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Interoperable Portal for the Historic Environment

By Francisco Pinto, Nick S. Ryan, Tony Austin and Julian Richards

Abstract

Research into the Historic Environment is particularly concerned with the search for information resources using spatial and chronological attributes. A recent pilot project between the Computing Laboratory of the University of Kent at Canterbury (UKC) and the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) at the University of York has successfully developed a Portal that provides Z39.50 enabled searching of a number of geographically remote data sources. The ADS provides access to some 400000 index records about the Historic Environment, nearly all of which are spatially and temporally referenced. Other partners in this project include the Portable Antiquities Scheme of British Museum (PAS), the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and the Scottish Cultural Resource Access Network (SCRAN) who, along with the ADS, will act as targets for a Historic Environment Portal. The Portal allows the virtual searching of the holdings of the partner organisations as one. It has options to search on, in any combination, Title, Subject, Who (creator), What (subject), When (coverage), Where (coverage) and co-ordinate defined geographic areas. Thus a user might cross search the ADS and RCAHMS data sources for references to Roman (when) forts (what) in the border area between England and Scotland (user defined coordinates). Although this specific instance of the Portal deals with the Historic Environment, it can be configured to deal with other domain-specific information. Furthermore, the framework implemented to support the Portal can be the basis for other services in order to implement a Digital Library. The implementation of this framework is based on two purpose-designed Java packages, Zava, a Z39.50 API providing client/server features, and ZavaX, an Web Client API providing access to Zava from the Web. The system makes extensive use of XML and RDF for configuration and communication, and of XSLT for transformation and delivery of content. This paper examines the technology, functionality, standards conformance and research potential of the Portal

Topics: QA76
Publisher: European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM)
Year: 2001
OAI identifier: oai:kar.kent.ac.uk:13547

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