Oil Patch

So, I’m thinking about writing something that starts like this:

The Bakken oil patch ranks among the great achievements of the contemporary age. The arrival of fracking technology in Western North Dakota has led to an industrial renaissance that transformed sleepy farm communities into the crucial cogs in the global extractive economy. Today, the area has become a global destination for roughnecks, petroleum engineers, pipeline “cats”, truck drivers, carpenters, contractors, and electricians as well as journalists, adventure scientists, academic scholars, photographers, and filmmakers. Low-unemployment, the bustle of extractive industry, and a landscape of dramatic contrasts holds forth an magnetic attraction for the adventurous traveler. Pack your camera, your sulfur dioxide sensor, some steel-toed boots and a Carhartts and get ready for a unique journey to the land where industry and nature meet.

The patch itself is a bewildering sight to the unprepared visitor on account of its vast area alone (over 100 sq miles) and can quickly overwhelm any simple approach to apprehending its significance or visiting the most meaningful sites. This short guide is meant to direct a tourist to a sampling of the many remarkable sites in the “Bakken” with a particular emphasis on the work and life of the new communities in the area with some reference to other sites of older historical significance. As with any tourist guide, this is not designed to be exhaustive, but to identify characteristic types of sites in the region by providing easily navigated itineraries across the region. Since the practice of industrial tourism remains in its infancy, this guide will also seek to bring to the fore some thought questions for the educated visitor to the Bakken both to stimulate discussion and to guide your explorations of this region of unprecedented industrial, historical, and natural beauty.


Route 1: Minot, ND to Ross, ND

The main point of entry into the Bakken from the north is the small city of Minot. Minot is served by Delta airlines, has an Amtrack station, and sits astride Route 2, the famous “The Highline”, that runs from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Everett Washington. It is the northernmost east-west highway in the U.S. and follows the route of the Great Northern Railroad from which it takes its name. The route from Minot to Williston, North Dakota is among the most scenic stretch of the Highline, and communities in North Dakota along this route had been in decline for two generations prior to the most recent oil activity. 

Shawn Graham (Electric Archaeology)

SAA 2015: Macroscopic approaches to archaeological histories: Insights into archaeological practice from digital methods

Ben Marwick and I are organizing a session for the SAA2015 (the 80th edition, this year in San Francisco) on “Macroscopic approaches to archaeological histories: Insights into archaeological practice from digital methods”. It’s a pretty big tent. Below is the session ID and the abstract. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, why don’t you get in touch?

Session ID 743.

The history of archaeology, like most disciplines, is often presented as a sequence of influential individuals and a discussion of their greatest hits in the literature.  Two problems with this traditional approach are that it sidelines the majority of participants in the archaeological literature who are excluded from these discussions, and it does not capture the conversations outside of the canonical literature.  Recently developed computationally intensive methods as well as creative uses of existing digital tools can address these problems by efficiently enabling quantitative analyses of large volumes of text and other digital objects, and enabling large scale analysis of non-traditional research products such as blogs, images and other media. This session explores these methods, their potentials, and their perils, as we employ so-called ‘big data’ approaches to our own discipline.


Like I said, if that sounds like something you’d be curious to know more about, ping me.

Source: Journalism Code, Context & Community

Animating Maps with D3 and TopoJSON

By Roman Kalyakin

Animating Maps with D3 and TopoJSON

Not long ago, it became possible to create maps using Mike Bostock's D3.js and TopoJSON, a library that brings maps into the SVG world. This started a new era of plain and simple maps. If we need to create a quick visualization of average personal income per state in the USA, it’s extremely easy with D3.js and TopoJSON. Just take the USA states JSON shape file, drop in D3.js, and add some CSS, and a nice-looking static map is done. But what if we want it to be dynamic?

Last year the New York Times interactive news team came up with a clever idea how to make SVG maps move. In their The Russia Left Behind feature they created a path of the railway between Moscow and St. Petersburg that gets filled with color as we scroll through the the page. To me this was an amazing approach to keep the reader informed of where in the feature they are.

How It Works

How It Works

I was working on The Welcoming Face of North Korea when the The Russia Left Behind was published, so I decided to find out how the New York Times feature was made to see if I could use the same approach. It turned out that the solution was very elegant. Apart from D3.js and TopoJSON that were used to create the path and render the names of the towns along it, the only thing that was needed to fill it with color was the stroke-dasharray attribute of the path element in SVG. This attribute was introduced to allow designers create custom-dashed styles of paths. The value of the attribute is a comma-separated list of number pairs: length of the dash and length of the gap.


When used creatively, this property can control the fill volume of the path.

filling the line of the path by percentage of total length

This is exactly what the New York Times team did: They created two path elements with the same data and two different colors, where one sits on top of the other. The stroke-dasharray attribute of the second visited element is filled in proportion to the current position of the scroll position of the page.

dashed value = ((vertical offset of the map - top of the map) / height of the map) * path length

Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

The North Korea story I was working on covered several destinations within a single trip. I wanted to link the parts of the story together with an animated map. What I ended up doing was an extended version of the above method.

First, I wanted to make a minimalist map of North Korea and neighboring countries. To create it I used TileMill, which (as experienced users will know) comes with a CSS-like language to create map styles and understands data in Shapefile format. By default, MapBox comes with a public domain data source that includes shapes of the land of all the countries in the world and their international borders. It also includes several map styles that are easy to modify. After a bit of fiddling with it I got a nice looking map that I exported as a PNG image. TileMill lets you adjust geographical coordinates of the exported rectangle.


Then I needed the routes of the trips that the tourist group we were tracking in our story took during their visit, as well as coordinates of the key towns they visited. I used Google Earth to put in markers and draw the paths, then exported these features as a KML file, converted this file to GeoJSON using the ogr2ogr tool, and converted the result to TopoJSON format with topojson utility.

Google Earth

Once I had both the map image and trip paths, it was relatively easy to put them all together as SVG. I rendered the map as image element and the trip routes as path elements twice, with different colors. To make the path move, in the onscroll event handler I used the formula from the previous section to get the visited percentage of the path that was used to set the new stroke-dasharray value.

You can see it live on The Welcoming Face of North Korea page.

The Signal: Digital Preservation

Untangling the Knot of CAD Preservation

<a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:T-FLEX-CAD-12-Rus.png">T-FLEX-CAD-12-Rus</a> from Wikimedia Commons

T-FLEX-CAD-12-Rus from Wikimedia Commons.

At the 2014 Society of American Archivists meeting, the CAD/BIM Taskforce held a session titled “Frameworks for the Discussion of Architectural Digital Data” to consider the daunting matter of archiving computer-aided design and Building Information Modelling files. This was the latest evidence that — despite some progress in standards and file exchange — archivists and the international digital preservation community at large are trying to get a firm grasp on the slippery topic of preserving CAD files.

CAD is a suite of design tools, software for 3-D modelling, simulation and testing. It is used in architecture, geographic information systems, archaeology, survey data, geophysics, 3-D printing, engineering, gaming, animation and just about any situation that requires a 3-D virtual model. It comprises geometry, intricate calculations, vector graphics and text.

The data in CAD files resides in structurally complex inter-related layers that are capable of much more than displaying models.  For example, engineers can calculate stress and load, volume and weight for specific materials, the center of gravity and visualize cause-and-effect.  Individual CAD files often relate and link to other CAD files to form a greater whole, such as parts of a machine or components in a building. Revisions are quick in CAD’s virtual environment, compared to paper-based designs, so CAD has eclipsed paper as the tool of choice for 3-D modelling.

CAD files — particularly as used by scientists, engineers and architects — can contain vital information. Still, CAD files are subject to the same risk that threatens all digital files, major and minor: failure of accessibility — being stuck on obsolete storage media or dependent on a specific program, in a specific version, on a specific operating system. In particular, the complexity and range of specifications and formats for CAD files make them even more challenging than many other kinds of born-digital materials.


Skylab from NASA.

As for CAD software, commerce thrives on rapid technological change, new versions of software and newer and more innovative software companies. This is the natural evolution of commercial technology. But each new version and type of CAD software increases the risk of software incompatibility and inaccessibility for CAD files created in older versions of software. Vendors, of course, do not have to care about that; the business of business is business — though, in fairness, businesses may continually surpass customer needs and expectations by creating newer and better features. That said, many CAD customers have long realized that it is important — and may someday be crucial — to be able to archive and access older CAD files.

Design for a Flying Machine by Leonardo da Vinci

Design for a Flying Machine by Leonardo da Vinci

Building Information Modelling files and Project Lifecycle Management files also require a digital-preservation solution. BIM and PLM integrate all the information related to a major project, not only the CAD files but also the financial, legal, email and other ancillary files.

Part of a digital preservation workflow is compatibility and portability between systems. So one of the most significant standards for the exchange of product manufacturing information of CAD files is ISO 10303, known as the “Standard for the Exchange of Product model data” or STEP. Michael J. Pratt, of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, wrote in 2001 (pdf), “the development of STEP has been one of the largest efforts ever undertaken by ISO.”

The types of systems that use STEP are CAD, computer-aided engineering and computer-aided manufacturing.

Some simple preservation information that comes up repeatedly is to save the original CAD file in its original format. Save the hardware, software and system that runs it too, if you can. Save any metadata or documentation and document a one-to-one relationship with each CAD file’s plotted sheet.

The usual digital-preservation practice applies, which is to organize the files, backup the files to a few different storage devices and put one in a geographically remote location in case of disaster, and every seven years or so migrate to a current storage medium to keep the files accessible. But what should you preserve? And why? Given the complexity of these files, and recognizing that at its heart digital preservation is an attempt to hedge our bets about mitigating a range of potential risks, it is advisable to try to generate a range of derivative files which are likely to be more viable in the future. That is, keep the originals, and try to also export to other formats that may lose some functionality and properties but which are far more likely to be able to be opened in the future.  The final report from the FACADE project makes this recommendation: ”For 3-D CAD models we identified the need for four versions with distinct formats to insure long-term preservation. These are:

1. Original (the originally submitted version of the CAD model)
2. Display (an easily viewable format to present to users, normally 3D PDF)
3. Standard (full representation in preservable standard format, normally IFC or STEP)
4. Dessicated (simple geometry in a preservable standard format, normally IGES)”

CAD files now join paper files — such as drawings, plans, elevations, blueprints, images, correspondence and project records — in institutional archives and firms’ libraries. In addition to the ongoing international work on standards and preservation, there needs to be a dialog with the design-software industry to work toward creating archival CAD files in an open-preservation format. Finally, trained professionals need to make sense of the CAD files to better archive them and possibly get them up and running again for production, academic, legal or other professional purposes. That requires knowledge of CAD software, file construction and digital preservation methods.

Either CAD users need better digital curatorial skills to manage their CAD archives or digital archivists need better CAD skills to curate the archives of CAD users. Or both.

Charles Ellwood Jones (AWOL: The Ancient World Online)

Open Access Annual Report: AERA Annual Reports (Ancient Egypt Research Associates)

AERA Annual Reports (Ancient Egypt Research Associates)
Ancient Egypt Research Associates explores Egypt’s archaeological record seeking the origins of civilization. Our mission is to contribute insight and understanding to the present awareness of cultural evolution.

In recent years, we have explored the development of urbanism, labor organization, and the elementary structures of ancient daily life at the once-Lost City of the pyramid builders at Giza.

AERA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Dr. Mark Lehner and Matthew McCauley, with the assistance of Margaret Sears, in 1985 for the purpose of funding and facilitating the research of the Giza Plateau Mapping Project, which grew out of the Sphinx Project.

Annual Report 2011-2012

2012 Field Season Excavations
2011-2012 Archaeological Field Schools
Archaeological Sciences: Hippo Hip and Olive Pit
Glen Dash Foundation Survey
Download a PDF of our 2012 Annual Report

Annual Report 2010-2011

Khentkawes Town East
The Luxor Study Field School
AERA-Egypt Receives NGO Status
Download a PDF of our 2011 Annual Report

Annual Report 2009-2010

Salvage Archaeology & Analysis and Publication Field Schools
The AERA Egypt Center
Capital Zone Walkabout 2010
Download a PDF of our 2010 Annual Report

Annual Report 2008-2009

The 2009 Advanced Field School
Giza Center Becomes a Reality
Celebrating 20 Years of Discovery in Giza
Download a PDF of our 2009 Annual Report

And see also the following Annual Reports of field seasons at Giza] published in the Oriental Institute Annual Report

Samuel Fee (Arranged Delerium)

Designing in the Browser

I’ve been thinking about my recent post regarding Photoshop, and realized it needed some clarification because I simply conflated a couple of issues. There are two issues here: software and workflow. Software Much of my criticism for Photoshop comes from the software side. My extreme… Continue reading

Bill Caraher (The New Archaeology of the Mediterranean World)

Informal Practices and Space in the Bakken

This weekend I read another selection from the Kostis Kourelis Book Club: V. Mukhija and A. Loukaitou-Sideris eds., The Informal American City: Beyond Food Trucks and Day Labor. MIT 2014. The book is packed with astute observations on practices that shape the informal (as opposed to formal, regulated, and standardized) life of American cities. These range from gardens in vacant lots, perpetual yard sales, hidden apartments, and spaces beyond the reach or interest of formal zoning policies. 

The book got fueled my excitement about housing practices in the Bakken oil patch of North Dakota which is rife with informal practices motivated as much by the absence of regulation (or personnel to enforce existing regulations) as the need to adapt existing institutions, spaces, and places to the needs of a dynamic workforce.

Over the past 2 years, I have been working on a team that is documenting workforce housing in the Bakken. I have been particularly romanced by the architectural invention that takes place at what we call Type 2 camps. These camps typically consist of RVs and trailers arranged in lots with power, water, and sewage. The informality of these spaces comes from the ad hoc efforts to winterize the units, the techniques done to articulate spatial boundaries, and, most dramatically, the architectural additions designed to expand the space of the RVs and to make them more suitable for longterm habitation.

Peter Ward’s contribution to this volume, “Reproduction of Informality in Low-Income, Self Help Housing Communities,” caught my attention and opened up some new questions about life in Type 2 camps. Ward’s article looks at colonias and “informal homestead subdivisions” in the US. These are subdivisions which often lack utilities but are sold to low-income individuals and families at low prices and with irregular financing arrangements. They are typically associated with Hispanic communities in the borderlands between the US and Mexico, they also appear throughout the US at the periphery of cities where underdeveloped land is inexpensive and unskilled labor opportunities exist. While these settlements differ from our workforce housing camps because the residents actually own their land, they are similar because the residents typically engage in all sorts of informal architecture ranging from shacks built from plywood to RVs and mobile homes. In most cases, these practices represent an effort to gradually develop their property and housing with limited resources. The use of blue tarp, scrap wood, pallets, and other material that could be rearranged and reused for other purposes ensured that the investment was both modest and the structure itself served as a kind of provisional discard conserving useful material for other projects as needs change.   

Ward’s rather quick discussion of these forms of informal vernacular got me to wonder how certain practices – like the construction of mudrooms and other plywood and scrap wood additions – move around the country. Perhaps it is borderland colonias that developed this important, sustained tradition of ad hoc, vernacular architecture, and it moved northward to the Bakken following the route of oil patch workers from the Texas oil fields to those elsewhere in the US. 

During our last trip to the Bakken, we talked with the new management of one of our study sites, and they explained that they were trying to standardize and “clean up” the spectacular array of mudrooms present at their site. They argue that the large mudrooms are safety hazards and often act as extensions to the RVs to accommodate more people than they are designed to accommodate. During our visit, we noticed an abandoned mudroom that was set up for just this purpose. Note the use of blue tarp, the sale price of $1000, and the bed. There were two rooms in this mudroom both set up for sleeping.




On the one hand, we suspect an actual concern for safety in the camp as plywood mudrooms can represent a real fire hazard especially when they feature irregular wiring, are heated with gas heaters, and have inadequate insulation and ventilation. On the other hand, it is in the best interest of the camp to reduce the number of residents per unit. This not only increases the amount of rent collected per resident, but also lowers population density of the camp taking pressure off the basic infrastructure (trash removal, water, electric, parking et c.) and making keeping order in the camp easier. It was a useful reminder that safety, order, and regularity are not incompatible with profitability. The formal American city, like the formal man camp in the Bakken, is not without economic motives. 

Corinthian Matters

Digitizing Isthmia with the Archaeological Resource Cataloging System (ARCS)

DKP Introduction: I noted yesterday that the National Endowment for the Humanities recently awarded Jon Frey, Assistant Professor of Art History & Visual Culture at Michigan State University, a major grant for the digital implementation of an open-source application known as the Archaeological Resource Cataloging System (ARCS). I asked Jon more about what his teams have been doing at Isthmia and what they hope to accomplish with the grant. He kindly agreed to provide the following overview of the work of Michigan State University and Ohio State University in recent years.

First of all, thanks to David for inviting me to post to Corinthian Matters as the forum he has created gives me an opportunity to write more candidly about our efforts to build an online collaborative workspace for the utilization and organization of digitized archaeological documentation. I tend to feel a bit awkward trying to describe this project more formally as if it has always followed a linear research plan with clearly defined goals and expectations. Rather, in the spirit of a weekend DIY project—and I think ARCS fits into that category in many respects—I’ve been learning as I go, largely through trial and error, but also through the helpful advice of far more experienced neighbors in what I have found to be a very welcoming and encouraging digital archaeological community. This is very much a good thing, as my own feelings about this project oscillate at unpredictable intervals between the fear that ARCS is nothing new (“good for you, you built a VRE!”) and the hope that this project will enable many smaller archaeological projects to share their evidence in a way that respects both their limited resources and the unique ways in which they have organized their recording systems.

History of the Project

The project as a whole began over five years ago with the digitization of notebooks at the Ohio State University Excavations at Isthmia. Yet far from following a clearly defined, institutional plan, this project served a much less lofty, personal goal. More than anything else, I was tired of returning to America at the end of the summer only to discover that I had failed to record a key piece of information and would have to wait until the following season to continue my research. By keeping all of these notebooks on a hard drive, I could eliminate this problem. At some point though, it became apparent that by relying on digital copies of these documents, I had effectively removed them from the information network in which they had been designed to function. This is because the document archive at Isthmia—as at most excavations and surveys—is essentially an analog form of a relational database. Depending on their research question, individuals may consult field diaries, photographs, maps, drawings, descriptions of individual artifacts, or informal reports, all of which, ideally, reference one another according to a pre-determined system.

Figure. Working at the Isthmia archives

Such systems have been refined over decades and have become quite effective at aiding in the retrieval of information, but are not without their inefficiencies and idiosyncrasies. As the work of individuals who are at different levels of experience—frequently the case at projects that also serve as field schools—certain documents may be incomplete or contain errors. Moreover, as artifacts themselves, archaeological records may deteriorate, be misplaced or become lost altogether. Thus, as most archaeologists know, gathering primary information is typically an immersive experience that requires as much time-consuming physical activity as mental. Moreover, most are also familiar with the fact that such archival work rarely reaches a successful conclusion without the helpful intervention of another, more experienced individual who is familiar with all of the peculiarities of a project’s documentation system.

Bearing all this in mind, I soon became interested in exploring how one might build a digital version of an archaeological archive that improves upon this system rather than replaces it altogether. A brief survey of other digital archaeology projects and services revealed a number of ongoing efforts to address related issues, but such initiatives appeared to be more concerned with the standardization and secure storage of archival quality digital data than with the utilization of that data in a virtual research environment. In addition, the use of such services was significantly easier for projects that had been “born digital” or possessed the financial resources to employ full time archivists or independent companies to digitize their entire archive at once.

As a result, with colleagues at the MSU College of Arts and Letters Academic Technology Office I began to develop an open source solution that would allow an archaeological project to create a digital workspace where documents could be collected, curated and shared according to an organizational scheme defined by the individual project. With the assistance of an NEH Digital Humanities Startup Grant in 2011, we created the Archaeological Resource Cataloging System (ARCS), which can be accessed at the present moment at http://arcs.cal.msu.edu

The goals outlined in the NEH proposal seemed modest at the time, but in hindsight, were too ambitious. We offered to build a program that would:

  • Interface with Digital Asset Management systems like ResourceSpace and Omeka
  • Work on PC and mobile devices
  • Be easily modified to suit different archaeological projects
  • Allow a variety of file types and data types
  • Augment but not replace digitized documents through the use keyword tags and links to stable URIs.
  • Be open-source and free to use

As the project began, we soon learned that we could not reasonably achieve the first two objectives within the grant period. Thus we resorted to the creation of our own database and optimized the site to work best on PC devices running Google Chrome. In addition, the complexities involved in building a version of ARCS to be tested using data from Isthmia made it difficult to maintain a separate, project non-specific source code. There were also a number of issues that we discovered we needed to address before ARCS could become a useful system. To begin with, there was the question of who exactly would be carrying out the work of uploading and curating the information. Then there was the question of what metadata standard and terminology we would use in order to make the documents presented through ARCS easily searchable and relatable to other resources.

In order to address the labor issue, we adopted a “crowd-sourcing” approach, but this presented its own challenges. A great deal of time was devoted to devising and implementing the type of user access and control measures that are typical of all digital projects that have resorted to volunteer workers to achieve their goals. The metadata issue was less easily solved. While Dublin Core appeared to be the best solution, we soon discovered that this schema did not apply to archaeological documentation as well as we would have hoped. Quite often the 15 core elements had to be translated into descriptive categories at Isthmia that merely seemed the best fit. Other aspects of archaeological documentation were left completely unaddressed. The end result was the creation of a metadata schema for Isthmia that was more complex and idiosyncratic than the system already in use at the excavation. Finally, the development of a list of approved terminology and formats for these metadata fields has proven to be a challenge in and of itself.

These issues aside, the beta version of ARCS should still be seen as a successful demonstration of the advantages of presenting primary archaeological documentation as digitally augmented evidence. This is seen most clearly in the case of the field notebooks with which this digitization project began. On the one hand, a simple digital image of a notebook page cannot be easily parsed by a computer and thus made machine searchable.

70-GBO-002 uncropped.pdf


A 1970 notebook from the Isthmia Archives

On the other hand, electronic transcriptions (even when carried out in accordance with TEI standards) do not fully capture the dynamic and organic character of these documents with their photographs, drawings, and handwritten notes, often made by several different individuals over time. Yet, when a notebook page is presented as an image, supplemented by user-generated keywords and hyperlinks to other digital resources, the result is the best of both worlds.

ARCS notebook

Notebook as it appears in ARCS

The main governing principle throughout the development process has been to electronically update, but not replace the traditional operating procedures common to most archaeological archives. Thus the front page offers the user the opportunity to consult evidence by type (notebooks, maps and plans, cataloged artifacts, reports, etc.) just as these documents are physically arranged at an archive or library.

Thematic view

Front page of ARCS

While users may search for a specific reference at any time, the “resource view” interface also allows for a visual scan of the evidence, just as one might fan through the pages of a book or a series of index cards or drawings.

Inventory card

When a user has identified the information they seek, hyperlinks offer them the chance to follow digitally the cross references that already exist in the original documents. Moreover, just as one might gather together several different types of documents as part of their research, ARCS allows users to create digital collections to which they can return at any time.


All documents and collections have stable URIs so this information can be shared between users as well. Also, because work at an archive often involves conversation with colleagues and consultation with experts, each document on ARCS has an associated discussion forum, where users can ask questions or provide answers.

Finally, because excavations and surveys—even those that are not currently engaged in fieldwork—continue to grow and =generate evidence in both traditional and digital formats, ARCS is equipped with a simple drag and drop upload feature. While they are encouraged to provide as much information as possible about the resource they are creating, at the very least users must define a title and type for the resource. In this way, large batches of information can be uploaded at once and left on the system to be cataloged, tagged, and linked to other data later.


Upload page in ARCS

The version of ARCS currently in use at Isthmia continues to grow. At present the system contains nearly 7,300 unique resources, ranging from digital copies of all notebooks, to notecards representing all inventoried artifacts, to a representative sample of drawings, plans, and type-written reports. Other documents are added each season as they are scanned and processed. As a matter of conservation and preservation alone, this is an important step for the OSU Isthmia Excavations. At the same time though, any of these resources can now be organized into collections and shared with interested researchers in a matter of minutes. Thus requests for information from the Isthmia archives are now beginning to be met by means of an email containing a link to the relevant digital resource. But most significantly, the ARCS system has allowed a smaller project like Isthmia to “go digital” on its own terms (literally and figuratively) and budget without relying on its better-funded peer institutions to share their source code and resources.

In addition, the ARCS project has also produced an unexpected, but no less important, outcome. As a teaching tool, this online resource has been used not only as a way to provide undergraduate students with unprecedented access to primary archaeological documentation but also as a way to encourage them to contribute in a meaningful way to its creation. For the past three years, students enrolled in Prof. Timothy Gregory’s online classical archaeology courses at OSU have been presented with the full body of documentation associated with the excavation of a number of individual trenches at Isthmia, which they then use to generate archaeological reports of their own. For the past five years, students participating in my own study abroad program and courses at MSU have taken a lead role in scanning, processing, uploading and annotating the documents themselves. The process is not always perfect—asking undergraduate students in Greece to perform up to the standards of a professional archivist is at times a real challenge—but in the end, the results are generally reliable. In any case, such activities challenge students not only to make sense of several, potentially conflicting forms of evidence, but also to see the practices and assumptions that underlie the interpretations of the past that are often taken for granted. This is exactly the type of “doing history” that is now held to form the foundation of effective teaching strategies in undergraduate education (see, for example, the discussion in T. Mills Kelly’s recent book on Teaching History in the Digital Age).

Future Directions

While the source code is now freely available on GitHub, there is still much to be done before ARCS can be easily implemented at a wider range of archaeological projects. This is why I am excited that, in collaboration with Ethan Watrall at the MATRIX Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences and with the funding of an NEH Digital Implementation Grant, we are now able to continue with this project. Some of the more significant improvements that we have proposed are as follows:

  • Because the creation of the underlying ARCS database had represented a stop-gap measure when integration with other data management systems proved too difficult, we plan to implement the KORA Digital Repository and Publishing Platform. This will improve the speed and efficiency of keyword searches as well as the overall organization of the data that is studied through ARCS.
  • Inasmuch as it became clear in the early stages of development that ARCS could not (and probably should not) serve as an archival solution, we will be developing an export utility that will properly format the data created and augmented within this system according to the standards required for data storage with services such as the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) and the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR). This export utility will also allow for the transfer of data generated in ARCS to other software applications such as Microsoft Access and ArcGIS for higher order statistical and geospatial analysis. In addition, because many projects—especially those that have transitioned from traditional analog to digital recording practices—have already created their own databases or other forms of machine-readable information, we will develop an import utility so that this evidence can be organized, augmented and shared through ARCS.
  • Because the import and export of different types of data will require a standard format for ease in identification, we will adopt the use of the ArchaeoCore metadata standard, developed at the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library at the University of Virginia specifically for use in archaeological contexts. We expect that, in keeping with the work of the Linked Ancient World Data Institute the use of ArchaeoCore will allow data to be shared between archaeological projects without requiring each individual project to redesign its recording system to fit a universal standard.
  • Having implemented these changes in the version of ARCS already in use at Isthmia, we will begin to collaborate with William Caraher and Amy Paplexandrou at the Princeton Polis Expedition Medieval Monuments Project, Adam Rabinowitz at the Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos Excavations at Chersonesos, and Kim Shelton at the UC Berkeley Excavations at Nemea in order to test the ability of the ARCS system to adapt to different recording systems for archaeological data. This will involve the creation of an installation wizard that can be used to customize ARCS to suit a particular project’s unique recording system as well as an ontology mapping tool to aid in the sharing of data between projects.

Given my experience in the first phase of this project, it is reasonable to assume that we will encounter some obstacles along the way. Likewise, it would be foolish to think that ARCS will offer a solution to all of the long standing issues associated with the transition to digital techniques for gathering archaeological evidence. For example, we at the OSU Isthmia excavations have maintained some traditional techniques but have adopted certain innovations so that the resulting mix of traditional, handwritten notebooks and artifact catalogues alongside digital images, illustrations and databases requires a concerted effort to coordinate. But at the same time, I think it is reasonable to hope that through the development of ARCS, it may be possible to achieve the elusive goal of sharing archaeological evidence between and among sites in way that nevertheless respects the unique identity of each project’s system for recording and interpreting its evidence. In this way, it may be possible to follow the lead of survey archaeologists in adopting a regional view of the ancient world, but with a degree of detail that is typically the strength of an excavation.

ASOR Blog (American Schools of Oriental Research)

Karak Resources Project: 2014 Excavation at Mudaybi, Jordan

By: J. Dwayne Howell, Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, Campbellsville University Mudaybi, Jordan is an Iron Age II fortification located on the Fajj al-Usaykir on the Karak plateau.  It is being excavated by the Karak Resources Project, under the leadership of Dr. Jerry Mattingly (Johnson University). The project began in 1995 and there have been […]