WEBSITE \ EVALUATION \ Comparative - 193-vis – 1: C. Chaves Yates, December 2011

Comparative analysis of archaeological websites

Visual Websites
   Virtual Tours
   Visual Database


     A number of websites are aimed at providing data that would be unavailable in more traditional formats. This normally includes complex visuals, slideshows, and videos. Occasionally the brochure type websites include a short video or introductory tour but these websites are not structured around the visual materials and thus have not been categorized as "visual" styles. Instead, only websites that are explicitly focused on presenting visual data, such as 3D reconstructions, visual tours, and interactive maps are included.

     This categorization includes sites such as CyArk which are focused entirely on the visual presentation of the data, in this case primarily through 3D reconstructions . Another good example of the "visual" style is Metis, where the visitor can tour a number of classical archaeological sites. A list of sites of this type is included in the Appendix.

Virtual Tours

     The most prominent type of visual website is the virtual tour of an ancient monument. This can be a reconstructed 3D model or a photographic interactive panorama as the site would be viewed today. These websites can give a glimpse of the past that many people will never get to experience - because the original structure is lost or inaccessible and serve a documentary purpose. Without an interpretive material, however, there primary use is not scholarly research.

Visual Database

     A unique example of the crossovers in the Visual category is the Visual Database. With the explosion of 3D modeling and GIS mapping in archaeology larger quantities of data are being stored in visual databases. The MayaArch3D Project uses 3D modeling to store and share information about the Maya city of Copan. As noted in the
introduction, visual data can be documentary if provided with the right context. The MayaArch project adds context and explanations to its visual data - creating what is essentially a database structured on the frame of visual data.
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