MIS Case for Use in Archaeology: Unifying Practices and Models to Assist Archaeological Excavations

MIS Case for Use in Archaeology: Unifying Practices and Models to Assist Archaeological Excavations

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0164-2.ch002
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Abstract

This chapter presents a business case for use of a Management Information System in the domain of archaeology, aiming to specifically unify existing practices and models to assist archaeological excavations from all practical perspectives: reduce time, minimise costs, improve personnel recruiting and assignments, et cetera. The work goes through experiences gained from the planning and implementation of an ambitious research venture aimed at developing a visually enhanced, unified access to data, information, processes, and the related content of archaeological excavations in situ. Such content is distributed among various excavations all over the world, thematically related, providing access to archaeology visitors, students, and archaeologists (practitioners, professionals, academicians, and researchers).
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2.1 Profiling The Virtual Excavator Mis

In this Chapter we go through experiences gained from the planning and implementation of an ambitious research venture (for which we use the code term “Virtual Excavator” or in short VE) aimed at developing a visually enhanced, unified access to data, information, processes and the related content of archaeological excavations in situ. Such content is distributed among various excavations all over the world, thematically related, providing access to archaeology visitors, students, archaeologists (practitioners, professionals, academicians and researchers).

The means to achieve this are basically by making use of novel immersion and interaction metaphors, ‘viewers’, simultaneous access to multiple excavation repositories as well as related digital collections and comprising in an innovative way augmented and virtual reality technology. The access to the information takes place for interested professionals with different expertise finding themselves at different places, e.g. in the location of the excavation, in their offices in the university / research centre or at home.

Additionally, an appropriately modified access environment should also be provided for visiting citizens. The overall goal of the Virtual Excavator MIS is threefold:

  • 1.

    To provide the missing added value for teaching of archeological concepts and practicing of archeological methods and techniques on both an experiential and a reflective way,

  • 2.

    To disseminate this knowledge to the public,

  • 3.

    To facilitate the process of archaeological conclusion-extraction via sharing of information and knowledge across excavations.

The various activities that should be considered as part of the VE venture can be summarized in the following list:

  • The creation of new and the facilities for the conversion of the existing field documentation including diverse elements such as field diaries, photos, excavation plans, drawings and all sorts of numerical data and other textual descriptions etc., on the basis of enhanced visualizations,

  • The temporally continuous physical (3D) and semantic representation of the excavation from its initiation to the present, parsed into objects and parts of individual interest. Each item should be able to be tracked and viewed in time and locus from its discovery, to its restoration and for each item links to the semantic content should be facilitated. As known, an excavation is a dynamic process. As it evolves, the state of the terrain changes in order to dig deeper and unavoidable structures that occurred near the surface are deconstructed – in many cases irreversibly. To be able and document each stage of an excavation and provide the necessary tools to refer to previous states, relate findings and match them with other ones is an important factor for the proposed system to become a valuable asset for archaeologists all over the world.

  • The virtual association of spatially distributed content into thematically related units over existing communication infrastructure and the creation of large scale thematic databases with temporal characteristics (taking into account and preserving intellectual property rights, as well as existing description standards in the area of cultural heritage).

  • The access to virtual, reconstructed, material remains (features, artefacts, ecofacts, etc.) at their original stratographic context in order to recreate excavation units through Augmented Reality (AR) technology. The visual representation of spatial and depositional information will not only help archaeologists to “replay” the excavation and check overlooked data but also will allow further contextual analysis and interpretation of the archaeological content. For the visitor, this is very important for two reasons: (1) the visitor sees both site and artifacts in ensemble and understands better the cultural site (2). It increases the worth and appeal of the visit since the user learns more about the cultural site in an amusing way (which can implicitly increase site visitation as well).

The development of viewers capable of handling such enhanced and distributed content in a unified presentation manner which facilitate:

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