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      Interpretation at the Controller’s Edge: Designing Graphical User Interfaces for the Digital Publication of the Excavations at Gabii (Italy)

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      Open Archaeology

      Walter de Gruyter GmbH

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          Abstract

          This paper discusses the authors’ approach to designing an interface for the Gabii Project’s digital volumes that attempts to fuse elements of traditional synthetic publications and site reports with rich digital datasets. Archaeology, and classical archaeology in particular, has long engaged with questions of the formation and lived experience of towns and cities. Such studies might draw on evidence of local topography, the arrangement of the built environment, and the placement of architectural details, monuments and inscriptions (e.g. Johnson and Millett 2012). Fundamental to the continued development of these studies is the growing body of evidence emerging from new excavations. Digital techniques for recording evidence “on the ground,” notably SFM (structure from motion aka close range photogrammetry) for the creation of detailed 3D models and for scene-level modeling in 3D have advanced rapidly in recent years. These parallel developments have opened the door for approaches to the study of the creation and experience of urban space driven by a combination of scene-level reconstruction models (van Roode et al. 2012, Paliou et al. 2011, Paliou 2013) explicitly combined with detailed SFM or scanning based 3D models representing stratigraphic evidence. It is essential to understand the subtle but crucial impact of the design of the user interface on the interpretation of these models. In this paper we focus on the impact of design choices for the user interface, and make connections between design choices and the broader discourse in archaeological theory surrounding the practice of the creation and consumption of archaeological knowledge. As a case in point we take the prototype interface being developed within the Gabii Project for the publication of the Tincu House. In discussing our own evolving practices in engagement with the archaeological record created at Gabii, we highlight some of the challenges of undertaking theoretically-situated user interface design, and their implications for the publication and study of archaeological materials.

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          Most cited references 11

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          Demystifying the Persistent Ambiguity of GIS as ‘Tool’ versus ‘Science’

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            ‘Always momentary, fluid and flexible’: towards a reflexive excavation methodology

             Ian Hodder (1997)
            Çatalhöyük, on the Konya Plain in south central Anatolia, in the 1960s became the most celebrated Neolithic site of western Asia: huge (21 hectares), with early dates, tightpacked rooms with roof access, exuberant mural paintings, cattle heads fixed to walls, dead buried beneath floors in collective graves.
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              The visual language of archaeology: a case study of the Neanderthals

              Two notable reconstructions of Neanderthal individuals are analysed in this perceptive study of the role of visual reconstructions in archaeological debate. The author concludes that such images are more than popular by-products of academic discussion, and play a crucial role in the construction of archaeological arguments.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Open Archaeology
                Walter de Gruyter GmbH
                2300-6560
                January 15 2016
                January 15 2016
                : 1
                : 1
                Article
                10.1515/opar-2015-0017
                © 2016

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