Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA

Digging through forgotten ruins, piecing together precious fragments of lost civilizations — archaeology is truly a fascinating discipline. But what happens when the dig is over? When it's time to put away the trowels and brushes — and begin the job of documenting and classifying the relics for future study. In Los Angeles, at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, the science of preserving the past has taken a digital turn — thanks to FileMaker Pro, the award–winning database software application from FileMaker Inc.!

Cotsen Institute of Archeology at UCLA Builds Digital Archeology Lab Using FileMaker Pro


  • The Cotsen Institute of Archeology at UCLA uses the FileMaker Pro–based Digital Archeology Lab, a system for documenting and classifying relics for future study. The Lab's flexible and easy–to–use 'Digital Imprint' multimedia database template allows archaeologists worldwide to exchange new discoveries in a uniform format incorporating graphics, animation, text, audio and video.


  • Higher Education

Business Challenge

It's called the Digital Archaeology Lab — and it's a revolutionary new approach to sharing important new discoveries, stressing the use of advanced multimedia techniques in the distribution of archaeological data. Graphics, animations, audio, video, and text — all are combined in bringing this valuable information to the scientific world. And FileMaker Pro has been a vital component in bringing this vision to reality.

'The Digital Lab received funding for a project that we call the 'Digital Imprint,' explains Director Louise Krasniewicz. 'It's designed to develop standards for the professional publication of archaeological information on CDs and the web. What's been a problem with this type of activity in the past is that individuals would try to do this and spend a lot of time and money reinventing the wheel each time by writing software from scratch and designing graphics specific only for their project. We took a different approach and decided to develop a 'template' which we would design and test and then give away to any archaeologist who would want to use it to publish.'

Early in the planning of this template, it was decided that the only way to really make the project work would be to use the most user–friendly, most flexible off–the–shelf database software available – and the search took over a year. The winning choice — FileMaker Pro.

Successful Solution

'We'd been using FileMaker in our lab for all sorts of traditional database needs,' explains Louise. 'But once we started using the program for our template, it became clear that it could help us out in a lot of ways and I became the one who would say, 'Let's put that in FileMaker.''

It didn't take long for the Digital Archaeological Lab team to discover just how flexible FileMaker can be. 'The most interesting and innovative use of FileMaker came when we had to create a production tool that would enable archaeologists to directly and automatically import their images, text, databases, maps, 3D models and movies into our template,' notes Louise. 'My project manager, Ken Stuart, built a production tool completely in FileMaker which enables an archaeologist, at the push of several buttons, to import data into the proper place in our template so that the slides show up in the slide show, the databases show up with their own names in our database interface and text is accurately imported into the simulated book section.

Because FileMaker is scriptable and can be modified and expanded with plug–ins, we found all the capabilities we needed to put together exactly the type of production tool everyone has always talked about but no one knew how to put together.'

The most interesting and innovative use of FileMaker came when we had to create a production tool that would enable archaeologists to directly and automatically import their images, text, databases, maps, 3D models and movies into our template

— Louise Krasniewicz, Director, Digital Archaeological Lab

Customer Benefits

The 'Digital Imprint' FileMaker template is already generating excitement in the archaeological world — proving a major hit at the Society for American Archaeology's meetings in the spring of 2000. The template, combined with an ordinary web browser, will help to bring the results of vital research to scholars, researchers, and the general public, all around the globe.

Visions of the past — built for the future with FileMaker Pro!

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.

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