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Director's Foreword

Julian Richards

Professor Julian Richards
ADS Director

The last few months have been very exciting for the ADS. A number of key developments which we have been working hard on have finally come to fruition and we are pleased to be partners in several major research projects which have recently kicked off.

This Issue’s lead story is on perhaps the most important update, the launch of the new ADS website and the updated ArchSearch search mechanism. It has been over five years since the ADS website last underwent a major overhaul and a lot has happened in that time both in terms of technology and design. The decision to undertake a major reworking of our site and its functionality was taken at an ADS strategy day a couple of years ago and at that time it was agreed that as well as a simple visual redesign with some updated functionality, a more profound reworking of the ADS internal systems, from data ingest procedures to external interoperability frameworks was achievable.

The new ADS website is finally ready for release and its brand new approach to searching datasets, incorporating faceted browsing and interactive mapping, is complemented by a striking new design. The site also features functionality that allows registered users to save searches, tailor colour schemes, keep a personal history of ADS pages visited and more besides.

We have also completed the first phase of a root and branch overhaul of ADS systems including the implementation of a Fedora based content and file level management system, a permanent citation mechanism for ADS collections in association with the DataCite project and the creation of a number of services whereby our content metadata can be broadcast for wider reuse including cross-searching with partners in the United States of America and with Europeana, the European Union’s cultural heritage portal.

Of course our core work as a digital archive has also continued apace and we have had a considerable number of exciting new collections deposited with us in the last year. Our grey literature library is rapidly approaching the 10,000 mark, making this one of the most significant online resources in UK archaeology. Complementing our archival resources our ever popular Guides to Good Practice are in the final stages of their overhaul with a number of updates sections already released.

We also have our eye fixed on future technological developments through our research work, such as the STELLAR project, where the ADS and the University of Glamorgan are working together to investigate Linked Data as a means of delivering archaeological datasets for future reuse.

Finally, just as the forward march of technology never stops, we at the ADS are not resting on our laurels. There are a number of exciting additional website and data management features that are still in the pipeline and are due to be rolled out in the coming months, starting this year with the integration of grey literature into the ArchSearch interface.

ADS Update

This section covers just a few of our recent activities and new resources made available via the ADS since the last newsletter


Data Seal of Approval

Data Seal of Approval
The Archaeology Data Service is very pleased to announce that our application for the Data Seal of Approval (DSA) was granted on the 10th March 2011. The DSA was created by a large grouping of digital data producers, managers and archivists including DANS, the internationally respected Dutch data archive. The award is the culmination of one of the very few external validation processes that a digital repository can undertake in order to demonstrate the robustness and sustainability of its archival processes. The ADS is only the second UK repository to gain this award, the first being the UK Data Archive in Essex.

The application was coordinated for us at the ADS by Jen Mitcham and involved considerable effort in marshalling the necessary information and documentation in order to demonstrate our worthiness for the seal. The DSA has 16 different sets of guidelines/assessment areas each of which must be satisfied in order to gain approval.

Data Seal of Approval

Digital Preservation Coalition Membership

Digital Preservation Coalition
The ADS is also proud to announce that as of 2010 it is an associate member of the DPC.

Established in 2001 the DPC’s role is to foster joint action to address the urgent challenges of securing the preservation of digital resources in the UK and to work with others internationally to secure our global digital memory. DPC

The Shala Valley Project

The Shala Valley Project is an exciting Albanian-American collaboration in order to study the Shala fis (tribe), one of many northern Albanian fisi that survived intact into the 20th century and, to some extent, down to the present day. The project conducted fieldwork during the summers of 2005-2008 integrating interdisciplinary programs of intensive and extensive archaeological survey and excavation with geo-scientific, ethnographic, and (ethno) historical surveys, including archival historical research.

The Shala Valley Project

The Medieval Pottery Research Group Bibliography

The Medieval Pottery Research Group was founded in 1975 to bring together people with an interest in pottery vessels that were made, traded and used in Europe between the end of the Roman period and the nineteenth century from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, as well as post-Roman ceramic building materials. The MPRG Bibliography is an online national bibliography of published reports, books and articles on post-Roman ceramics which has been gathered together by volunteer compilers from across Britain. The Bibliography was launched in 1980 as part of a three-phased project to provide national standards for the excavation, study and publication of medieval and post-medieval ceramics. At that time there was no common methodology between researchers, much of the existing information was obscurely published and excavated assemblages could not adequately be compared between sites. The Group resolved to create agreed guidelines, to compile a common and comprehensive glossary and to provide a critical bibliography.

Medieval pottery group

The Medieval Pottery Research Group Bibliography

The Mucking Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries

Mucking reconstruction image
The Anglo-Saxon cemeteries at Mucking, Essex, represent the burials of over 800 individuals from the 5th to early 7th centuries AD. The mixed rite Cemetery II is one of the largest and most complete Anglo-Saxon cemeteries yet excavated (282 inhumations, 463 cremation burials).The quality and quantity of the evidence from graves of the first half of the 5th century, with cultural affinities primarily with the Elbe-Weser area, is unsurpassed. By the later 5th and the 6th century the cemetery was primarily 'Saxon' in character, but with some Anglian and eastern Kentish influences. The dating is based on seriation analysis of the inhumation artefact assemblages and is combined with an innovative maximisation of demographic data from soil silhouettes and important evidence for coffins and costume. Mucking can now be seen as a particularly extensive Anglo-Saxon settlement, of at least 100+ individuals, commanding an important strategic position in the lower Thames region; it may have functioned as a meeting place and mart for surrounding areas on both sides of the Thames.

The Mucking Anglo-Saxon Cemeteries

Staying in Touch

The above projects represent only a tiny proportion of the projects available, with over 60 new resources released in 2010. For those of you with a passion for social networking the ADS has a twitter feed for all the latest releases and news. In the same vein, our Facebook profile is also available here: Archaeology Data Service

Twitter - @ADS_Update


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