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New tools preserve ancient treasures (2)

China Daily)  11:21, June 17, 2013  

New tools preserve ancient treasures (2)

However, some archaeologists and scientists worry about data sustainability, a new problem brought by the updating technology. Just because data has been recorded it does not mean it is safe.

Julian D. Richards, director of the University of York's archaeology data service in Britain, said digital data are preserved in such a vulnerable way that archaeological records are now, ironically, at greater risk than leaving the data in the ground.

"In 1986, the BBC Domesday project, including some photographs and maps, stored the data on 30-cm laserdiscs on BBC microcomputers, the safest way they could think of," he said. "By 2006 the laserdiscs were obsolete, so they had to start rescue projects for the data."

Hartmut Mueller, a co-organizer of the conference in Shaanxi and professor at Mainz University of Applied Sciences' Institute for Spatial Information and Surveying Technology, in Germany, said: "Collecting data in different systems without sufficiently considering the aspects of interoperability is the daily practice all around the globe. Not only in archaeology, but in all fields related to spatial data acquisition, processing and storage."

In Europe and elsewhere, there are many projects on how to achieve interoperability between heterogeneous systems, Mueller said.

Lu, of Zhejiang University, said that although Chinese archaeologists are applying for more digital documentation technologies, information is actually collected by different institutions, with different standards and formats.

"Information sharing could be a problem," he said.

In the past, Chinese archaeologists and scientists applied new technologies to archaeological sites without common standards, so their job was more like a "scientific experiment", which makes it difficult to standardize the data format, he said.

"While technologies become mature, it is possible for archaeologists to find a way to unify the methods for data collecting and the format of their data," Lu said.

Su Bomin, a researcher at the Conservation Institute of Dunhuang Academy, said some Chinese archaeologists are already aware of the problem of data security that comes with new technology.

"Unified management of data needs a standard, and the formulation of such a standard needs different research institutions to take part.

"As we Chinese archaeologists are already aware of these problems, I believe a standard will be completed soon," he said.

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(Editor:YeXin、Gao Yinan)


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