Professor Harold Dibble of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology excavated the site of Combe Capelle in southern France during the nineteen eighties. The Paleolithic site was rich in chipped stone tools and demonstrated some rather complex stratigraphy.
Mr. Dibble used a total station to plot the artifacts and developed his own software for mapping. When the work was complete, Mr. Dibble also developed a CD that contains the data from the excavation, programs to access the data, and teaching programs to use the data in unique ways.
The data on the CD have been put into electronic form, of course, but the data are not archived by the simple process of putting them on a CD. Indeed, though the CD will not wear out soon, its utility will certainly be lost in the fairly near-term future. Programs that can read the data on the CD will disappear from the marketplace and new storage media will replace CDs, while the CD itself remains unchanged. Thus, the CD alone cannot serve as an archival copy.
Recognizing the problem with archival storage, Mr. Dibble has contributed the data to the Archaeological Data Archive. The data files will be archived in their current state and, like all files in the archive, may be updated as required in the future.
For other Newsletter articles concerning the Archaeological Data Archive Project, consult the subject index.
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