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when the best conservation efforts are practiced, the site of digs
are forever altered by archaeological researchers. That is why it
is imperative that the researchers document and disseminate what
they learn. "If we dig the stuff up and don't publish, we're no
better than looters," says Leventhal.
years, UCLA has made a name for itself as a publisher of primary
archaeological information - both its own and others'. More recently,
the institute has taken the lead in the newer realm of digital publishing
- a medium that enables archaeologists to broadcast their work in
a more accessible, visual format, at a lower cost and with greater
immediacy than traditional publishing allows.
traditional publishing, you end up with hundreds of pages of text,
one or two pictures and a few maps," says Louise Krasniewicz, director
of the Digital Archaeology Laboratory. "Now we're able to include
thousands of images and hundreds of maps along with the text, and
make it all interactive." The digital representations also provide
far greater context. From a picture of the statues on Easter Island,
for example, the viewer can turn 360 degrees, taking in the extinct
volcano from which they were carved and the barren island where
in the digital lab, in consultation with a working group of computer-minded
archaeologists from all over the world and with funding from the
Ahmanson Foundation, have developed a digital-publishing template
that is being freely released to the archaeology community this
fall. "Rather than having to reinvent the wheel with every new project,
archaeologists will be able to simply import their information into
this template and have an attractive presentation," says Krasniewicz.
Another major project in development at the digital lab is The Virtual
Archaeologist, a CD-ROM for K-12 students and their teachers. Users
interface with a three-dimensionally rendered laboratory, each station
offering a different set of activities.