Digitization and public access

Technology has expanded the range and capabilities of scholarly institutions as never before. The work of the Oriental Institute increasingly employs new technology to support preservation of manuscripts, three-dimensional scanning, analysis of ancient cities and landscapes, and electronic publication of materials. The Oriental Institute leads the field in adapting and integrating new methodologies to promote international collaboration and interdisciplinary research in archaeology.

Development of a digital imaging laboratory within the Oriental Institute will allow scholars to bring together a wide array of resources, ranging from satellite images to site plans and excavation records. Combined with the Oriental Institute’s existing resources, the new digital imaging laboratory will enable researchers to perform remote sensing, modeling, digital imaging, and computation, placing the Oriental Institute in the vanguard of the next phase of archaeological research.

To better serve both researchers and the general public, the Oriental Institute has launched its Integrated Database project, which provides a conduit for enhanced access to its unique world-class collections. Currently, the database offers ready access to images of 207,000-plus objects in the museum collection and 450,000 entries from cataloged research archives materials, providing an unparalleled research resource.

A scholar interested in a particular artifact in the OI’s collection, for example, will be able to call up a 360-degree rotatable image, view a map showing where the artifact was found, access dig records cataloging what else was found alongside it, and read relevant articles about the artifact and other objects.

Opportunities for expansion of the Integrated Database will include uploading photographic archives and conservation information about artifacts in the museum collection. Ultimately, the database will also incorporate integrated mapping and satellite data, museum records, and digital photography of museum objects. Through this extensive project, the vast and diverse holdings of the Oriental Institute will be made accessible to the widest possible audience, encouraging new thinking and exciting discoveries.

Support for these projects will make the OI’s vast store of physical objects and information accessible to scholars and the general public in exciting and productive new ways and foster new research methodologies in archaeology.