Website Review: ABMAP

Full Name: Animal Bone Metrical Archive Project


Content: measurements of 24,000+ bones of domestic animals from 100+ archaeological assemblages from excavations in southern Britain, from all periods from the Neolithic to the eighteenth century AD, with most from later periods

Authorship: Centre for Applied Archaeological Analysis (formerly Centre for Human Ecology), University of Southampton (UK); individual scholars from various institutions

Host/Maintenance: The Archaeology Data Service (ADS)(UK); Department of Archaeology, University of York (UK); does not appear to have been updated since it was put online in 2003

abmap1entry page

Permanence/Archiving: no clear info on permanence; archiving according to the Open Archival Information System guidelines

Licensing: Copyright remains with the original contributors/institutions; not to be used for profit or commercial advantage; separate copyright page for ADS as a whole

Usefulness: Using the standard von den Driesch methodology, the database allows to find data with which to compare one’s own individual bone or assemblage and to research size change in animals from prehistory to the present day; it contains over 68,000 measurements, a substantive comparitive collection not easily gathered; it is a pity that not all types of animals are well represented (such as deer or other wild taxa) though this is of course at least partially due to preservation, abundance in the archaeological record and recovery in excavations

Ease of Use: The system is easy to use and navigate; a Help pop-up is succinct but to the point

abmap2query page

Appeal: The system has a simple but nice design, professional and functional

Accessibility: ABMAP and esp. the full name come up readily in Google Search; individual result pages do not appear to be indexed by search engines, though

Credibility: Assembled by respected archaeological institutions, the database forms a unique research tool; ADS possesses a dedicated staff and is funded by national semi-government institutions; there’s an extensive ADS collections policy and citations follow the Harvard referencing system

Reuse: Any query result’s data can easily be downloaded as a tab-delimited text file

abmap3example of a query result: “Sheep” + “Metatarsal” + “Early Roman”

This is of course a fabulous resource for any zooarchaeologist. A great idea is the feedback form which is prominently featured on the site. This resource’s data are commonly used for comparative purposes, e.g., Mulville, J. and Powell, P. (2005) Animal Bone. Segsbury Camp: Excavations in 1996 and 1997 at an Iron Age hillfort on the Oxfordshire Ridgeway. Vol 12, No 1, pp 34-48. Oxford: University of Oxford. Though large, the collection could still use more data, esp. for earlier periods and additional taxa; hopefully, further additions are planned.

abmap4downloaded tab-delimited data file for an example of a query result: “Sheep” + “Metatarsal” + “Early Roman”

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