Let's look for some objects!

It’s easy to look for objects on the Portable Antiquities database. This is done by following these simple steps:

1. Go to http://finds.org.uk/database.

Database

Helpful Note: You can now do a simple search using keywords. You just need to use one word or you can use a combination of words (called search terms) for a more precise search. For example, you could enter the name of the kind of object you like, the name of the place you want to look in, the period you want to look at (for more information about time periods have a look at pages 23-32) or a combination of these things. There are lots of search terms you can use to help you find what you want to look for.

The more words you use in the search, the less objects will show up in your search. This is because the search will be more precise and you are more likely to find exactly what you are looking for. If you want lots and lots of objects and aren’t looking for anything in particular, use less words to search with.

We will now try a few different searches as a practice, until you feel ready to start creating your own searches!

2. Let’s start off with a very simple one word search. We all like money, so let's find some coins! Write ‘coins’ in the box next to Search our database. Let’s look only for coins that have pictures - click the box next to Only with images? so that a tick appears in it (if you want to look for all coins, including those that there are no pictures of, don’t put a tick in the box).

Database search

3. Now click Search!

What have you got? You can see that you have got lots of coins from several different counties and from several different time periods:

Database search results

4. Hmm, there are a lot of coins! Let’s try making the search more precise and say that you want to find coins from your county and that are from the Roman period. In the box next to Search our database write ‘coins’ and ‘Iron Age’ and ‘Hertfordshire’ (it doesn’t matter what order you put the words in, as long as they are separated by either a space or a comma):

Database search

5. Now click Search!

There should be a lot fewer coins and all of them Iron Age and from Hertfordshire:

Database

6. Open one of the hyperlinks by clicking on the blue coloured record ID circled above and have a look. For this example we are going to click on BH-B52535.

You should get a page that looks like this:

Database

Let’s try one more search. Animals are nice, so let’s look for some animal objects on the database. Let’s look for dog shaped objects. We’ve already seen quite a lot of Roman objects, so let’s have a look at objects from other time periods. In the box next to Search our database write ‘Dog figurine NOT Roman’:

Database search

There should be lots of objects with the words ‘dog’ and ‘figurine’ in the description, from all different periods except the Roman period:

Database search results

Click on a record like the one circled above. Then click on View:

Database record

What have you got? Man’s Best Friend?!

Fox-like dog figurine

Now we're going to try a more detailed search. This is also quite easy when you know how, so let's have a go:

1. Go to the menu on the left of the screen.

2. Click on Search database.

3. When the menu has expanded, click on Advanced search:

Advanced database search

You should get a page that looks like this:

Advanced database search

4. Let’s imagine you want to look for more coins. Go to the section called Main details. Write ‘coin’ in the box next to Object type and choose COIN from the dropdown menu by clicking on it:

Advanced database search

5. For this example, let’s look for Roman coins. Scroll down the page to where it says Temporal details.

6. Click the box next to where it says Broad period.

7. Choose Roman from the drop-down list:

Advanced database search

8. Let’s look for coins from the village of Tunstall in Suffolk. Do you know where Suffolk is? If you don’t, then ask your Teacher, Mum or Dad! The outline below should give you a clue!

Advanced database search

9. Scroll down the page to where it says Spatial details.

10. Click the box next to where it says County.

11. Choose Suffolk (or your village, town or borough) from the drop-down list:

Advanced database search

12. Now click the box next to Parish.

13. Choose Tunstall (or your village, town or borough) from the drop-down list:

Advanced database search

14. Click Submit your search.

Has anything appeared? If so, open a link that you think is interesting and show someone else. If you haven't got anything, then perhaps no one has recorded an object in your village. Try a village nearby to see if anything has been recorded from there. You could also try searching for objects from where your friends, grandparents, aunties or uncles live. Have fun!

© The British Museum 2012 | Credits