Skip to main content

Digital preservation and access

  • Julian D. Richards (a1)

There is a crisis in the publication and archiving of archaeological field data in Europe. Computerized data are more fragile than paper archives but also more accessible via the Internet. This article explores the role of the Archaeology Data Service and examines some of the issues raised by the collection of digital data and their dissemination online and the implications for the future of archaeological publication. It discusses approaches to digital data preservation, the development of archival standards and ways of encouraging reuse. It explores the development of distributed online catalogues and archives and the need for metadata standards for cataloguing resources. Finally, it considers the role of XML as an emergent technology and introduces the European ARENA project which is developing a digital preservation and access infrastructure.

Nous assistons à une crise dans la publication et l'archivage des données archéologiques en Europe. L'informatisation signifie que les données sont plus fragiles que si elles étaient conservées sur papier, mais en même temps plus facilement accessibles par Internet. Dans cet article, on examine le rôle du service des données archéologiques (Archaeology Data Service), on s'occupe de quelques-unes des questions se rapportant à la collection et à la propagation interactive des données numériques, et des conséquences pour l'avenir de la publication archéologique. On discute les différentes façons d'aborder la conservation des données numériques, le développement de critères d'archivage et comment encourager la réutilisation. On étudie l'évolution des catalogues et archives distribués interactivement et le besoin de normes metadata pour cataloguer les documents. Pour terminer, on réfléchit au rôle de XML comme nouvelle technologie et au projet européen ARENA développant la conservation numérique et une infrastructure d'accès.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Austin, T., 1998. Tip of the iceberg in a digital sea: Scale of the Academic Digital Resource. Archaeology Data Service News 4. Available online at
Austin, T., Robinson, D.J. and Westcott, K.A., 2001. A digital future for our excavated past. In Stančic, Z. and Veljanovki, T. (eds), Computing Archaeology for Understanding the Past: CAA 2000:289296. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series 931).
Austin, T., Pinto, F., Richards, J., and Ryan, N., 2002. Joined up writing: an Internet portal for research into the Historic Environment. In Burenhult, G. (ed.), Archaeological Informatics: Pushing the Envelope. CAA 2001:243251. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series 1016).
Baker, D., Chitty, G., Richards, J. and Robinson, D., 1999. Mapping Information Resources: A Report for HEIRNET. Available online at
Barrett, J., 1987. The Glastonbury Lake Village: models and source criticism, Archaeological Journal 144:409423.
Beagrie, N. and Jones, M., 2002. Digital Preservation Handbook. Available online at
Berners-Lee, T., 2001. The Semantic Web, Scientific American 501. Available at
Brown, A., Brown, D., Coles, G., Dawson, D., Dodd, A., Gardiner, J., Lock, G., Longworth, C., Merriman, N., Miller, P., Murray, D., Reeve, J. and Wise, A., 1999. Digital Archives from Excavation and Fieldwork: Guide to Good Practice. Available online at
Burnard, L. and Short, H., 1994. An Arts and Humanities Data Service. Report of a Feasability Study commissioned by the Information Systems Sub-Committee of the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils.
Carver, M., Chapman, H., Cunliffe, B., Hassall, T., Hebditch, M., Lawson, A., Longworth, I., Morris, R., Phillipson, D., Schofield, J. and Wainwright, G., 1992. Archaeological publication, archives and collections. Towards a national policy. London: Society of Antiquaries and the Museums Association (Printed as a supplement to British Archaeological News 7(2), York: Council for British Archaeology).
Condron, F., Richards, J., Robinson, D. and Wise, A., 1999. Strategies for Digital Data. Findings and recommendations from Digital Data in Archaeology: A Survey of User Needs. Available online at
Cunliffe, B.W., 1983. The publication of archaeological excavations: report of a joint working party of the Council for British Archaeology and the Department of the Environment. London: Department of Environment.
Eiteljorg II, H., 1995. The Archaeological Data Archive Project. In Huggett, J. and Ryan, N. (eds), Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 1994:245247. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series 600).
English, Heritage, 1991. Management of archaeological projects, 2nd edn. London: English Heritage.
Fernie, K. and Gilman, P., eds, 2000. Informing the Future of the Past: Guidelines for SMRs. Swindon: English Heritage.
Fowler, P. and Blackwell, I., 1998. The Land of Lettice Sweetapple. An English Countryside Explored. Stroud: Tempus.
Fowler, P., 2000. Landscape Plotted and Pieced: Landscape History and Local Archaeology in Fyfield and Overton, Wiltshire. London: The Society of Antiquaries of London.
Frere, S.S., 1975. Principles of publication in rescue archaeology: report by a working party of the Ancient Monuments Board for England. London: Committee for Rescue Archaeology
Gaffney, V., and Exon, S., 1999. From order to chaos: publication, synthesis, and the dissemination of data in a digital age, Internet Archaeology 6. Available online at
Gray, J. and Walford, K., 1999. One Good Site Deserves Another: Electronic publishing in field archaeology, Internet Archaeology 7. Available online at
Hardman, C. and Richards, J.D., forthcoming. OASIS: dealing with the digital revolution. In Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 2002, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series).
Harnad, S., 2001. The self-archiving initiative. Freeing the refereed research literature online. Nature 410:10241025
Hassall, T., 1984. Publication: crisis and inaction. In Martlew, R. (ed.), Information Systems in Archaeology: 142152. Gloucester: Alan Sutton Publishing.
Hendley, T., 1998. Comparison of Methods and Costs of Digital Preservation. London: The British Library (British Library Research and Innovation Report 109).
Historic, Scotland, 1996. Publication and Archiving of Archaeological Projects. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland,
Hodder, I., 1989. Writing archaeology: site reports in context. Antiquity 63:268274.
Holmen, J. and Uleberg, E., 1996. The National Documentation Project of Norway the archaeological sub-project. In Kamermans, H. and Fennema, K. (eds), Interfacing the Past Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. CAA 95, volume 1, published as Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia 28:4346, Leiden: University of Leiden.
Hoopes, J.W., 2000. Beyond the World Wide Web: present and future venues for scholarly online publication. Society for American Archaeology Newsletter 18(5):2022
Jones, S., MacSween, A., Jeffrey, S., Morris, R. and Heyworth, M., 2001. From the Ground Up. The Publication of Archaeological Projects: A User Needs Survey. London: Council for British Archaeology. Available online at
Kenny, J., Kilbride, W.G. and Richards, J.D., forthcoming. Enter the ARENA: preservation and access for Europe's archaeological archives. In Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 2002, Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series).
Kilbride, W., 2000. Digital data and digital archaeology: Needle 1 – Haystack 0, The Archaeologist 38:2122
Kilbride, W. and Winters, J., 2001. Observing the Game: What can access statistics really tell us? In Stančic, Z. and Veljanovki, T. (eds), Computing Archaeology for Understanding the Past: CAA 2000: 339345. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series 931).
Kilbride, W., Fernie, K., McKinney, P. and Richards, J.D., 2002. Contexts of Learning: The PATOIS project and Internet-based teaching and learning in Higher Education. Internet Archaeology 12. Available online at
McAdam, E., 1999. Archives: why don't we burn the lot? In Hansen, H. and Quine, G. (eds), Our Fragile Heritage: 97104. Copenhagen: National Museum of Denmark.
Merriman, N. and Swain, H., 1999. Archaeological archives: serving the public interest? European Journal of Archaeology 2(2):249267.
Miller, A.P., 1996. Metadata for the masses: what is it, how can it help me, and how can I use it? Ariadne 5. Available online at
Miller, A.P., 1999. The Importance of Metadata in Archaeology. In Dingwall, L, Exon, S., Gaffney, V., Laflin, S., and van Leusen, M. (eds), Archaeology in the Age of the Internet: Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. CAA 97: 133136. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series 750).
Miller, A.P. and Greenstein, D., eds, 1997. Discovering Online Resources: A Practical Implementation of Dublin Core. Bath: UKOLN /AHDS.
Petrie, W.M.F. 1904. Methods and Aims in Archaeology. London: Macmillan.
Pitt-Rivers, A.L.F., 1887–1898. Excavations in Cranborne Chase. Vols 1–4. Privately printed.
Richards, J.D., 1997. Preservation and reuse of digital data: the role of the Archaeology Data Service. Antiquity 71(274):10571059.
Richards, J.D., 2001. Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian Cottam: linking digital publication and archive, Internet Archaeology 10. Available online at
Richards, J.D., forthcoming. Do we believe in the ‘data’ in the Archaeology Data Service? In Roskams, S. (ed.), Interpreting Stratigraphy: Papers presented at York. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series).
Richards, J.D., Miller, P. and Wise, A., 1999. Digital Archives in Archaeology. In Hansen, H. and Quine, G. (eds), Our Fragile Heritage: 123130. Copenhagen: National Museum of Denmark.
Richards, J.D. and Robinson, D.J., eds, 2000. Digital Archives from Excavation and Fieldwork: Guide to Good Practice, 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxbow Books. Available online at
Ross, S., 2000. Changing trains at Wigan: digital preservation and the future of scholarship. London: National Preservation Office (NPO Preservation Guidance Occasional Papers).
Russell, K., 2000. Digital preservation and the Cedars project experience. The New Review of Academic Librarianship 6:139154.
Schloen, D., 2001. Archaeological data models and web publication using XML, Computers and the Humanities 35(2):123152. Available online at
Shanks, M., and Tilley, C., 1987. Social Theory and Archaeology. Oxford: Polity Press.
Wheeler, M., 1954. Archaeology from the Earth. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Wise, A.L. and Miller, A.P., 1997. Why metadata matters in archaeology. Internet Archaeology 2. Available
Wise, A.L. and Richards, J.D., 1999. Digital preservation in archaeology. In Dingwall, L, Exon, S., Gaffney, V., Laflin, S., and van Leusen, M. (eds), Archaeology in the Age of the Internet: Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. CAA 97: 137142. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series 750).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

European Journal of Archaeology
  • ISSN: 1461-9571
  • EISSN: 1741-2722
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-archaeology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed