Archaeological Informatics


Archaeological studies generate large amounts of data. Increasingly the management of these data are computerized. In the last few years more and more archaeological data is "born digital." The types of data may range from "traditional" database, text, images to point cloud data from laser scanning, geophysical data and many others. The processing, storage, management and archiving of these data fall under the topic of archaeological informatics. 

CAST has been actively involved in this field for many years. An example that has steadily grown over the last 14 years is NADB-Reports, a component of the National Archaeological Database(NADB). Built jointly with the National Park Service (NPS), NADB-Reports is a repository of 350,000 archaeological citations. Two other on-line systems that were originally developed at CAST for the NPS were the National NAGPRA Database and the Native American Consultation Database (NACD). More recently these systems have been moved "in house"  by NPS.

The North American Database of Archaeological Geophysics (NADAG) has been developed under the direction of Dr Ken Kvamme. It is one of the largest and most comprehensive resources for archaeological geophysics in North America.  It aims to promote the use and understanding of archaeological geophysics in North America, and is a central location for all aspects of archaeological geophysics.

The sharing of artifacts among archaeologists and institutions such as museums has always been an issue. A specialist would have to travel to several locations in order to gain access to artifacts from the same cultures that were uncovered by different institutions. Being able to gain access to information about these artifacts via the Internet would solve these problems. CAST has been involved in several projects aiming at creating digital 3D representations of artifacts that could be available via the Internet including the Internet Virtual Metrology Lab  and techniques for Archiving Artifacts Using Close-Range Softcopy Photogrammetry

Paleoinformatics can be  defined as the application of integrated information technologies in a comprehensive, multi-scalar approach to field data acquisition, processing, analysis, dissemination and archiving of information about the human and pre-human past. It covers the full range of current and emerging digital methodologies and the theoretical perspectives they support as applied to domain discovery, analysis, interpretation and presentation. Domain areas are paleo/bio-anthropology, archaeology, heritage management and classics as they are integrated with key elements of computer science and geoscience. Paleoinformatics is one of the thematic "terms" under which much research at CAST has been  conducted. A collateral term, but one that is a bit more restrictive is archaeoinformatics. CAST is involved in developing and implementing a cyberinfrastructure for archaeology., is established as a collaborative organization to design, seek funding for, and direct a set of cyberinfrastructure initiatives for archaeology. seeks to coordinate with and, develop interoperability of its own projects with other relevant data-sharing initiatives. It offers to work with professional organizations and federal agencies to promote policies that will foster the development of cyberinfrastructure for archaeology.