The Past Is Prologue: Preserving and Disseminating Archaeological Data Online

TitleThe Past Is Prologue: Preserving and Disseminating Archaeological Data Online
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSchortman, Edward, Ellen E. Bell, Jenna Nolt, Patricia Urban, Jerome W. Crowder, Mike Fortun, Rachel Besara, and Lindsay Poirier
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN Number978-3-030-24925-0
AbstractArchaeological data are relevant to research conducted in diverse fields. The rapid destruction of sites worldwide means benefitting from those findings depends on reviewing the only traces of past human activities that survive: original field records produced during archaeological investigations. The volume of these materials makes publishing them financially prohibitive, visiting archaeological repositories is costly in time and money, and handling paper records is destructive. Making information about ancient socio-cultural processes available for use, therefore, requires digitizing and posting online all archaeological field records. The resulting archives enhance multidisciplinary research, high impact practices in classes about the human past, and the ability of different constituents to engage their histories directly through the archives. Achieving these aims requires collaboration among archaeologists, librarians, IT professionals, and varied stakeholders to design protocols and test prototypes for digital archives. Few initiatives have been launched to achieve these goals.This chapter reviews efforts to digitize, post, and use in and outside the classroom the results of archaeological research conducted from 1983 to 2013 across four valleys in northwest Honduras. The collection contains surveys of 941 sites, records pertaining to excavations conducted at 180 settlements, and analyses of over 1 million artifacts that, together, document nearly 3000 years of human accomplishments. In addition to describing how this work proceeded, examples of how the collection is being used in teaching and research are provided. Readers are directed to the archive itself ( where they can explore the collection and experiment with the various ways it can be used.
Short TitleThe Past Is Prologue