Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Should You Object? Mount Vernon Midden Archaeology

New projects are always fun! Over the next few months I’ll be working with the archaeologists at Mount Vernon. We will be creating a web site based around the South Grove Midden, which is currently undergoing re-analysis. At its core will be objects: The 400 - more interesting that the 300 any day! These selected objects provide insights into the site, time period and life at Mount Vernon.

The archaeologists at Mount Vernon have prepared a comprehensive information framework for the objects. The stratigraphy of the site (detailed in supporting field and methods documentation) supplies the temporal context, and there will be a range of documentary material (including timeline, inventories and merchants accounts), along with other pages, to provide a thematic and historical context.

The fun part of the project (for me) is creating a design that helps not only in finding the objects, but in the relationships between them. Within this discrete time period it should be possible to support general queries with a structure that shows related objects, and suggests other interesting pathways through the collection and associated material.

The site is just part of the outreach. The Midden already has an active Facebook presence (Facebook: Mount Vernon’s Mystery Midden) that includes both specific and broadly contextual posts. There have been public events, conference papers and an upcoming dissertation focusing on the site.

I don’t think the web gets talked about enough when discussing public archaeology and this site will be a great example of how archaeological data can be relevant to an educated public and serve multiple audiences. Though the selection of 400 objects presents an initial level of analysis, archaeologists interested in looking at the complete data set will be able to find it at DAACS. For the rest the layered content will make material culture accessible through a contextual presentation.

Please check out this site as it develops.

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