The Integrated Archaeological Database system, or IADB for short, is designed to address the data management requirements throughout the lifespan of archaeological excavation projects, from initial excavation recording, through post-excavation analysis and research to eventual dissemination and archiving.
The Integrated Archaeological Database (IADB) has developed over many years. In the late eighties, Steve Stead and Pete Clark, then both at the Scottish Urban Archaeological Trust (SUAT) in Perth, Scotland (archaeological services in Perth are now provided by Alder Archaeology) started developing the concept of a computerised integrated database to record and help with the analysis of several large excavation projects on which SUAT was working at the time. When Mike Rains took over from Steve Stead at SUAT in 1989, he realised that some of the software development projects on which he had been working, initially at Durham University and then at the Scottish Development Department (later to become Historic Scotland), could together form the basis for starting to implement the IADB concept. These included a simple stratigraphic analysis program, a basic Context and Find cataloging application and an early attempt at a single context plan digitising solution.
The original concept of the IADB was to make available digital versions of the various excavation records as an easily accessible integrated resource for use in post-excavation analysis and to provide a framework within which that analysis would be undertaken. Initially, the IADB only dealt with simple artefact records and stratigraphic unit or context records. Over time, the scope of the IADB has widened to include other digital resources including single context plans, photographs, stratigraphy diagrams, etc. Initially the IADB was described as a "digital workbench" or a "computerised desktop", today we would probably call it a virtual research environment.
Early versions of the IADB ran under MS-DOS and were written in Clipper and C using the dBase database format. Vector graphics used the GEM graphics library, a precursor to Windows. With the launch of Visual Basic, the IADB was moved to Windows using an MS Access database. In 1997, Mike Rains moved from SUAT to York Archaeological Trust and shortly afterwards the IADB programs were re-written in Delphi, still using an Access database. In 1999 work was begun on converting the IADB to a web application using MySQL and PHP.
In recent years, development has continued in collaboration with Amanda Clarke and Mike Fulford of the Silchester Town Life Project at Reading University. Grants from the AHRC have funded the development of the IADB as a web publication tool, and grants from the UK JISC have funded the OGHAM and VERA projects for the development of the IADB as a Virtual Research Environment for archaeology using the Silchester project as a test-bed.
In September 2005, an edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme The Material World featured an interview with Mike Fulford and Mike Rains in which they discussed the role of the IADB in the Silchester project with particular reference to the development of the IADB as a virtual research environment. As of May 2011, this programme remains available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/thematerialworld_20050922.shtml.
The IADB was Highly Commended in the Best Archaeological Innovation category at the 2010
British Archaeological Awards ceremony held at the British Museum on 19th July 2010.
Development of the IADB is an on-going process. Recent development work has concentrated on the following:
Who is Using the IADB
Current users of the IADB include:
In addition, the IADB is used as a teaching tool within the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading and, most recently, in the RADII (Recording Archaeological Data in Iran and Iraq) project, a British Academy funded joint project between University College, London and the University of Reading.
The link below provides access to a trial version of the IADB containing a small demonstration project. You can explore this in read-only mode by clicking on the link below and logging in using the user name GUEST and the password GUEST (leave the VRD field empty). However, the IADB is designed very much as an active working environment rather than as a passive resource, and so read-only access does not really allow you to explore the full potential of the system. If you would like unrestricted access to the demonstration IADB, please contact Mike Rains to request a username and password. Please mention the nature of your interest in the IADB.
Using the IADB
If you are interested in using the IADB, then there are two routes open to you:
The IADB program is open source software which means, amongst other things, that there is no charge for the actual software, whether used via the hosting option or installed on your own server.
If after reading these notes and possibly looking at the demo you would like any further information about the IADB or would like to arrange a 'test run' for your organisation, please contact Mike Rains.
|Last Updated: 6th July 2014|