Personnel from the British excavation of Palaikastro, Crete, are in the process of setting up a Web site in concert with the Archaeological Data Archive Project (ADAP). Plans for the site include:
The site will be accessible through its own URL (yet to be determined) and through the ADAP Web site .
Some of the issues discussed in preparation of the site were:
1) The plans for the Palaikastro Web site had always included storage of many different kinds of computer files. Since the goal of the ADAP is the archival storage of all computerized data relevant to a site, not just database files, the flexibility required for the Palaikastro site will not be limited.
2) There is clearly some risk involved in making unpublished excavation reports or raw excavation data available. The greatest risk of allowing access to unpublished excavation reports is that a reader might confuse information presented in an unpublished report with published data. To guard against this risk, the published/unpublished, preliminary/final status of all information will be clearly indicated, either as part of a text document or in the description of a non-text document. An address for contacting the author(s) will also be provided with each document. There can be no guard against intentional misuse of unpublished excavation data.
3) The actual excavation database will be part of this preliminary material. However, the database is currently incomplete, and sections of the database will undoubtedly be changed or updated as specialists continue to work towards publication. In the interest of encouraging earlier access to otherwise unpublished data, the directors of the excavation are willing to permit others outside the group of Palaikastro specialists to access the database, and they may be contacted with questions about specific content of the database before publication. Also, scholars attempting to set up their own excavation databases can use the structure and content of the Palaikastro relational database as a reference. A detailed description of all tables and fields will be provided. It is likely that reference to the structure of the database will be more valuable to outsiders than the actual content of the database at this preliminary stage.
4) In addition to general suggestions and recommendations related to setting up a site, the ADAP will provide the server space, handle the administrative functions pertaining to the site (such as performing backups, controlling passwords, etc.), and take on the responsibility for archival storage. The Palaikastro excavation team will have two representatives who will maintain the content and design of the sight and will be responsible for observing ADAP guidelines. (For instance, all documents available on the site must have a section explicitly describing access, storage, authorship, etc., and any changes to documents must be reported to ADAP personnel so that proper archival procedures can be followed.)
5) Archival storage is not a significant issue at the outset, because the data are still preliminary. Until the data are either published or otherwise considered final or complete, new versions of the data will be referenced with an Effective Date and a Replaces Date, but old versions of the data will not necessarily be archived. After publication, if it becomes necessary to create a new version of the data, older versions will be archived and accessible.
Creation of this Web site will result in the ongoing preservation of all computerized records important to the Palaikastro excavation, including the excavation database. In addition, this Web site will allow for improved communication of excavation information between and among Palaikastro specialists as they work toward publication. From a technical standpoint, this Web site will also provide an opportunity for testing different styles and methods of electronic publication. Finally, we look forward to feedback regarding the value of providing access to selected pre-published or otherwise inaccessible excavation information.
For other Newsletter articles concerning the ADAP consult the Subject index.
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