How We Built This

“Digital Methodologies for Art Historians: NW x NE,” Middlebury College, Spring 2020

This WordPress site was produced by Prof. Sarah Laursen’s “Digital Methodologies for Art Historians: NW x NE” class at Middlebury College in the Spring of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The course began in person as part of Middlebury’s pilot program for Project-Based Learning and later transitioned into an online class with weekly meetings on Zoom

The course began with a single spreadsheet (a CSV file) listing the current locations of the relief panels and fragments removed from Ashurnasirpal II’s Northwest Palace, as well as their presumed locations at the site. Over several classes, we assembled metadata about these objects, including the addresses of their current repositories and the URLs of their object records in online collections. We cleaned our data in OpenRefine, geocoded it using the Awesome Table plug-in for Google Sheets, and mapped it in ArcGIS Online. Documents were gathered, shared, and co-edited in Google Drive. Whenever possible, we used free open-source tools.

At the same time, students researched different aspects of the reliefs’ history and gave PowerPoint presentations to their classmates on Zoom. Later, students present this information on a digital storytelling platform called Esri StoryMaps. We also experimented with Thinglink, a platform for annotating 2D images, video, and 3D images (AKA photo spheres) created with the Google Street View app for smartphones, which uses the science of photogrammetry to stitch together photographs of environments. Plans to use another photogrammetry tool called Agisoft Metashape to produce a new high-resolution 3D model of Middlebury’s relief were thwarted by the closure of the school and museum, but a student was able to annotate an existing test model in the 3D publishing platform Sketchfab.