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The Silchester Roman Town archaeological excavation is one of the largest Roman sites in the UK. Silchester's principal data collection are contained within the York Archaeological Trust's (YAT) Integrated Archaeological Database (IADB) which is held on a server in Reading, removed from the data collection process in Hampshire and relevant experts at the Universities of Cardiff, Reading, Southampton and Oxford. The types of data involved are extremely diffuse, including numismatics, spatial site plans, matrix information, as well as the full range of data on find types and distribution. The annual excavation period at Silchester comprises eight weeks of intensive data gathering in a tight timeframe and with limited personnel. The site's excavation team has recognised the need for a more fluid and accessible network of human expertise. Many of the experts are geographically dispersed, both from each other, from the site, and from relevant information held elsewhere. This makes the exchange of ideas and interpretations, which are critical to the research process, very cumbersome; a major problem long recognised in field archaeology. This project will provide the basis for a virtual solution to it. The overall aim of the project is to develop a system to facilitate rapidly developing and iterative archaeological research by synchronising the three processes of gathering information, co-ordinating expertise, and managing the resulting body of data. The specific objectives are to: Establish full interoperability between different IADB datasets, wherever they physically reside. Improve real time on-site data gathering including an assessment of the usefulness of handheld PDA devices using wireless networking (WiFi) and/or mobile phone (GPRS) technologies. Develop a structured mechanism for classifying thematic Research Domains or Views, which will operate across servers and across projects. Develop a framework for the creation of real-time online conferences involving both on- and off-site project workers and remote specialists. Project start date: 2004-12-01. Project end date: 2006-11-30. (Excerpt from this source)
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