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Sphakia Survey: The Internet Edition

About the Sphakia Survey Internet Edition

The Sphakia Survey project team has issued a series of preliminary publications. It has also made a video about the methods and possible results of archaeological field survey. The team is currently working towards a final publication in two volumes.

In 1998 the Sphakia Survey project team decided that they would like to reach a wider audience of researchers, teachers, students, and the general public using electronic means. The team felt that to give access to the resources in a digital format would be extremely valuable, and would offer both greater access by more people, and greatly extend the possibilities for interactive exploration of the data using, for example, dynamic databases.

The team thus approached the Academic Computing Development Team (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/acdt/) to provide technical input to the creation of a web site for the project. The ACDT works with academics at the University of Oxford to develop innovative teaching and research projects, many of which are web-based. The Sphakia team submitted a proposal under the ACDT project proposals scheme and the project was selected for development. From November 1999 until September 2000, the ACDT worked with the Sphakia team towards:

(a) providing a web site about the project;

(b) bringing together numerous resources about the project or produced by the project (research articles, video clips) in a single place;

(c) allowing users dynamic interaction with the some of the research databases produced by the project, and in particular a specially devised case study database presenting all the Survey's data for one period of one area of Sphakia;

(d) giving access to a selection of the large archive of photographs and drawings which the project has produced (1200 images (most in colour) of landscapes, plants, sites and objects, and 160 drawings);

(e) providing very clear navigation to guide users through the resources.

The web site has three principal objectives:

  • to offer basic information about the Sphakia Survey (including illustrated versions of four of our preliminary articles);

  • to complement (and advertise) the final hard copy publication by offering a searchable database version of the site catalogue (whose supporting data will appear in the final publication), and by offering basic information about fabric analysis and colour images of selected sherds.

  • to offer a case study (and searchable database) based on the Graeco-Roman data for one of our eight regions. The case study is complemented by a series of model questions which can be asked of the relevant databases.

The development of the web site involved a great deal of commitment from a large number of different parties. Simon Price and Lucia Nixon spent a great deal of time on choosing and collecting resources (e.g. photographs, articles, drawings); creating new 'web' versions of all the databases; checking content of the databases; making many changes to the databases to allow information to be searched and extracted in the best way; and writing prose specifically for the web site. Debi Harlen made very substantial contributions to this process and without her expertise the project would not have succeeded within the timeframe. Sophie Clarke (ACDT) carried out all of the web site development and demonstrated her expertise in graphic design (both graphics for the site and creation of the digital maps), as well as gaining much expertise with the CDML scripting language, sufficient to cope with the very complex and varied demands of each of the different database systems and make them available for browsing, searching, and querying. Much background preparatory work was carried out to prepare the other resources to put on the web, in particular digital versions of the images. Bluetag (http://www.bluetag.co.uk/) digitised the main batch of over 1100 slides. Jenny Cashman and Peter Haarer captured the remaining slides, the black and white photographs and the drawings at appropriate resolutions, whilst Charles Crowther of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents (http://www.csad.ox.ac.uk/) generously provided his expertise and access to specialist equipment. The Sphakia Survey is grateful to Oxford University (Research and Equipment Committee and the Faculty of Literae Humaniores) for grants to cover the most of the costs of digitisation and some of the costs of developing the original databases. Sarah Porter (ACDT) provided project management and creative ideas for the web site development.

Technical Guide to Users

The Sphakia web site is designed to work best with an up-to-date web browser, Internet Explorer 4.0 or above for preference, or Netscape 4.0 or above. This is because some of the technology that is used to allow the more interactive parts of the site (such as the databases and navigation bars) will work best with a recent browser. However, the site has been carefully tested so that it will work in almost any browser though text-only users will not benefit from the many photographs contained in the site. Visit the UK Mirror web site to download up-to-date versions of either Internet Explorer or Netscape (http://www.mirror.ac.uk/packages/web/browsers/). Non UK users may wish to go directly to the Microsoft or Netscape web sites. To view the video clips you will require either the QuickTime Player or the Real Viewer which can be downloaded from the Quicktime site and the Real video site respectively.

This is a graphically-rich site and if you are using a slow modem (e.g. 14.4 or 28.8 Kbps or Kilobytes Per Second ) you may wish to view the pages with the option not to view images immediately and then view the images selectively when required: you can select the option not to automatically download images in your web browser.


Duplicating, Publication, and Redistribution

The texts and illustrations contained in this site may not be published, reproduced, or otherwise redistributed without permission of the Sphakia Survey and are for personal and educational use only. Commercial use is strictly prohibited. Scholarly publications should make reference to this site as Lucia Nixon, Jennifer Moody, Simon Price and Oliver Rackham 2000, The Sphakia Survey: Internet Edition.


   © The Sphakia Survey: Internet Edition, University of Oxford 2000
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