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Research : Database Schema


This document describes a core recording schema that can be used to capture information about any maritime or intertidal archaeological site and the work done on it. The word is crucial as the schema used by Site Recorder is only a subset of the data that could be recorded but it is a subset that may be shared by other recording systems. Use of a core standard allows the additional data to be recorded that are crucial to research databases yet still allows direct comparisons to be made between objects that are at the heart of intra-site analyses and generic analysis and rendering tools.

Object Types

Site Recorder is a computer program used to record things that exist or happen, most usually in or around an archaeological site. These things are called objects and the programs can contain many different types of objects.

The objects are brought together into collections or families which can be 'owned' by another object, this is a handy way of collecting together similar objects or ones related to each other. The hierarchy of objects forms a 'tree' shape with the Site at the root of the tree and all the many other objects branching out from it.

Objects that can be in a Site Recorder file include:

         Sites and Shared Sites

         Survey Points




         Drawing Frames

         Artefacts, Features and Sectors

         Drawing objects


         Image basemaps







         Dive Logs and ROV Logs

         Fix Points


The Site is the object that represents the ship, monument or structure being recorded.


The Site object can contain one or more projects and these are used to collect together sets of Layer objects. Project objects can be used to record all the work done in a particular excavation season, fieldwork session or survey.


Each Project can contain a number of Layer objects. The layers are used to collect together different types of other objects that are associated with each other. The different types of Layers are used to collect together different kinds of objects:

         Survey layer

Survey points and measurements

         General layer

Drawing objects such as lines and points, images, Targets, Wrecks and Samples

         Artefact layer

Artefacts, Features and Secto rs

         Data layer

Data points

Survey Points and Measurements

Survey objects include Survey Points, Measurements and Drawing Frames. Survey Point objects are used to represent the control points and detail points installed on the site. Each individual measurement made between these points are recorded in separate Measurement objects. A number of different measurement types are supported:


A distance measurement between two Survey Points


The depth of a Survey Point


A horizontal or vertical offset measurement between a baseline and a Survey Point


A tie measurement between a baseline and a Survey Point


A distance and direction measured from one Survey Point to another


The position of a Survey Point taken from a GPS or acoustic positioning system

Drawing Frames

Drawing or planning frames can be added to the chart. The drawing made on site can be copied into the frame in the computer by tracing over a scanned image of the drawing. Once done the frame and copied drawing can be positioned on the chart.

Drawing Objects

Drawing objects include points, lines (polylines), rectangles, circles and text. Drawing objects can be used to draw such things as maps, trench outlines, contours and the like.

Recording Objects

Archaeology objects include Artefacts, Features and Sectors :


A find or any kind of object on the site to be recorded


An archaeological recording Feature


Used for defining an area of the site such as a trench

Dive Logs

Dive Logs and ROV Logs are used to record information about dives and ROV dives.


Information about people such as archaeologists and divers can be recorded.


Image objects are used to record information about any image object including photographs, drawings and video clips. Images can be linked to other objects such as Artefacts and Dive Logs.

Image Basemaps

Image objects are used to show base map pictures on the chart such as side-scan sonar traces, geo-referenced multibeam echo sounder (MBES) images, scanned site plans or photomosaics. Image basemaps can also be shown as simple icons on the chart, useful for associating linked images or video clips on the site plan


Event objects are used to record things that have happened on site or to the site.


Sources such as documents, reports and letters can be recorded along with a link to the source if available in a digital form.


Targets are used to record positions and information about things found during geophysical survey using magnetometers, side-scan sonars, sub-bottom profilers and pulse-induction metal detectors.


Information about known wrecks and reported wrecks can be recorded.


Logbooks can used to record day-to-day events, ideas, interpretation and thoughts as text documents.

The results of this work are described in the paper below, click on the link to download it:

Latest schema version 1.1  SR4 compatibility V4.23.11  Nov 2008


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