>However you can use Access as a front end to MySQL. There are quite a
few GUI interfaces
 >to maintain MySQL database structures (Windows and Unix). Point is
 >that a MySQL
 >datadump could, assuming that you have not used any of the MySQL
specifics, be ported
 >to another SQL engine.

You *can* use dBase III/IV as relational databases as you can use key
fields to link tables. Ashton Tate bought dBase III and screwed it as a
product. Another product, Foxpro (which used the dBase file format) was
bought by Microsoft and run into the ground in order give their own
product, Access a headstart into the market. But none of that really

What does is that you understand your data (NB *not* the bits of pot,
bone, whatever you're archiving, but the data which will represent it),
and understanding the best way of organising that data. Once you've got
that down on paper you can implement it in the system of your choice.

Personally my preference these days is to store the data in mySQL or
PostgreSQL system (reliable, fast, free, easy maintenance) with a front
end written in Access (second to none for rapidly producing front ends
for databases.)

 >Have to say that I am coming at this from a technical viewpoint and
not an Archaeological
 >one due to being an IT person and not an Archaeologist.....

One thing this debate seems to show is that there is a need to invest
some time and resources in working out the best methods for the storage
of digital data. Unless they've had sufficient training, it's no more
feasible for an archaeologist to start building databases systems, than
it is for a database designer to pick up a trowel and start digging a site.