11. Conclusions

11.1 The Atlas project

This case study has enabled us to explore a number of issues about how to approach the Atlas of Islamic Merv project.

  1. Exploring the assumptions that we have about the nature of the buried archaeological resource and how this is reflected in the aerial imagery, combined with the assumptions that we have about the nature of the built environment, has created a better platform for exploring our interpretations of the Islamic city and its immediate hinterland.
  2. This has enabled us to explore some of the issues concerning the use of electronic means to disseminate material and interpretations, but also what this may enable us to achieve in terms of enabling others to reinterpret and reuse the material.
  3. It has also allowed us to develop and test procedures for a tiered transcription process, digitisation, using visual and oral narratives and experimenting with broad brush visualisations. All of these proved useful.

The case study suggests that perhaps we have been over-ambitious in the aims of the Atlas of Islamic Merv project. The difficulty of recognising specific structures, the difficulty of reading the pattern of landuse across the whole space, and the problems of chronology, clearly provide constraints to what we can achieve with this aerial data set alone. There is no doubt that targeted geophysical survey and excavation would help considerably to develop this picture.

However, on the positive side, broad abstraction, supported by detailed case-studies, has produced interesting ideas about the development and use of the urban and suburban space. It was possible, in many cases, to develop a more complex interpretation of change both over time and space. The broad patterning of the built environment within the city, especially through the scale and density of the building complexes and courtyards, and the pattern of different areas of suburban activity seemed to work well, and offered potential for the main project.


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Last updated: Mon Sept 29 2008