4.3 Incorporating the legacy data for the East Field at Isthmia

4.3.1 The problems

The problems we faced incorporating data from previous excavation in the East Field at Isthmia into this process were two-fold. The first was the technical problem concerning the question of how to integrate the information found in both the hardbound site notebooks and the albums of the photographic record from 1970-1972, with the digital format data compiled from our 2005-2007 field campaigns? The solution was to transform all the original, handwritten records and sketch plans from the East Field's unpublished site notebooks into digital objects by scanning them into the portable document file format (.pdf). By transforming the original field records into .pdf files, it was then possible to reorganise them according to the relevant spatial categories. This was done according to individual trench first and then according to specific features, walls in particular, that were sketched, described or at least discussed in that trench's notebook. Because of Clement's excavation and recording procedures, as discussed earlier, the walls and features were documented in more than one handbook which further emphasises our need to scan the handbooks into digital objects. Also, as the written information for each trench notebook was organised, as is custom, on a daily basis, we had therefore to digitise each page as individual .pdf files that could then be manually reordered so that the information contained within them on the trenches and on the walls could be added to the data in our database. Thus, the information in the handbooks could be more powerfully, and easily, managed and evidence from both the 1970-1972 and 2005-2007 campaigns were equally and instantly accessible.

The second problem we faced was that in the more than 30 years since the original excavations, a great deal has changed in archaeological practice, particularly in the area of research strategies and their priorities. Specifically, the original excavators prioritised the artefactual record over the stratigraphic recording of the structural remains, filling the notebooks with detailed descriptions and drawings of the objects found. This was often taken to exceptional levels; in more than one instance individual iron nails were given not only a description but were also drawn to scale! Although modern excavation recording methods were employed - including recording where in a trench an artefact was found, its grid coordinate, its elevation, and the 'basket' in which it was found - any architectural contexts with which this stratigraphic unit was associated, or even the physical and stratigraphic relationships among these 'baskets' were, at best, sporadically and unevenly recorded.


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Last updated: Mon Jun 30 2008