Several of the common digital antiquities databases have very poor or non-existent visualization tools. Their focus is showing you individual sites on a map and with precious little other support. The least satisfactory in this regard is Arthur deGraauw's Harbors project. Dr. deGraauw is an outstanding expert in the field of harbor research; he freely and generously makes his data available to everyone. This data is, however, in the form of a spreadsheet (computer types refer to this as a 'flat file') and no map visualization is possible on his site. The remainder among these various DBs provide a dedicated page for each site along with minimal, mostly useless information about it, but without any larger visualization. The best user interface among these databases is Vici which provides a visualization map for each site and shows you the context. I do notice, though, that when I use Vici that there is often no site description or indication of the site's significance. Here's an example: this shows Neftina on Lemnos which appears to be a quarry although we are not told this:
Vici is actually pretty good and contains nearly everything you want in map visualization. Vici also provides context in the form of other near-by sites. The zoom-level is user controlled and jumping to another site does not require you to go back into outer space before zooming in again.
|Pleiades: Searching for Kydonia.|
Phase 1: Outer Space!
|Part of Lemnos in the Mycenaean Atlas Project Digital Atlas|
Features (red F paddles), M.A.P. sites (Bronze Age) in blue and Trismegistos sites are displayed
|The Lemnos map (detail)|
Layer Menu visible along with 'spotter' map
- Supports visualization for the following DBs: DARE, deGraauw's Harbors Project, Mycenaean Atlas Project (with features), Pleiades, Topostext, Trismegistos, VICI
- Displays these databases in a frame that is 0.18° 'square'.
- Differential selection among the seven data sets
- Persistent zoom level (user-controlled zoom) (The user is never catapulted into outer space against his/her will)
- User-controlled redraw of the frame by clicking anywhere on the map
- Links from each DB icon to the relevant details page (Pleiades, Topostext etc., even deGraauw's Harbors).
- User-selectable map sheet backgrounds
|Sample detail page for Arthur deGraauw's Harbor data.|
This is Neftina on Lemnos