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Introduction. International Data Aggregation for Archaeological Research and Heritage Management: the ARIADNE experience

Julian D. Richards, Edeltraud Aspöck and Franco Niccolucci

Cite this as: Richards, J.D., Aspöck, E. and Niccolucci, F. 2023 Introduction. International Data Aggregation for Archaeological Research and Heritage Management: the ARIADNE experience, Internet Archaeology 64.

This special issue of Internet Archaeology presents some of the achievements of the European infrastructure projects, ARIADNEplus (2019-22) and the preceding ARIADNE initiative (2013-17), with additional contributions from members of the COST Action SEADDA (2019-23).

The volume originates from a conference session co-organised by Edeltraud Aspöck, Guntram Geser and Julian Richards, at the international conference ‘Cultural Heritage and New Technologies’ (CHNT) held in Vienna in November 2022. The papers presented there have been extensively revised, and some additional ones have been commissioned. They represent a wide range of activities, and illustrate some of the impacts of ARIADNE across heritage management and research.

The volume commences with an overview of the ARIADNE projects by Guntram Geser, impact lead, who reviews the projects' overall achievements. This is followed by a second overview contribution by Julian Richards, archaeology lead, focusing on the aggregation workflow and ARIADNE portal.

Several articles then consider the challenges of bringing together data from across a heterogeneous set of sub-domains and modelling these data to the ARIADNE AO-Cat ontology. Sandric et al. describe the steps that the Romanian National Heritage Institute went through to provide their national datasets for fieldwork reports and sites and monuments for aggregation. Then Correia and Santos Silva, from the Portuguese LNEC laboratory, discuss the inclusion of built heritage information in the portal. Wigg-Wolf et al. focus specifically on coins, and the challenges of trying to apply the Getty Art and Architecture thesaurus at a granular level to the specialist domain of numismatics. Uleberg et al., from the Oslo Historical Museum, describe the long history of data documentation in Norway, and how this has continued to support data aggregation in ARIADNE. Hiebel et al. introduce a set of tools that they developed to export data on prehistoric mining from Austria directly to the ARIADNE Knowledge Base, but which would have wider applicability. Finally, Kandel et al. discuss how they were able to integrate data from the ROCEEH project concerning palaeolithic archaeology and human origins into ARIADNE. Their institution was not one of the initial partners in ARIADNE, but they were one of a number of organisations, based in countries ranging from Portugal to Serbia, that joined as Associate partners, in order to contribute their datasets to the knowledge base.

In each of these cases the data providers decided that it was sufficient to map their metadata to the AO-Cat to achieve interoperability. In contrast, the following group of articles present a number of additional application profiles that were developed for the aggregation of specialist sub-domains at a more granular level. Vassallo et al. describe the aggregation of two datasets featuring inscriptions on coins and stone monuments. Next, Aspöck et al. describe the development of an application profile for mortuary data, and how it was used to integrate data held in the THANADOS aggregator for artefacts, graves and early medieval cemeteries into the ARIADNE knowledge base. In the last article of this group, Katsianis et al. describe their work on modelling excavation data, one of the most complex data models to be tackled.

The final set of articles discusses some of the broader impacts of ARIADNE for heritage management and research across several countries. Pajdla et al. discuss the development of a national recording system for finds made by metal detectorists in the Czech Republic, with data being made available via ARIADNE, which has contributed to improved relations with that community, as well as increased knowledge. Richards then demonstrates some examples of the use of the ARIADNE portal for research, and discusses how it has brought together for the first time in the UK information about metal-detected data from members of the public with sites and monuments data managed by archaeological professionals. Takata and Yanase, from Japan's Nara Research Institute, discuss how they have put data for Japanese fieldwork reports online, and the wider impact that has had, both on archaeologists and the wider public, including school education. Finally, Izeta and Cattáneo show how the development of a database of archaeological sites in the Cordoba province of Argentina and its provision to ARIADNE has contributed to better community knowledge and to site protection, in the face of highway construction.

As the ARIADNE initiative embarks on its next phase, in the form of the not-for-profit ARIADNE RI association registered as an AISBL under Belgian law, this special issue illustrates its impact on research and heritage management. The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme under grant agreement no. 313193, and from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 823914. The COST Action SEADDA (18128) was funded by the European Union. However, the views and opinions expressed in these articles are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

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  • Keywords: ARIADNE, ARIADNEplus, ARIADNE RI, SEADDA, digital infrastructure, heritage management
  • Accepted: 26 July 2023. Published: 31 October 2023
  • Funding: This article was funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 ARIADNEplus grant agreement n. 823914.

Corresponding author: Julian D. RichardsORCID logo
University of York

Edeltraud AspöckORCID logo
Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage/Austrian Archaeological Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences

Franco NiccolucciORCID logo
VAST-LAB, PIN - Servizi Didattici e Scientifici per l'Università di Firenze

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