Crowd-sourcing archaeology

21 August 2014

Early Bronze Age Axe hoard discovered in the late 19th century from the Folkton barrow in North Yorkshire (Copyright Trustees of the British Museum)

Volunteers from around the world have helped to make ancient bronze collections from the British Museum available online as part of the MicroPasts project.

The MicroPasts project team, co-led by the Institute's Andrew Bevan and Daniel Pett (British Museum), photographed hoards of Bronze Age (ca. 2500 BC - 800 BC) metal objects and scanned thousands of paper records of further metal artefacts from British prehistory. Public assistance was then requested for the modelling, transcribing and locating these archaeological finds via a dedicated “crowd-sourcing” website.

The catalogue records and the images - which are freely available in return for the volunteers' help – will form one of the largest databases of prehistoric metalwork in the world.

MicroPasts logo

The AHRC-funded MicroPasts project uses web-based, crowd-sourcing methods to allow traditional academics and other communities in archaeology to co-produce innovative open datasets, available to all. It explores the potential for massive online collaboration to create large numbers of 3D models of artefacts, enhancing existing archaeological databases and adding rich new content to images.

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