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Read, Watch and Listen

(Photo: Portus Project)

Outreach: We have been keen to share the results of our research from the start of the Portus Project, both within the academic community and beyond. Our outreach strategy was planned around international press conferences and public lectures in Italy, France and the UK, while project results featured in a widely aired programme made by the BBC and Discovery US. All of this has raised the profile of the site and stimulated interest at the local and international level. We have hosted many guided visits by interested amateurs, academics, local landowners, school children, US and Italian university students and members of foreign academies. In the UK we have also involved local school children in the project.  We were also visited by HRH Princess Alexandra in 2008, and on several occasions by HM Ambassador to Italy.

Richmond cell walls: writing

It was not known where John Edgar Bell was imprisoned, but his health deteriorated and he agreed to non-combatant service in 1918. His family moved home from Denholme to Saltaire (West Yorkshire) due to abuse from the community, but this continued when his war status became known. Although he was a skilled engineer he could only get employment as a lamp lighter after the war, as no one wanted to work with a ‘conchie’.

Livingstone’s diary image stages

The spectral imaging of the 1871 Field Diary and associated documents produced raw image sets of 202 Livingstone folia in total. In other words, the spectral imaging of Livingstone’s diary resulted in the creation of 3,032 digital image files totalling, roughly, 750 GB of data. This data required processing by the team’s imaging scientists in order to make Livingstone’s handwritten text readable.

Louisa Uchum Egbunike, Manchester Metropolitan

Louisa Uchum Egbunike’s research centres on African literature in which she specialises in Igbo (Nigerian) fiction and culture. Her latest work explores the child’s voice in contemporary fiction on Biafra. She co-convenes an annual Igbo conference at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) and delivers a workshop, ‘Rewriting Africa’ in secondary schools across London. She is curating a ‘Remembering Biafra’ exhibition to open in 2018.

Rome (Photo: Simon Keay/Portus Project)

Raising Awareness of Portus: One of the academic impacts of the projects has been a raised awareness of the significance of Portus in discussions as to how Rome’s commercial and administrative influence was mediated across the Mediterranean basin. Another has focused upon the role of Computer Graphic Imagery in the archaeological interpretation process and in communicating this with interested users. Our work has also had considerable impact beyond academia. Our stakeholders have included our colleagues within the Italian Archaeological Superintendancy of Rome, with whom we are sharing practice on the recording and visualization of complex archaeological sites for the public, companies such as Microsoft Research, whose products have been trialled at Portus, and tour companies who are interested in including the site on their itineraries. The project has also facilitated the leveraging of additional research grant applications in the UK and beyond.

Richmond cell walls: drawings

The Richmond visit provided insight into the conditions of imprisonment for conscientious objectors in WW1 and WW2. Covered with drawings of family, supportive phrases and religious texts and symbols, the cell walls are testimony to the faith of the imprisoned men. Further research provided information on the experiences of individual prisoners, with drawings such as ‘N.Gaudies mother’ cross-referenced to Norman Gaudie, writer of ‘The Courage That Brings Peace’ (1922) (www.coproject.org.uk). 

Spectral image processing uses tailored mathematical algorithms in order to manipulate and enhance raw spectral image data

In the case of Livingstone’s manuscripts, such processing relies on the fact that different ink types on a given page (for instance, Livingstone’s ink, the ink of the newsprint, etc.) behave differently under different bands of wavelengths of light. Page shown, MS. 10703 f.21, held at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Sarah Jackson, Nottingham Trent University

Sarah Jackson’s current research explores the relationship between the telephone and literature from the work of Arthur Conan Doyle to that of Haruki Murakami and why Sigmund Freud detested the telephone. The project involves research at the BT Archives which hold the public records of the world’s oldest communications company. She is also a poet whose collection Pelt won the prestigious Seamus Heaney Prize in 2012. She reads her poetry and fiction across the UK and USA.

(Portus Project/UC Berkeley/Moscow State University/MSR)

Knowledge Exchange: One aim of the Portus Project has been to develop and enhance collaborations between academic and other organisations and individuals. This includes the development and application of digital methods of value both to the Portus Project and to industrial, government and third sector partners. For example, we worked with L-P: Archaeology to develop and test the functionality of their new ARK database. These developments have fed into their other commercial and research contracts. The project has also worked with Microsoft Research (MSR) on areas such as data capture, research data management and publication and learning technologies.

Richmond Castle: conscientious objectors’ cells

Narration through cloth was the primary focus of the research, a reflection on family history, religious motivation and social exclusion. The recollections of John Edgar Bell’s daughter formed the first facet of background research, with a limited number of family photographs to inform the visual narrative. This was supplemented by investigation into the experiences of conscientious objectors and their families in WW1, later contacting English Heritage to arrange access to photograph the cells at Richmond Castle.