Digital material, including both data and metadata, should be retrievable in a variety of formats that are usable by people and machines. Anyone with access to the internet should be able to access at least the metadata associated with a research project, and to understand the conditions under which digital data can be accessed. To meet the CIfA Standards fully, the intended trusted digital repository must also support public access to project data in perpetuity.

Archaeological Archive

All records and materials recovered during an archaeological project and identified for long-term preservation, including artefacts, ecofacts and other environmental remains, waste products, scientific samples and also written and visual documentation in paper, film and digital form (Perrin et al 2014, 20).

Archaeological Archives Forum

The Archaeological Archives Forum was established in 2002 to

  • link together in partnership all major parties with an interest in archaeological archives in order that common policies and practice can be developed and applied
  • identify the courses of action necessary to further best practice in the field of archaeological archives and to effect the means to achieve this action


Archaeological Project

Any programme of work that involves the collection and/or production of information about an archaeological site, assemblage or object in any environment, including in the field, under water, at a desk or in a laboratory. Examples of an archaeological project include: intrusive projects such as excavation, field evaluation, watching brief, surface recovery and the destructive analysis of objects; non-intrusive projects such as landscape or building survey, aerial survey, remote sensing, off-site research such as desk-based assessment and the recording of objects or object assemblages (Perrin et al 2014, 20).

One product of an archaeological project will be an archaeological archive.


Born Digital data

Born-digital materials are records that have been natively created in digital format (rather than digitised from paper records).

Collection Level Metadata Summary

A collection-level metadata summary provides a useful tool to document the project details and summarise the data included in the archive. This might be required as part of the digital archive deposition process (e.g. that of the Archaeology Data Service) and could also be relevant to documentation processes for the complete archaeological project archive (eg including finds, documents and digital components).

Core Trust Seal

CoreTrustSeal accreditation is the quality stamp of repositories that manage digital archives. See Trusted digital repository.

Data Dispersal

The process of dealing with deselected material, which is straightforward with regard to digital data and should be written into the selection strategy and data management plan (DMP).

Data Management Plan

A data management plan, or DMP, is a document which describes how you are planning to manage the data gathered through the delivery of a project, and what will happen to that data (eg. plans for sharing and preservation) once the project is complete.

De-Selected Material

The parts of the working project archive not selected for inclusion in the archaeological archive.

Deposition requirements

Most collecting repositories for archaeological archives, such as Museums, will have a clear set of requirements that archive materials need to meet in order to be deposited. Digital archives are no exception and any trusted digital repository will have a set of guidelines for depositors to follow - e.g. see the ADS deposition guidelines.


FAIR Guiding Principles

These guiding principles provide a simple definition of the core principles of good data management: Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability (FAIR).


Can be located using a unique identifier. In this context, meaning that the digital archive from your project is uploaded to a public repository, and rich metadata are assigned a unique and persistent identifier. The identifier will be assigned by the repository (like a museum accession code) and can be cited in the same way a publication can be.


In order to be findable, your archaeological data will require a globally unique and eternally persistent identifier. In other words, a permanent ID, which will most likely be provided by the trusted digital repository.


Digital data is uploaded to a data repository that can exchange and make use of information with other platforms, facilitating data aggregation and cross-searching. Within the heritage community, metadata use standard vocabularies such as MIDAS Heritage.


Metadata are data about a digital resource that is stored in a structured form suitable for machine processing. It serves many purposes in long-term preservation, providing a record of activities that have been performed upon the digital material and a basis on which future decisions on preservation activities can be made, as well as supporting discovery and use.

The form of metadata required for archive deposition may be specified by the receiving repository; for example, see ADS guidelines for depositors.





An online database and index of archaeological investigations undertaken in the UK, providing details about archaeological projects as they are set up and delivered. OASIS records for archaeological investigations are regularly required to be set up as part of work undertaken within the planning process. The redevelopment of OASIS through the HERALD project adds a further advantage in project tracking throughout delivery and into archive stages.


Data should be richly documented using metadata that meet relevant community standards and provide information about provenance. Data archives are released with a clear and transparent usage licence, so the data repository can manage reuse appropriately. Data formats should be limited to widely used and open formats, consistent with archive needs. In short, data should be easy to use and easily cited, meaning it can be easily integrated into future research.


The process of applying a selection strategy to a working project archive to determine which archive components, including documents, digital files and material objects, should be included in the archaeological archive. The aim of selection is to ensure that the archaeological archive contains everything required to establish the significance of the project and support future research, outreach, engagement, display and learning activities.

Selection Policy

A non-project-specific, generic methodology for selection. As such, a selection policy may inform decisions about deselected materials but should not be used to determine a project-specific selection strategy.

Selection Strategy

The methodology detailing the project-specific selection process, agreed by all stakeholders, that will be applied to the working project archive in order to create the archaeological archive.

The data management plan is a separate document to the selection strategy but should be developed in conjunction with it. Both documents should be included in pre-project documentation (eg project design and/or WSI).

Standard Vocabularies

Formal, accessible, shared, and broadly applicable language for knowledge representation. A standard vocabulary provides a community-recognised specification that determines the precise meaning of concepts and qualities the data represents. For the archaeological sector, MIDAS Heritage provides this, which means that data is encoded using a standard which can be read on all applicable systems.

Trusted Digital Repository

A trusted digital repository is an accredited service that supports the long-term preservation of digital archives through the provision of specialist resources, knowledge, capacity and technical solutions that facilitate the storage, curation and accessibility of data in perpetuity. This recognised and universal system of data archive standard has provided the basis for certification of repositories using the CoreTrustSeal accreditation.

Working Project Archive

The records and materials gathered during an archaeological project and retained for analysis prior to selection for the archaeological archive.