You are currently browsing the daily archive for 21/03/2011.

Although the Megalithic Portal has been running since 2001, the database it was originally based on goes back to about 1997. The site is run by Andy Burnham and funded via book sales, advertising and donations.

The ‘Portal’ is a huge resource covering worldwide sites of antiquity. The mission of the site is described thus: “…many of these ancient sites are not protected in any way, and many have disappeared over the last 50 years or so under development and intensive agriculture. Even sites that are scheduled have limited real protection, so our mission is to document, publicise and protect these remaining sites.

The first thing you notice when browsing to the site is the sheer ‘busyness’ of it all. There are adverts, polls, menus galore on the front page, along with links to various maps and recent updates. But don’t be overwhelmed. Once you’ve overcome the navigation quirks (the site is a heavily modified version of the PHP-Nuke CMS) there’s a wealth of information here.

Using the Search facility for a site name produces a map with further search criteria for narrowing down. The map shows the site and nearby sites. This is followed by a list of the sites matching the search criteria. Each site can have different types of entries: Photo Pages and Text Pages. Any entry can have comments attached to it, enabling discussions about a particular site to be built up.

Once a site has been selected, all the entries (pages) for that site are listed. A detail map is shown, along with a list of nearby sites. By this method the site can be navigated, though other options are available. The ‘Find a Site’ menu option opens up a list of 14 different ways to search – I said it was busy!

Registered users can create their own pages, and a nice feature is a ‘Visit Log’ whereby a list of sites is created from the user’s own contributions to the site. Items can also be added to the log with comments where no contribution has been made, allowing a comprehensive travel log to be built up. There are extensive photo galleries with regular photo competitions, and a wide range of forums on topics as varied as Earth Mysteries, Roman and Dark Ages, Medieval Crosses, Second hand books and more.

There is also a Downloads section which includes videos, audio files and waypoint files for GPS systems, and an extensive shop which helps fund the development of the site.

The sheer scale and scope of the site means it has to be admired, but the design is starting to look very dated, and newcomers may be put off by the sheer information overload it presents. A useful site, nevertheless.


March 2011

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