Monthly Archives: May 2014

CAA 2014 Paris

The department of archaeology on rue Michelet, Paris
The impressive exterior of the department

The annual CAA (Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology) conference took place in the impressive surroundings of the Sorbonne. The Archaeology Data Service and Internet Archaeology were very well represented throughout the 4 days of the conference.

 

Day One 22nd April 2014

Partners from the ARIADNE project came together in Paris in the ARIADNE Workshop on On-line Resources chaired by ADS’s Catherine Hardman. The workshop introduced archaeological researchers to a variety of on-line data resources, including those held by the three partners providing on-line access to their data as part of the EC Infrastructures funded Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking (ARIADNE) project.

The partners were the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), ARACHNE at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), and Fasti Online at the International Association of Classical Archaeology (AIAC). In addition to the ARIADNE partners, the workshop featured a presentation on data and data integration in the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR). tDAR is an international digital repository based in America for the digital records of archaeological investigations.

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Opening up the Grey Literature Library

The Grey Literature Library is one of the ADS’s most popular resources, and as shown by projects such as the Roman Rural Landscape, one that is of massive research value. The library is constantly growing, with most reports coming from the OASIS system. In 2013 alone, there were 3891 reports submitted. Feedback from all levels of the archaeological community makes it clear that the hosting of openly accessible digital grey literature is a boon. However, one of the questions we are most commonly asked is “why does it take so long for a report uploaded to OASIS to make its way into the library?”. This is perfectly understandable; people who have completed an OASIS record to share the results of their fieldwork want to make sure this effort is not in vain. Rest assured it isn’t, here’s a small insight into what’s going on underneath the workings of the library.
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Persistence in Preservation and Publication of Data

To recognise the effort that authors make in order to deposit digital data and to get academic credit for that effort, Internet Archaeology (IA) and the ADS have established an open access data paper series. ‘Data papers’ maximise a dataset’s re-use potential and help to improve the preservation and the publication of data and are a valuable addition to the advancement of archaeological research. However IA and ADS have now taken the concept a little further.

In order to identify the content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet, each data paper in IA and the corresponding archive in ADS are assigned unique DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers, issued via CrossRef and DataCite). The introduction of these unique digital identifiers has been a major advancement for persistence in data preservation, publication and citation, but our approach has been to extend them to a more granular level. While an ADS dataset is assigned a ‘top level’ DOI, additional identifiers to specific sections of the data area have also been allocated. This enhances the archive not just by enabling direct access to a subset of data but also allows those sub-sections, often authored by specialist researchers, to be citable in their own right and gives recognition to the individuals who undertook the work e.g. see Richards & Roskams (2013) archive: where the Geophysical Survey, the Field-walking Survey and Animal Bone reports all have their own DOI. There is no limit to the granulation possible and we envisage usage right down to individual digital objects, such as a photograph or a GIS shapefile, when their importance to a hypothesis is apparent. Such use of DOIs will greatly benefit archaeological research, providing greater transparency in archaeological reporting and improving research efficiency.

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The Internet Archaeology of the ADS

While rationalising old and orphaned files on the ADS servers, I stumbled upon an old index.html file for a previous version of the website.  Similar to discovering a long forgotten photograph in the attic, this led me down the meandering path of memory lane.  However unlike a photograph, reconstructing the look and feel of a web page requires some fiddling to correctly associate the style sheets and any server side includes.  After a few cut and paste commands replacing server side includes with actual HTML and a directory search for the missing stylesheet, the old homepage was back up again in all of its glory.

ADS homepage c. 2008.

Even though I spent my first four years at ADS using this homepage it looked totally foreign to me.  The structure was confused, the javascript unnecessary and the style was uninspired.  The page was functional, but left a lot to be desired compared to the structure and clarity of the present version. The backend framework and systems that make up the current website also make it manageable and easy to update, compared to the organic, disjointed structure of the previous website which led to headache inducing updates as seemingly insignificant modifications led to unanticipated bugs (or features depending on your preferred coping mechanism).
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