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Recording Methodology

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Recording the EUFRASIAN APSE MOSAICS (1997)

Author: Steve Nickerson : steve@icomos.org

Abstract

The first concern during the 1997 Recording of the Eufrasiana Basilica was to have, by the end of the two week period, an index of the mosaics of the dome that would allow any observations, comments, notes, or photographs to be labeled and stored in such a way that they could be found with a minimum of effort and a minimum of knowledge of the logic or software used to organize the material.

There were two main recording activities: a geometric recording using CART which resulted in the 3-D CAD model seen elsewhere in these pages, and a photographic recording that aimed to cover the entire apse to a level of detail which would allow the tessera to be counted.


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Recording the EUFRASIAN APSE MOSAICS (1997)

The first concern during the 1997 Recording of the Eufrasiana Basilica was to have, by the end of the two week period, an index of the mosaics of the dome that would allow any observations, comments, notes, or photographs to be labeled and stored in such a way that they could be found with a minimum of effort and a minimum of knowledge of the logic or software used to organize the material.

The CART data model was adapted to the basilica by giving each design element a one- or two-letter designation which allowed a name to be assigned to even tiny areas of the mosaic within the DOS eight-character naming convention. Thus a thematic area would be given a single letter and a general image or comment concerning that area would be named ?-.TXT, ?-.GIF etc. If multiple images were required they would be ?A,?B etc., and details were named by their grid location with alpha for columns and numerical for rows. Thus ??01A designates the lower left corner of image ??. If this is kept in mind, navigating these pages will be much easier.

There were two main recording activities: a geometric recording using CART which resulted in the 3-D CAD model seen elsewhere in these pages, and a photographic recording that aimed to cover the entire apse to a level of detail which would allow the tessera to be counted.

The Photographic Record

With the exception of the "Fig." references in the Scholars' Report and Sondage texts, all the images presented here were taken with a Minolta D'IMAGE V digital camera at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and saved as JPEG images. Even this relatively low resolution, high compression resulted in over 100 mbytes of digital imagery and this will grow as the study progresses. In fact, these preliminary images are intended only as place holders until better ones become available.

To keep track of what we had and what we needed, an HTML document was prepared using a standard wordprocessor with a reference in place for each image we felt we needed (named according to the scheme described above). When this document was opened in the browser it was immediatley obvious which images were missing or of inadequate quality. Some, particularly in the Sondage series, are still missing and will be collected when next we visit the site. Updating these images with higher resolution versions is a simple matter of copying the better images over the poorer while maintaining the same naming and directory structure.

The CART Record

The apse was recorded using a Leica T100 electronic theodolite coupled with a Leica Disto laser distance measuring device. Over a 12 hour period more than 1500 points were surveyed and the resulting database was processed, using the CART software, into the 3-D CAD model shown above.

The CART system allows the querying of the individual objects that comprise the model and allows the viewing of images, reading of texts and browsing of databases, but the need for AutoCAD as a front end proved to be too intimidating for the archaeologists and art historians for whom the tool was designed and, as a result, was seldom used. The arrival of the WHIP plug-in for WWW browsers has allowed a more universally tolerated interface to be added to the CART suite and it is hoped that the scholars will now be able to take advantage of the tools available. If they just spend a few minutes in the How to use these pages area, I'm sure even the technophobes will find something usefull in this approach.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing about these new tools is the ease with which the old data sets could be automatically processed into these multiple pages. All it really takes is a consistent file naming convention, and any conglomeration of files and database tables can be assembled into a product not unlike this one.


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