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Registering the finds

Find out about the ARK database, which acts as a key component for linking information together.
TOM WARREN: I’m with Penny using the ARK database. So Penny, can you tell me about ARK?
PENNY COPELAND: Yes. The ARK database is a recording tool we use to register all the finds. We also use it to register all the context sheets so that when we look back over a particular deposit on the site, we have a complete record of where it was, what it consisted of, and all the artefacts and objects that came from it.
TOM WARREN: So how does ARK help us on the Portus project?
PENNY COPELAND: With ARK, we have a full set of information for all the different contexts and finds. And because we can pull them all together into one single place, we can look at any context, deposit, wall, and we can see everything that relates to it and around it.
So the ARK database acts as a key component for linking information together. You can learn more about ARK via the L-P: Archaeology website and also via one of our Educators Jess whose work you saw in the context of geophysical survey and data integration.
The other key ways we integrate information are via our image catalogue – we have well over 30,000 images, excluding the photographs captured for photogrammetry and RTI and also via a Geographic Information System (GIS). The latter is run by Mari Carmen whose maps you have seen throughout this course. The GIS allows us to overlap spatial information such as aerial photographs, topographic survey, geophysics, find locations, and so on so that we can draw conclusions across the data. This builds on what you learned about data integration in week three.
We are currently revising these systems in order that we can provide even more connectivity between them and hope as a consequence to be able to share more of our visual, spatial, textual and numerical data in an integrated form in future iterations of this course.

Photographs and ARK

Traditionally, each find would have a record card with important details of the find and a sketch so that it was visually recognisable. The sketch also acts as a check if, for some reason, the labels or bags for the finds become mixed. The transition to recording straight into a digital media (ARK database in our case) means that the sketch is no longer an easy option. We therefore try to take quick photos of every item that is recorded. The volume of finds means that these are ‘quick and dirty’ photos, a training ground for finds photography but essentially the digital equivalent of the sketch. The intention is normally to then either publish a drawing of a find where the details are not obscured by colouration of the artefact, or to take a publication quality photograph later once the object has been fully studied and chosen for publication.
The ARK database developed by L-P: Archaeology
The ARK database developed by L-P: Archaeology – Hembo Pagi © University of Southampton
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Archaeology of Portus: Exploring the Lost Harbour of Ancient Rome

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