The Archaeological Resource Cataloging System (ARCS)is an open source, web-based digital platform that allows any archaeological project to store, annotate, organize, display, collaborate on, and share digitized legacy materials such as photographs, field journals, and excavation records in a way that reflects its unique identity and organizational structure.
Many archaeological projects with histories that extend into the pre-digital era are struggling to find ways to transform their collections of paper-based legacy records into a digital format that is more accessible and cosducive to modern collaboration, analysis, and publication. Unfortunately, because many of these types of collections contain a combination of handwritten notes and documents, slides and photographs, and hand drawn sketches and maps, automated converstion to machine readable formats is incredibly difficult. As a result, the critical information contained within, often representing the only record of decades of excavation and research, runs the risk of being lost to future study and analysis. In addition, these challenges are taking place in the context of limited budgets, resources, and technical expertise.
ARCS seeks to address many of these challenges. As an open access, web based collaborative platform, ARCS enables archaeological projects with legacy materials and documents to provide scholars and the public alike with access to digitized copies of records according to their own abilities and needs. Most importantly, ARCS works to augment but not replace paper-based archaeological records, which often must be viewed in their original format in order to be truly understood.