Monday, February 7, 2011

Archaeology, CRM and the Public

Three miles of road widening in Townsend, Tennessee resulted in years of archaeology, hundreds of thousands of artifacts, report volumes, artifact images and reams of supporting documents.

The work was paid for by the Tennessee Department of Transportation and conducted by the Archaeological Research Laboratory (ARL). The ARL is creating a public volume on the dig, but they also wanted to present some of the data in an interactive format.

The ARL provided the content, Sarah Lowe, Associate Professor at UTK, ran the project and put together the design and I worked on the interface. It allows the public to explore the site through an interactive map. The whole site is presented and visitors are asked to select a time period: Archaic, Woodland, Mississippian and Cherokee. For each period, areas can be zoomed to show features, and five artifact types can be explored through artifact and feature cards.

The module is a compromise: not all artifacts are shown, later historical material wasn't included and stratigraphy is simplified through the initial selection of a time period. But it supports several important archaeological considerations. Artifacts can only be accessed through their physical context. Text supports temporal and thematic context. Exploration and discovery are part of the experience. A second part of module talks a bout the archaeological process through video interviews, news reports of the dig and overviews of the artifact types.

The module will not be a research tool, but it does include data. Most importantly process is implicit in presentation. Showing the careful methodology of excavation, the lab work, and that the artifacts exist in a physical context all help separate archaeology from pot hunting and promote not just the site but the discipline.

The web site should be available later this year.

No comments:

Post a Comment