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Yesterday I attended a STAR project workshop. Semantic Technologies for Archaeological Resources. It is a joint University of Glamorgan and English Heritage project and aims to:

“investigate the potential of semantic terminology tools for widening and improving access to digital archaeology resources, including disparate data sets and associated grey literature.”

What they were showing yesterday was a demonstrator, which seemed to work really well. You could search across datasets (including the Silchester LEAP stuff *hooray!*) and use a very simple interface to search on contexts, finds, samples or groups. Everything relies on being able to map datasets to the CIDOC-CRM EH version using existing guides like the National Monuments Thesauri, MIDAS lists and other FISH approved terminology lists.

The whole day was interesting but what I think really stood out was the potential for searching the vast amount of grey literature (see for example OASIS). Okay, so the demonstrator wasn’t perfect, some of the natural language processing sometimes got it a bit wrong, but isn’t that better than the current alternative – which is to search them all by eye?! I loved it. Second place for exciting idea of the day goes to the potential in the demonstrator to search across datasets that relate to your own research interest. I can see how you could (relatively quickly) come up with basic distributions for a particular site or find type based on the grey literature and excavation database. You could start to use this to redress the huge gap between what academics say a distribution of thing x is and what recent commerical excavations have added. Like using the Portable Antiquities Scheme but for actual excavation data!

Awesome, says I. Real, actual progress in archaeology. Well done Glamorgan and EH.

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Tis week 6 of Silchester, or week 7 if you include de-backfill. And I’m bloody knackered. This whole 6 day week, 12-15 hour day thing is frankly, crap – and is making for an exceedingly grumpy Emma. And a pie-d up Emma too, what with not really being arsed to cook when I get in late and not having time to go to the gym. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me too much but the bridesmaiding next week may suffer 😦

On the up side, I did buy new make up from the lovely MAC for the wedding, all purple and cute. Tomorrow, on the rare day off, I shall be attempting to find some silver shoes for the ceremony and then some purple converse for the reception. Two legitimate shoe buyings in one day – excellent!

Three days until the first lot of staff arrive to set up camp on site. Debackfill commences on Monday, Portacabins and computers on site on tuesday and the big staff training day will be on Thursday. Eeeek! Haven’t quite got all the training manuals in place yet, will do by Friday but this responsibility stuff it getting to be a bit scary. Daunting. Also, I’m currently writing an article for Lucerna, the roman finds group. Something else I never thought I’d do – not to say I’m necessarily proud of this shift towards romanism that I’ve been undergoing lately!

Only 4 weeks until week 0. This makes me happy, stressed and excited in equal measure. Whilst writing up the training preparations and manuals for the wee students and staff, I must also remember to stock up on gin and tonic and an uzi. Also, I need to work out a system so I don’t have ridiculous archaeology tan for the wedding of the year in Oxford, only 3 days after the dig ends!

I have been given the task of comparing prices for hiring and or buying GPS equipment for the Silchester project this year. Why is finding out prices and product specifications so difficult? I don’t want a hi tec magic machine with a black box, just something simple! I’ve spent the last two days calling and emailing people, having meetings and generally stressing.

Then, I find out through someone who knows someone that the department has a Topcon FC200, brand new and never used. Why never used? Because noone knows how. Possibly, because noone knew it was there. Arrrrggghhh! Manual reading for me tomorrow!