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CHECKLIST OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL ARCHIVING TASKS AND ROLES WITHIN AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT#


The following chart sets out archiving tasks which occur as the project progresses through its main stages. These are generic tasks lifted from the best practice section of the Guide and in this form they can be used as a quick archiving checklist for those who are not overly familiar with the archiving process.

More detailed templates will eventually be found online which will describe the activities and tasks specific to each country, region or state and which will align better with country, regional or state agreed practice.

The checklist in the Guide also offers a general idea of who would normally undertake these tasks, emphasising the point that everyone involved in an archaeological project will have an impact on how the archive is created, compiled, cared for or curated. ‘Every person involved in an archaeological project has a duty of care towards the archive and must make sure that it is created and compiled to recognised standards, using consistent methods, and it is not at unnecessary risk of damage or loss’ (the STANDARD for archaeological archiving Chapter 4 Paragraph 2).

The personnel identified in the checklist represent an ideal situation which serves a purpose as a best practice example. In the country, regional or state specific checklists which will follow the Guide, the title of the person (such as curator, conservator-restorer etc) who will normally undertake each task in this country or state will be specified, thus tailoring the checklist to actual procedure in each area.

The fully completed forms for each country, state or canton can be found here.

Those countries who wish to join the ARCHES programme and include their own archiving checklist in our online Guide can find blank templates for completion in the QUESTIONNAIRES part of this website.


1. Definitions of Roles of Project Personnel#

The titles given to archaeological project personnel are endlessly variable, so it is important, before describing the particular responsibilities of individual team members, to establish common terminology. This is a list of the job types identified in the following checklist, with a brief description of their role, which it is hoped will enable each ARCHES partner to match the checklist with their own practices.

Archive Manager: The person responsible for ensuring the project archive is fully compiled and for transferring it to the archive repository.

Conservator-Restorer: A specialist in the conservation or restoration of archaeological objects.

Digital Information Manager: The person within an archaeological project team who is responsible for managing the creation and preservation and accessibility of digital data.

Facilities Manager: The person responsible for managing the premises in which archaeological projects are undertaken, especially during the stages after data-collection in the field.

Finds Manager: The person responsible, during an archaeological project, for managing the materials (finds) collected, including cleaning, marking/labelling, packing, recording, storage and specialist liaison.

Project Initiator: The person who has identified the need for an archaeological project to be undertaken, will monitor the project outcomes but does not necessarily manage the project team.

Project Manager: The leader of the project team during an archaeological project, with responsibility for ensuring the aims are met.

Project Team: All personnel working on an archaeological project.

Repository Curator: The person responsible for ensuring the preservation and accessibility of archaeological archives after they have been transferred to a repository for long-term care.

Specialist: Any person engaged in the collection or analysis of specialised information during the course of an archaeological project, for instance a specialist in pollen or pottery.

2. Archiving checklist chart#

2.1 Planning#

Guidance SectionActionArchive TasksPersonnel
The structure and character of the future archiveThe structure and character of the future archive, including the expected final content of the archive and how it will be managed, should be agreed on and understood by all concernedSet the standards for the creation and format of project documentation, as well as the media to be used and the procedures to be followed in order to ensure a consistent record*Project Initiator
* Project Manager
Define the archiving procedures for the identification, recording, and management of the material assemblage.* Project Manager
Detail the manuals to be used, and any packaging, care or movement requirements* Project Manager
* Finds Manager
*Conservator-restorer
Incorporate national/regional/local /repository standards for archaeological archives and collections management* Project Manager
* Archive Manager
* Repository curator
Selection for archiveA selection and retention strategy should be devised and agreed at the project planning stage, which should not only set out the selective activity that will take place in the field, but should also set out what will be selected or retained for archiving as the project progressesDraw up a selection or retention strategy with input from all the relevant members of the project team, including specialists and the curator of the repository or repositories into which the final archive will be received* Project Initiator
* Project Manager
* Finds Manager
* Repository curator
* Specialists
The security of the archive and disaster management planningSecurity or disaster management strategies should be devised that safeguard the archive from damage and lossPrepare an archive security or disaster management plan that sets out the standards which will be adhered to in order that the documentary and material archive will be created, collected and stored to ensure against damage, cross contamination, loss or theft* Project Manager
* Archive Manager
* Facilities Manager
* Finds Manager
*Conservator-restorer
Tasks and resourcesIt should be ensured that the needs of the archiving process are included in establishing the resources and planning the tasks and timetable for the projectArchiving activities and tasks should be programmed and timetabled and important archiving milestones should be programmed in* Project Manager
* Archive Manager
Allocate sufficient resource to archiving tasks in order to ensure that the project archive is ordered, internally consistent, accessible, stable, secure and properly cared for until it is safely deposited in a recognised or trusted repository* Project Manager
* Archive Manager
Identification and involvement of the repositoryThe recipient repository, depot, or museum should be identified and involved at the project outset so that the future of the final archive can be guaranteed, and the archive compiled in accordance with the repository’s specificationsInvite the repository curator, or curators if more than one repository is involved, to be a participant or participants in the planning process about the archive from the outset of the project* Project Initiator
* Project Manager
* Repository Curator
Transfer of title and copyright Copyright and transfer of title, where appropriate, should be clarified and agreed during the project planning stageEstablish copyright or transfer of title procedures. Resolve issues affecting the project archive in accordance with national, regional and/or local legislation* Archive Manager
* Repository curator

2.2 Data Gathering#

Guidance SectionActionArchive TasksPersonnel
Ensuring access to the archaeological archiveDocument, order and index the documentary and material archive in order to keep it understandable and accessibleCompile a full archive index, including an overall contents index and individual indices for all other aspects such as context records, finds lists and drawings* Project Manager
* Archive Manager
Produce project documentation which makes it clear how and why the archaeological data and materials were selected, created or collected* Project Manager
Provide metadata for both the digital and analogue documentary archive to enable the user to access and use the information easily, or take a decision as to whether this information will be useful or not* Digital Information Manager
Create a project summary that will introduce researchers to the aims and objectives, scope, location and content of the project* Project Manager
Validity and comprehensibility of informationAll the elements of an archive should form a seamless whole facilitating movement between each part of the archiveEnsure the project is linked into the wider archaeological record* Project Team
* Specialists
Reference all data to its exact point of origin* Project Team
Link all data to its associated materials or documentation, and vice versa* Project Team
Use standardised and accepted terminology controls where they exist. If they do not exist then use terminology consistently throughout the project documentation and include the relevant glossaries in the archive* Project Team
The creation of a stable archiveAdequate care should be taken of the project archive from the outset. Procedures and practices should be followed which promote the lifespan of the archive
The strategy for securing the archive against damage and loss (either a stand alone strategy or part of a wider disaster management plan) should be put into action
Apply common sense measures on site to safeguard documentary information and archaeological material* Project Team
Ensure that office facilities and practice do not endanger the safety and lifespan of the archive* Archive Manager
* Digital Information Manager
Ensure digital material is backed up in accordance with accepted procedures* Digital information manager
* Project team
Transfer digital files as soon as possible from portable carriers such as local hard disks, CDs and memory cards and sticks to servers under permanently controlled, well managed, safe conditions* Project Team
Use appropriate materials for all carriers of information and containers for the archive* Project Team
Use appropriate materials and procedures to provide the information and labels on the documents and finds*Conservator-restorer
Provide appropriate treatment to all finds before they become part of the archive* Archive Manager
Employ the standards set out in 5.4.1 – 5.4.5 wherever possible until the archive is transferred to a recognised or trusted repository* Project Manager
Implement the archive security strategy or the disaster management plan during this stage and ensure that all project staff are aware of its contents and understand their role in its use* Archive Manager
Disaster managementThe strategy for what documentary and material archive is selected for retention should be understood and used by the project team and monitored by the project managerImplement the selection and retention strategy* Project Manager
* Project Team
Ensure the selection and retention strategy is amended if and where required* Project Manager

2.3 Analysis, Reporting and Archive Transfer#

Guidance SectionActionArchive TasksPersonnel
Maintaining the integrity of the original data when creating new informationThe documentation created during data gathering should be ‘frozen’ and archived and any subsequent work should be carried out on copies of this data‘Freeze’ and archive the digital documentation created during data gathering stage. Ensure any subsequent work is carried out on copies of this data* Archive Manager
* Digital Information Manager
* Project Manager
The care and treatment of materials during analysisEnsure that the integrity is maintained of documentary and material archive dispersed to various specialists for investigation and conservation proceduresEnsure that all internal and external specialists are aware of and follow the project data management and archiving strategy* Project Manager
* Finds Manager
* Archive Manager
Ensure that, as information and material gets re-ordered or moved around, the integrity of the archive is maintained* Project Manager
* Finds Manager
* Archive Manager
Ensure that a documentary record of all destructive methods of analysis is present in the archive* Finds Manager
Document movement to and from external specialists in the archive management documentation, and choose a secure method of transportation* Finds Manager
* Archive Manager
Special treatment of human remainsThe national law or guidelines regarding the treatment of human bone should always be followedFollow national law or guidelines regarding the treatment of human bone* Project Team
* Finds Manager
* Specialists
Implementing and refining selection strategiesThe selection and retention strategy should remain in force, and be kept under regular reviewReview the selection and retention strategy against the project research or management objectives as the project progressesProject Initiator
* Project Manager
* Repository Curator
* Finds Manager
* Digital Information Manager
Ensure that any changes to the selection and retention strategy are recorded, and agreed by all concerned, including the recipient repository* Project Manager
*Repository Curator
* Specialists
Document any discard and ensure the record of the discard is included in the archive, including details of any reburial locations* Finds Manager
* Specialists
Ensure that selection and discard procedures do not lead to any substantial loss of information which detracts from the project research or management objectives* Project Initiator
* Project Manager
Data managementProject digital data management policies should be enforced (such as version control, file naming and structure protocols)Ensure that everyone is conversant with the project file naming and structure protocols* Project Manager
Ensure that version control is practiced by all project personnel* Digital Information Manager
* Project Team
Preparation for the transfer of the archive to a recognised or trusted repositoryPreparation for transfer to a repository or into long term storageEnsure the project archive is accompanied by a project summary and overall archive contents list*Archive Manager
Ensure all parts of the archive are fully indexed and ordered, and the archive contains a master index to its component parts* Archive Manager
Ensure all parts of the project documentary and material archive carry the project ID and classification information (e.g. object, photo, context number)* Archive Manager
Ensure that project documentation, such as recording systems and techniques, selection and sampling strategies, project designs, recording manuals etc accompanies the archive* Archive Manager
Ensure that all digital files are ordered in a clear directory structure and employ folder and file naming conventions which aid retrieval of information. Ensure the metadata for the digital archive accompanies the archive* Digital Information Manager
Ensure the digital archive is virus free on transfer and a copy of the archive is retained until successful transfer is assured* Digital Information Manager
Ensure the archive is packaged in materials and boxes suitable for long term preservation in storage in accordance with national, regional, local or repository standards and in sizes as specified by the repository. Ensure any metal or adhesive fastenings or labels are removed prior to deposition* Archive Manager
Ensure the material archive is ordered according to its material type, packing and storage requirements. Ensure the finds types are kept separate* Archive Manager

2.4 Care and Curation#

Guidance SectionActionArchive TasksPersonnel
Care of documentary and material archive components in active useCare of documentary and material (finds) archive components in active useDuring data gathering, analysis and report writing, maintain the best conditions possible for archive components in active use and ensure that every effort is made to minimise the risks of damage, deterioration, fading, damp, theft and loss* Project Team
Handle all documentary and material archive with due care and attention. Wherever possible keep both material and documentary archives protected in the appropriate storage boxes, sleeves or cabinets. Digital data should be subject to international, national, regional or local information technology management procedures wherever possible* Project Team
Care of documentary and material archive components no longer in active useCare of documentary and material (finds) archive components no longer in active use but not yet transferred to a repositoryMove final versions of digital files to the project archive and record the completion of that task* Digital Information Manager
Index digital files fully within the project archive and certify as virus free before storage* Digital Information Manager
Once in the project archive actively manage all digital files as set out in 5.4.3 below in order to prevent obsolescence* Digital Information Manager
Once documents and images created on analogue media are complete move as soon as possible from active office use into archive storage until eventual deposition* Archive Manager
* Project Team
Follow the guidance provided in sections 5.4.3 – 5.4.5 as far as is practically possible for all documentary and material archive in temporary storage prior to archive transfer* Archive Manager
Accommodation for archives in temporary storageEnsuring appropriate accommodation for archives in temporary storageEnsure that any stores housing the documentary or material archive are not liable to subsidence or flooding, especially at risk from earthquakes, tidal waves or landslides, at risk from fire or explosions in adjacent sites, near a place or a building which attracts rodents, insects and other pests, near a plant or installation emitting harmful gases, smoke, dust, etc, or in an especially polluted area* Archive Manager
* Facilities Manager
Ensure that supply systems for electricity, gas, and especially for water are kept well away from storage areas, and the building is provided with a fire detection system* Archive Manager
* Facilities Manager
Keep stores at a cool temperature and at a relative humidity below the point where microbiological activity occurs. Reference should be made to national, regional or local specific standards wherever applicable* Archive Manager
* Facilities Manager
Long term curation of the documentary archiveLong term curation of the documentary archiveEnsure the documentary archive complies with the standards set out above and the standards maintained by the repository* Repository Curator
Copy data from digital transfer media to servers supported by regular backup procedures* Repository Curator
Practice digital data refreshment. Check files for readability on a regular basis, and where necessary* Repository Curator
Undertake data migration in accordance with current best practice principles in data and information management. Transfer files from proprietary formats onto stable more persistent preservation formats, and migrate onto successive versions of these formats as software updates or changes. All files and metadata should be validated during this process, and earlier versions should not be discarded until the newer one has been checked* Repository Curator
Store all paper horizontally in acid free, dustproof cardboard boxes* Repository Curator
Store drawings flat in dust free containers* Repository Curator
Ensure boxes are stored in a dust free, dry and preferably dark environment, and well away from environmental hazards such as damp, insects or rodents* Repository Curator
Store prints, negatives and transparencies, including x-radiographs in acid free paper enclosures or polyester sleeves in archival boxes or dust proof cabinets* Repository Curator
Store photographic material in boxes or cabinets in a dark, cool, dust free environment and well away from any potential environmental hazards* Repository Curator
Long term curation of the material archiveLong term curation of the material (finds) archiveEnsure the material (finds) archive complies with the standards set out above and the standards maintained by the repository* Repository Curator
Store boxes off the floor, in a cool, dry and preferably dark environment and in conditions that minimise the risks of damage or deterioration* Repository Curator
Store the material archive according to type, sensitivity, packing and storage requirements and keep separate each different class of material* Repository Curator
Monitor the storage environment regularly and protect against large fluctuations of temperature and humidity. Checks or monitoring traps should be set to warn of any rodent or insect infestation* Repository Curator
Ensure that wet or damp samples, such as waterlogged wood and flotation samples, do not dry out and are kept cool, refrigerated if advised, in watertight containers. Monitor the condition of the samples on a regular basis* Repository Curator
Meet national, regional or local standards for the curation of human remains* Repository Curator