Open Science and Open Data: Twenty years of preserving the bits at the Archaeology Data Service
Julian D Richards
Director, Archaeology Data Service, UK
Archaeological research is a rather special case in the Digital Humanities: most archaeological
research destroys the primary record of the past (through the act of excavation) as part of the
research process. Archaeologists have also been early adopters of a wide range of digital
technologies (GIS, 3D, digital imaging), and data are often born digital, in the field. It is
therefore especially important that data are preserved into perpetuity so that interpretations
may be challenged and tested, and so that data can be re-used.
The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) has been supporting researchers to preserve and re-use
data since 1996. We provide access to over 1.3m million records covering the archaeology of
the British Isles, over 45,000 unpublished text reports, and over 1300 project data archives.
This presentation will explore the role of the ADS in setting data standards, through our series
of Guides to Good Practice, and in encouraging data re-use. It will introduce some of the
cultural and economic benefits of Open Data in our sector, as well as some of the challenges.