ARIADNEplus is the continuation of the successful ARIADNE project (2013-2017) for the integration of European archaeological repositories, which created a searchable catalogue of datasets including unpublished reports, images, maps, databases and other kinds of archaeological information accessible online.
The project does not aggregate or move data, but only the metadata of the datasets, which are maintained and controlled by their owners. At present, about two million datasets have been catalogued, corresponding to a huge amount of information as each dataset may comprise, for example, an entire report with related images, drawings, or a complete database including thousands of individual records. The catalogued content types range from individual finds to monuments and sites inventories and from the report of one single intervention to the results of a long-term archaeological mission. ARIADNEplus will update existing data in the ARIADNE Portal, extend ARIADNE in geographic and temporal coverage, and in the range of topics addressed, now incorporating additional information about scientific analyses. It will also provide services to further process and re-use those data.
The ARIADNEplus work plan includes a group of activities dedicated to documenting and proposing relevant policies and strategies for data such as the application of the FAIR principles and the certification of repositories. It will also address some fundamental issues, for example developing guidelines for the creation, management and sustainability of archaeological repositories. There is a European crisis in physical repositories, and a pressing need for guidelines for physical archives, but it is equally important that digital archives are encompassed. ARIADNEplus will provide such guidelines and other useful material, such as, for example, a Data Management Plan (DMP) on-line template, designed for the use by archaeologists, simplifying its preparation with the provision of pre-compiled menus with the most common options used in the archaeological domains.
Consolidating a comprehensive, active and informed community is one of the goals of the ARIADNEplus project, which envisages a large number of initiatives, such as workshops, sessions at events, meetings and dedicated communication channels. Particular attention will be dedicated to regions or countries where archaeological dataset creation, processing and management may be less advanced compared to the others: a working group on Central and Southern Europe has already been set up. Many of the networking activities include a substantial training component, with the provision of training material both for direct participation, e.g. documentation and guidelines, and for remote participation, e.g. webinars. Tutorials will be provided at international symposia on the use of the ARIADNEplus tools.
The ARIADNEplus training plan also envisages specific training activities. These include tutorials and training workshops as well as knowledge transfer actions on individual projects, in which a small team is directly supported by ARIADNEplus experts to develop their own research projects. Institutions and research teams wishing to join ARIADNEplus and add their datasets to the Catalogue are most welcome: there is a specific program, called ARIADNEPlus Associates, to support them and to extend the ARIADNEPlus coverage to new repositories of archaeological datasets, expanding the ARIADNEPlus collaborative network within the archaeological research community.
Although most of the technology employed in ARIADNEplus concerns the data integration goals of the project, including the creation of a searchable catalogue and the development of a Linked Open Data approach, a key role is played by the data services which the project will make available. These range from tools for data analysis (e.g. for data mining and Natural Language Processing) and for data synthesis, (e.g. visualization of images and 3D, locating data on a map or in time, browsing the data using Linked Open Data, and so on). Such tools will enable researchers to effectively re-use the data made accessible through the ARIADNEplus Catalogue. It will be possible, for example, to search for data on a specific topic, refine the search by restricting the time and space scope, then collecting the search results in a virtual space and further process them using the ARIADNEplus services, in order to re-purpose them according to the re-user’s research question. It will also be possible to share this virtual environment with collaborators to carry out collaborative research. Thus, the ARIADNEplus cloud will become the first implementation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) in the archaeological and cultural heritage domain. We will also develop a number of pilot applications, to demonstrate service usage in exemplary cases.
The 41 ARIADNEplus partners come from 23 European countries, plus 4 international partners.