Archaeological GIS material freely available at SND
What did the Stone Age settlements in Östergötland look like? What archaeological findings were found during the excavation along the old E4? In SND’s recently published GIS data, those who wish can immerse themselves in these and many other issues. Data are freely available and can be easily downloaded via SND’s catalogue.
– It feels really great that we now can make the material available directly through our website. One of the problems previously has been that this type of material has been difficult to access, says Ulf Jakobsson, data manager in the humanities.
In the autumn of 2011, SND began to collaborate with Daniel Löwenborg from the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Uppsala University. GIS data from a compilation of archaeological investigations conducted in the 2000s in Östergötland was submitted from the department in Uppsala to SND. This data is part of the project "Action program for the contract archaeology" which the County Administrative Board in Östergötland initiated. The project aimed to harmonize available data so that they, among other things, have a uniform structure and are located in the same coordinate system, and thus become easier to use.
Within archeology, SND is currently working with Swedish Rock Art Research Archives (SHFA) regarding digital archiving of original files. For SND, GIS material has meant working with new types of data.
– The material can be very interesting for researchers to take advantage of because it contains most of the information from the various excavations. This makes it easier to evaluate which new research questions can be fruitful, says Ulf Jakobsson.
The first 17 studies now published will be followed by the release of the remaining approximately 200 projects from Östergötland later this summer/autumn. SND has worked with DDI metadata standard to describe the material and has done some adjustments to internal systems to better describe digital archaeological material. Some of these adaptations have been developed in collaboration with Daniel Löwenborg.
Each GIS data set consists of a zip file with excavation data in the form of a number of shape files (viewer can be downloaded from ESRI's website) and an access database of attribute data and the relationships that exist between the different objects. To each dataset there is an excavation report (pdf). Both the dataset and the excavation report are in Swedish. The GIS material includes information about the excavation, findings, relics and other metadata about the archaeological investigation. This material is only one part of the digital archaeological field documentation produced during an investigation or excavation. By publishing GIS data via SND, the material becomes visible and searchable, nationally as well as internationally.
Planned development for the GIS material is to expand the search options through a filtered search, so you can narrow or expand your search in different ways, and through a map search, where you can select an area on the map and find out which excavations was made in this particular area. SND also examines other possibilities to search by map, and plans to allow other search services to harvest SND entries so that the material is visible in other relevant forums. In order to enable citation of data, SND is also working on the possibility to assign studies/datasets persistent links. Data can then be linked to other information such as related reports, articles or other relevant data.
Between 2013 and 2017, SND will participate in the digital archaeological infrastructure development as a partner in the EU-funded Data Infrastructure project ARIADNE (Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Datasets Networking in Europe). In this project SND will cooperate with, among other partners, Archaeology Data Service (ADS) at the University of York in Great Britain. ARIADNE aims to bring together existing research data infrastructures so that researchers from different countries more efficiently can use the European archaeological digital data sets stemming from different periods, areas and regions. Today, these data are not easily accessible and there is a limited harmonization of metadata standards. Hopefully, the integrating activities will allow cross-border access for researchers to data centers, tools and guidance, and create new web-based services based on common interfaces to databases, access to reference data sets and use of innovative technology.
Archaeology is an area with a multitude of data. The changes and adaptations that SND now is introducing is increasing the possibilities to receive, make available and visible digital archaeological material. SND creates conditions for long term storage, updating and reuse of material for both research and other purposes. SND welcomes more research collaborations for storing and making available digital research materials in archeology. SND also welcomes feedback and comments on the published GIS material and the future planning of activities. Please contact Ulf Jakobsson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: HELENA ROHDÉN