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The new FAIMS repository

A test server for the new FAIMS repository is available. Click here for details.


We are working with FAIMS

The AHAD team from La Trobe University, VeRSI and Digital Antiquity, will be working with archaeologists and digital humanists from the University of NSW on a new NeCTAR-funded project:  Federated Archaeological Information Management Systems Project (FAIMS).  Watch this space. 


Appendix A: Glossary


Australian Historical Archaeology Database


Art History Association


A suite consisting of a group of geographic information system (GIS) software products produced by ESRI


“Exploring the Archaeology of the Modern City” legacy database at La Trobe University


Lightweight Directory Access Protocol – a simple authentication protocol and database system. Used by AHAD to manage users.


Desktop mapping application


The study of strata, or layers


The Digital Archaeological Record, the software package developed by Digital Antiquity on which AHAD operates.

The Harris Matrix

The world’s leading method for the science of archaeological stratigraphy and recording systems on archaeological excavations

Artefact Sherd or whole vessel recovered from an archaeological context
Assemblage Group of artefacts from one context or site
Collection Group of artefacts stored
Context Stratigraphic layer or feature on an archaeological site

Software quality

Additional quality characteristics for the product that are important to the users were determined through an anonymous online survey. This survey was conducted to gauge the attitudes of historical archaeologists and researchers, managers and practitioners from associated fields, with regard to artefact databases and the two primary databases created by the EAMC project.

A total of 96 responses were collected. Most participants (43%) were from the CRM field, a third from the tertiary sector and the remaining 20% were from the government and museum sectors. Most participants (76%) were or had at one point been artefact specialists or assistants. Only half listed historical archaeology as their primary field of research (other interests were prehistory and classics).

One quarter of participants use artefact databases at least once a week and a further 25% used them once a month. Nearly two-thirds had used, created or commissioned a database or interactive spreadsheet—revealing the dependence of historical archaeologists and specialists of databases.

The primary quality metric must be ease of use for the Consultant Archaeologists to lodge their datasets. Obstructing them in this respect will reduce the number and quality of potential datasets and metadata available to the system.

New feature – OAI-PMH & more!

We’ve just put the finishing touches on the new OAI-PMH system. tDAR now has a fully functioning OAI-PMH server, a native xml format for describing datasets and collections (with people and institutions handled natively as a bonus), and a set of privacy controls at the user level allowing users to control access to their email and phone numbers.

I have tested this with jOAI harvester and the results are good. Here’s an example:

<tdar:institution xmlns:tdar=”; xmlns=”; xmlns:xsi=””&gt;

<tdar:name>La Trobe University</tdar:name>


There aren’t a lot of details present here, but Institutions are barely first class entities in tDAR. More work can be done later to add members. Alternatively, a schema that supports backreferencing will be able to take the connection in the following example person record and use it to enhance the Institution record automatically.

<tdar:person xmlns:tdar=”; xmlns=”; xmlns:xsi=””&gt;

<tdar:description>Transient Codebreaker</tdar:description>

<tdar:name>La Trobe University</tdar:name>



New feature – Themes

Working with tDAR’s Arizona team, we’ve finalized a new theme system and an AHAD theme to go with it, as well as exporting some properties so they can  be customized on a new install. This is to allow us to run the same software with the Arizona people but have a different look and feel and different text in places.

We’ll be continuing to add new functions to the software too. OAI-PMH output, explicit user privacy controls, authentication abstraction/configuration and LDAP support are examples of entries on out to-do list.

Productive Workshops

On Thursday afternoon we held the last of three workshops conducted with the historical archaeological research communities in Melbourne and Sydney.  All the workshops raised a number of important issues (big and small) and have given us a good sense of what to prioritise from this point forward.

Thanks to everyone who attended. Your time and feedback is much appreciated.


Beginning Development

Since we’ve committed to the development of tDAR, we’ve been looking into what’s required to set up a development environment for contributing.

tDAR is a Maven project which means that resolving dependencies will be automated and hopefully very easy: You’ll need to have the Java JDK installed and not much else. It uses Struts2, Spring and Hibernate, so we’ll want to grab the relevant plugins required for our IDE. With all that in mind, and also considering the fact that tDAR’s existing developers are all using it, we chose to run Eclipse as our IDE.

tDAR is hosted at bitbucket, and uses Mercurial/Hg SCM to manage its trees, so generating a local repository after Eclipse is installed is a fairly simple task. Be prepared to wait a little while though: the tree is currently 600mb+.

The last required components are two standalone packages: PostgreSQL and Atlassian Crowd. Postgres is the database manager used by tDAR, and does sometimes present some issues running under Windows. Crowd is Atlassian’s authentication, single sign on and identity management server, and while it isn’t completely open source it is very powerful and easy to use.

Basic steps for setting up tDAR’s development environment on your desktop/laptop are as follows:

  • Install Mercurial
  • Install Maven
  • Install Eclipse
  • Install the Struts2, Jboss, Spring, Mercurial and Maven plugins for Eclipse
  • Use Eclipse to access the tree on bitbucket (@

More specific details can be found on tDAR’s own Confluence Wiki. Before running the application, either to execute tests or to try it on your local machine, you’ll also need to do the following:

  • Install PostgreSQL
  • Install Crowd
  • Create tDAR’s necessary databases (tdardata, tdarmetadata & tdargis)
  • populate & update the tdarmetadata database by running the tdarmetadata.sql and upgrade-db.sql scripts
  • populate the tdardata database with the tdardata.sql script
  • populate the tdargis database with the tdargis.sql script. Note that the tdargis database is used for PostGIS data. More details later.

This should allow you to download the tree to your local repository and run it. To contribute back you’ll need access, and so you’ll need to speak with the tDAR development team via the Confluence Wiki.

tDAR will throw an exception on load if the tdargis database isn’t properly enhanced to run PostGIS data, but it will continue to run. Further instruction on how to set up PostGIS will be added in a future post.

tDAR Partnership

We are excited to announce that we have partnered with Digital Antiquity‘s software development team, the creators of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR). tDAR was launched in 2010 to preserve the data and documents produced by archaeological projects past and present. The digital repository provides access to reports, published papers, databases, spreadsheets, documents and images in a variety of formats.

We will be utilising tDAR architecture to manage file uploads, data preservation, user registration and project (and site) metadata.  We will be enhancing the data integration and ontology features to build AHAD.

The enhancements of the tDAR software produced for the SC18 project will not produce a “fork” of the tDAR codebase, rather they are being contributed to the mainstream of tDAR’s development. Both the tDAR repository and the AHAD repository will be running the exact same software. Where the two services operate differently, this will be achieved by slight changes to the configuration of the software. This approach will help to ensure that the features developed for the Australian Historical Archaeology Database will remain viable long term, enjoying ongoing maintenance and enhancement from the Digital Antiquity team.

The major functions of the product are intended to be:

  • Allow for ingest of various data associated with historical archaeology (artefacts, stratigraphy, images, reports, primary historical documents, etc)
  • Allow for ingest of catalogue data recorded in diverse range of systems
  • Allow for custom fields and data wherever possible
  • Allow for custom vocabularies
  • Categorise data contents to enable segregation of core and advanced data sets
  • Live data-entry and editing
  • Include any data that is relevant to historical archaeology

We look forward to collaborating with the team!



The dates and details for workshops in Melbourne and Sydney have been finalised. We are keen to get feedback on our progress to date and input to future stages of software development. If you’re interested in contributing data or using the system following its release we encourage you to come along. There is no cost to attend but bookings are essential.

For details, click here.