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Archaeology Data Service

Archaeology Data Service ONLINE

ISSN 1368-0560     Issue 9 (Spring 2001)
Arts and Humanities Data Service

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ADS ONLINE, the Internet version of ADS NEWS, contains articles and pictures which do not appear in the printed version. Articles that are expanded from the print version are identified with a green icon green ball, articles which appear only in ADS ONLINE are marked with a blue icon blue ball, and articles which are the same in the two versions (but with the addition of hotlinks in the online version) are marked with a red icon red ball. A red line
           

Contents

ADS ONLINE red ball Rethinking Publication
Julian Richards
red ball Arch Search Latest
ADS Technical Team
red ball Ave Valley Survey
Judith Winters
red ball The Land of Lettice Sweetapple
Damian Robinson
red ball PATOIS - Latest
Kate Fernie
red ball Publishing Archaeology
Mike Heyworth
red ball New Guide
Damian Robinson
blue ball Conference Round-up
William Kilbride
red ball ADS ads
by the editor
red ball Credits
from the editor

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Rethinking Publication: Going Digital Rethinking Publication: Going Digital


Over the last three decades a number of committees and working parties have tackled the continuing publication crisis in British Archaeology: huge post-excavation backlogs, spiralling print costs, and a feeling that the interesting stories had been lost somewhere out there on the data mountain. The end result of our labours was a high-cost, low-print-run excavation report, bought by a few and read by even fewer. The conundrum was how to provide a readable summary of key findings whilst still making the primary and irreplaceable data available to those who wanted access to it. The solution proposed in the Frere Report (1975) was to define different levels of publication and to distinguish between the published “synthetic description” and the “Level III” archive report. The Cunliffe Report (1983) took this a stage further, proposing a report digest in print with the supporting data, and often the specialist reports, made available only in microfiche. At that stage, however, the technology was not ready to support the vision. Microfiche readers were only available in specialist libraries and were universally disliked, by readers and librarians alike.

The Digital Age may at last allow us to solve this problem and puts the publication debate back on the agenda. At the ADS we have been examining a number of exemplars of how the relationship between publication and archive might be developed. On the one hand we have “digifiche”: the Internet provides the ideal, universally accessible medium for the data and illustrations which are needed to support a traditional publication. In this newsletter we report on the launch of the Fyfield and Overton Down digital working papers which complement Peter Fowler’s recent Society of Antiquaries Monograph. On the other hand, in another development, we are working with the e-journal Internet Archaeology to provide integrated electronic publications and archives. In the latest issue readers of Internet Archaeology can investigate Prof. Martin Millett’s Ave Valley project in Portugal and then, should they wish to explore further, they can be taken seamlessly into the digital archive maintained by the ADS and download his fieldwalking databases. Each of these projects presents possible digital futures for archaeological publication and we need to discuss how best to make use of the technology. Hopefully, the forthcoming release of the CBA’s Publication Users Needs Survey will mark the start of that debate; not its end.

Julian Richards
email

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ArchSearch ArchSearch Latest

A flurry of activity has been keeping us warm during the winter months. The most obvious result of this is the new clickable map interface which now greets the user in place of the keyword search. This interface allows the user to select an area of interest in the British Isles for their searches. It also shows the relative density of archaeological data in the ADS catalogue so a user can gauge beforehand how successful their search is likely to be. A complete and expanded re-load of the Excavation Index for England has created a much richer and more comprehensive set of records, including all the records from the Archaeological Investigations Project from Bournemouth. These add to new data sets from the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and Northumberland Sites and Monuments Records, reported elsewhere. In addition, two major downloadable archives have been added to the ADS catalogue: the Fyfiled and Overtown Downs Archive and the Ave Valley Survey Project Archive. Both are reported in more detail later.

The last few months have also seen significant progress towards the launch of the ADS’s “Z39.50 Portal”. Project partners at the University of Kent at Canterbury have led technical developments under the supervision of Dr Nick Ryan, while the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network are being configured as “targets”. This means that one search of the ADS catalogue will in fact produce seamless cross-searching of these distributed resources, using the geo-spatial capability of the current catalogue. In that way, the most up to date and accurate data can always be provided to the user, without having to edit or correct existing records, and without the user having to vist numerous different catalogues.

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ArchSearch Northumberland Sites and Monuments

The Conservation Team of Northumberland County Council deposited nearly12,000 records from their sites and monuments record with the ADS last August which became available in the catalogue the following month. The SMR has records about monuments as diverse as prehistoric cemeteries and Hadrian’s Wall to Anglo-Saxon settlements and the defences of World War II. It is a rich data set; many of the records have extensive abstracts and associated bibliographies.

The Northumberland SMR is a welcome addition to the catalogue as it complements the extensive National Monuments Record of Scotland to facilitate detailed cross-border searches in a rich archaeological landscape.

Tony Austin, Jo Clarke and Keith Westcott
email

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ADS Catalogue Map based search 2

Our last Newsletter introduced the Area Search and promised the ‘Clickable Map’ interface. This has now been implemented and is the default search for users entering the catalogue. The old default of “keyword searching” is still available, but the new interface has the advantage that it provides the user with an idea of what the catalogue holds, as well as tools to query it. Users can choose between two maps to click on. The default map shows the relative density of archaeological data in the ADS catalogue, allowing users to gauge beforehand the likely success of their searches. Alternatively users may switch to a map with political boundaries to help guide their aim.

Each pixel on the map represents an area of about 2½ square kilometres and so does not support precise searches. That means the more detailed “Area” Search still deserves its place in the Search Menu. However, the clickable map is only the first step towards more detailed map-based searching and in time will be replaced by larger-scale maps allowing more refined geo-spatial searching of the ADS catalogue.

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Tony Austin, Jo Clarke and Keith Westcott
email

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ADS Catalogue Cofnod o Safleoedd a Henebion Sir y Fflint
Nghofnod o Safleoedd a Henebion Powys ...

The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust maintains the Regional Sites and Monuments Record covering the unitary authorities of Denbighshire, Flintshire, Powys (including most of the Brecon Beacons National Park), Wrexham and the eastern part of Conwy. CPAT have deposited over 31,500 records from their SMR, ranging from the Palaeolithic to the twentieth century, with the ADS and these have been incorporated into the catalogue.

This, like the Northumberland SMR, is a rich data set containing extensive notes and bibliographies. Wales was poorly represented in the catalogue before the addition of these records but central and north-east Wales is now a ‘hot’ area on the clickable map interfa.

Tony Austin, Jo Clarke and Keith Westcott
email

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The Ave Valley Survey Project: An integrated archive in practice The Ave Valley Survey Project:
An integrated archive in practice

The digital environment enables archaeologists to publish their interpretations and data through a range of interfaces in ways that could never have been achieved in print. The publication of the Ave Valley Survey by Prof. Martin Millett and colleagues in the latest issue of the e-journal Internet Archaeology, building on the long and close relationship that the journal has with the ADS and enables us to explore the integrated archive in practice, breaking down the sometimes restricting boundaries that traditionally exist between publishing and archiving.

The concept of the integrated archive has not been an overnight discovery. The potential of such dissemination has been demonstrated in the journal since its first issue in 1996 and articles have been accompanied by a variety of multimedia and hypermedia elements. The ‘Ave Valley Survey’ article, however, witnesses the shift from demonstration of what might form an integrated resource to its practical application.

The publication is the final report of a 5-year field survey in northern Portugal, where almost 50 new Iron Age and Roman sites have been identified. Alongside the text of the report, the publication is accompanied by a suite of colour photographs and illustrations, geophysical survey plots and interpretations, as well as several searchable databases, allowing users to interrogate a whole range of data from the fieldwalking conditions, to the pottery and tile finds (over 5000 entries), to details about the sites known in the region prior to the survey. The digital archive of the field survey, deposited with the ADS, contains raw data files, images and analyses created from the GIS analysis, as well as the full set of geo-spatial data for the region - all available for users to view from the ADSsite or download and query offline. However, the journal publication and the archive, in the past two ends of the same spectrum, have been integrated in the Ave Valley publication. A query from within the data set seamlessly pulls out archival material such as the archived pottery illustrations, returned when a query is made from the journal.

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The offering up of data in this way may allow for more active readers and users of the data, and affect the relationships that we have with others outside the discipline. But it may have implications for us as archaeologists too - the opportunity for us to question and query our own data in lots of new ways. It may also have a profound impact on the act of archaeology itself, not least on the acquisition of our data in the field.

Judith Winters
Editor, Internet Archaeology
http://intarch.ac.uk/
email

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Archaeology Data Service Lettice Sweetapple meets the information age: bridging the gap between archive and publication

According to Peter Fowler ‘Fyfield and West Overton are two unremarkable villages in Wiltshire’ (Fowler 2000, 3). Yet the publication of the results of his monumental 39-year study of the deeply agrarian landscape surrounding these villages is remarkable. The Fyfield and Overton Downs Project has delivered an ambitious, multi-layered publication and archive, which seeks to confront the traditional authority of the monograph by presenting data alongside interpretation, to demonstrate how conclusions were arrived at and to invite reanalysis and reinterpretation. The dissemination programme also tries to cater for different audiences, with their differing requirements of the data.

The idea of an integrated archive and publication was built into the Fyfield and Overton Downs Project from the start. Indeed when the programme to publish the project was begun in 1995, preparing a publicly accessible archive was as much a part of the brief from English Heritage as preparing a printed volume. The possibility of publishing a great deal of the project’s data electronically was obviously appealing. Partial digital publication was seen as a way of helping in the wide dissemination of the project’s results, which led to the involvement of the ADS.

The resultant dissemination programme of the Fyfield and Overton Downs project is both ambitious and innovative and comprises four elements:

Together this dissemination strategy can be envisaged as an integrated information pyramid, at its peak sits a popular account of the area, at its base the primary site archives. The philosophy behind this structure is that an interested reader can pick out issues in either the popular or scholarly accounts, follow them in much greater depth digitally and, using the graphical, photographic and artefactual catalogues in the digital archive, visit Devizes and work directly with the pertinent elements of the primary site archive. Such a strategy really does bridge the gap between popular and academic and between publication and archive. When viewed together there is probably something in the Fyfield and Overton Downs project for everybody, from a coherent landscape history to boxes of artefacts. Out of two unremarkable villages really has come a remarkable integrated publication.

Damian Robinson
email

Fowler, P and Blackwell, I 1998 The Land of Lettice Sweetapple (Tempus, London)

Fowler, P 2000 Landscape Plotted and Pieced (Society of Antiquaries, London)

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patois Learning and teaching with online sources: PATOIS latest

In October 2000 work began on the PATOIS project to create a series of on-line tutorial packs about the digital information resources available for archaeology on the Internet. PATOIS has been funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), which is investing resources in developing computing infrastructure and also teaching materials for use in higher and further education. Investment in digitisation programmes linked to the development of data services (like the ADS), library services and electronic publication has already made significant resources available on-line and these are beginning to change approaches to teaching and learning.

Recent research by the archaeology strand of the Learning and Teaching Support Network (one of the partners in the project) has shown that lecturers are particularly looking for guidance in using communications and information technology in taught courses. The tutorials that are being developed for PATOIS should offer lecturers support in this area and consultation with our academic partners will help us to relate the tutorials to themes within academic curricula. PATOIS is also benefiting from the experience of other projects in developing on-line course materials and in creating learning environments.

Work so far has concentrated on two areas: researching and designing the user interface and developing content for the first two tutorial packs. Firstly, existing tutorials and courses available on the Internet were reviewed to evaluate the ways in which they create learning environments and the support being offered to lecturers and students. Secondly, discussions with ADS staff and a questionnaire to project partners have helped to identify topics for the tutorials on monument inventories and digital archives produced by archaeological fieldwork. Developing these topics into tutorials involves more detailed research into the contents of the ADS collections and searching for illustrative materials available online.

A prototype for the first tutorial pack has been completed and has been released for review by project partners. This tutorial offers an introduction to the monument inventories maintained by NMRs and SMRs, their data standards and their uses. The tutorial is divided into sections offering background information to be read on-line, interactive exercises with multiple-choice questions (and feedback) and case studies of the uses of monument inventories in research and cultural resource management. The intended audience for the tutorial is second-year undergraduates or masters students who are starting to plan research for their dissertations. Feedback from university trials later this year will help us to evaluate how successfully the tutorial has achieved its aims and feed into the development of the other tutorials. Work is now well underway on the second tutorial on the re-use of excavation archives in teaching and research. Work begins soon on further modules.

PATOIS aims to encourage students and their lecturers to engage in open-ended learning and research. In other words, once introduced to the ADS and AHDS collections by PATOIS we hope that students will revisit and re-use these resources in future research. Thus, students that use the PATOIS modules will be better equipped to read and understand the next generation of digital publication.

Kate Fernie
email

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Council for British Archaeology The publication of archaeological fieldwork

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) has long been at the forefront of publishing in archaeology, partly through its extensive series of Research Reports and Occasional Papers, and partly through its role as an independent forum representing the views of the archaeological community. Recently the CBA has completed a major review to ascertain how people actually use archaeological fieldwork publications and what they expect from them. The review embraces the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and was commissioned from the CBA by English Heritage in partnership with Cadw, Dúchas, Historic Scotland and the Northern Ireland Environment & Heritage Service. The results of this survey, to be published at the end of March, will be entitled "From the Ground Up. The Publication of Archaeological Projects: a user needs survey" and is authored by Siân Jones, Ann MacSween, Stuart Jeffrey, Richard Morris & Mike Heyworth. The full report will be available on the CBA's web site at www.britarch.ac.uk/pubs/puns, and a shorter print version will be distributed in the coming months.

The survey, which included a questionnaire and face to face interviews bringing in the detailed views of over 800 individuals, highlights widespread dissatisfaction with the current structure of reports, and diversity of opinion about the purposes of writing them. Other issues are also considered in the report which concludes with a series of recommendations which will no doubt form the basis for a major debate within the archaeological discipline within the coming months. Much of the discussion will no doubt focus on the potential benefits, and disadvantages, of the uses of electronic technology to disseminate information from archaeological research. It promises to be an interesting debate!

Mike Heyworth
CBA Deputy Director

mikeheyworth@britarch.ac.uk

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Guide to Good Practice Attention all researchers: Second edition of excavation and fieldwork guide released

The last six months have seen the launch of several new Guides to Good Practice from the AHDS services, including the second edition of the Excavation and Fieldwork guide. This and other guides provide indispensable advice on the preparation of digital archives.

Although the guides are of general relevance to any researchers within the arts and humanities, they are of particular importance for those in academic insitutions applying for large research grants. Bodies like the Arts and Humanities Research Board, the British Academy and the Nature and Environment Research Council view digital archiving as a condition of grant. They look to the ADS and the AHDS for advice on the grant making process, and look to us to help applicants and grant holders.

So, if you are planning a research project the guides and the ADS can help you.

Damian Robinson
email

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Conference Round up Conference Round up

The six months since the last issue of ADS ONLINE have seen the ADS in action at a large number of conferences and other gatherings.

As well as presentations at the TAG in Oxford and the British Records Association in London, January saw the ADS in action at the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative in Hong Kong, as well as a presence at the CEDARS project confernce near our home patch in York. Subsequent months saw important presentations to a variety of groups including the Archaeology Departments at the Universities of Cambridge, Bradford, Glasgow, Oxford, Southampton, Reading, Bournemouth, Bristol and University College London. In January we also hosted a large and successful gathering of university based researchers at an ADS-organised workshop.

In the diary for the next few months, the ADS will be at Digital Resources in the Humanities in SOAS, at the IFA in Newcastle, and the annual mda gathering at the University of East Anglia. Activities continue apace over the next few months, with a rash of lectures and presentations.

Click here for up-to-date details of forthcoming events.

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Guides to Good Practice Guides now available in paperback!

The AHDS is pleased to announce that six volumes of the guide to good practice series have now appeared in print, published by Oxbow Books at a price of 10 ukp. Write to Oxbow Books for more information: Oxbow Books, Park End Place, Oxford OX1 1HN England UK, tel: ++44 (0)1865 241249, fax: ++44 (0)1865 794449, or order them by email to oxbow@oxbowbooks.com All of the ADS volumes, along with Digital Archives from Excavation and Fieldwork: Guide to Good Practice (first edition) are available on the ADS website. For more details of this and other forthcoming guides on CAD and geophysics, point your browser at:

http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/project/goodguides/g2gp.html

where you will also find links to newly published guides from our sister services:

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Credits

The Archaeology Data Service is part of the Arts and Humanities Data Service, and resides at the University of York. It is jointly funded by the Joint Information System Committee and the Arts and Humanities Research Board.

The ADS collects, describes, catalogues, preserves and provides user support for digital resources created during archaeological research. The ADS promotes standards and guidelines for best practice in the creation, description preservation and use of spatial information to the AHDS. For those classes of archaeological data where archival bodies exist, the ADS collaborates to promote greater use of existing services.

     Joint Information Systems Committee  
           Arts and Humanities Data Service  
 Arts and Humanities Research Board 
University of York

ADS NEWS and ADS ONLINE are edited by William Kilbride,email. If you have any ideas about articles or features for the next issue in Autumn 2001, then write to me at the email address given.

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