The Technology Manager for the History Department at Princeton University, Carla Zimowsk has provided technical support for the department for 10 years. Not trained as a historian or a GIS expert, she draws upon graduate work in organizational communications and knowledge management. As a result, during the past decade, she has come to understand the needs of those she supports.
“The faculty all have stuff,” she began at the March 24 Lunch ‘n Learn seminar, “and it tells a story when pulled together.” In a trip to the Visualization Centre at the University of Birmingham several years ago, she suddenly realized the importance of visualizing data.
Princeton Professor John Haldon, the director of the Euchaita/Avkat Project, an archaeological and historical survey based around the village of Avkat in north-central Anatolia, introduced the Avkat Archaeological Survey at the March 5 Lunch ‘n Learn. The effort is a collaborative archeological and historical research project that seeks to integrate a number of different approaches to studying the past, using recent technological advances to integrate medieval sources as well as disparate datasets into a cohesive framework of analysis. The project offers the opportunity to trace the history of a single region across a period of more than 1500 years. Haldon hopes to clarify the political role of the area throughout the period, and to show the effects of human activity in transforming the landscape, tracking shifting settlement and demographic patterns, and explaining transformations in land-use, agricultural and pastoral farming, and urban-rural relationships.
The 10-year project employs cutting edge survey, mapping, and digital modeling techniques to enrich our understanding of the society, economy, land use, demography, paleo-environmental history and resources of the late Roman, Byzantine, and Seljuk/Ottoman periods. From the 1980s, archaeological field survey methodologies have rapidly developed. We also now have remote sensing techniques ranging from ground-penetrating radar to airborne radar systems and satellite imagery. However, the integration of these techniques into a unified project design has rarely been achieved. All too often, notes Haldon, these methodologies are simply tacked onto existing project designs.