Thursday 12 September 2013

Archive: Ground photographs

If you follow our Flickr archive you will have noticed we have been uploading a large amount of ground photographs over the last couple of days. What, you may ask, is an AERIAL photographic archive doing uploading so many ground photographs?

Well, in short, you cannot make sound conclusions from the aerial photographs unless you go and have a look on the ground – and this is why we have conducted so many ground visits. Additional information can easily be gathered without the need to conduct any formal excavation – such as if stone is worked or not, if there are large amounts of pottery scattered over the site, and whether there are any associated structures not easily visible from the air such as wine presses, cisterns etc.

This means that on our Flickr photostream you may compare the impression you get from a site as seen from the air with how that site appears on the ground. Ground photographs reference numbers are prefixed by APAAMEG (Or you can find them all in the collection here).

Something you may have noticed is that we are continually returning to sites. We revisit sites that are at particular risk or are constantly changing – such as Yajuz and the risks associated with the urban development of Amman, or the ongoing excavation, conservation and restoration projects at Jerash. A good excuse to visit sites again is when the team has a new member.

Something new to our Flickr archive and still being trialled with this most recent upload of ground images is the inclusion of ‘Pleiades’ tags. Pleiades ( is an open source project developed by the Ancient World Mapping Centre, the Stoa Consortium and the Institute of the Ancient World. The database of sites is developed to act as a continually updated referenced atlas of the ancient world. They list 34,690 places and counting.

Each site has a unique identifier which you use to complete a ‘machine tag’: “Pleiades:depicts=******” if the site is depicted in the photograph, or “Pleaides:atteststo=*****” if the object photographed attests to the existence or location of the site- such as an inscription. There are other combinations too which you can read about on Sean Gillies blog.

By using these tags the Pleiades database recognises that we have photographs of their documented sites, and therefore people accessing their database of sites can easily access our photographs that relate to that site. Everyone ends up a winner! If you have feedback, please don’t forget to let us know.

If you are interested in the Pleiades project, or wish to become a contributor, please visit their website for more info.

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