6. The approaches adopted: capturing, managing and explaining interpretation

6.1 Introduction

Building on the nature of our assumptions about the archaeological resource, and our aspirations for electronic dissemination, this section attempts to establish approaches for the work at Merv.

The aim is to provide data, information, and knowledge networks: 'where information is taken to mean data plus metadata (i.e. descriptive data), and knowledge signifies information plus synthesis (i.e. additional synthesizing information)' (Ginsparg 2000), to enable use and reuse of material and interpretations.

The Merv information is deposited with the ADS, along with the metadata (descriptive data). The data, information and knowledge networks are managed and stored within the project GIS, and the knowledge networks are developed through a variety of narrative forms. For the aerial images, in the simplest of terms, this means articulating the processes of transcription, interpretation and narrative, and the theories and assumptions upon which these are based, documenting our interpretations and providing an index to them (Bewley et al. 1998).

The key issues for the aerial photographic interpretation are:

  1. What can I see on the photograph?
  2. What do I think it means? (Wilson 2000, 217)

The decision of what to draw, and where, is heavily influenced by 'the level of confidence ... [which] is at least partly a function of our existing knowledge of the site' (Wilson 2000, 215), and the assumptions we bring with us.

The crucial decisions here were:

  1. What to draw/where to draw it.
  2. How to interpret it.
  3. How to hold/document the interpretations.
  4. How to link the interpretations to the assumptions and theories upon which it depended for its creation.

The approach adopted consisted of tiered levels of graphic transcription/digitisation, linked to a database that documented decisions, which is in turn linked to narrative discussions.


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Last updated: Mon Sept 29 2008