Finally, the first issue of Living Past, long waited for, is on-line! Almost one year has passed since we planned it. In the meantime, we experienced the distance between wish and reality. Our wish has been to facilitate dissemination of archaeological information - mainly Romanian - wider, faster, and less costly. The reality has been a combination of difficulties concerning financing, content, and confidence.
After months of work, we decided to put the first issue as it is now, and to add some images later. The first issue contains three papers on Stone Age in Romania: Présence de l'Aurignacien du Nord-Ouest de la Roumanie by Roxana Dobrescu, The Mesolithic Habitation Complexes in the Balkans and Danube Basin by Dr. Vasile Boroneant, and La plastique anthropomorphe néolithique au Bas Danube et certaines pratiques magico - rituelles by Marian Neagu. We got two French papers on Christian Archaeology: Cinquantenaire de la découverte des Manuscrits de la Mer Morte - Proposition de lecture structurelle des versets centraux du traitè des deux esprit de Qumrân
(1 qs, 4, 20-21) by Lucien Bord and Les samaritains by Guy-Dominique Sixdenier. The first issue also contains a paper by Mircea Angelescu, Histria's New Look - a 3D Model, an application of three dimensional modelling for reconstructing the ancient landscape of the Greek and Roman city on the Black Sea coast.
When we started the project, we had strong hopes that our electronic journal will be financed through a grant by the Open Society Foundation Bucharest. Unfortunately, the priorities of the Foundation have changed and, as a direct result, we got no money for our electronic journal. Consequently, Living Past is now supported exclusively by our Institute for Cultural Memory (CIMEC), and edited in part through volunteer work of the editorial team. As you, busy people, imagine, lack of direct financing inevitably slowed down the editing process.
We launched Living Past project at the Annual Archaeological Reports Session in Calarasi, May 1998 - a moment of excitement, interest, surprise, not to mention those colleagues who thought is was a joke: "an electronic journal? what's that?" At that time many people promised to send papers for publication. Few in fact did send anything. Electronic publishing might be popular and efficient in a medium of people familiar with computers, at least as authors, if not as on-line readers, which is not the case within Romanian archaeology. Low computer use among Romanian colleagues was our ennemy. We offered to scan images for those unable to do it themselves, but could not assume the data entry rsponsibility. Some potential authors still have no access to computer, or the skills to use it. Other colleagues have no more their text files. From some other we got either articles in corrupted files (and the author had no other copy) or we got text files, but without illustration. Illustration, especially for older excavations, is scarce, of low quality, and almost entirely black and white. We did our best to improve it. It looks surprisingly well on screen (see, for instance, the 30 years old photos from the Danube Basin).
We had to reject inconsistent texts. Because few Romanian archaeologists have e-mail access, communication is slow. Language is another problem: Romanian is not a spread language, so we asked for papers in either English or French. Therefore we had to verify also the translation of the papers - an extra work.
From the Web publishing point of view, we changed the format several times. How to place the notes? How to combine text with images? How to provide print facilities?
We counted on young archaeologists and their unpublished works, on people wishing to make available abroad their older papers or previous less well illustrated ones. But many colleagues either were reluctant - a new journal, in a new format... - or simply had not their works in computer files. As other editors at their beginning, we had to rely on friends. (That does not mean that we publish friends because of that, but because they have something to say...)
As a general feature, each paper has a table of content, with links to the chapters. We added links to other Web pages on the same topic, either for illustrations or for more information. Papers have abstracts and a brief presentation of the author. If you want to print a paper, you can do it easily. Please cite the papers as indicated. Any comments or suggestions for links are welcome.
Our wish became reality: the first issue of LIVING PAST is on-line! We thank our curageous authors, and all colleagues who encouraged us in this project. We enjoyed doing it. Besides inconsistences or mistakes, we hope you will feel that joy.
See you back for the next issue!
Bucharest, June 1999