Category Archives: Development

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

Galeazzi
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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Keeping our Data Consistent

The consistency and integrity of data is essential for any digital archive. Therefore, for the past few months we have been running a series of programs to test the consistency of our file system and database and try to identify any other problems. This work started when we decided to develop a program to test all the checksums in our file system. The idea was to run the program every few months in order identify any checksums which had changed since the last run.

checksum report
Part of a checksum report.

In addition, the program would test the checksums in the file system against the checksums in the database so that we could be sure that they were synchronised. The program took a few weeks to develop and has now been run several times. Each run produces a report which shows any checksum changes in the file system and the database. Happily, there have only been a few checksums flagged up in the reports so far and usually there have been good reasons why they have been changed.

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OASIS Survey: your opinions please

The Archaeology Data Service, as part of the HERALD project, has been commissioned by English Heritage to undertake a user needs survey to help define and shape the future of the OASIS system.

Whether a current OASIS user, or not, we would appreciate your feedback and thoughts to help us redesign the OASIS system to best suit your various needs, while continuing to play a role in the recording of the historic environment.

Please complete the survey available at:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/herald_survey

The survey is available until Sunday 20th July, should take approximately 15 minutes and your response will be confidential.

Completing the survey will give you a real opportunity to influence the redevelopment of OASIS as well as the chance to win either a Google Nexus 7 tablet or £160 of Pizza Express Vouchers.

If you have any questions about this, or the questionnaire in general, please contact the ADS via Jo Gilham on jo.gilham@york.ac.uk or 01904 323937.

ADS-easy; our first archive is delivered!

SOU1621_0027
Site of the former NXP works in Southampton

 

We were very pleased to recently release our first archive which was deposited with us via ADS-easy. Oxford Archaeology (South) deposited a small archive of the digital outputs of a trial trench evaluation on the site of the former NXP Works in Southampton, Hampshire, on behalf of CgMs Consulting prior to the redevelopment of the site by Canmoor Projects Ltd. The work took place in March 2013 and the archive deposited with the ADS in accordance with instructions from Southampton Arts and Heritage.

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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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SENESCHAL Vocabularies: Implementation

With the SENESCHAL project finally wrapped up, we thought it would be good to do a final post on how we implemented the SENESCHAL vocabularies into our systems.  This follows on from my previous post, SENESCHAL Vocabularies: value to the ADS, which gives more background into the project in general. That post also lays out the original vision and a mock-up for the integration of the SENESCHAL vocabularies into our Collections Management System (CMS), which we can now safely say has been fully realised.

CMS

The CMS integration was the primary objective for the ADS within the SENESCHAL project, as it would have the biggest and most immediate impact.  We wanted a simple way to accurately align our archive metadata to the official vocabularies used within Britain.  This not only helps us manage our archives better, it also ensures our users can discover our archives in a more consistent and accurate manner.  Before the SENESCHAL project, our “alignment” with the Monuments Thesaurus was done via a free text field.  Even with the extreme fastidiousness of our digital archivists, errors had the potential to creep in.  Entering data this way also uncoupled the term from its related concepts and hierarchy when recorded within our CMS.  This could be recreated, but the onus was put on the user (us in most cases, but also the users of the archive) of the data to manually “realign” the term.

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Data Seal of Approval: we’ve still got it!

Avid followers of the progress of the ADS recall that in early 2011 we were thrilled to be awarded the internationally recognised Data Seal of Approval (DSA); at the time only the second digital archive in the UK to receive the award, after the mighty UK Data Archive in Essex. What you may not know is that in order to retain the award you have to re-apply periodically. It’s a bit like keeping an MOT up to date to make sure a car is road worthy. So until we have our own Ministry of Archives (MOA) test we’ll use the DSA to make sure we remain archive worthy!

As you may imagine the renewal was certainly easier than the initial application and much remained the same. We, in essence, use the same procedures and policies now as we did two years ago although these are reviewed on an annual basis. So what has changed? We were able to include in our renewal application a number of enhancements to both our public interfaces and our back-room procedures. Enhancements for users have included the addition of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to each of our collections for greater clarity when finding and citing datasets; the completion of the new editions of the online Guide to Good Practice series; and the establishment of digital licences for depositors. Behind the scenes we have redeveloped elements of our Collections Management System to accommodate file level metadata and implemented the use of DROID, a file profiling tool developed by the National Archive.

We’re really pleased that the progress we have made over the last two years has been recognised and are proud to have had our accreditation renewed.

See our Data Seal of Approval here

Exposing the ADS… to Google

An online presence is just the tip of the ADS iceberg, but as such we still rely on search engines to direct traffic to our archived datasets and web content. Search engines are not the only way people find their way to the ADS, as we provide metadata to many aggregators and portals via OAI-PMH and SOAP web services such as the Heritage GatewayEuropeana, Thomson Reuters Data Citation IndexKeepers Registry, NERC Data Catalogue Service, and MEDIN Data Discovery Portal to name a few. Even with all of those outlets to discover ADS content, a fair share of users still come via a good ol’ Google type-and-pray search.  We are referrer agnostic at the ADS, and don’t really care how people discover our resources… so long as it doesn’t circumvent our Terms & Conditions (T&C’s).

A side note on the the ADS T&C’s, they were drafted in the early days of the web, well before the advent of the Creative Commons or other similar licencing models, and were designed to credit the creators of the data while protecting their intellectual property from uncompensated resale. It doesn’t cost anything to access or use data from the ADS as long as you agree to the ADS T&C’s, which is usually done by clicking an “Agree” button when accessing data for the first time. While at times mildly annoying, we are all lucky that the original proposal from the AHDS lawyers (requiring a signed letter from each user wanting to access ADS data…… really!) was dismissed and the infinitely more convenient click-agreement prevailed. Ultimately our T&C’s were borne out of a belief in Open Access, which has been a core tenet of the ADS philosophy since its beginnings in 1996.

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Archaeology Britain Mobile App Development

The icon for the Archaeology Britain app

About a year ago the ADS was approached by the British Library (BL) about joining up to develop an mobile app together.  A good relationship had evolved out of the ADS involvement with DataCite at the BL, so this seemed like a good opportunity to work together on something other than DOIs.  Another reason the BL approached the ADS was because we hold a large amount of open data which would have a widespread appeal.

A year and many lessons later, the app has been available to download for 6 weeks and has notched up a respectable 650+ downloads.  This blog post is an attempt to document and explain many of the decisions that were made during the development of the app.  Some things in this blog may make more sense if you’ve already seen the app, which can be downloaded from the App Store.  If you don’t have an iPad (or don’t want to download it), you can see screenshots on the ADS website to get an idea of what the app looks like.

Inception

ADS staff have bounced around the idea of developing a mobile app in the past, but until ADS was approached by the BL we didn’t have the time or resources to undertake the building of one.  If the BL hadn’t approached the ADS to collaborate (and lead on the development), it is unlikely the ADS would have undertaken the developing of an app at this time.  Given the widespread appeal of archaeology and the rich archaeological content held by the BL, an archaeologically themed app in collaboration with the ADS made sense. What kind of archaeological app to develop proved to be a more difficult question to answer than expected.  Aware that a low curatorial overhead was desirable, initial thoughts focused on existing ADS collections or projects such as a mobile version of Archsearch, The Defence of Britain (DoB) archive or England’s Rock Art (ERA) project. An Archsearch mobile app was dismissed due to the scale (1.2 million records) and the broad nature of the Archsearch data.  The more compact data sets of ERA or DoB were more appealing because they were focused on a distinct theme and had already been effectively curated by the depositors.  DoB is also one of our most popular resources, but like ERA, its audience is rather specialist.  While it may have been easier to create an ERA or DoB app, we wanted to develop an app with the widest appeal possible.  We also wanted an app whose code and structure could easily be reused by us and others, so instead we decided to develop an app that focused on the archaeology of a select group of key British heritage sites.  It was also obvious that general archaeology would be better suited to the BL and their collections, which has some of the rarest and most unique content in the world. After some initial indecisions, a general British archaeology app straightforwardly called “Archaeology Britain” was settled upon.

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