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The organisation

The ADS is the leading accredited digital repository for archaeology and heritage data generated by UK-based fieldwork and research. Founded in 1996, the core activity of the ADS is the long-term digital preservation of the data entrusted to our care. To do this we follow a policy of active data management and curation to ensure the integrity, reliability and accessibility in perpetuity of all our data. All resources archived with the ADS are Open Access, and delivered through our website to facilitate re-use by the heritage sector and wider community. The ADS is a world leader in promoting good practice in the use of digital data in archaeology, providing technical advice to the research community and taking the lead in a wide range of research projects. The ADS works within International e-infrastructure collaborations such as ARIADNE to explore new ways of connecting archives around the world, creating a genuinely global network for communication that cuts across traditional research boundaries.

All our Policies are available on the ADS Policies and Procedures page.

The importance of the ADS

Archaeology is in a special position in that much of the creation of its data results from destruction of primary evidence, making access to data all the more critical in order to test, assess, and subsequently reanalyse and reinterpret both data and the hypotheses arising from them. Over the years, archaeologists have amassed a vast collection of fieldwork data archives, a significant proportion of which remain unpublished. Access to data, even those which are published, is often difficult or inconvenient at best.

The ADS works with national and local agencies and research councils to secure preservation of data. Our collections policy is broad and includes all aspects of material culture, including archaeology and architecture, material aspects of anthropology, history and history of art, and heritage science. The types of data involved include: text reports, databases, images (including aerial photographs, remote sensing imagery, photographs of sites, features and artefacts), digitised maps and plans, numerical datasets related to topographical and sub-surface surveys and other locational data, as well as reconstruction drawings. 


For users: Archaeological researchers and teachers

Whether you are involved in research or teaching, the ADS makes data sets available to support your work. Our on-line catalogues enable you to search for relevant archaeological data sets, publications, or more widely across the Humanities as a whole. Our Help & Guidance pages also provide a wealth of teaching and learning resources on digital preservation and data management and our Projects pages provide up to date information on the cutting edge research we are involved in.

For data creators and depositors

If you or your organisation creates data in an electronic form then you should consider using the ADS to provide permanent cataloguing, storage, and curation of your data. Our Collections policy is available and we will be happy to negotiate a deposit and access agreement with you. If you are interested in archiving information with the ADS, you may find our Help & Guidance pages useful. You may also be interested in the recommendations contained within our Guide to Good Practice series.

For funding bodies and other agencies

The ADS is the recommended repository for several funding bodies and promotes standards and best practice in the creation, description, preservation, and use of electronic information via our series of Guides to Good Practice. The ADS also works closely with the Digital Preservation Coalition to advocate digital preservation.