With the semester coming to a close, my Saving Susiana digital project is off to a great start. While I began the semester with grand idealism, practical constraints relating both to my associated qualifying paper and issues of audience of the project forced me time and time again to shift gears and re-evaluate what I wanted and needed to do with this project both short-term and long-term as this project will be a component of my PhD dissertation.
I did accomplish (some) of my initial goals, albeit these were ultimately pared down significantly from what I had hoped to accomplish early in the project. The catalog aspect was shortened to only that of the British museum, and more specifically objects relating to the time from prehistory to the end of Darius I, who died in 522 B.C. This is largely because my current iteration of the project, as part of my departmental qualifying paper, focuses exclusively on the objects that Darius would have likely had access to during his reign. The majority of the finds from the British museum turned out to be coins from a much later period, and not relevant for this current project. Of course all finds will eventually be recorded in the Omeka site, and broken down by object type and period. With this cataloging system, I also seriously debated and researched the type of information I wanted to be included in order to choose the best metadata organization tools. I debated for some time between using Darwin Core, used largely for the sciences, and Dublin Core which is used for the humanities. Because my project is so interdisciplinary, both metadata organization types have their benefits. My goal in the future is to find some happy medium, since the project ultimately involves both the technical data as well as the humanistic and social scientific analysis of the objects, individuals, art and architecture of Susa.
As far as the model building goes, there have been some interesting developments. I utilized my maps to build the floor plan of the palace and attached Apadana. In researching, and discussing with my advisor how to proceed, the realization came that little is known about the remains of the site since the published archaeological reports are inconsistent and fragmentary. The current models reveal roman influence, rather than something either Darius or his Elamite predecessors would have erected. To accurately reconstruct the building it is therefore necessary to do more research into both Elamite, Neo-Elamite architecture, neither subject of which I have any experience or knowledge with. I certainly hope this is resolved so that I can implement a realistic 3D model and mapping elements to my project, as it would not only enhance my project, but ultimately lead to the audience, or audiences since it appears now I will have to negotiate a broader range since less was known about Susa and the happenings there than I had initially anticipated. Something I could not have known until I presented the research and Qualifying paper to my advisor and committee.
I had a really great experience working on this project and discussing the project direction with my supervisors in the Studio, and cannot thank them enough for all their help and support. They were not just helpful in choosing programs for my project, and working with me to figure out what I needed to make this a successful project, but they were great non-expert soundboards in relation to how to potentially convey my thoughts, ideas, and research to different audiences. I would really recommend that anyone working on a digital project of any sort work with the Studio. They are incredibly kind and really know how to make the best use out of not only our currently available programs and platforms here at Iowa, but about their specific specialties in general which go beyond what we have here to make for well-rounded projects and more accessible digital projects.