Lycoming College wins grant to digitally preserve and publicly share irreplaceable archaeological information

Lycoming College wins grant to digitally preserve and publicly share irreplaceable archaeological information

This image is one of hundreds that will become publicly available to researchers around the globe.

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Thousands of photos, maps and data gleaned from Lycoming College’s Idalion archaeology site in the Republic of Cyprus will be made publicly available over the next several months because of the generous support of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The foundation has awarded the College a $10,000 grant to offset costs of digital publication and the time required to input the data, currently existing only in limited hardcopy form.

The Lycoming College Expedition at Idalion serves as a field school providing vital training in excavation method and theory to archaeology students from institutions across the United State and Europe. Excavations focus on illuminating the domestic and industrial areas of the major city kingdom. Archaeologists at the site also uncovered a major sanctuary and a sacred grove dedicated to the god Adonis.

“Because archaeologists generally favor more dramatic architecture such as temples and palaces, little is known about the daily lives of the residents of these cities,” said Pamela Gaber, Ph.D., professor of archaeology and Judaic studies at Lycoming and the director of the Idalion field school. “Our site is one of the few that has decades of data about everyday living customs and work practices.”

The material produced by the Lycoming Expedition has proved valuable in many fields of study including ancient metallurgy, urbanism, trade, art history and religion.

Data from this major excavation currently exists primarily in paper form as hundreds of notebooks that include hardcopy photographs and hand-drawn maps.

“Archaeological sites are destroyed as they are excavated, and the information contained in these notebooks is irreplaceable,” said Gaber, who will serve as the coordinator of the digitization project. “Access to the data is extremely limited at present, with the original notebooks archived in Cyprus and the only other copies stored at Lycoming College. By publishing the data online, researchers world-wide will be able to access the information to further our understanding of the ancient world.”

The Idalion crew has already started working on the project

From left: Elizabeth Treptow, a 2012 graduate from Lycoming College with a degree in archaeology, of Queens, N.Y. who hails from Ewing, N.J.; Andrew Wright, a 2015 graduate of Lycoming College with a degree in archaeology from Chicago, Ill.; and Konrad Matyjewicz, a 2015 graduate from Institute of Archaeology at University in Posnan, Poland.

First the notebooks will be scanned. Then high resolution scans of photographs and drawings and other data will be entered into ArcheoLINK, an archaeological information system that can open and export many different file types. The system also integrates geographic information systems data related to the site. Once digitized, the database information and interpretations of the data will be shared on Open Context, a website that provides access to the primary data on which the interpretations are based.

Because of the tremendous amount of recoded information, the pilot project will focus only on a section of the domestic and industrial areas of the site, which will consist of digitizing 30 field notebooks and related materials.

“The site of Idalion has attracted the attention of archaeologists, researchers and museums for more than a century,” Gaber said. “In fact, many of its sculptures were removed in the late 19th century and are now part of the collection at the British Museum in London.”

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