What sort of site did we want?

Clearly, the medium can be easily employed to publish the traditional `interim report' and is well suited to this role. The format also allows a degree of liberation from many of the constraints imposed by conventional publishing (e.g. limitations and cost of reproducing good colour illustrations in paper-based media). What we really wanted to exploit, however, were other potentials that the new media claim to offer: interactivity, immediacy and progression (Appadurai 1996, 7; Poster 1995).

If our motivation behind the website was a desire to expand the level of access to, and engagement with, primary archaeological research, we needed to start with a structure within which we could package our material and our account. This structure is the prime means by which visitors navigate through the site, and it contains an implicit narrative direction (whether desirable or not). In the current version (May 1999), this structure is implemented by a very simple linear `table of contents', in which it is possible to move through the site relatively freely, gaining basic information about the project, its rationale and methodology. At various points, it is also possible to branch off into more detailed discussions of specific landscape features, and into precise accounts of work on those features to date. For those who wish, detailed interim reports are available at the end of each section. In time, these reports will be augmented with files that give visitors access to the primary database.

So far we have adhered to the fairly simplistic use of text and in-line images, a format which has already become `traditional' in web pages. As such we have not really exploited the degree of interactivity that is becoming deliverable via the Internet. However, we are now beginning to experiment with various facets of the site which can take things a good deal further. In particular, we are interested in how the use of virtual imagery and visualisation techniques can enhance our research, our presentation of the project, and the scope that visitors have for interaction.

To begin with, we wanted to use the Internet to deliver images which served as something more than simple appendages to the text or as `local colour'. Our motivation came from debate within what has come to be recognised as landscape archaeology (Barrett 1999; Bender 1993). Recent work has shown a greater concern with the inhabitation and experience of past material conditions, that experience being seen as crucial to the process of social reproduction (Tilley 1994). This has involved thinking about the character and tempo of the practices in which people were engaged in the past; the shape of the land, and the forms and spaces of tasks, monuments and other places. What was the pattern to the working of fields? What would people encounter when working, or while bringing cattle up from the valley? How were vision and access constrained by the banks of a monument or internal arrangement of a tomb? While not sufficient in itself, the bodily experience of particular places and practices (and the social milieu of those encounters) has increasingly come to be regarded as crucial to the historical constitution of subjectivity and thus vital in archaeological interpretation (Barrett 1993; Edmonds 1999; Ingold 1993).


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Last updated: Thu May 27 1999