(Global Digital Heritage, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA)

Keywords: virtual repository, democratization of science, digital heritage, database, 3D web interfaces

Because of geography and distance, issues of ownership, restrictions on borrowing and transporting fragile museum collections, or problems of access to sites and monuments, or simply a lack of financial resources, there is a growing need in interdisciplinary and collaborative research pursuits to create multi-level, accessible, virtual repositories and scientific cyber-infrastructures that will allow researchers to access, integrate, and mine diverse collections, data assemblages, sites, monuments, and other remains at scales not currently possible within traditional research paradigms. Accessing data can often present aggregating problems to researchers in nearly every academic field of study, but this is especially acute for natural history and archaeological collections, and the lack of access has been a contributing factor in the absence of hard data comparability and an increasing reliance on the conclusions drawn by other researchers in resulting publications. We argue that the creation of virtual repositories housed in a comprehensive, hyper-plastic database system serving as virtual representations of archaeological assemblages, collections of sites and site features, or a museum’s complete inventory, is critical to the future of modern analysis and the democratization of knowledge.
Global Digital Heritage and our suite of research initiatives is determined to make all of our data publically accessible and free to the public- but in such a form that research, analysis, and content creation can be done in a rigorous manor. This is a considerable challenge. Using 3D technologies, newly developed image-based database architectures, on-line measurement and analysis tools, and related methods of virtualization, enhance the scientific enterprise by bringing the archaeological world to any scientist, student, educator, or lay person, located anywhere in the world.

Relevance for the conference: The interrelationship between the creation of scientific data and making those data available to the public is critical to the modern research endeavor.
Relevance for the session: The democratization of science is a key element in the mission of Global Digital Heritage and its plans for a globally accessible archaeology and cultural heritage.
Innovation: Hyperplastic and fully-integrated databases that allow for online analysis and cross-disciplinary investigation.
• Matthew L. Vincent, Víctor Manuel López-Menchero Bendich, Marinos Ioannides, Thomas E. Levy (editors). 2017.
• Heritage and Archaeology in the Digital Age: Acquisition, Curation, and Dissemination of Spatial Cultural Heritage Data Rüther, H. (2002) An African heritage database, the virtual preservation of Africa’s past. International Archives of Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, XXXIV.