New Portable Antiquities Scheme website and database

After a year in development, the new Portable Antiquities Scheme website and database is now live. The Scheme’s database holds over 500,000 records and about 250,000 photos. These records are contributed by staff, volunteers and the general public.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a voluntary scheme to record archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. Every year many thousands of objects are discovered, many of these by metal-detector users, but also by people whilst out walking, gardening or going about their daily work. Such discoveries offer an important source for understanding our past.

This website provides background information on the Portable Antiquities Scheme, news articles, events listings and access to our database of objects and images.

The new PAS website is just fantastic. Built by Dan Pett, ICT Advisor for the Scheme, upon Open Source technologies, it is everything a modern heritage data repository/provider could be. Data is enhanced through the use of 3rd party services and frameworks such as OpenCalais and Yahoo GeoPlanet.

The new website now holds a substantial number of artefact details which can allow for critical analysis on a large scale.

The database allows detailed numismatic searches as well as general searches, and provides results with XML, RSS, Atom, JSON, and CSV representations. Large photos of individual object, where available, are viewable in a lightbox directly from the results list. Data is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 license, encouraging its reuse.

On individual artefact record pages, which are neatly laid-out, is the option to view a zoomable high resolution photograph of the object. Photos can also be downloaded. An interesting feature is the facility to leave comments on database records, which could be used for identifying objects, debating provenance, etc.

Other features include bibliographies, vocabularies, maps, conservation guides and a lot more. A lot of thought has gone into what kind of features people would find useful.

Visit the Portable Antiquities Scheme website and have an explore. If you use any PAS data for any research, be sure to let them know so they can collect statistics – the more using their data for research, the better.

A big well done to Dan for raising the bar in heritage data representation and access.

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