Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum

Report on Progress, 10 October 1999

Please note that some of the developments included in this report will not be installed on the web site until the week commencing 11 October 1999.


6629 images were individually edited. Editing involved embedding an International Color Consortium (ICC) colour profile into the image, cropping, rotating, and adjusting sharpness to compensate for negative effects of re-sampling. In the web version, the new images replaced 4854 old unedited images.

A further 13258 larger, higher-resolution versions of the same images were produced for the kiosk.

The new images were produced to fit three specified frame sizes: small, medium and large (the medium and large images are available only on the kiosk). To ensure maximum use of frame space, two copies of each of the 19,887 new images were produced. One copy filled the entire width of the frame, regardless of height, and the other filled the entire height of the frame, regardless of width. The pairs were then compared for size and the smaller file selected. Together with cropping, this method of sizing the images increased the amount of screen space occupied by the object, sometimes quite dramatically. An effective 'magnification' of tenfold was not unusual.

157 files containing transcriptions, notes and translations of manuscripts and papyri were created.

30 images were produced from scanned file photograph prints and negatives of Bab edh-Dhra'. The scanned originals, along with other images such as the papyrus photograph from Oxford, have archived on Photo-CD.

The total number of image files on the web version is now 9205, and there are 23,300 image files on the kiosk.

The Images database was updated correspondingly. There are 9125 records in the web version, and 23,156 in the kiosk version. The record of each image currently used on the website is marked. Thus, the kiosk version is the one to maintain; after every change, a new copy of the web version can be created in a matter of seconds.

Exhaustive checks have been done to ensure accurate cross-reference between images, objects and the image database.

Enhanced images. During the course of the Project a number of images were edited beyond the 'salvage' specification. A sample of these enhanced images, some in contrasting pairs, have been brought together as one of the Tours of the Project. The 'before and after' contrast can be dramatic. In the Images database these images have the word "enhanced" as their caption.

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Object Database

The 'primary category' field for each of the 2183 objects in the database has been reviewed and in some cases revised:

Primary Category

Artefacts (including two bones and one textile, and non-ceramic vases)




Sculpture (excluding those with inscriptions)


Texts (including those with sculptural elements)


Vases (ceramic only)


Five separate databases were created, one for each Primary Category of object. This allowed search and display pages relevant to each category of object. The coins and the texts databases were added to the website. However, database management and maintenance problems became apparent. As a result, a method was devised for allowing category-appropriate search and display from a single database. Although it has the disadvantage of requiring some custom value lists for each category of object, in a stable collection this has proven to be less of a problem than the difficulties created by multiple object databases. Thus, all 2183 objects are now in a single database which allows

In all seven types of search, the display of object detail is appropriate to the category of object. This had not been possible for cross-category searches under the experimental multiple database model.

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Database Fields

There are 126 fields in the objects database. Of these, 72 contain information that is unlikely to be of interest to users of the Virtual Museum or is of a confidential nature. A clone or template of the objects database has been prepared which contains only the 54 fields needed for the publicly-accessible versions of the database. If the entries in the database are updated, the clone can be used to generate a new public version of the database in a matter of seconds.

A separate dabases of fields has been constructed, covering both the Objects and the Images databases. This indicates which fields are of relevance to which categories of object and hence appear in the customised search and detailed display layouts and formatting documents. A printout of this information for the fields in the public version of the objects and images database is available; information for all of the fields in these two database is also listed in a document in files. The fields database also contains a description of the type of entry appropriate for each field, and thus can act as a cataloguer's guide.

Further details of all databases in the Virtual Museum can be viewed here.

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Greek Vases Catalogue

Thanks to Professor Anderson, the Greek Vases Catalogue will soon be a reality. It has been decided that the volume will be published in-house. Estimates have been received from three different publishers and for an accompanying CD-ROM (combined estimates range from around $30,000 to around $150,000!) Applications have been made to funding bodies for support. A decision on final specifications and publisher is expected to be made in the next few days.

The Greek Vases list included on the website has been further supplemented with the addition of 9 vases on permanent loan and links to the 15 new images of MUV 82 that have become available since the list was created.

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Smaller notices

Documentation. As this phase of the Project draws to a close, a big effort has been made to assemble as much documentation as possible about the Collections and the Project. A copy of this documentation will be available in print form. Much of it has already been posted on the website.

Website. The website has been completely re-organized and a lot of temporary material deleted. The appearance of the home page, and of the Virtual Museum search page, has been redesigned for greater clarity and simplicity.

Tours. The website now has a number of illustrated 'tours' of the Collections and the Project.

Cypriot Collection. Sally Salter has supplied a printout of some of the unpublished Cypriot vases she is studying. She anticipates completing her work early in the new year. Her material has yet to be entered into the corresponding records in the Objects database.

Named collections. Web pages have been developed for a number of named collections and sites represented in them. These pages can be accessed from links included in the relevant object detail displays or from the Tours page.

Bab edh-Dhra'. Photographs and negatives in the files were scanned and images of the objects in situ were attached to the web page that has been developed for this site.

Manuscripts. The 17 Latin and 1 Greek manuscripts have now been incorporated into the objects database. I have identified another of the texts. In a number of cases, transcriptions, notes and English translations have been prepared and can be displayed along with the images of the manuscript folios. Some of the transcriptions have been set out line for line as in the manuscript, allowing for parallel viewing. John Martyn has recently supplied revisions of his transcriptions, notes and translations of some of the letters of Gregory; these revisions have yet to be incorporated into the Virtual Museum versions.

Papyri. Published and handwritten transcriptions of the papyri, where available, have been incorporated into the Virtual Museum. The transcriptions follow the papyri line for line and can be viewed parallel with the image of the papyrus. To overcome font problems, the Greek transcriptions have been converted into images. Extracts from Graeme Clarke's paper on the papyri have been added to the database.

Object Movies. David Adam has now refined compression techniques. He believes he can reduce the size of the object movies from their present average of 12 mb to a mere 2 mb, with scarcely any perceptible loss of quality. At that size, it may be feasible to include them all on the website - downloading them over the campus network would not take very long. It also means that the 68 object movies of Greek vases will easily fit on to the CD-ROM that it is planned to produce along with the printed volume.

Mystery Object. Responses to the mystery object question have been arriving with increasing frequency (about 2-3 per week, compared to about 1 per month at the start). A new mystery object has been installed.

Middle Eastern Manuscripts. For future development, a separate database has been constructed from the 1993 Conservation report. These 168 manuscripts have not been included in the Virtual Museum as yet, and they have not been photographed. Following a request from someone in Yemen, a list of the manuscripts, with summary details of language, date and content, has now been posted on the website.

Middle Eastern Collection. Bibliographical information for about 70 objects has been added to the database.

Tertiary Inscriptions, notes. A number of unidentified objects in the Near Eastern Collection have tertiary inscriptions which, if interpreted, may assist in identifying the objects. A list of these tertiary inscriptions has been posted on the website. A link to this list has been added to the home page, with a request for visitors to see if they can help. A similar list of notes found with the collection but not attached to any particular object has also been posted in the hope that they might eventually be re-united with their objects.

Missing objects. A list has been drawn up of missing objects. There is a link to this list from the home page, inviting visitors to help us find the objects.

Still to do. An outline of what remains to be done on the Virtual Museum, and possible future developments, will be presented at the forthcoming meeting of the Steering Committee.

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