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Help & guidance Guides to Good Practice

The aims of this guide

Kieron Niven, with contributions from Tony Austin, Jonathan Bateman, Stuart Jeffrey, Jen Mitcham, Archaeology Data Service / Digital Antiquity, Guides to Good Practice

The objective of this guide is to address specific issues in the archiving and preservation of survey data generated as part of marine archaeology projects and to provide guidance on the planning and creation of a digital archive. This guide has been informed by a number of existing documents and guidelines together with other guides created as part of this new series of Guides to Good Practice. Due to obvious similarities in a number of respects, this guide will reference heavily the Geophysical Data in Archaeology Guide and, rather than repeat material, will simply link to the relevant sections in the terrestrial geophysics guide where necessary. A number of other publications are also heavily referenced and constitute a body of ‘recommended reading’ that should accompany this guide.

The main documents referred to from this guide are:

  • MEDIN Standard Discovery Metadata as outlined in the Guidance notes for the production of discovery metadata for the Marine Environmental Data and Information Network (MEDIN) (2009). MEDIN, the UK’s Marine Environmental Data and Information Network, also have produced a range of resources aimed at improving the reuse and exchange of marine data and many of these are referenced throughout this guide.
  • BMAPA & English Heritage (2003) Marine Aggregate Dredging and the Historic Environment: guidance note. This document provides a good outline of archaeological considerations involved in marine projects as well as a number of key techniques used in marine survey.
  • ISO19115[3], the metadata standard for geospatial data together with its associated standards in the UK (UK GEMINI2[4]), US (NAP ISO19115[5]) and Europe (INSPIRE[6]).

This guide also draws on conclusions and approaches highlighted in English Heritage’s recent work to address the specific issues surrounding long term preservation and dissemination of marine archaeological data as part of the Big Data project[7]. Such issues are covered generally in the introductory ‘Project Archive‘ section of these Guides and specific elements are highlighted in this guide’s ‘Big Data‘ section.

In addition to the sources mentioned above, this guide also draws on ADS involvement in the VENUS project[8]. The VENUS project aimed to survey shipwrecks at various depths and to explore advanced methods and techniques of data acquisition through autonomous or remotely operated unmanned vehicles (ROVs) with innovative sonar and photogrammetry equipment. The project also covered aspects such as data processing and storage, plotting of archaeological artefacts and information system management. This work has resulted in a separate guide on best practice procedures for data acquisition, dissemination and archiving specific to the VENUS project which has then been partly incorporated into this marine survey guide.

As with the previous VENUS guide, it is not intended that this document be a comprehensive guide to all existing guidelines or technical advice that is available on the subject of documenting and preserving marine survey data. Rather, this guide should be seen as a source both of general information on the digital preservation of marine survey data and of references to additional online and published resources.