Oxford ArchDigital Brings Archaeology Into the Digital Age

1st January 2010

Oxford University's Institute of Archaeology has launched Oxford ArchDigital Limited (OAD), a new spin-out company to provide Information Technology training and consultancy services to individuals and organisations involved with the discovery, conservation and presentation of the past.

Oxford ArchDigital (OAD)

Traditionally the collection and analysis of archaeological data has been an extremely lengthy process due to the vast amounts of information that needs to be examined, classified and presented. Advances in the flexibility, reliability and access to digital storage and analysis have caused archaeologists, museums, heritage bodies and historic preservation societies to move increasingly towards IT based solutions. This is a process in which Oxford ArchDigital co-founder Dr Gary Lock has been a prime mover.

“Due to the complexity and interlinked nature of the data, the collection and analysis of archaeological and similar information is an extremely laborious process,” notes Dr Lock. “IT not only gives us new ways to store and analyse the archaeological records but also new ways to present it. To do this effectively, one needs both an in-depth understanding of the past as well as advanced computer skills.”

Fellow Oxford ArchDigital co-founder Dr Tyler Bell has extensive experience in archaeological fieldwork and the high-end computer applications used to display and analyse archaeological data. He has developed numerous integrated data systems for research projects incorporating GIS (Geographic Information Systems), CAD and web databases, and also builds computer reconstructions of ancient and modern architecture for “fly-throughs” and lighting studies.

In response to the increasing demand for practitioners to acquire the necessary IT skills, OAD offers a full range of Training modules. These are run from a dedicated facility in central Oxford. The courses are the responsibility of Dr Tom Evans, who has been involved with fieldwork and management in commercial archaeological companies in both the UK and US. More recently he has specialised in the use and training of computer-based techniques in the analysis of complex archaeological datasets. The company’s Training modules are focused on the effective use of electronic data collection, management, analysis and presentation for individuals and organisations involved with the study of the past or geographically based research.

Consultancy services offered include the design and development of databases, GIS, 3D reconstructions and data-driven dynamic web sites to suit any field project, archive or museum collection. These are of particular value to heritage bodies, commercial archaeological units, researchers, developers and groups within the geographical sciences in need of specialised or comprehensive IT solutions, whilst facing pressing time and budgetary constraints. The company currently has available a number of rigorously field-tested databases for the recording of pottery, artefacts and images that are available as stand-alone products.

Dr Tim Cook, Managing Director of Oxford University Innovation, said: “Oxford ArchDigital is Isis’ latest spin-out company and interestingly, does not come from a science department, but archaeology. We are looking forward to supporting Oxford ArchDigital as it establishes itself in this exciting new field.”

Tom Hassall, President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, UK and former chief executive of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (“RCHME”), brings unparalleled experience to OAD in the heritage industry. “Such a body that combines professional training and consultancy services has been needed for some years,” comments Tom.

The management and overall strategic development of Oxford ArchDigital are the responsibility of Nick Case, a chartered accountant with experience of running a software company. He has additional experience in the fields of venture capital, corporate development and M&A.

Oxford ArchDigital Website

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