Director's Foreword

Julian Richards

Professor Julian Richards
ADS Director

It's been a very busy few months at the ADS since our tenth anniversary newsletter and we have begun our eleventh year with the release of a number of fantastic new resources. As always these cover a broad spectrum of archaeological topics from shipwrecks to Iron Age coins to how to improve inclusivity and accessibility in the discipline. A roundup of these new resources is given in ADS Update.

The ADS have also continued its involvement in a number of exciting and cutting edge research and development projects, such as participation in English Heritage's Heritage Gateway project and the planned expansion and enhancement of the Archaeological Records of Europe Networked Access (ARENA) project (see ADS Online Issue 16). These and other projects reflect the existence of a clear trend in archaeological and cultural heritage computing towards much more sophisticated and extensive interoperability. This approach, which has been discussed in theory for many years, of linking many diverse, distributed and heterogeneous datasets to create coherent and usable research tools, may now be beginning to bear fruit. In part this is due to advances in software models, particularly Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and Web Services, but it also seems that there is converging strategic approaches in many of the diverse bodies and organisations that curate archaeological data. Such convergence is a necessary condition to take advantage of the opportunities created by new technologies.

Joined up Data?

This issue of the ADS newsletter takes a look at a number of projects that exemplify this trend. We are fortunate to have contributions from Cat Cload of English Heritage and Beccy Jones of the RCAHMS keeping us up to date with developments in the Heritage Gateway and SWISH projects respectively. We also have a contribution from Ben Robinson on the equally hot topic of user-driven perspectives in HERs. Dan Hull has provided us with an update of the outcomes of the StORe project highlighting the extensive use of digital resources, such as those hosted at the ADS, in archaeological research.
Data Sans Frontières

All the above contributors are participants in the Data Sans Frontières conference at the British Museum on the 25th of May, organised by the Historic Environment Information Resources Network (HEIRNET) and supported by the AHRC ICT Methods Network, ADS and the CBA. This conference offers a broad cross-sectoral overview of approaches to joining up heritage datasets and it is very much hoped that the scheduled discussion sessions will throw up even greater opportunities for partnership and cooperation in the months and years to come.