Website Review: NADL

Full Name: Nautical Archaeology Digital Library


Content: Digital library of artifacts from underwater shipwrecks excavated in Portugal and/or by the Nautical Archaeology Program (NAP) of Texas A&M University; in development; content to date: 12 ancient seafaring/shipbuilding treatises and a shipwreck timeline (475 entries)

nadl1entry page

Authorship: NAP; Richard Furuta (Center for the Study of Digital Libraries, Texas A&M University, College Station), (Luis) Filipe (Vieira de) Castro (Center for Maritime Archaeology & Conservation/NAP, Texas A&M University); individual contributors

Host/Maintenance: Texas A&M University; no timeline for the project provided

Permanence/Archiving: nothing stated

Licensing: “Copyright © 2006″ on entry page; no other licensing information available on other pages or in “about”; regarding some of the treatises, it is mentioned that their proprietor institutions “have generously granted permission for copyrighted works from their collections to be reproduced in the [NADL]” without guidelines for their use

Usefulness: NAP is one of the leaders in the field, so it will be extremely useful to have their excavation materials readily available; the shipwreck timeline is an interesting educational tool but compared with, for instance, the NAVIS databases contains hardly any real information (NAVIS I recovered ancient ships; NAVIS II ancient shipbuilding; NAVIS III Roman coins with ships)

nadl2example of a historic source: Cornelis van IJk, “De Nederlandsche Scheepsbouw-konst Open Gesteld” (Essay on the Dutch Art of Shipbuilding), 1697

Ease of Use: very simple site so easy to navigate

Appeal: nice, clean interface and design

Accessibility: in Google, a search for “NADL” returns the site as no. 5 in the results list; a search for “Nautical Archaeology Digital Library” leads straight to the site without a problem; only the summaries of the treatises are indexed in the well-known search engine; interestingly, the book used as an example in the above illustration, for instance, can also be found in Google Books where the total text can be searched

Credibility: the backing of NAP would give it high credibility, at least with archaeology scholars; in its current state however it does not feature prominently in nautical archaeology research

Reuse: there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to export data in convenient formats, both for the treatises and the timeline; the treatises themselves are not searchable

nadl3shipwrecks timeline

This is very much still a startup project, as the core archaeological data for the database aren’t yet available. There don’t appear to be a lot of publications and presentations related to this project yet either. For instance, a Google Scholar search for “Nautical Archaeology Digital Library” yielded only five results of which only one was freely available in full online (C. Monroy, R. Furuta and F. Castro, “A Multilingual Approach to Technical Manuscripts: 16th and 17th-century Portuguese Shipbuilding Treatises.” ACM-IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, June 18-23, 2007 Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, JCDL 2007), three required a subscription and one link was available in an html approximation only. The latter was a 2008 article entitled “Content Based Retrieval System for Archaeological Images” by A. Asthana, R. Dutta, A. Jain, D. Gupta and S. Goel. The timeline would be greatly enhanced by adding a map function as well as further information on the individual shipwrecks.

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