I’m extremely busy at the moment adding material to the Mithras site. At the moment this is driven by a list of Mithraeums discovered since 1960. I am attempting to research each of these online, grab some text, some images, and create a page for it. This is, inevitably, a very time-consuming business.
Several things have struck me while doing this.
It’s often really hard to work out what is the formal publication of an excavation. You can search the web as much as you like; you will only find the printed sources most commonly referred to. In the case of an obscure site, you may not find this, and will have to be content with webpages.
It’s very hard to get even a site plan of the excavation.
It’s very hard to get a list of “finds”, never mind a list of minor finds which may be of critical importance.
It’s also very difficult to physically obtain publications, in many cases. The Vulci Mithraeum (il Mitreo di Vulci, for the benefit of the search engines, since nearly everything is in Italian) seems to be documented in an exhibition catalogue published by a certain Dr. Anna M. Moretti Sgubini. The exhibition was ephemeral, and no copies of it are present in any Anglophone country. I am considering writing to the author, on the off-chance that she has a PDF of her own work. More and more people do, these days, but it’s not satisfactory.
I have also found that material placed online, in the “Electronic Journal of Mithraic Studies”, in zip files, has gradually become corrupt over the last 10 years and will not open any more. Being in zip format, it isn’t archived anywhere.
All of this seems remarkably unsatisfactory. Archaeology is considered a scientific discipline; yet these are fundamental problems.
Of course it may be that the problem is with me. Perhaps all the archaeologists are “in the know”. Some may read this and say, “What? You mean you didn’t know that it’s all at www.xyz.edu? Haw haw!” Well, if so, I don’t know. Nor has such a resource come my way.
So I suspect that archaeologists need to consider how they use the web. Indexes, catalogues, ways to find data — these are what the web is for.
There’s room for improvement here, chaps!