Inspired by the evident methodological stagnation of the archaeological science in Russia the workgroup of Smolensk archaeological expedition launched a fundamental research project in summer year 2000. The expedition has been conducting a research work on the largest medieval complex of archaeological sites - Gnezdovo, belonging to the Viking period, for more then 50 years.
The mainstream of efforts of our workgroup was concentrated on the development of excavation data recording techniques. In fact, excavation process is a mean of analytical transformation of a raw data “buried” in soil into an array of archaeological information, followed by inevitable data loses and distortions. The draft survey showed a very dull picture of 50-60 % of data, that could be traced and recorded, neglected in the process of excavations on Russian archaeological sites. One of the main reasons affecting such a dramatic loss is the very principle of traditional paper-form recording of stratification, when originally 3-D spatial archaeological data (deposition lithography, artificial and natural remains, distribution of finds, etc) is projected or “compressed” onto consequent 2-D sketch plans drawn with fixed elevation interval. Therefore, the sketches contain the discrete data from the layer borders, while the evidence concealed within the layer is generally roughly recorded or even neglected. All finds and other artificial evidence are registered within logical squares with uneven precision in each individual case.
This paper is focused on an alternative strategy of handling excavation record: direct copying of evidence data from a true 3-D space of an excavation ground to a modeled 3-D virtual space. AutoCAD 2000 was used as a core modeling environment for the project. A notion of all-embracing digital environment for handling archaeological data is introduced; and the crucial problems of recording stratification, artificial and natural remains, and finds are successively discussed in the presented paper. An overview of major innovative capabilities and its immerse potential for development is given. Finally, an issue of applying the digital excavation record technique to previously collected archive excavation data is concerned. Key words: methodology, excavation, stratification, 3-Dimentional, record, virtual data, database, hyperlinks
A research is brought to life by information. Archaeological information is extracted from a great variety of sources. In the last years, their number is being multiplied, while the information, as a whole is getting increasingly diverse and heterogeneous. Archaeology seems to shift to ever widening use of non-destructive methods of survey, such as remote sensing or geophysical survey. Still, excavations remain major providers of archaeological data. The results of non-destructive surveying are commonly tested against sample excavations. Another prominent tendency is researches getting concerned with re-utilization of previously obtained excavation data. This awareness is marked by a growing number of publications, presenting re-evaluated, re-processed, re-analyzed archive data from excavations and surveys, conducted for the last two centuries. This can be regarded as a manifest of the major significance of excavation record in a mass of archaeological information.
The excavation techniques has been rapidly developing and improving in the last decades, but still very unevenly in different countries, especially those with limited international scientific links. Methodology, forms of record, storage and representation of data collected in a course of archaeological excavations are very far from international and even regional level unification.
2. Russian archaeology today
Generally, the present state of Russian archaeological science can be described as conservative methodological stagnation. The main efforts of researches are concentrated on extensive continuous excavations. This major preference to wide-scale fieldwork results in lack of attention and enthusiasm to the collected data analysis, interpretation, and publication. It is being piled year after year, waiting for the researchers for decades. From the other hand, the excavation technique, which is currently widely used in Russia show no significant development since 1950-70-s.
In fact, excavation process is a mean of analytical transformation of a raw data, “buried” in soil