Software is available at:

Project Members:

Dr Mark Kosten (Data Source Administrator,

Emma Curtis-Bramwell (Project Manager,

Conal Tuohy (Lead Developer,

Daniel Tosello (Developer,

Dr Mark Kosten (Data Source Administrator,

ANDS Contact:

Xiaobin Shen (

Project Status:


Archaeological Database Development: The People and Place Project

La Trobe University

Project Description

This project will build the platform for a potential national database of historical archaeological collections, excavated sites and the people connected to those objects and places.

Each year archaeologists (both academic and private consultants) excavate tens of thousands of artefacts from historical archaeological sites across Australia. While some states (e.g. Victoria) require catalogues to be prepared in a standard format, the majority of catalogue data are stored in small, standalone spreadsheets or custom-built databases, and few are made freely available. There is no central register of these individual datasets, and many significant collections are simply unknown to archaeological researchers.

Between 2001 and 2004, the La Trobe led ARC-Linkage project ""Exploring the Archaeology of the Modern City (EAMC) created two research databases"" ( which offered, for the first time, a central database of 700,000 artefacts from multiple historical archaeological sites and a companion dataset of historical occupancy data relating to 2200 individuals who occupied those sites.

While extensive in their data content, the databases themselves are too limited in their structure and require significant design input to make them truly effective tools for managing and sharing historical archaeological data.

This project will contribute to the Seeding the Commons program by federating two EAMC databases together. Conducting data auditing for existing data sets; and seeking new datasets from the private, public and tertiary sectors. It will enable researchers to access a vast dataset that is currently unavailable to them, and provide the platform for future datasets to be made freely available in a standardised and timely fashion.

High Level Software Functionality:

Features of Artefact catalogue database project:
- Building and hosting a web-based database service for managing archaeological artefact catalogues (datasets) such as the EAMC database, including the ability to manage multiple independently-produced datasets, a facility to align the different descriptive schemas used in those datasets, and the ability to manage distinct rights and permissions for those datasets.
- Building a web-based user interface for the artefact catalogue, suitable for use with either a standard desktop computer or mobile device.
- Building a geospatial query interface to the artefact catalogue.
- Collating and consolidating existing archaeological datasets and descriptive schemas (including the EAMC database) into the hosted database.
Archival records
- Migration of the People and Place database of archival records data from Microsoft Access format into an online database with a web query interface.
- Building a geospatial query interface to the archival record database.
- Development of an ethics policy relating to the publication of historical records.


21 History and Archaeology