Other use cases of SVG in archaeology

SVG is already being used in a few archaeological environments, and there are some cases that are worth mentioning here:

  • Oxford Archaeology guide to plotting site plans using QGIS and then Inkscape for the advanced graphical editing of the layout [OAL366] – even though the focus is not on SVG as a format but on vector graphics;
  • an interactive image viewer on the Web was developed for the Sikyon Survey Project using Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) and Ajax [CHARNO2007];
  • SVG as a potential tool for archaeologists is discussed in [WRIGHT2006], including some of the ways vector graphics are used in archaeology, and outlines the development and features of SVG, which are then demonstrated in the form of a case study using large-scale plan and section drawings converted to SVG from AutoCAD;
  • a combined approach using SVG adn X3D to record and visualise archaeological textiles is presented in [PAGI2010], offering a detailed overview of how SVG is used.

Most of these cases share a common focus on site plans, or spatial data in general. The tendency of spatial archaeology to be very advanced in the use of information technology, and the wide gap that separes other subdomains in this respect, is beyond the scope of this document.

There is indeed one example of SVG for pottery drawings, in the excellent “Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion” web publication ([GRBPILION]). You can not only browse the extensive catalogue of pottery finds from the excavation, but also download the entire site as a compressed archive. Inside the compressed archive the JPEG images of pottery drawings come along with their SVG originals. Actually, GRBP is one of the inspirations for this research. Their approach is purely graphical, meaning that there is no care for the SVG source and its content, as long as it renders to a proper image. There is no grouping of graphic entities based on their meaning within the drawing. The scale is given by a graphical 5 cm scale, that is included in every file.

As suggested in the quickstart of this documentation, this is a very good example for those who don’t want to go into the details of SVG and just care about using a standard, open format for publishing their work.

[OAL366]C. Robinson, D. Campbell and A. Hodgkinson, 2010 “Archaeological maps from qGIS and Inkscape: A brief guide”. Documentation. Oxford Archaeology North. (Unpublished) http://library.thehumanjourney.net/366/
[CHARNO2007]M. Charno 2007, “An Interactive Image Using SVG and Ajax in Archaeology”, Internet Archaeology, 23 http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue23/charno_index.html
[WRIGHT2006]H. Wright 2006, “Archaeological Vector Graphics and SVG: A case study from Cricklade”, Internet Archaeology, 20 http://intarch.ac.uk/journal/issue20/wright_index.html
[GRBPILION]S. Heath and B. Tekkök (eds.), 2006-2009, “Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery at Ilion (Troia)”. Retrieved 2011-06-02 from http://classics.uc.edu/troy/grbpottery/
[PAGI2010]H. Pagi, 2010, “When data becomes information: visualizing archaeological textiles” in Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, Williamsburg, US, Oxford, GB, Archaeopress, 285-291. http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/161699/