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Introduction to database

Giorgio Buccellati – November 2004, June 2023

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The concept

In this section one will find the plain database on which the browser edition is based, in a variety of formats other than for the display version (HTML).

Since the data are not formatted for browser display, they are not meant for easy reading, nor do they have the advantage of hyperlinks. They are only meant for those who wish to use them in other programs. Thus the text files can be used to generate alternative displays, and the the spreadsheet files can be used for a variety of alternative manipulations (see below, the introduction to the spreadsheet section).

Please note that, in keeping with the concept of offering only primary databases, the link to the full frame of graphic files is not to the hyperlinked version, but only to the graphic file itself. Thus if you wish to have the full hyperlinked version of a view, you should look under the “v view photos” category, and not under the photographs database.

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An important function of this section addresses the question of the durability of the data. It seems inevitable to assume that the life span of the data as currently structured for the browser edition, and of the electronic media that make them readable, are going to be alarmingly short. While we will plan to set in place a system that will support major changes in hard and software, the availability of the data in the most durable format currently possible, ASCII and JPG, is an important factor for all subsequent efforts in that direction.

At the same time, while there are, and presumbaly will always be, means to secure data conversion to the alternative electronic media that will replace the current ones, it seems safer to provide a non electronic repository as well. Accordingly, it is planned that the database contained in this section will also be stored on archival paper, and copies deposited in a few selected archival libraries. The entire browser edition of the structured data is derived from this database, and will thus remain available in the most concise possible manner.

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Files in ASCII format

The text files give the data that serve as the basis for the browser format in the individual websites for each excavation unit. It must be noted that they are in fact not the way in which data are first entered. The process of data entry is more intuitive than it appears in this format, and it follows criteria that are suited for the day-to-day operation during the field. It is described in the Grammar.

The spreadsheet files contain the full data for every single constituent with a column for each roster slot in the Grammar. see below, the introduction to the spreadsheet section.

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Graphic files

Graphic files include all photographs and drawings in .JPG format, all of them in low resolution. High resolution version is available on demand. Vector formats are not included.

The structure is that defined in the Grammar of which excerpts are found in the section on the Urkesh Global Record. (A full version will be found on the Urkesh website.)

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