3 The ARENA Archives

Without going into great detail about each individual excavation archive, which can be seen by visiting the ARENA site, the reader should be drawn to several key factors in the presentation of the archives.

Firstly, as already stated, they demonstrate diversity in archive types both in the methods of presentation and in the content. For example, the antiquarian or historic excavation archives emphaise the visual forms of the archive; predominantly based on old photographs and manuscripts; for example, Poland, Biskupin archive . If this is compared to the Cottam archive, in the UK ADS archive, the reader will see an emphasis on excavation methods and methods of data capture – vector-based images, databases, context records and photographs. These archives contrast and emphasise the diversity of digital content greatly.

Secondly, there are several forms of archive. For example there are static archives, such as those completed and finalised which may be part of a publication, and in contrast there are dynamic archives, those in which the excavation still continues or the archive is an interim stage before the full publication of the excavations. A static archive, one that has been termed a digital reincarnation, can be seen in the Danish archives Dankirke, Vorbasse, and Hjelm. The Hofstaðir archive is a dynamic one in that the excavations are still continuing and at the same time the ARENA presentation is subject to continued updating in advance of the publication monograph for the Viking-age part of the site (expected early 2006).

A combination of digital reincarnation and a fusion with new technology has meant greater access to data, with presentation methods that reflect the archives. Navigation through the archives is important as it mirrors the content of the archive as well as allowing users to delve deeper into the content of the archive that perhaps is rarely visited in its paper form. The Norwegian archive of Egge and Hegge is a good example, as this allows the user to contextualise the landscape in which the antiquarian excavations and discoveries were made through a very visual approach using a dynamic hyper-linked map; there is also a traditional file selection option. The archive is old, but the presentation of it in a new medium does not distract from the original intent of the archive. The scans of the original archive material are presented and, importantly, the means of data collection have not been removed from the context of the archive which is portrayed through a landscape-orientated approach. In Norway, as in Iceland, the farm unit is the basis for any archaeological survey within which individual sites are recorded. Material culture and events, such as excavations and discoveries, are associated with the farm unit in the original archive record. The method of digital navigation into the archive therefore remains conceptually the same as if it were being looked at through a series of index cards and a map. This is also true for the Romanian archive, which is a testament to great foresight in creating an index of archaeological research in the 1950s, even though it stopped being compiled in 1956.


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