When Digs Go Digital
When archaeologists dig, they simultaneously erase the evidence of ancient civilizations. This means that publishing their finds is vital. At the University of Michigan, scholars are working with U-M Press to create innovative publications that present data in immersive ways, while still preserving the quality that specialists value.
Since 2007, Dr. Nic Terrenato has led a multinational team sponsored by the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology that studies the evolution of urbanism at the site of Gabii near Rome. Collaborating with the Press technology team and Dr. Ellen Bauerle, Senior Acquiring Editor, Terrenato and his colleagues have created a new form of digital publication.
If we don’t pop up at the top of the list when someone searches on ‘archaeology’, then we are losing the battle.
Their first work, A Mid-Republican House from Gabii, was published in 2016. Its production entailed a complex and collaborative set of activities to integrate textual description with a 3D model of the site and the fieldwork database. Lead author Dr. Rachel Opitz worked closely with U-M graduate students Tyler Johnson and Matt Naglak, and the Press’s front-end developer Jon McGlone to ensure this integration. Jon, having traveled to Italy to work with the project, notes, “Built on research library infrastructure, Fulcrum offers a perfect platform for disciplines like archaeology where there is rich data that needs to be preserved for the long-term.”
Ensuring public engagement is top of mind for Dr. Mike Galaty, Director of the U-M Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, as he oversees the UMMA Publication Series, established in 1932 and boasting over 100 archaeological and ethnographic titles. He observes, “If we don’t pop up at the top of the list when someone searches on ‘archaeology’, then we are losing the battle.” For the publication series, working with the Press and the Library’s Digital Conversion Unit to move from print into a digital format was essential.
Built on research library infrastructure, Fulcrum offers a perfect platform for disciplines like archaeology where there is rich data that needs to be preserved for the long-term.
U-M archaeologists seek to engage the public in new ways while staying true to the values of their discipline. Through the expertise of its editors and technologists, the Press is finding new ways of bringing the lessons of the past to life.
Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan
Museum of Anthropological Archaeology at the University of Michigan