Pushing the cutting edge of the Strategic Environmental Archaeology Database



SEAD’s geographical scope has been a reflection of the initial main data sources: The Environmental Archaeology Lab (MAL) at Umeå University, and the BugsCEP dataset.

As part of the VISEAD project data from three of the partner labs of ArchLab will be ingested during a 3-year period. These labs are The Laboratory for Ceramic Research [KFL] and The Swedish National laboratory for wood anatomy and dendrochronology [VDL] at Lund University, and The Archaeological Research Lab [AFL] at Stockholm University.

The integration of data and archaeological metadata from molecular and compound specific stable isotope analyses, provided by AFL, will facilitate the relation of these complex datasets into wider topics of long-term human behaviour, environment and processes of change. With the addition of dendrochronological results (VDL), and ceramic geochemistry data and metadata (KFL), VISEAD will appeal to a broad spectrum of archaeologists, historians, geologists, geochemists, climatologists, geographers, and more. VISEAD will enable this expansion as a distinct infrastructural development bootstrapping on the existing resources of the SEAD platform.


To further explore SEAD’s data, please visit QSEAD





The Environmental Archaeology Lab [MAL]


P0001016MAL is one of the four archaeological research laboratories collaborating in the VISEAD project, although MAL’s archive is already part of SEAD as a main constituent database (Buckland et al 2014). The dataset provided by MAL consists of geochemistry and physical properties, plant macrofossils as well as pollen data. These data stem from investigations conducted mainly in Sweden but also from other areas in Europe.


The distribution of sites with analyses conducted by MAL, and currently in SEAD


The Archaeological Research Lab [AFL]


AFL’s compound specific stable isotope, lipid and biomolecular data represent new data areas for the SEAD database. Stable isotope analyses have become more or less standard procedure within dietary reconstruction, both in ceramic and skeletal materials. The cutting edge now involve new applications that results in a refinement of the analyses, including compound specific stable isotope analyses and laser ablation. These provide higher resolution both in terms of accuracy in measurement and in time sequence resolution, resulting in improved interpretations. Both these new applications require a number of different mass spectrometer equipment, available at Stockholm University, and used in archaeological research by staff at AFL. VISEAD will initiate the databasing of results from these projects.

There currently are no overview maps showing distribution of sites planned for ingestion into SEAD.


National laboratory for wood anatomy and dendrochronology [VDL]


PiteälvenThis dataset contains dendrochronological analysis results, with a wide range of dendro data from archaeological, building heritage and nature conservation investigations. The data have been systematically archived in paper form according to a standard established 20 years ago and will now be digitized and made available through the SEAD database.

During 2012 a pilot study was carried out by the SEAD project (Meissner et al 2012), which is hosted at MAL, Umeå University, and the VDL, Lund University. The pilot study was carried out over the span of 2 months and produced a file of the dendro data for Småland (the results of this limited set of data can be seen below). This will be reviewed and a data cleaning and ingestion routines developed to pull the data into SEAD as part of the VISEAD project.


Distribution of sites, and their sampling context, in the test data set from the dendrochronological lab at Lund University, digitized as part of the pilot study in 2012.


The Laboratory for Ceramic Research [KFL]


Preliminary studies on the more extensive ceramic thin section data show considerable promise for spatiotemporal analyses of source materials, types, manufacturing process and social implications of these . Eriksson & Lindahl’s (2013) article on Iron Age pottery in Scandinavia shows some of the potential this data has. The original data file containing the results of the petrographic microscopy and thermal analysis conducted by the lab over the years has been reviewed and an initial import of the data from about 3500 thin section analyses is currently underway. Data from a further ~1600 thin sections will be ingested at a later stage.


Distribution of the sites in the KFL dataset which are currently undergoing import to SEAD (~3500 thin sections)



Buckland, Philip I.; Buckland, Paul C., BugsCEP Coleopteran Ecology Package (software). – NOAA/NCDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder CO, USA., 2006 – (IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series; 2006-116)

Buckland, P.I. 2014. The Bugs Coleopteran Ecology Package (BugsCEP) database: 1000 sites and half a million fossils later. Quaternary International Special Issue: Russell Coope Honorary volume.

Buckland, P.I., Eriksson, E.J. & Palm, F. 2014. SEAD – The Strategic Environmental Archaeology Database, Progress Report Spring 2014. MAL reports nr. 2014-13. Environmental Archaeology Lab. Umeå University. 46 pp.

Eriksson, T. & Lindahl, A. 2013. The Handicrafts of Iron Age Pottery in Scandinavia: Regionalities and Traditions. Lund Archaeological Review 18 (2012), pp. 45-60

Meissner, K., Buckland, P.I., Linderson, H. & Hammarlund, D. 2012. Pilotprojekt ”Dendro-databas” i SEAD April 2012-juni 2012. MAL rapporter nr. 2012-23. Umeå universitet & Lunds universitet. (In Swedish).