Digging Up the Virtual Past: The Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome on the Web

By Mattison, David | Searcher, February 2006 | Go to article overview

Digging Up the Virtual Past: The Archaeology of Ancient Greece and Rome on the Web


Mattison, David, Searcher


Archaeology is truly one of the foundation sciences for our understanding of the past. In his textbook, In the Beginning (9th ed., Longman, 1996, p. 27), Brian Fagan defined archaeology as "the scientific study of past cultures and technologies--whether ancient or recent--by scientific methods and theoretical concepts devised for that purpose." Archaeology, he goes on, is a subdiscipline of anthropology. Prentice Hall has a companion Web site for this rifle and several others by Fagan [http:// www.prenhall.com/fagan/], carrying annotated finks to key Web sites. Other archaeology textbook publishers and educational institutions have similar sites. For example, the companion site to University of Newcastle archaeology lecturer Kevin Greene's book Archaeology: An Introduction (4th ed., 2002) [http://www.staff.ncl. ac.uk/kevin.greene/wintro/home.htm or http://www. staff.nci.ac.uk/kevin.greene/wintro/index.htm] contains more contextual detail on archaeology.

As an archivist and historian, I appreciate the unique contributions archaeologists have made to our knowledge of cultures and civilizations long gone or transformed into those of the world around us today. Never having participated in an archaeological dig, I decided to put on my virtual pith helmet and excavate some of the fabulous treasure maps to archaeological sites, image collections, and reconstructions on the Web relating to the so-called Classical world of ancient Greece and Rome. The field of study known as the Classics also incorporates Graeco-Roman archaeology in order to form as complete a picture as possible of how these societies lived and evolved. Many of the Web sites I examined were in languages other than English, but I've mostly limited myself to sites in English or with an English translation. My survey merely scratches the surface of what's out there, a selection of sites that that I feel will provide you with a door to a rich network of information connecting past millennia with the Third Millennium.

General Web Guides and Search Tools

Although I've confined my coverage to the Graeco-Roman roots of Western civilization within Greece and Italy, the sources from which I've compiled many of these resources include a number of general directories to archaeology.

The Wikipedia entry on Archaeology [http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaeology] and its Archaeology Portal [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Archaeol ogy] will give you a good overview of the topic and provide you with many important links. Archaeology is one of the core fields for which a Wikipedia editorial team strives to serve as an authoritative source in the creation of a complete print or electronic encyclopedia. See the WikiProject Archaeology page for more information [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: WikiProject_Archaeology].

For those who can't stay away from Google, the Google Directory link for archaeology lists over 7,000 resources [http://dir.google.com/Top/Science/A/]. This does not even include much smaller sets of links for more specialized areas of archaeology, such as archaeoastronomy, archaeobotany, and archaeometry.

The two WWW Virtual Library general guides to archaeological resources are Anthropology Resources on the Internet [http://www.anthropologie.net], which began in 1995, and ArchNet [http://archnet.asu.edu], started in 1993 at the University of Connecticut and maintained since 2001 by Arizona State University's Archaeological Research Institute.

The Humbul Humanities Hub [http://www.hum bul.ac.uk] section on archaeology describes over 1,400 online selected resources from around the world and found of potential use by the British higher education system. A chronological subdirectory followed by a keyword search within a specific time period can help you isolate descriptive records pertaining to Greece and Rome.

Ghent University's Koenraad Verboven's Internet Ancient History Resource Guide [http://www.

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