The Project and its Aims

The Web Site


Reconstructing Monasticism



Daily Life


Prayers and Rituals






Data Browsers


Site Plan

Hierarchical Chart

Access Diagram

Time Viewer




Web Site Map

image bar


The Web Site

The MonArch website originated in 1998 with three principal goals. The first was to make the monastic archaeology project at Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, its aims and its approaches, better known to a bilingual audience. The second was to make annual field reports readily available in their entirety to researchers in medieval archaeology. Field reports constitute the first presentation of excavated evidence and the first stage in the interpretation of results. Access to field reports is therefore essential to researchers within the discipline. Yet the rising costs of print publication are prohibitive and effectively prevent archaeologists from presenting results in any complete fashion. Full reports with accompanying stratigraphic section drawings and data sets are either never produced or are published with years of delay. Digital publication provides an ideal solution to the problem by making field reports easily accessible to nearly anyone with a computer. To date, all field reports produced by MonArch from 1994 to 2001 (the most recent excavation season) are available on the website.

Our third goal is to make the results of synthesized interpretation available to scholars and interested members of the public. In 2000, a fully bilingual catalogue of all excavated glazed tiles was uploaded onto the site. The catalogue contains a drawing, identification of the motif, dimensions, find site, number of tiles of the same type, and will eventually include a color photograph. The catalogue now furnishes scholars with complete information so that the evidence from Saint-Jean can be incorporated into further research.

In 2003/2004, with the award of an NEH Collaborative Research grant, the direction of the MonArch website project shifted to become the interactive research tool that it is today. The new MonArch website aims to be self-conscious about its representations, both textual as well as visual. It aims to link the social archaeological and digital humanities perspectives of our research with the analysis of textual evidence and the new possibilities of manipulating and interpreting the site through computer models. Our goal is to be multi-vocal in our attempt to reach site visitors in two (and often three) languages, and through both text and image. Perhaps most importantly, the website tries to foreground the interpretative aspect of research by engaging the visitor explicitly with methodological issues. Rather than presenting a final reconstruction or a definitive statement concerning the site, it puts the wealth of primary data at the researcher's disposal, together with tools for exploration. The scholarly team that has undertaken the excavation and research provide a perspective on these materials, through commentary and links to publications, but that perspective is clearly distinguished from the source materials.

In the development of the website, we have established conceptual links between the existing buildings, the excavation, and the documentary history of the community. Our treatment of these materials has been informed by questions of reconstruction and interpretation. Our interactive site plans and three-dimensional architectural reconstructions allow researchers to explore multiple hypotheses. Our use of the digital medium aims to expand researchers' engagement with the site and with principles of architectural and historical study.