Category Archives: ADS Partners

Rural Settlement of Roman Britain: Salute!

A bronze figure of a boy on a chimera, found in Colchester in 1804. Image from Society of Antiquaries of London Catalogue of Drawings and Museum Objects (doi:10.5284/1000409). Not technically from a rural settlement but I like the picture!

In December of last year (2016), I completed the final stage of the digital archive and dissemination for the The Rural Settlement of Roman Britain project. The first publication and (revised) online resource were launched at a meeting of the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies at Senate House of the University of London.

I’ve written previous blogs on the project, so won’t repeat myself here too much. Suffice to say that the final phase publishes the complete settlement evidence from Roman England and Wales, together with the related finds, environmental and burial data. These are produced alongside a series of integrative studies on rural settlement, economy, and people and ritual, published by the Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies as Britannia Monographs. The first volume, on rural settlement, has now been published, while the two remaining volumes will be released in 2017 and 2018.

The existing online resource has been updated both in content and functionality: the project database is available to download in CSV format, and most key elements of the finds, environmental and burial evidence have been added into the search and map interface. Hopefully the dissemination of the data in these forms allows re-use of this fantastic dataset in a variety of ways and, I hope, by a variety of users.

Example of the online map, showing weighted distribution of inhumation (black) and cremation (orange) burials

As with previous posts on this project, I’d like to say how much I’ve enjoyed working with the team at Reading and Cotswold. Producing an online archive and formal publication in tandem and in such a short time is no mean undertaking. I’m particularly happy/impressed with the determination by the researchers to make their data openly available at the earliest opportunity. Hopefully this is a benchmark that others will aspire to reach. A debt of thanks is also due to all those organisations that assisted the project, particularly the HERs of England and Wales who provided exports from their systems and aided the team at Cotswold with access to fieldwork reports. Finally, I’d have been lost without the awesome Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire created by Johan Åhlfeldt. At an early stage it became clear that creating any kind of ‘baseline mapping’ of Roman archaeology (combining NMP + HER data for example) would be problematic – both in terms of technical overheads and copyright. To do something on the scale of the EngLaId project’s ArcGIS WebApp simply wasn’t in the scope of the project! Johan’s work was thus timely and extremely useful in providing a broad backdrop of Roman Britain in which to compare the project results.

The rationale behind much of the interface work was to act as data publication of an academic synthesis and not to get tied down in building something akin to a Roman portal. Throughout the project we’ve been at pains to point out that this is very much a synthesis and interpretation of the excavated evidence in relation to a research question. Not a complete inventory or atlas of every Roman site. Indeed, it became clear that as soon as the data collation had been completed 31st December 2014 for sites in England and March 2015 for sites in Wales), it was effectively missing all the discoveries made in the following years. Thus although providing broad context was necessary in this case, if someone wanted to know everything about the Roman period (including sites not excavated) from a particular area they’d be best off consulting the relevant HER.

This in turn leads onto the $64,000 Question which I was asked at every event around England and Wales (including the final one in London). “What plans are there to keep this database updated”? Without wishing to appear pessimistic, I would always answer “None”. Aside from the logistics and finances of keeping a large database as this constantly updated, there’s also the fact that this is a very subjective synthesis of a much larger resource. To my mind, the key question is how do we make it easier for other researchers to build on this and have academic synthesis of a period or theme happen on a more regular basis. One of the answers to this is surely access to data, especially the published and non-published written sources. This isn’t really radical, and indeed increased access to data is being explored and recommended by the Historic England Heritage Information Access Strategy. The work of the Roman Rural Settlement project has many lessons to inform these strategies, some of which will form future papers by the project team. Out of curiosity I’ve undertaken my own analysis of the project database and ‘grey literature’ sources (a term I don’t like!) and the OASIS system but will save that for a separate blog post. ..

At the post-launch meal I did end up asking the team a rather cheesy question of “which is your favourite record”? The responses were often based around the level of finds, or in the relative level of information the site could add to a regional picture. My answer(s) were perhaps a little more prosaic, for example I really like records such as Swinford Wind Farm (Leicestershire) which has fieldwork reports disseminated via OASIS, and a Museum Accession ID. However my heart veers towards 42 London Road, Bagshot (Surrey): the site of my very first experience of archaeology as a somewhat geeky 16 year old. The site was never published, and thus it’s great to see it live on in this resource and with a link to the corresponding HER record to (hopefully) allow users to go and explore the wider area. Perhaps even to undertake their own research project. To my mind, to stimulate further work large and small that would be a great legacy of the project.

Tim

NEARCH artist-in-residence Leyla Cárdenas comes to York

sans_titre-2From 29 October to 6 November, the ADS and the Department of Archaeology at the University of York was delighted to welcome Leyla Cárdenas Campos and her partner Ramón Villamarin Leaño. Based inBogotá, Colombia, Leyla is one of five artists/artist partnerships to be chosen for a prestigious artist residency at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands, as part of the NEARCH project. One of the many aspects of public participation within archaeology under exploration by NEARCH, each artist is given the opportunity to work directly with archaeologists, and explore new avenues of communication. A parallel set of residencies is also being carried out Le Centquatre in Paris.

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DAI IANUS visits the ADS!

ADS was pleased to recently be the host to three Data Curators from a project called IANUS  as part of the ARIADNE project.  ADS spent two weeks immersing Martina, Anne and Philip in the day-to-day duties of a fully established repository. Here is what they had to say about their visit.

DAI IANUS visits the ADS!
By Martina Trognitz, Anne Sieverling & Philipp Gerth

From the 23rd of November until 4th of December, York had three more German inhabitants: us (Anne, Martina and Philipp)! We came all the way from Berlin to learn from the ADS.

IANUS Logo

In Berlin we work at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in a project called IANUS. It is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and a first three year phase is now being followed by a second, which just started in March 2015. The aim of the project is to build up a digital archive for archaeology and related sciences in Germany.
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Internet Archaeology is awarded the Directory of Open Access Journals Seal

InternDOAJ Seal logoet Archaeology is delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Seal.

The DOAJ is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

The  DOAJ Seal is awarded to a journal that fulfills a set of criteria related to accessibility, openness, discoverability, reuse and author rights. It acts as a signal to readers and authors that the journal has generous use and reuse terms, author rights and adheres to the highest level of ‘openness’

Internet Archaeology has been awarded the DOAJ Seal because it:

  • has an archival and preservation arrangement in place with the Archaeology Data Service
  • provides permanent DOI identifiers in the published content
  • provides article level metadata to DOAJ
  • embeds machine-readable CC licensing information in article level metadata
  • allows reuse and remixing of content in accordance with a CC BY license
  • has a deposit policy registered in SHERPA/RoMEO
  • allows authors to hold copyright without restriction.

Internet Archaeology is currently the only open access archaeology journal to be awarded the Seal, sitting alongside 88 other journals from right across the academic spectrum. It is wonderful to have been recognised for our work in this area by the DOAJ.

ADS 3D Viewer

ADS 3D Viewer is a two year project funded under the ‘Marie Curie Actions’ Seventh Framework Programme, and benefits from the collaboration with the Italian Visual Computing Lab in the framework of the ARIADNE European project. In the past ten years the use of new technologies for the 3D documentation and reconstruction of cultural heritage has changed how we approach archaeological research.

The growth of information technology in 3D documentation tools, including electronic surveying instruments, laser scanners, photogrammetric cameras, and even CAD modellers, has brought an exponential increase in the use of digital data. The use of “real-time” survey software and hardware such as total stations, global positioning systems (GPS), photogrammetry and laser scanners has had a remarkable impact on archaeological recording as well as important implications for archaeological survey. The use of these techniques, by improving the accuracy and precision of the documentation process, is considerably changing the nature and implications of the word “digital” in archaeology. Presently, the main challenge for archaeologists and information and communication technology specialists consists in the preservation and dissemination of 3D data in archaeology. Up to now, a large number of 3D digital data archives have been produced and most focus on the preservation of the information over time without thinking about the accessibility of these data on the part of the scientific community.

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Blue/Black on Red Jar, ID 76449 in the ADS 3D viewer. © Egypt Exploration Society, Amarna Trust

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DADAISM Project

DADAISM

The DADAISM project brings together researchers from the diverse fields of archaeology, human computer interaction, image processing, image search and retrieval, and text mining to create a rich interactive system to address the problems of researchers finding images relevant to their research.

In the age of digital photography, thousands of images are taken of archaeological artefacts. These images could help archaeologists enormously in their tasks of classification and identification if they could be related to one another effectively. They would yield many new insights on a range of archaeological problems. However, these images are currently greatly underutilized for two key reasons. Firstly, the current paradigm for interaction with image collections is basic keyword search or, at best, simple faceted search. Secondly, even if these interactions are possible, the metadata related to the majority of images of archaeological artefacts is scarce in information relating to the content of the image and the nature of the artefact, and is time intensive to enter manually.
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ADS welcomes the NEARCH partners to York!

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​NEARCH partners enjoying a December hailstorm on their way to start the meeting in York.

ADS was delighted to host the NEARCH partners on 11-12 December, 2014 for both a plenary meeting, and the first of the NEARCH scientific sessions. As it was winter in the north of England, the partners first had to brave a hailstorm, lasting just the few minutes walk from their hotel to the meeting venue!

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Archaeological Drones

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are a ‘disruptive technology’, a technology that forces us to rethink how we do (or used to do) things – from protecting white rhino to delivering pizza. Everyone who needs a bird’s eye view is now wondering how this technology can help them; farmers, structural engineers, ecologists and, of course, archaeologists.

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Hexacopter equipped to take near-vertical photographs

In theory, even a very minor archaeological site can now benefit from its very own aerial survey. But while the possibilities for archaeology are immensely exciting, many of the actual results are still disappointing; blurry aerial photos, images which may be pretty but which can’t be georeferenced and expensive cameras hitting the ground at terminal velocity.

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Marie Curie post doctoral fellow Fabrizio Galeazzi joins ADS and the Centre for Digital Heritage

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Fabrizio 3D laser scanning at Las Cuevas site, Chiquibul Reserve (Belize).

This term ADS are pleased to welcome Fabrizio Galeazzi, a new Marie Curie post doctoral fellow, who will be working with us and the Centre for Digital Heritage.

Fabrizio comes to York having received a BA and MA in Archaeology at the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, specializing in Late Antiquity and Medieval Archaeology, and completing a Ph.D. in World Cultures/Heritage at the University of California, Merced. Fabrizio’s doctoral research investigated the potential use of 3D technologies for the analysis and interpretation of archaeological and heritage sites and how 3D documentation technologies, such as laser scanning and dense stereo matching techniques, are changing archaeological excavation practices.
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