Tuesday, 18 August 2020
The Countdown has Begun! Fifty Days until the Launch of the New Egypt Centre Online Collection
Due to computer issues, the final blog post on the religion course did not appear on Monday. Instead, this blog post is written by Sam Powell, who launches the countdown to our new Egypt Centre Online Collections Catalogue!
Regular readers of this blog may recognise me a frequent contributor. I have been lucky enough to have been volunteering at the Egypt Centre for several years, most recently in the last eighteen months assisting Ken in the stores with condition checks and the transfer of material to the fantastic new storage facility.
It was during this time, whilst also researching the wooden funerary figures and other objects as part of my Masters degree, that I noted some of the limitations of the Egypt Centre's online catalogue. The Egypt Centre was one of the first museums to provide an online catalogue of its entire collection way back in 2004, and whilst very ahead of its time then, there hasn't been the capacity to update the software since. Abaset Collections (named after a rare goddess with a hedgehog on her head!) has been set up by myself to create a brand-new online collection for the Egypt Centre. As well as being a searchable dataset of the entire collection of over five thousand objects, there will also be audio descriptions, videos, and the option to curate your own "trail" of your favourite objects. As I've been working closely with the collection in-person (prior to the lockdown of course!), I've been able to apply my working knowledge of researching the objects to identify the needs of those researching the collection. I am also working in close collaboration with the staff in the museum to ensure the software created is fit for their purposes as well.
|Fig. 2: A sneak preview of the intuitive search bar (click to enlarge)|
Thanks to a grant from the Greatest Need Fund by Swansea University Alumni, I am very pleased to announce that The Egypt Centre Online Collection will be having a "soft" launch at 16:30 on 8th October. This coincides with Ken's presentation The Egypt Centre, Swansea: Past, Present and Future at the British Egyptological Congress hosted by the Egypt Exploration Society (if you haven't booked already, I highly recommend it!). A "soft" launch means that although work will be ongoing, we would be very grateful for your feedback on what you think works well and what can be improved.
|Fig. 3: An example of the entry for W491 (click to enlarge)|
As with any collection, research is constantly being undertaken and edits are constantly being made to the data. The Egypt Centre Online Collection will automatically update when new data is entered and so all information available will immediately become available online in real time. Due to the sheer size and variety of the data provided, the content is still being updated, some entries may not be complete, and some errors may still be displayed. Much of this is a result of transferring the data from our internal MODES catalogue to a new online format. The online collection has been designed to be as intuitive to use as possible, as well as to work on PC, mobile, and tablet. There will be many bespoke fields, which can be searched and selected for easy comparison. As well as the usual description, provenance, and image provided by most generic online catalogues, there will also be searchable fields for auction details, previous owners, translations and transcriptions of any texts, gods and goddesses represented, animals depicted, and much, much more. In addition, it will be possible to "drill down" through hierarchical searches, for example, to search for all objects in the collection from a specific excavation with ease.
|Fig. 4: Additional details for W491 (click to enlarge)|
As research continues (and I have more time once my dissertation is submitted!), The Egypt Centre Online Collection will continue to grow and evolve, particularly in light of the current Covid-19 restrictions, which has brought to light the importance of access online to this wonderful group of objects. Although an online catalogue will never replace the value of experiencing the objects "live", the digital availability of the objects aims to allow access to the collection on a global scale. Further details about the new online catalogue will be posted on this blog over the coming months.
Just yesterday, we finished adding all the ancient personal names associated with the Egypt Centre objects, which will appear in both anglicised form and in transliteration. Why not say the hetep-di-nesu formula in memory of some of them!
-- Sent from my Linux system.