About NSW Archaeology Online


NSW Archaeology Online uses digital innovation to support on-line sharing of information about NSW archaeology and heritage. The project is an initiative of the Archaeology of Sydney Research Group in collaboration with University of Sydney Library. Stages 1 and 2 were funded by NSW Heritage Grants from the NSW Department of Planning and Heritage Council. The archive was developed to support research and education about an important aspect of New South Wales' and Australia's history and heritage.

Most archaeology conducted under the NSW Heritage Act since 1977 has been done for legislative reasons through contracts awarded to consultancy companies by competitive tendering. Archaeological field survey, excavation and heritage assessment projects have created a vast record of information only some of which is easy to access and use.

NSW Archaeology Online 'grey-literature' digital archive is designed to allow users to quickly find and compare information about archaeology in New South Wales. The information is stored and managed through University of Sydney eScholarship Repository to be independent of future changes to proprietary software. As technology develops the content can be moved to new systems making it sustainable into the future and content is registered with the Australian National Data Service. Annika Korsgaard managed the project, Sten Christensen managed the document upload into dSpace, and Rowan Brownlee created the site using the eXtensible Text Framework (XTF) and Java Server Pages (JSP) to enable flexible search and display.

The project focused on locating, borrowing, scanning and creating a searchable archive of reports produced in limited hard copy format by consultants before the mid 1990s. Many documents were only available in authors' private libraries, and numerous individuals and companies assisted by donating time and lending copies of reports for scanning and archiving.


Hard copy reports were borrowed from donors and professionally scanned at 300 dpi in colour and stored as TIF files to comply with archive standards. Most reports were in black and white only and the print quality was variable. The TIF format supports further high quality colour reproduction in digital or print form. Each page of each document generates a single TIF file. It is technically possible to enable users to download TIF files for each page from the archive over the internet. As TIF files are large this requires significant bandwidth and fast computer equipment that most users do not currently have.

A more practical solution for Stage 1 was to request the scanning company also generate smaller PDF format files (scanned at 150 dpi in black and white) for each report. Text inside these PDF files is searchable using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The files have been uploaded to the University's eScholarship Repository and made accessible through the project website. Each PDF file is typically less than 10Mb and most users should be easily able to access and download them using standard internet and computer equipment and widely and freely available Adobe software. The quality of some of the images in these black and white PDF files could be improved. By Stage 2 it became practical to make one collection of reports (by Robert Varman) available online in colour as well as black and white, but to keep all files under 10Mb some coloured versions of larger reports were split into parts and this is reflected in their labeling. In future and subject to funding it may be possible to deliver higher quality images and colour downloads of archive content over the internet. The TIF files are currently stored on secure backed-up server space managed by University of Sydney. Stage 1 policy was to also offer donors a copy of the TIF files of their own reports on their own storage device (e.g. a portable hard drive with sufficient memory).

For explanations of the metadata fields for the 'grey-literature' reports click here.

A methodology for the slides and photographs is provided on AHAD.

Sponsors and Contributors


NSW Archaeology Online (2009-11, 2011-13) has been funded by two Community Strategic Products and Services Program grants from the NSW Heritage Branch, NSW Department of Planning.

NSW Dept. of Planning NSW Heritage Branch


The reports included in the NSW Archaeology Online archive have been scanned from hard copies lent from the private collections of several key professional archaeologists. The archive also includes copies of unpublished University of Sydney fourth year Honours, Masters and PhD theses relevant to NSW historical archaeology which are not otherwise publicly available.

The following individuals and companies have kindly contributed their personal collections to the archive: