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9th June Presented by: Prof Mark Baker ACET, University of Reading Tel: +44 118 378 8615 Web:

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Presentation on theme: "9th June Presented by: Prof Mark Baker ACET, University of Reading Tel: +44 118 378 8615 Web:"— Presentation transcript:

1 9th June Presented by: Prof Mark Baker ACET, University of Reading Tel: +44 118 378 8615 E-mail: Web: JISC – Leaping Hurdles The VERA Project

2 9th June Outline Aims and objectives of the VERA project. Digital Devices. Tools and utilities. Sustainability. Summary and Conclusions.

3 Using Digital Devices The VERA project aimed to produce a fully- fledged virtual research environment for the archaeological community. VERA Aims: –The overall aim of the project is to assess, enhance and introduce new tools and technologies that can aid the archaeological processes of recording, manipulating and analysing archaeological data. –Our goal was to create a situation where the information flows seamlessly from excavation, through post- excavation to archive and publication. –In addition, we created various tools and utilities that helped the post-excavation research processes. 9th June

4 Silchester Roman Town The 'Town Life' Project 9th June

5 Silchester/VERA Web sites 9th June

6 Silchester – An Overview The annual excavation allows us to: –Study the use of IT in an archaeological context; –Investigate the tasks carried out within an excavation; –Ascertain how and where technologies can be used to facilitate information flow within a dig; –Inform the developers how to adapt the tools used in the trench and for post dig analysis. To ensure that the software and tools are appropriate we are engaging all the on-site team and the researchers who undertake post excavation analysis in the usability studies. 9th June

7 Research: Recording Urban Change

8 Integrated Archaeological Database (IADB) SQL Database, based on MySQL, PHP, Javascript, AJAX and SVG. The IADB provides data repository throughout the lifespan of archaeological excavation projects. THE IADB is used for recording: –Finds, Contexts, Sets, Groups, Phases, Objects, Images, Illustrations, Stratigraphy Diagrams, Documents and Bibliographical references. 9th June

9 Digital Device Trials We have experimented with: –Hand-held IPAQs – good for querying database, –Ruggedised tablet PCs – sunlight a major problem, –Nokia 800s – OK, but hard to use on-site. –Digimemo pads – useful, but not very robust. –Wireless Web Cams, –Digitial Pens. 9th June

10 Contexts 9th June

11 Patented, A tiny camera in the digital pen, Tiny dot patterns and grids on the paper, Pen moves across the dot patterns and grids, Marks, coordinates and relative time points, Send the stored sequences to computer. 9th June

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18 Thoughts on the Digital Pens Pros: Pens and paper are relatively cheap, Work in a range of weather conditions as ordinary paper and pencils, Reassuringly low-tech, Integrate well into existing recording methodology, Field Code system is very flexible. Cons: Field Code system takes time to learn, Requires sequential input! Forms based system could be better, Formatted Context Forms are expensive, Limited trial size! 9th June

19 2008 Excavation Summary 591 out of 1352 or 44% of context cards recorded with the digital pens. Simple training. Robust (weather, mud and student proof). Speeds up post-excavation work (context cards must otherwise be transcribed). Encourages legible handwriting. Paper master copy created in the trench in case of computer related disasters.

20 Digimemo pad 9th June

21 Digimemo Pad 9th June

22 They Feel Familiar and Natural Feel as comfortable as you normally write with a regular pen on paper. Immediately get both a digital record and a hardcopy duplicate of your handwritten notes even when you are on the move. Instantly and digitally record your notes, ideas, sketches, drawings and flowcharts, without scanning. Any ordinary paper or notepad can be applied. Only problem was that the out of the four bought, three failed! However, lots of future possibilities though! 9th June

23 Tools and Utilities 9th June Recycle-Bridge – JSR-168 portlet, used for embedding Web applications.

24 Tools and Utilities 9th June XDB is a system for doing cross-database searches. Based on Tycho – P2P system with Virtual Registry.

25 Tools and Utilities 9th June Arch3D is data visualisation service of the VERA environment, allows the integration and investigation of the multi-dimensional datasets obtained from an excavation.

26 Sustainability Worked with IT Services during VERA project, established procedures and processes to support IT and Internet/WiFi on site. We have also established a model for archaeological practice that will be documented, publicised and passed onto other archaeological communities: –We believe that this model of archaeological practice will be embedded into the Silchester excavation for the foreseeable future. –This practice includes pre-excavation training, on-site guidance and help, the availability of the Internet/WiFi on- site, the use of digital devices, and easier and faster interaction with the IADB. 9th June

27 Summary The digital devices are speeding up the process of inserting excavation data into the database. This means that analysis and research can be undertaken immediately on the IADB, and publication are produced more quickly. The use of these digital devices means that we have to train the staff and students before the excavation, but it having a significant effect. Tools and utilities have been useful and are helping the archaeological community. Project was user driven – user engagement was very important during the whole VERA project. 9th June

28 Conclusions User driven design and implementation of tools and utilities for the project. Availability of the Internet and WiFi across the site is very useful. Up front and on-site training, and extensive documentation helps the archaeologists take up the digital technologies and various tools more easily. Digital pens and Digimemo pads are a success, even though the latter was not that robust. Still cannot find a screen-based digital device that can be used easily in direct sun light. 9th June

29 The VERA Project Team Project Manager and Director: Professor Mark Baker (UoR) Associate Directors: Professor Mike Fulford (UoR) Ms Amanda Clarke (UoR) Mr Mike Rains (YAT) Dr Claire Warwick (UCL) Dr Melissa Terras (UCL) Research Assistants: Dr Hugo Mills (UoR) Ms Emma ORiordan (UoR) Ms Claire Fisher (UCL) Steering Group: Dr Stuart Dunn (King's College London) Mr Steve Gough (University of Reading) Professor Gary Lock (University of Oxford) Dr Jeremy Huggett (University of Glasgow) Professor Vince Gaffney (University of Birmingham) Professor Julian Richards (University of York) Dr Robert Allan (Daresbury Laboratory) Mr Edmund Lee (English Heritage) Mr Chris Brayne (Wessex Archaeology) The VERA project has a core team of researchers based at the University of Reading (UoR), University College London (UCL), and York Archaeological Trust (YAT). To advise the project, VERA has a Steering Group made up of experts in the field of Archaeology, Virtual Research Environments, and the user community. 9th June

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