ARC02 - Impact on Mesolithic heritage preservation, conservation and presentation
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of York
Unit of AssessmentGeography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Information and Computing Sciences: Data Format
History and Archaeology: Archaeology, Curatorial and Related Studies
Summary of the impact
Founded in York in 1996, the Archaeology Data Service (ADS) has
transformed how archaeological research is communicated in the UK, and
impacted digital archiving throughout the world. Without the ADS, much of
the fragile digital data (often the primary record of sites now destroyed)
would have been lost. Instead, they are freely available to all. This
impact extends across national heritage agencies, local government,
commercial archaeology, and the public. Our resources are widely used with
over two million page requests per month; almost half from beyond the HE
sector. A recent study has concluded that the ADS is worth £5m per annum
to the UK economy (Beagrie & Houghton 2013). The ADS has helped shape
the digital preservation policy of English Heritage and informed practice
in the United States, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, and
In 1996 (two years before the foundation of Google) the Department
pioneered methods of using computing in archaeology. It founded the first
internet journal in any discipline, Internet Archaeology,
promoting open access 15 years before the Finch Report, and one
year later established the Archaeology Data Service, the world's
first digital archive for archaeology. A key question alongside the
importance of accessibility was the problem of preserving
archaeological data. What matters here is more than just making sure
data are migrated from obsolete formats. Archaeological data are unique.
In the case of excavation, the process destroys the resource and the data
become the only way future archaeologists can ask new questions of that
resource. The solution has been provided by the fundamental research that
underpins the Archaeology Data Service .
Initial research focused on establishing procedures and standards
for the documentation and preservation of data files, using metadata and
migration to preserve their significant properties, for example by
developing the first application of Dublin Core metadata to archaeology .
Research into standards led to a series of Guides to Good Practice,
first published in 1997, and now continually updated through international
collaboration. The Guides are now co-published with Digital Antiquity in
America, with input from multiple EU project partners.
With funding from the Research Support Libraries Programme and support
from English Heritage, Richards established the OASIS project (Online
AccesS to the Index of archaeological investigations) in 1999, which
led research into the capture, flow and usability of data—from producers,
such as contracting units and community groups, to users, such as local
and national data managers . Collaborative research with
Computer Science, Sheffield, into natural language processing
(AHRC-EPSRC-JISC eScience Archaeotools project ) in
order to extract automated data and metadata from grey and legacy
literature, enabled the ADS to rapidly expand this provision and
underpinned the Grey Literature Library, launched in 2008.
As demand for online resources increased, the ADS considered how Europe
(and European identity) could best be served by a digital infrastructure
for cultural heritage. The ADS led the EU- funded ARENA project, to
research a shared, interoperable information infrastructure, and
is now the co-leader (with PIN, Italy) of implementing this infrastructure
within the ARIADNE project (2013). Internet Archaeology has
provided another platform for research into new models for data access. As
an example Making the LEAP pioneered links between the journal
publication and supporting data, enabling readers to drill down seamlessly
into online archives, to test interpretations, and develop new conclusions
Further research has been undertaken into digital preservation costs
 by establishing the Digital Archiving Pilot Project for
Excavation Records (DAPPER). This research formed the basis of the ADS
cost model and charging policy and was taken up in the cross-disciplinary
Making Research Data Safe project.
The research has all been conducted at York under the leadership of the
ADS Director Julian Richards (1996 to present). Key personnel: Alicia Wise
(Data Coordinator, 1997-8]; Paul Miller (Collections Manager, 1997-8);
Catherine Hardman (Deputy Director, 2001 to present); Alan Vince (Editor,
Internet Archaeology, 1996-98); Stuart Jeffrey (Deputy Director,
2006-12); Tony Austin (Systems Manager, 1998-2013); Judith Winters
(Editor, Internet Archaeology, 1998 to present); Michael Charno
(Applications Developer, 2006 to present).
References to the research
 Richards, J.D. `Preservation and re-use of digital data: the role of
the Archaeology Data Service', Antiquity 71, 1057-9, 1997.
- International peer-reviewed journal, downloaded 83 times since
digitisation in 2005 (source: Antiquity 23.9.13); Available at: http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/071/Ant0711057.htm; cited by 17.
 Wise, A & Miller, P. `Why metadata matters in archaeology',
Internet Archaeology 2. http://dx.doi.org/10.11141/ia.2.5
(open access), 1997.
- Accessed over 10,000 times since publication; cited by 22.
 Hardman, C. & Richards, J.D. `OASIS: dealing with the digital
revolution' in Doerr & Sarris (eds.) CAA2002: The Digital Heritage of
Archaeology. Hellenic Ministry of Culture, 325-8, 2003.
- Available on request. Peer-reviewed international conference paper;
cited by 10.
 Jeffrey, S., Richards, J.D., Ciravegna, F., Waller, S., Chapman, S.,
and Zhang, Z. `The Archaeotools project: faceted classification and
natural language processing in an archaeological context' Phil Trans
Royal Soc A, 367, 2507-19, 2009.
- Available at: http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/367/1897/2507.full.pdf,
cited by 17; describes results of AHRC peer-reviewed research grant.
 Richards, J.D., Winters, J., & Charno, M. `Making the LEAP:
Linking Electronic Archives and Publications', in Jerem, E., et al. (eds.)
On the Road to Reconstructing the Past, 141-6, 2011.
- Available on request. Output of an AHRC-funded ICT strategy
peer-reviewed research grant; underpinning research won British
Archaeological Award for Best Archaeological Innovation in 2008. Highly
Commended in The Association of Learned and Professional Society
Publishers Awards — Publishing Innovation 2009.
 Richards, J.D., Austin, A.F. & Hardman, C. `Covering the costs of
Digital Curation', Heritage Management 3(2), 255-63, 2010.
- Available on request. International peer-reviewed journal; as a
result of this publication Richards was invited to give keynote address
at European Space Agency conference (2012).
(Citation data: SCOPUS unless journal not indexed, then Google Scholar
The research was funded by the following key research grants, all awarded
on a competitive basis: Richards, `Digital Antiquity, Guides to Good
Practice', Digital Antiquity & Mellon Foundation 2009- 10, $100,000.
Richards `OASIS: Online Access to the Index of Archaeological
Investigations', Research Support Libraries Programme (HEFCE),1999,
Richards & Ciravegna, `Archaeotools: Data mining, facetted
classification and E-archaeology', AHRC-EPSRC-JISC eScience programme,
2007-9; £321,817; end of grant report "outstanding".
Richards, `ARENA: Archaeological Records of Europe Networked Access';
ARENA 1: 2000-04 598,730 euros, EU Culture 2000 programme; ARENA 2:
2008-10 59,000 euros, EU ESFRI programme.
Richards & Kintigh, `TAG: Transatlantic Archaeology Gateway',
JISC-NEH 2009-10, £81,778.
Richards, `Making the LEAP Linking Electronic Archives and Publications',
AHRC ICT Strategy programme, 2005-07, £73,196 — End of grant report
"outstanding"; follow-on funding to Richards, "LEAP2: A
Transatlantic LEAP", Andrew W Mellon Foundation 2008-9, $124,595. The
LEAP project was awarded the British Archaeological Award for Best
Archaeological Innovation in 2008.
Details of the impact
The ADS has transformed how archaeological research is communicated in
the UK, and impacted digital publication and archiving throughout the
world The ADS leads the world in setting standards for the
preservation and accessibility of archaeological data by and for the
commercial, community and higher education sectors. As a result of the Guides
to Good Practice, in 2008 the ADS was asked to lead on digital
information standards within the EU-funded Archaeology in Contemporary
Europe project. The Guides were updated in 2009-10 with funding from
the Mellon Foundation and continue to be endorsed in the UK by the Council
for British Archaeology, English Heritage and the Institute for Field
Archaeologists. The Guides are also embedded in the UK's teaching
curriculum as standard textbooks for digital archiving courses. The ADS's
implementation of Dublin Core metadata to archaeology has been widely
adopted across the world, having been taken up both by Digital Antiquity
in the United States and DANS in the Netherlands. In recognition of its
excellence in data standards in 2010 the ADS was awarded the Data Seal of
Approval (only the second UK archive ever to receive this accreditation,
after the UK Data Archive)  and it is the only accredited heritage
digital archive for the Marine Environment Data Information Network .
The findings of research into the capture, flow and usability of
commercial and community data helped solve the grey literature problem
(e.g. Bradley 2006, Antiq. J. 86, 1-13). In 2003 the OASIS project
and work of the ADS was commended by an All Party Parliamentary Group of
MPs . The success of the OASIS project led Historic Scotland to
adopt the system for recording archaeological reports and in 2010 English
Heritage built OASIS into their Planning Policy Guidance (PPS5). ADS now
sets the standard for recording archaeological data
produced by the commercial and community sectors; over 400
commercial contractors now use the ADS to archive their reports on open
access. In 2011-12 there were 110,000 individual downloads with almost
half of this usage from the non-HE sector. Developments from the Archaeotools
project increased the rate of indexing, and there are now over 21,000
reports online (compared with 1,722 in OASIS in 2008). In 2012 the Grey
Literature Library won the British Archaeological Award for Best
Archaeological Innovation .
Groundbreaking research delivered by the ADS has extended interoperability
across national borders—influencing the EC's INFRASTRUCTURE
programme to facilitate cross-border access to databases of cultural
heritage institutions. In 2013, 16 countries each agreed to make
archaeological data publicly accessible through common interfaces
(European ARIADNE project) .
The ADS has worldwide reach. It has supported the Netherlands, Sweden,
Germany, the US, Canada and Australia to establish equivalent facilities
(e.g. DANS, Netherlands; Digital Antiquity, US; FAIMS, Australia). Digital
Antiquity built upon the ARENA infrastructure to work with ADS to develop
the Transatlantic Archaeology Gateway, as well as a US equivalent of the
LEAP project. Initiatives in digital preservation costs such as
the ADS charging model, which has been applauded , has been
emulated most recently by DANS and Digital Antiquity.
Keith Kintigh, past President of SAA sums up the significance and
international reach of the ADS: "The ADS is an enormous asset to the
UK's archaeological community—within and outside academic settings.... ADS
has been a key player internationally in advancing initiatives concerned
with the preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage information
and has... been a model of a sustainable and productive digital archive...
In our own multi-institutional effort to develop a digital archive for
archaeological data in the US...ADS has not only served as a valuable
model, its staff have provided critical advice and assistance. Further,
ADS has been a major driver of international efforts to establish
interoperability of digital repositories facilitating the sharing of
archaeological information. Looking beyond archaeology, with its long (for
a digital repository) history of success, ADS has also been a widely cited
exemplar of a successful disciplinary repository" .
The ADS has continuously sought to evaluate its impact. A
survey conducted in 2009-10 demonstrated that almost half of all users are
outside the HE sector: 10% central/local government; 8% private
consultants; 4% private research organisation; 5% business; 11% community
/charity organisation; 8% other; 86% of users are maintaining or
increasing their use resulting in continued access levels year on year
(Figure 1); 97% of users agree that the ADS has reduced the cost of data
acquisition and processing . According to English Heritage, the
ADS "has become the primary digital archive for a large part of [its] own
research"  and it has had a "very significant impact in the
wider archaeological community" .
A study conducted in 2012 showed that the work of 53% of UK
archaeologists would be severely impacted if the ADS did not exist; every
£1 invested in the ADS yields a return to the UK economy of up to £8.30
over 30 years and ADS is worth £5m per annum to the UK economy .
In recognition of its work, the ADS was awarded the Digital Preservation
Coalition's decennial award for the "most outstanding contribution to
digital preservation in the last decade" (2012) .
Sources to corroborate the impact
 Data Seal of Approval: http://datasealofapproval.org/en/assessment/
 MEDIN web site: http://www.oceannet.org/data_submission/ads/
 APPAG 2003 "The Current State of Archaeology in the United Kingdom".
 British Archaeological Awards winners 2012:
 ARIADNE project, see p. 2 for full partner listing:
 Charles Beagrie on the ADS charging model: http://blog.beagrie.com/?m=200801
(accessed 23.9.2013); JISC report on ADS charging model:
 Society for American Archaeology, Past President.
 RIN/JISC survey by Technopolis (published 2.9.2011)
 Chief Executive, English Heritage.
 Head of National Heritage Protection Commissions, English Heritage.
 Neil Beagrie (Charles Beagrie Ltd) & John Houghton (Centre for
Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University), 2013 `The Value of ADS'
 Digital Preservation Coalition 2012 http://www.dpconline.org/newsroom/latest-news/945-saving-the-digital-decade-dpc-recognizes-major-accomplishments-to-safeguard-our-digital-memory