Artefacts from the Sea Database

To facilitate the collation and enhancement of data gathered from different sources, a project database was constructed using Microsoft Access.
 
Many SMRs and HERs now use HBSMR (Historic Buildings, Sites and Monuments Record), a comprehensive database, GIS and photographic data management system developed by ExeGesIS SDM Ltd in partnership with the NRHE and the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO). The system complies with the Monument Inventory Data Standard (MIDAS) developed by the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) to set out what sort of information should be recorded in heritage inventories.
 
The Artefacts from the Sea database is MIDAS compliant and designed to facilitate the transfer of data to and from HBSMR datasets. The table and attribute structure was kept the same as HBSMR and descriptive thesauri from ExeGesIS, the NRHE and Museum Document Association were incorporated to ensure consistent terminology. However, in addition to the Monument, Event and Source tables recommended by MIDAS, the Artefacts database also incorporated Find and Contact tables in accordance with the project’s emphasis on artefacts and data enhancement.
 
MIDAS describes a 'monument' as a site of past human activity defined spatially and temporally. Hence, a monument will represent a single phase of activity at a specified location; and multi-period and multi-use sites will require a number of related monuments representing each phase and type of activity. For example, a findspot in which artefacts from both the Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods are found would require separate records for the different periods.
 
Artefacts from the Sea database: Find formArtefacts from the Sea database: Find formMIDAS defines an 'event' as any activity related to a monument, such as an excavation or survey or a research project. A source record should be created for any information relating to the site, such as published and unpublished documents or aerial photographs of the site.
 
The Artefacts from the Sea database requires that a 'find' record is created for each find, or set of finds, associated with a particular monument. For example, a site containing several Mesolithic microliths would require separate finds records, for each individual artefact. The finds record form is designed to encourage the recording of a higher level of detail about artefacts than is usually found in monument-oriented databases.
 
Artefacts from the Sea database: Contact formArtefacts from the Sea database: Contact formParticularly important is information relating to the condition of the artefact, as it holds the most tangible clue, where no contextual information exists, as to whether the find was made in situ or ex situ. This becomes important when assessing whether a stray find is a valid source for mapping past activity in an area. For example, heavily calcinated and rolled flint artefacts would have been exposed for a long time and could have come from a wide area, repeatedly eroded and redeposited as sea-level fluctuates or transported by a sail of seaweed. Fresh dark flint artefacts with sharp edges, on the other hand, are a strong indicator of a previously sealed deposit being under active erosion in the close to the findspot.
 
A 'contact' record is created for each institution, group or private individual that may have been associated with a monument. For example, a monument may be recorded in the NMR and/or SMR, discovered by a particular individual, excavated by an archaeological contractor and published by a certain archaeologist, while the finds may be deposited in a local museum. Recording these contact details facilitates the tracking of information and artefacts and may highlight the individuals most knowledgeable about a certain area.