Dear Contact,

Please find attached a copy of the second draft proposal under action 'M' of the RAPHAEL Community programme. It incorporates information sent in by some participants over the last few days. Unfortunately, most of the formatting was lost during conversion from a Word6 document, but it should still be readable.

Please note that time is now running out and I have not yet received a draft budget and description of activities from some of you. If I do not have that information by Tuesday evening at the latest, I will not be able to properly process your details and make sure that you are teamed up with other participants. So please contact me as soon as possible by phone (evenings: +44 121 472 8912) to confirm that you will be participating! If my daytime fax number (414 5516) does not respond, try 472 8912 as well - I will set my PC at home to receive faxes.

Here are some guidelines which you may find useful:


Martijn van Leusen and Sara Champion

The EAHW Project.

******** Proposal for a network under action 'M' (cultural heritage in Museums) of the RAPHAEL Community programme.

Action M: Co-operation to enhance the value of and accessibility to the cultural heritage in Museums

1 General Project Information

Name of the Project and Acronym

The Virtual Museum of European Archaeology, acronym: VMEA

Coordinator of the Project

Surname Van Leusen

First Name Martijn

Job title Research Fellow

Department Ancient History & Archaeology

Organisation University of Birmingham

Legal status

Address Field Archaeology Unit

University of Birmingham


Birmingham B15 2TT

Telephone no +44 121 414 7343

Fax no +44 121 414 5513


Bank Details of the Beneficiary

Name of the bank account holder

Bank account number

Name of the bank

Full address of the bank

Names and Countries of the Museums/Organisations Involved in the Network


Neanderthal Museum


Intracom SA



Consorzio Interuniversitario Lombardo Archeologia (CILEA)

Centro Interuniversitario Calcolatori e Archeologia (CINECA)

Universita degli Studi di Milano


Poznan City Museum

United Kingdom

University of Birmingham

University of Southampton

National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside

Kilmartin House Museum

Museum of Antiquities, University of Newcastle

2 Organisational Structure of the Network (summary)

The network has a modular structure (see management chart), with overall management and coordination from the Universities of Southampton and Birmingham, and individual project activities (i.e. pilot exhibits, WWW services) implemented by project Teams, each of which is managed and coordinated by a Team Manager. Together, the Team managers and the Project managers form a Core Management group, which will handle all daily business.

Day-to-day communications of the network will take place via phone, fax and e-mail but will be enhanced by the establishment of a Project Discussion Forum (hypermail list) which allows non-text documents to be used in discussions.

There will be three general meetings of Partners at crucial points in the project - the start, evaluation, and launch points (see timetable). In exceptional cases, Team meetings may be called whenever implementation strategies for individual project activities need to be redefined.

The network coordinators, located at the Universities of Southampton and Birmingham, have long-standing interest and experience in the use of modern information and communication tools to enhance both professionals' and the public's access to networked resources. They have piloted the Virtual Libray for European Archaeology since early 1995, to high acclaim.

The project network consists of a) Museum partners, responsible for the overall design of exhibits, the production of base data (texts, images, etc.), and the local implementation and user validation of the exhibits, and b) IT partners, responsible for the development of the exhibits, and the development and maintenance of the interfaces, the VL, and the hypermail forum.

The Museums partners all have established reputations in their specialisms. Nearly all have an electronic presence on the Internet, and many have outstanding WWW pages presenting all the facets of the work of a museum (e.g., the Kilmartin House Museum).

The IT partners have been selected for their excellent position as major IT providers at the national level, providing the computing capacity and serving speed needed for the project (CILEA, CINECA, AriadNet). They all have previous experienc in working with archaeological professional and data sets (e.g., CILEA). Commercial experience is represented by one partner in particular (Intracom SA).

Museum partners

Kilmartin House Museum, Kilmartin (Scotland).

Contact: David Clough (Director,


Activities: pilot exhibits "Tour of the Kilmartin monuments", "Rock Art". User validation

Poznan Archaeological Museum (Poland)

Contact: Andrej Prinke (fax +48 61 52 82 51)

Expertise: One of the first sites in Poland to both be connected to the Municipal network and have an internal LAN.

Activities: Pilot exhibit "Egyption death ceremonies"

Neanderthal Museum, Neanderthal (Germany).

Contact: Mr Kokkotidis (


Activities: user validation

Newcastle Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle-under-Lyme (England)

Contact: John Dore (

Expertise: WWW exhibit "Flints and Stones"

Activities: pilot exhibit "Temple of Mithras". VCE service: legislative resources

Institute of Archaeology, Universita degli Studi di Milano, Milan (Italy)

Contact: Nuccia Catacchio (

Expertise: Study of archaeological Amber, Multimedia databases

Activities: Pilot Exhibit "Amber"

National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool (England).

Contact: Edmund Southworth (

Expertise: VENUS project (Virtual European Network for Understanding Sculpture), R&D programme in Conservation.

Activities: Pilot exhibits "The 18th century European Trade in Antiquities" and "Conserving the European sculptural heritage", VCE maintenance, user validation

IT partners

University of Birmingham (England).

Contact: Martijn van Leusen,

Expertise: Pilot Virtual Library for European Archaeology (ARGE).

Activities: VL for European Archaeological Museums, Project co-ordination

University of Southampton (England)

Contact: Sara Champion,

Expertise: Pilot Virtual Library for European Archaeology (ARGE).

Activities: VL for European Archaeological Museums, Project co-ordination

CILEA (Interuniversity Consortium based in Milan, Italy).

Contact: meloni@ICIL64.CILEA.IT (Giovanni Meloni).

Expertise: Developers of AmberWeb, teleconferencing, hypermedia publication, information retrieval.

Activities: Design of VMEA interface, pilot exhibit "Amber", maintenance of hypermail forums.

CINECA (Interuniversity Consortium Computing Centre, based in Casalecchio di Reno, Italy).

Contacts: Sanzio Bassini (, A. Guidazzoli ( and M. Forte (

Expertise: Hypermedia programming and publication, virtual reality modelling.

Activities: Creation/management of the VMEA interface, development of pilot exhibits.

Ariadnet (national academic network), Athens (Greece).

Contact: Panagiotis E. Telonis (



Intracom SA (Greece).

Contact: Nicos Ioannidis (

Expertise: hypermedia development and publication.

Activities: development of pilot exhibit, publication of CD-ROM (or equivalent technology).

3 Description of the Project (summary)

The aim of the project is to explore the power of the Internet in greatly enhancing the value and accessibily of the European cultural heritage contained in archaeological collections through the creation of an on-line Virtual Museum of European Archaeology (VMEA). The VMEA will provide a well-organised, international, multilingual, and user-friendly entry point to the individual information and services offered by the network (see below). It will develop best practices and expertise to be used as a framework to which other museums and networks in the area of the archaeological heritage will be able to add their own existing or future networked contributions.

The VMEA will be a modular and distributed entity. Its services and exhibits will be constructed to allow easy expansion into new geographic, stylistic, technological, and subject areas and disciplines, and they will be located and maintained at the partners' offices across Europe. It will make use of widely accepted technologies used in the creation of interactive hypermedia documents, such as 3-dimensional modelling (VRML), hypertext communication and information (Hypermail, HTML), and client-side interaction (JAVA).

From the end-user point of view, full VMEA services will be available to anyone (mostly professionals) with a high bandwidth Internet access point, whereas basic VMEA services will be made available for low-bandwidth accessing to reach the large modem-only connected user group. The project further specifies the installation of Public Access Points at the participating museums, the use of which will be monitored and evaluated in order to ensure that predefined standards of quality and accessibility are maintained.

Project services and exhibits will be maintained and expanded by the network partners after the end of the project in September 1998. This expansion will mainly take place by actively searching out and incorporating virtual exhibits as they are put on-line by European museums.

The objectives of the project are:

1) To increase the accessibility and enhance the value of electronic information sources regarding European archaeological collections for both the professional and general user, by providing a unified interface accessing all available information and selected on-line expertise;

2) To improve and enhance collaboration by professionals concerned with the European archaeological heritage in museums, by providing and maintaining a user friendly professional communication service;

3) To develop and share best practices in the exploitation of the Internet, by teaming up museum experts with IT experts in the production of electronic exhibits and by including a wide diversity of exhibit types, subject areas, and intended audiences;

4) To build a truly European virtual Museum of Archaeology, demonstrating the richness and fragility of our shared archaeological heritage, by bringing together partners and collections from across Europe.

The network will achieve its aims and objectives through the implementation of three dedicated information and communication services:

1) The WWW Virtual Library for Archaeological Collections in Europe. This will be an exhaustive collection of links into the available networked resources, and will serve as Yellow pages for the general and professional user. The VL will be used to demonstrate the richness of the information already accessible on the Internet, and to supply users with a complete and continually updated database in which to conduct directed searches for specific types of information (one-stop shopping);

2) The Virtual Centre of Expertise. The core of this service, and the means by which most internal and external communication of the network will take place, is formed by the Professional Forum. This consists of multiple discussion lists using hypermail protocols,which offer the user bulletin board type access to on-line expertise for specific subjects. The VCE enables professionals and the public alike to seek out expert advice both on matters relating to archaeological objects and monuments, and on matters relating to the use of the Internet and WWW in opening up access to such objects and monuments. Users can obtain information either directly from the VCE by accessing documents prepared by experts or by writing to one of the discussion forums, or by searching the appropriate VL section (see sub 1 above) for details of expertise located elsewhere on the Internet. In addition, the VCE will offer experimental on-line versions of tasks traditionally performed by museums, e.g. the identification of objects for the public;

3) The Pilot Exhibits. These serve a dual purpose: they have been selected in order to highlight the diversity of contents, user groups, accessibility, etc. of archaeological collections in Europe, and they will be used to validate the IT approach taken through extensive user testing and feedback.

The exhibits will demonstrate ways of harnessing both public domain and proprietary information technology, in international collaboration, for the production of virtual exhibits for distribution on the Internet or CD-ROM (or equivalent) technology. The contents of the exhibits will therefore not primarily focus on the presentation of existing museum collections, but rather will emphasise museum strategies for recovering and conserving collections, and for developing new ways of involving the public. One example of such strategies is the formation and exhibition of virtual collections that may be physically located in many separate places some of which are not open to the public (such as in the Amber and VENUS pilot exhibits).

The pilot exhibits will be embedded in, and enriched by, the relevant information sources from the VL (sub 1 above). The following exhibits are envisaged (for a more detailed descriptions, see the individual partners' application forms):

- Neanderthal Life (Neanderthal Museum, CINECA)

- The Prehistoric Landscape of Lowland Scotland / Rock Art (Kilmartin House, Kilmartin, Scotland)

- The VENUS project (NMGM, Liverpool)

- AmberWeb (University of Milan, CILEA)

- The Virtual Mithraeum (Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle)

- Gods, Tombs and Mummies: The Road to Eternity in Ancient Egypt (Poznan Archaeological Museum, CINECA)

4 Enhancement of the Value of Museum Collections (summary)

The project will greatly enhance the value of European archaeological museum collections in a number of ways:

- by providing virtual collections which could never be established in reality. For example, the VENUS exhibit brings together classical sculpture that has been dispersed all over the world; and the exhibit on Amber features objects provenancing from many different museums;

- by making available both more and higher quality information to the professional and general user. For example, hypermedia presentations can 'branch off' into related subjects and neighbouring disciplines without encumbering the core exhibit; they can present objects in ways that are impossible in a traditional exhibit - by 'removing' recent restorations as in the VENUS exhibit, or by using the medium of a relational database to select which information will be presented;

- by developing and applying best management practices both in the general area of building virtual museum exhibits and in the specific areas of the partners' expertise. Examples of such expertise are the professional identification and description of objects via the hypermail forum, and conservation techniques such as those employed by the Liverpool NMGM.

The project will have important social and economic benefits too.

- at the Community level, the greatly increased accessibility (see section 5) of collections will mean that many more people will now be 'visiting' museums and exhibits which they would otherwise not even know existed. For many, this will be the first time they will have been able to see the full European context and significance of the collections held in their own national museums.This could well lead to increased visitor numbers and heritage tourism in many parts of Europe;

- to professionals involved with archaeological museums and their collections, there are clear economic benefits in being able to consult experts, and in making use of best practices developed by the project. For example, the cost of developing exhibits would go down as objects would not need to be physically transferred from one venue to another (insurance costs), and less investment would be needed in publicity and IT research.

5 Accessibility to Museum Collections (summary)

Increasing the accessibility of archaeological collections in European museums, academic departments, etc. is a central aim of the project. Two audiences - the professional and the general - are accomodated slightly differently according to their specific needs and interests, but it is important to note here that the multimedia technology employed by the project allows for easy definition of, and catering to, new user groups.

- the project will provide all its documents, exhibits and service interfaces in an English and an Italian version in addition to the language of origin. Translations in many other European languages will be solicited by appealing for help via the Professional Forum;

- the project will increase the public's awareness of the fact that most collections have trans-national aspects, and explore themes that run across several museums rather than present individual museums' collections;

- the project will make collections accessible to a large and fast growing user group operating from their homes or classrooms, many of whom may not physically be able to go to see the original collections either because of the cost and distance involved, or because of a disability. Low-bandwidth versions of the exhibits and services, and CD-ROM (or equivalent) technology, will enable even users that have no (or very slow) Internet connections to access the VMEA;

- the project further provides free public access points in the participating museums and monitors the use of these in order to ensure that users are able to properly access all information and services;

- through the Virtual Centre of Expertise, project participants will provide coaching to teachers at all educational levels in the construction of learning materials based on the pilot exhibits provided by the project.

6 Innovative Methods and Best Practices in the Project (summary)

The aims of the project are, and can only be, realised with the aid of recent developments in public domain networked information technology (Internet and WWW). It brings together participants with expertise that will set a standard in presenting archaeological collections via the Internet, both for enhancing the value of the collections tand for increasing the accessibility. The project will also see the first large-scale application of VRML and Java in this area ever.

The pilot exhibits will explore innovative methods for presenting archaeological collections that are not (or no longer) physically together, for making available easily navigable information of a type and richness not attempted before in a structured manner.

The participants are acutely aware of the fact that IT is continually developing and that the VMEA should use an extensible and modular approach to its services. This is reflected in the modular structure of the network itself, and in the fact that the project is deliberately open to outside additions emanating from non-partners.

The VCE, through its professional forums, will be both a source and a repository of best practices and will actively seek out expertise in all areas and disciplines related to the archaeological heritage in European museums.

7 Added Value of the Project (summary)

The project brings together partners from many different countries and types of organisation. This brings a genuinely European dimension to its activities which no individual national effort could achieve, with international sharing of experience, formation of collections, multilingual accessing, and professional collaboration.

The information resources and services provided by the project will remain available internationally, and will continue to be added to, after the end of the project. This will ensure a continued high profile for the RAPHAEL intiative both on the Internet and in the tradiotional press media.

Within limits set by national and international copyright law the materials produced by the project will be freely available to anyone. The digital nature of the information gives an added value to the project, in that reworking it for a specific purpose will be very easy - for example, on-line and downloaded educational materials will be used to make the heritage accessible in classrooms in the Argyll area of Schotland.

Information about the RAPHAEL Community programme, the VMEA project, and its activities will be widely disseminated by the participating museums, press releases, and Internet announcements. The methods employed in the project will be the subject of academic presentations by the network participants.

8 Financial Plan (summary)

[Will see Faculty Accountant Tuesday 11 June, 10 am.]

Guarantees are currently sought from national and regional authorities in order to fund the percentage of the budget which the EC decides not to fund.

Activity Partners Responsible Cost per annum in ECU



Office Supplies etc.


Publicity materials

Travel, accommodation


Data collation (museums)

Pilot Exhibits (IT partners) creation

VMEA Interface creation and maintenance

VL creation and maintenance


WWW server, inst. & maint.

Hypermail server, inst. & maint.

External Services


9 Timetable of the Activities of the Project (summary)

[put in meetings of core group; do gantt chart]

Approximate dates for the duration of the project:

Start September 1996

End September 1998


Sep Project Start, 1st Meeting of partners

Sep - Nov Implementation of internal hypermail forum, Initial publicity

Oct - Dec Design of exhibits, Identification of test user groups

Design of VL, VCE and VMEA interfaces

Oct - Mar 1997 Collation of data for pilot exhibits


Jan - Mar Initial implementation of VCE, VL and of VMEA interface

Mar Evaluation, 2nd Meeting of partners

Apr - Jun Full implementation of VCE and VL

Call for additional exhibits

Apr - Mar 1998 Creation of pilot exhibits


Jan - Mar Testing of pilot exhibits and services with selected user groups

Mar Evaluation, 3rd Meeting of Partners

Mar - Aug Incorporation of results of evaluation

Incorporation of additional exhibits

Sep Announcement of VMEA services, Project End

10 One-page Summary in English Describing the Project, the Network and its Activities

11 Details and budget information for each partner

(see appended copies)