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Help & guidance Guides to Good Practice

Project metadata

Armin Schmidt and Eileen Ernenwein, 2nd edition, Archaeology Data Service / Digital Antiquity, Guides to Good Practice

Project information gives a spatial and archaeological context to the geophysical data and provides information that could influence their interpretation. This may include information about local geology or the weather conditions on the day of the survey, how the instrument was set up, how the survey was orientated, and where the survey grids were located. While seemingly obvious at the time of the survey, it is essential to record this information as project metadata for future use by the survey team and others.

Field name Description
Survey name The name of the site, project or survey. It may either be the name used in a written report (e.g. ‘A46 Widening Scheme: Area B’) or the familiar and/or published place or monument name where this exists (e.g. ‘Stonehenge, Lesser Cursus’).
Survey index The identification number/code used internally for the survey and the related data.
Survey purpose A brief summary (max. 200-300 words) of the main aims and objectives of the project from which the data collection arose and the purpose of the geophysical survey. Possible entries for this field include:
– field evaluation in advance of development
– site management
– archaeological research
– technical research
Report summary A brief description of the findings of the survey. In many cases this will be the abstract of the survey report.
Bibliographic references Relevant bibliographic information about the site or project.
Survey keywords Keywords indexing the subject content of the data set. They can be drawn from the fields listed below (e.g. Solid/Drift geology, Monument type, Period, Survey type etc.).
Spatial coverage The map coordinates of the SW and NE corner of a bounding box enclosing the survey area, specified with the datum to which they relate (e.g. WGS84; see Appendix: coordinate systems).

In Britain, British National Grid coordinates are recommended and should be given at least to the nearest 100m ‘six figure grid reference’. It should be remembered that such map coordinates may be inaccurate (up to several metres), and also that the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain (OS) holds copyright over the reproduction of OS maps and retains Intellectual Property Rights in all information derived from such maps.

In the USA, tDAR creates spatial coverage metadata using latitude and longitude (expressed as decimal degrees).

There may be instances, for example, at sites where there is a threat of looting, where this information must remain confidential (especially if access to the geophysical data might lead to criminal activity). In such cases it may be necessary to restrict or omit location information (including clues from which a location can be deduced) from publicly accessible records.

Administrative area The District/County/Unitary Authority in which the survey area lies. The administrative boundaries that are current at the time of the survey should be used.
State The state, or similar national entity, in which the survey was undertaken. In Germany this would be a Bundesland and in the UK this would be England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales to highlight the relevant archaeological government body.
Country The country in which the survey was undertaken.
Solid geology The underlying solid geology, including extra information from other quoted sources. All relevant geologies should be listed. A term list is available from the British Geological Survey (2011a), which also provides a REST based automated vocabulary service (British Geological Survey 2011b).
Drift geology Relevant drift geology for the survey area. All relevant geologies should be listed. BGS term lists are as shown for the field Solid geology.
Duration The dates of the first and last day on which the fieldwork took place. If separate periods of fieldwork are related to the same survey event (‘survey visits’) they should be listed individually as annotations of the dates.
Weather A brief description of weather during fieldwork, with additional reference to previous conditions (e.g. ‘dry and hot after a prolonged period of heavy rain’).
Soil condition A brief description of the soil conditions during fieldwork (e.g. very dry, dry, moist, wet, water-logged, frozen).
Land use The land use at the time of the survey. The term used could be drawn from the list given in Appendix 4.
Monument type A classification of any archaeological monument known to exist at the site or that was revealed during the survey. Uncertainty can be indicated by a ‘?’. For England use of the period terms listed in the National Monuments Record Thesauri (English Heritage 1999) is a possibility. The text of the accompanying report should describe how this interpretation has been derived: from existing archives, publications or as an interpretation of the collected geophysical data.
Monument period The periods of any archaeological monuments on the site. A relevant term list can be found through FISH (2010).
Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) number Any sites within the survey area which have been included on the British Schedule of Ancient Monuments should be identified by their county SAM number. This information is included on the relevant survey licence (e.g. issued by English Heritage) or can be obtained from relevant Local Authority department.

Similarly, Digital Antiquity collects metadata of agency identifiers, such as Smithsonian trinomials or National Register Information System numbers (NRIS).

Surveyor The name and address of the organisation or individual(s) who carried out the geophysical survey.
Client The name and address of the organisation or individual(s) who commissioned the survey. Such information may be confidential and may be withheld in some cases.
Depositor The name, address and role of the organisation or individual(s) depositing data related to the geophysical survey.
Primary archive The name and address of the organisation or individual(s) holding the primary data archive from the survey.
Related archives References to the original material for any data derived in whole or in part from published or unpublished sources, whether printed or machine-readable. Details should be given of where the sources are held and how they are identified there (e.g. by accession number). If a digital collection is derived from other sources it should be indicated whether the data represent a complete or partial transcription/copy, and the methodology used for its computerisation. Also full references to any publications about or based upon the data collection should be provided.
Copyright A description of any known copyrights held on the source material.
Term list The term list used for the terms in the various fields above.