|“functional group”, “name”, “shape”, “material”, “colour”, and “state of preservation” fields. Precise location of a find was marked in a virtual 3-D excavation ground space. AutoCAD database engine allowed to integrate an Access database in the modeled excavation record environment and establish links between spatial location points of finds and database records (fig. 17). Thus, common GIS spatial databases analysis features were added to the CAD environment, enabling visual estimation of standard database queries along with “visual queries” to a database. In addition, finds’ records are referenced to 3-D stratification unit solids, what definitely extend the capabilities for data analysis.
The final integrated digital excavation record encourages us to consider this ambitious initiative to be generally successful. The experiment showed that digital and traditional record could be used for virtual excavation record reconstructive modeling, for two stratification-recording techniques have been tested for both types of record. Paper-form find indexes could be easily transformed to a database format, though this technically evident process is very time consuming. The potential of digitally obtained, processed, modeled, analyzed and represented excavation record is immerse and is summarized below:
- Digital format ensures not only safety of data storage and back-up copying, and significantly reduces the risk of its damage or loss, but also provides multi-user access to the data and unlimited potential for its distribution, publication and representation.
- Direct copying of excavation record into a 3-D virtual modeled environment permits to avoid data projection or “compression”, resulting in its inevitable loses and distortions, and makes it more precise, comprehensive and integrated.
- Archaeology has always been a destructive science. Digital record grants a researcher a unique chance to re-excavate a site virtually in any sequence from any point, and to re-estimate and re-analyze excavation data.
- Virtual modeling environment immensely extends the potential of stratification analysis. A stratification record may be filtered to show only individual stratification units, or be examined as a whole system. Virtual environment enables a researcher to navigate freely in 3-D excavation record modeled space and to estimate it visually from any viewpoint, distance, or angle, inside or outside an excavation ground. Virtual profiles and vertical sections may be cut through cultural deposits in any direction and plane, or true vertical sections may be easily hidden, so a site could be visually estimated as an integrated whole. Virtual modeling environment provides tools to analyze slope/elevation of stratification units, to calculate area and volume of any natural or artificial evidence (stratification units, structures, hearths and any type of other remains), and to measure any distances in 3-D space.
- AutoCAD provides full common format database support. Besides standard set of features, it enables to link database records with 3-D objects and to construct both common and “visual” queries to a database, thus adding GIS system capabilities to an AutoCAD environment.
- AutoCAD allows to hyperlink each object in virtual 3-D environment with Internet resources, containing video, photo, text, and any other data. Thereby, powered with barely unlimited Internet potential for data integration, CAD integrates the whole complex of data collected in the process of excavations. At the same time, Internet technology provides multi-user remote access to data.
3.4. The potential for development
Though these are the major features of digital excavation record, their range is much wider. Some of them become prominent only after a certain period of practical work. One of the noticeable capabilities, not mentioned above, is the potential for development. Inspired by an evident success of the initiative, we have planned to proceed with further improvement and extension of digital recording technique in two parallel directions: continuation of sample excavations in years 2001-2002 and digital re-procession of data obtained in previous excavations. The fieldwork is intended to introduce some new features:
- One of the most crucial points of digital excavation data record is speed and precision of measurements. It makes the use of laser Totalstation indispensable for recovered data integrity and