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These Abstracts are automatically assembled and sorted by nothing other than the file name of the .ABS files wherever they might appear.
Large Data Sets for a Small Audience or Automating GIS Input

An abstract of a paper presented at the 1998 meetings of the Canadian Archaeological Association in Victoria.

The computer systems we have at our disposal today offer many amazing tools to sort, analyze, display and present our data and we have all seen presentations that we would love to emulate if only we had the time and resources to do so. That we almost never do have these resources points out a fundamental difference between the mandates of archaeologists, who are data providers and those of the data presenters such as museums, who are generally responsible for these glitzy productions. At the most basic level this difference can be characterized as being between "small data sets for large audiences" and "large data sets for a tiny audience". It is clear that the many hours required to prepare one of these displays can seldom be justified within the mandate of the archaeologist but still you must publish, and comparisons with the well known presentations will be inevitable. It is clear that some tools are required to facilitate the presentation of archaeological data and they will have to be mostly automatic if there is to be any realistic hope of your finding time to use them. We have developed a tool which assembles your data into a series of interlinked HTML pages ready for your intranet or the World Wide Web and it can be almost completely automatic though its level of automation is in direct proportion to the consistency of your dataset. This presentation will focus on how data can best be collected and organized to take advantage of this capability. Data sets thus processed, from a variety of projects past and current, will be used to illustrate the presentation.

An Automatic Web Publishing Package for Complex Data Sets

Steve Nickerson
Nickerson & Associates Designed Building Systems Ltd
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Y 3Z4

CIPA XVII Symposium - Recife, Brazil - October 1999
CIPA Working Group 6

KEYWORDS As Found Recording, Information Systems, Database, Archive, HTML


The computer revolution has made it possible for Heritage Recorders and Conservationists to gather far more data about a resource, in a much shorter time, than was previously possible. While this is undoubtedly a "good thing" the problem now is how to turn all these disparate data types (photos, sketches, notes, survey data, CAD drawings, database tables, word processing files, etc.) into usable information.

There is a fundamental dichotomy between the data of the "gatherer" and that of the "presenter". From the perspective of a system analyst it might be described as the difference between having a little information for a large audience and having a lot of information for a small one. A museum or publication would fall in the former category, distinguished by the fact that much of the data has been removed for the presentation, while the Heritage Recorder occupies the other side of this equation and must keep everything.

A Heritage Record contains a vast amount of data that is of interest to only a very small, but important, audience which includes the conservators charged with maintaining the asset, those who may eventually present it to a larger audience and "posterity".

As the data set grows and resources dwindle it has become necessary to create tools to facilitate the organisation and analysis of this material to make it as easy as possible for recorders to collect quality data in the first place and to quickly identify areas of the record that may be deficient.

The CARTHTML Publisher is such a tool. It forces the recorders to use a consistent data structure and in return automatically prepares, HTML pages which present the material in an easy to understand format which is accessible to all computers and uses no proprietary software.

This paper will demonstrate this new product, discuss the data structures required to support it and show examples of how it has been used in support of archaeology, art history, architectural and industrial recording, and in preparing the documentation of procedures and training courses.

Measuring Humeima '95 - Excavations at Humeima in Southern Jordan

Techniques employed for data collection and model generation during the 1995 excavations University of Victoria Jordanian Department of Antiquities

A report on the tools and techniques used to collect measurements in the field and integrate them into an overall site information system Author: Steve Nickerson :


During the summer of 1995 an experiment in archaeological recording was carried out at Humeima in Jordan's southern desert. It was based on the premise that carefully collected measurements could be used to automatically generate CAD drawings of the trenches and, at the same time, build a database where all the hard information collected at the site could be stored. This information would then be supplemented by other tables where the interpretive information supplied by specialists, conservationists and historians could be added over time without affecting the primary record.

By linking the entities in these CAD drawings to these database tables (also an automatic function of the original drawing), a Site Information System would be created, providing a single interface to the entire data set.

The experiment was a qualified success (the patient died) but the approach has proved itself and our experiences may be of interest to others embarking on such a venture.

Comparison of Hand Measurement Techniques

Author: Steve Nickerson :


A comparison of the tools and techniques used in, or potentially useful for measurements in Archaeology and Heritage Recording

Thousands of measurements are taken in the course of an archaeological excavation and even more when recording historic buildings. It is imperative that these be acquired efficiently and in a format readily accessible to the computers that will be processing the data into CAD models and GIS databases.

The traditional techniques often do not satisfy these requirements and this paper explores the options and compares them in terms of accuracy and speed of acquisition. Some specialized measurement tools are also discussed.

The (non-virtual) Reality of the Heritage Record

ICOMOS 11th General Assembly - Sofia, Bulgaria Oct 5-9, 1996
Heritage and Social Change - Methodologies and Techniques
Author: Steve Nickerson :


As ICOMOS struggles to adapt to changing technology there is something that does not appear to have been fully grasped by the conservation community. It is that the Heritage Record is fundamentally different, from a data management perspective, from the information, around which, all the exciting developments towards multimedia and virtual reality have been taking place.

The first difference is that, whereas a museum or special exhibit is processing a relatively small amount of data for relatively large audience, the initial record comprises a huge amount of data with almost no audience at all. As a result, the large amount of overhead required to present this data to the public in these flashy formats will never be justified and other modes of presentation must be developed.

The other difference that needs to be addressed is the long term accessibility of this information. These records must be maintained in perpetuity, long past the memory of the recorder or archivist and using formats and procedures independent of hardware and software standards as well as arbitrary indexing schemes such as cadastral identification and even political designations.

This paper will propose a structure for such a database with an indexing schema based on geographic position, storage procedures based on constant renewal and data standards accessible to all hardware and software. Current data processing realities will be acknowledged by the presentation of tools, currently under development, that will convert archival data to these standards while creating the interface that would allow public access over the Internet.

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