Archaeology on the World Wide Web: A User's Field-Guide

By Champion, Sara | Antiquity, December 1997 | Go to article overview

Archaeology on the World Wide Web: A User's Field-Guide


Champion, Sara, Antiquity


Using the World Wide Web is not unlike visiting an unfamiliar place to look at the archaeology. You want to know if there is anything interesting to see, so you start in the library, looking for information; you read books and articles from journals; perhaps you contact colleagues who can tell you about the place; you want to know how to find the sites and to get to them; and once you are there, you want to visit the museums as well as the monuments, and to locate people who are working there, whether they are from academic institutions, government archaeological bodies or local societies. You will want to check that access arrangements have not changed since the last published information; you also want to ensure that as far as possible the information you have is accurate, so that you do not waste time looking at sites which are not relevant to your interests.

As for your unfamiliar place, so for the WWW: as the Web becomes the preferred medium of communication for everything from research papers to the latest news on field projects, from annual reports on the archaeological work of units and local government organizations to discussions on a wide range of archaeological topics, users will need to know what there is and how to find it. The purpose of this 'field guide' is to take you out and guide you round the sites, pointing out areas of particular interest, and providing you with the Web's equivalent of the grid reference (the URL or Uniform Resource Locator). It outlines some of the categories of information about archaeology on the WWW, illustrated by good examples; it introduces the 'official' places which centralize information and provide easy navigation; and offers, at the end of the guide, some tips for frustration-free searching to those looking for specific items of interest All of the sites will be direct 'hotlinks' in the Web version of this guide, so for ease of access and to save typing in all the URLs, you should visit ANTIQUITY'S pages at http://intarch.ac.uk/antiquity/ and set off on your field trip from there.

Virtual Libraries

These are the 'official' subject-based 'libraries' of the WWW, originating at CERN, Switzerland, and are the first place to look for information on any broad subject area. The full list of such libraries is at http://vlib.stanford.edu/ Overview.html There are currently three registered VLs for archaeology, one for archaeology generally, another for European archaeology and the third for German archaeology, all of which are regularly maintained and updated. They will not disappear: even if their URLs should change for some reason, there will be a message at the old address linking visitors to the new one, and the main list of VLs should always have an up-to-date link.

The Virtual Library for archaeology worldwide is called ArchNet, and is maintained at the University of Connecticut at http:// spirit.lib.uconn.edu/archaeology.html The two main organizing principles for this VL are geographical and subject-based: the geographical regions are Africa, Arctic, Asia, Australia and Pacific, Central America, Europe, Near East, North America and South America, while the subject-tree includes archaeometry, botanical analysis, ceramics, cultural resource management, virtual classroom (on-line educational materials), ethnohistory and ethnoarchaeology, faunal analysis, geoarchaeology, historic archaeology, lithics, mapping and GIS, method and theory, software and site tours. There are also groupings of academic departments, museums, news and journals/publications. The maintainers of this VL do not claim to have every WWW site concerned with global archaeology registered with them, but there is an extraordinary range of material presented, from illustrated discussions of site sampling strategies (http:// www.lib.uconn.edu/ArchNet/Topical/Theory/ Sampling/sampling.html) to pages (including on-line research papers) on the fossil evidence for human evolution in China (http:// www. …

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