Building the Cetamura del Chianti Archive in Diginole

The archaeological site of Cetamura del Chianti is one of the major field school programs hosted by Florida State University, and this year, they have decided to enlist the help of the Immersive Scholarship office to begin the process of creating a digital archive! But what exactly goes into creating a digital archive?

Like any good FSU student, I am sure you are all aware of the massive digital collection that Special Archives has to offer, with a variety of resources available for students and faculty to peruse in the comfort of their own home. But the process of uploading this information to the repository is not as straightforward as it sounds. What makes the archive so easy to navigate is the network of library professionals who work to ensure that you can find any specific piece of data that you may be looking for.

For the Cetamura site, it all started with a meeting I had with Dr. Nancy DeGrummond, Classics professor and Director of Excavations and Research of Cetamura. Dr. De mentioned she was looking for a place to store the hundreds of digital images she had in her possession. For a site who had just celebrated 75 years research, you can imagine that the number of digital images (even if they had transitioned to digital in 2005), is astronomical. Dr. De was looking for a way for her collection to be free to the public, for both researchers and casual viewers to observe for their own individual needs.

Cetamura del Chianti trenches, c. 1976, https://www.cetamuradelchianti.com/the-first-excavations/

Luckily, Diginole is free to the public! But there is a lot of meticulous work that goes into making the collection easily accessible. After a brief consultation I had with Dr. De and Cetamura’s new undergraduate archivist, Summer Carrier, Matt and I started the process of creating a spreadsheet for the metadata we would need to collect to make the archive searchable.

If you have never heard of metadata, that’s totally ok. I had very little idea of what exactly this was when I started as the Graduate Assistant at Strozier, and I still have a hard time understanding the concept. Essentially, metadata is the data about the data. It is all the miniscule information we need for whatever we are uploading so the database can recognize the item and help make it searchable. In other words, metadata contextualizes data with details such as source, type, owner, and relationships to other data sets, which allows you to understand its relevance to other data and you can better understand how to use it.[1] This element is very important across any database, but each one has a specific rubric that the metadata librarians have deemed the most important for the purpose of our repository.

For this project, we wanted to make an easily digestible spreadsheet so Summer could effectively input all the data that the repository needed. This way, Summer would not be too overwhelmed, and we could input as many images into the spreadsheet as possible to get started. We decided to use trench images as a starting point, and as we continue to learn more about metadata and the images that Dr. De has, we can add image of artifacts, maps, etc. so eventually all the digital images are open access to the public.

Matt and I needed a bit more help with getting started, so we enlisted Rhea Ray, the digital repository librarian, and Krystal Thomas, the Digital Archivist in Special Collections, to puzzle out what exactly we would need. After a couple of meetings, and several trial-and-error attempts on my part to properly interpret the data categories that were handed to me, we came up with a spreadsheet that would effectively allow the Cetamura archivist to quickly input all the information necessary for the repository.

A portion of the metadata spreadsheet we created for the Cetamura archivist.

Very soon, Cetamura del Chianti will be a searchable site in the official FSU repository! Our goal is to upload everything that Dr. Degrummond has in her collection, from photographs in film from the 70s to contemporary scans and 3D models Matt and I will be working on this summer (more to come June 2024!). This way, we are not only contributing to FSU’s digital archive, but we are actively making this research publicly accessible to anyone interested in the site.

If you find yourself interested in learning more about Cetamura del Chianti, check out their website, which has an overview of all the different historical phases of interest, as well as a timeline of the history of excavations!

Tanya Pattison

Immersive Scholarship Graduate Assistant

Tanya Pattison is a second-year graduate student in the Department of Art History at Florida State University. Her current research concerns cultural exchange and the effects of colonialism on both European and non-European visual and material culture, focusing primarily on the colonial Andes. She is interested in the application of immersive scholarship and the digital humanities in the realm of digital cultural heritage and museum education.

[1] “Why is Metadata Important for Effective Data Management?” Atlan, last modified July 31st, 2023. https://atlan.com/why-is-metadata-important/#:~:text=Metadata%20is%20important%20because%20it,on%20how%20to%20use%20it.