The project I am presently pursuing revolves around the ancient site of Susa, Modern Sush, also known as Suse, Shush, and Susiana. The site, has been excavated sporadically since 1897 by French Archaeologists under the Ministry of Culture, the latest occurring in 2010. Susa has largely been left out of the Near-Eastern literature, even though some of the major canonical works come from this site. This project, which will eventually become part of my PhD thesis is multifaceted encompassing both the building of a catalogue raison’ of archaeological materials and artistic works, and the mapping and 3D visualization of the site.
This semester, my focus will be largely on cataloguing the copious amounts of metadata and beginning the mapping side of the project. I have encountered a significant number of issues, some of which include a lack of significant metadata, as well as imagery about the site and the location of these objects.
While the material data is located primarily in three locations at present, the British Museum, the Louvre, and Iran either at the Tehran National Museum, or the Susa Archaeological Museums, the standards of documentation fail to remain constant across these institutions. This makes it very difficult for other researchers, as well as myself, to maintain a standard or consistent format of metadata. Until I visit these museums, and see the documentation and material objects for myself, it may be impossible to account for every category of metadata for every piece available. I expected some of this, as I have been researching this material for sometime, but am somewhat horrified that these museums have neither spent the time or had the initiative to correct this within their own collections, or across institutions.
This part of the project is very tedious, with significant work just coming from the input of data in a single location. To do this, I am presently using the upgraded OMEKA program, as well as Excel. This is standard until this information can be uploaded to a website completely dedicated to either an single project or the site material itself, which is where I hope this project leads.
The second part of this project involves a mapping component. The lack of specific find data complicates this significantly, though I am learning how to work around these issues by exploring various mapping programs and interfaces. Working with the Studio’s GIS Specialist Rob Shepard, we have begun to define what it is I want to accomplish with this, as well as what program would work best. Because there is almost no mapping data, I will have to use MyMaps to create a base layer upon which to work. Eventually this will be uploaded to QGis or ArcGIS where it can be added to, and where a 3D model can be placed. My first task in this part is to build the basemap, which is what I am presently working on for this part of the project. Thanks to Google Maps which has a relatively good map of the site, I am able to accomplish this fairly easily and straightforwardly, however I will note that other areas of the site are not as well preserved, so when it comes time to map those sections that may present more of a challenge.