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