This week we feature a guest post from Katie Green of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) - you can find the ADS online at or follow them on twitter at @ADS_Update and @ADS_Chatter

The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) is a discipline-specific digital repository hosted by the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. The ADS was established in 1996 in response to the growth in archaeological data creation and the recognition of the fragility of digital data. Over the past 18 years, the ADS has become widely recognized for excellence in digital preservation and in developing and disseminating guidance on standards for archiving, not just in the archaeological community, but on a much wider scale. ADS’s remit is to support research, learning and teaching within archaeology with freely available, high-quality and dependable digital resources. The ADS does this by preserving digital data in the long term, promoting and disseminating a broad range of data in archaeology and providing technical advice to the sector via the ADS website.

 The ADS website provides a hub for all the guidance and advice offered by the ADS, as well as providing the access point for the multiple resources held by the ADS. The main ADS resource is Archsearch , an integrated online catalogue indexing over 1,300,000 metadata records comprised of, ADS’s archival collections, and metadata harvested from external archaeological inventories, such as the National Inventory from Historic England, Canmore from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Archwilio from the Welsh Archaeological Trust.

 The ADS’s archival collections include over 30,000 unpublished grey literature reports, thousands of journal articles and over 600 data rich project archives which can be searched here.

 These data rich archives are a vast treasure trove of digital heritage data. Here are just a few archives that we think could be used creatively during the Heritage Jam:

 Drawing and Image archives

 Society of Antiquaries of London Catalogue of Drawings and Museum Objects 

In its early years, the Society of Antiquaries of London (founded in 1707), acted as a centre for gathering information on archaeological discoveries and historical objects in private hands. Many items were drawn for its meetings and publications in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, the Societies library holds the most important national collection of historic drawings of portable antiquities found in Britain. This archive includes over 3000 digitized images of these items.

 HMJ Underhill Archive

 The archive consists of a collection of hand-painted glass (lantern) slides that depicted the "Megalithic Monuments of Great Britain," dating to 1897-1905 and attributed to H.M.J. Underhill. The slides showed the stone circles at Stonehenge, Avebury, Stanton Drew and the Rollright Stones. Miscellaneous slides depicted other prehistoric monuments: Menhir at Dartmoor and the Sarsen Stones and Wayland's Smithy on the Oxfordshire Ridgeway.


Oxford Expedition to Egypt: Scene-details Database


The Oxford Expedition to Egypt Scene-details Database provides users with a simple means of examining information about scenes and scene details preserved on the walls of tombs dating to the 'Old Kingdom' or 'Pyramid Age' of Ancient Egypt (c. 2650 - 2150 BC). These tombs lie in cemeteries dotted along the c. 600-mile length of the river Nile in Egypt. This archive contains the drawings of the scenes and the accompanying documentation.


3D Data Archives

The Virtual Amarna Project


A series of significant objects form the Egyptian site of Amarna were digitized using a Konica Minolta Vivid 9i triangulation laser scanner. The digital objects are part of the Virtual Amarna Museum - a web based "museum" providing public access to these objects as part of the Amarna Project's web materials. A range of objects were involved - including stone stele, ceramics, pendants, moulds and selected architectural elements. The raw data from a portion of the scanned objects are available in this digital archive.

 Newport Medieval Ship


The Newport Medieval Ship was discovered in the west bank of the River Usk in Newport, South Wales in 2002. Although the well-preserved vessel had been partially salvaged, substantial portions of it were intact. To document the ship assemblage, archaeologists used contact digitisers and CAD software to create 3D wireframe drawings of each hull timber, and a laser scanner to record carefully chosen artefacts such as rigging. This digital approach to documentation was continued by the use of selective digital photography, and the digitisation of the original excavation photographs, site drawings, and timber records. The archive contains over 12,500 files including timber record sheets, hull schematics, specialist reports, artefact catalogues, 3D timber drawings, site photogrammetry, site drawings, digital solid models of each structural timber, excavation, timber and artefact photographs, and a project database.

 Three dimensional modeling of Scottish Early Medieval Sculpted Stones


In the past all records of Scottish Early Medieval sculpted stones have been presented to a mass audience via text, drawings and photographs. A range of technologies have now become available that allow digital three dimensional records of archaeological material to be generated which capture the size, shape and texture of the target object. From these records digital three dimensional models can be created. This archive contains 20 models of Scottish Early Medieval Sculpted Stones and some of their surroundings.

 Breaking Through Rock Art Recording

The main objective of this project was to assess the reliability, accuracy and precision of 3D laser scanning for recording purposes and to evaluate its capacity to discover new carved motifs invisible to the naked eye. In addition the project assessed the potential of the technology for monitoring rock surface decay, and examined its value as a visualisation and presentation tool. The study was undertaken at two stone circles in Cumbria which exhibit megalithic art: Castlerigg andLong Meg and Her Daughters (pictured right), on the Copt Howe panel also in Cumbria, and the Horseshoe Rock in Northumberland. The 3D data and accompanying images and documentation from this project can be found in this archive.

 Unless a form of Creative Commons  licence is clearly attached to a particular data collection and the Creative Commons logo is prominently displayed on that data collection's introduction page the ADS terms of use and access apply

AuthorIan Kirkpatrick