Open Archeology

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= Open Archaeology - a philosophy, some software, a commitment to adopting and developing standards, making archaeological knowledge free to access, a passion. Open Archaeology is all of these.



"Data sharing does present a new set of technical, conceptual, and incentive problems. Excavation results, specialist analyses, and museum collection databases are highly variable and often complex (Kintigh 2006). Nevertheless, there has been great progress on many of the technical and conceptual problems involved in pooling and integrating the complex and unstandardized data generated by researchers. The Etana Digital Library project (Etana-DL), led by James Flanagan and digital library pioneer Edward Fox, has successfully demonstrated a data-mediation system that uses software to translate local data structures to a more general data structure. This mediation enables Etana-DL to provide interoperability and integrated search, browse, and analysis tools for several Near Eastern excavation datasets (Flanagan et al. 2004). Dean Snow and colleagues advocate developing advanced text-mining systems to extract comparative data from archaeological reports, including “grey literature” documentation generated from CRM activities (Snow et al. 2006). Following the model of other scientific disciplines, the National Science Foundation recently awarded a group led by Keith Kintigh and colleagues a large “cyber-infrastructure” grant to stimulate data integration and sharing in archaeology. This project is now in its initial stages and aims to begin by developing ontologies for zooarchaeology. Ontologies are formally defined conceptual systems and are often used to support the integration of multiple datasets within a discipline.

Other working systems are now coming online, including two related systems, the University of Chicago OCHRE project [ and Open Context [ Both systems share the same data architecture described by the Archaeological Markup Language (ArchaeoML) and both have similar capabilities for integrating and pooling complex and media-rich archaeological documentation (Schloen 2001; Kansa 2005). While OCHRE provides sophisticated data management tools targeted for active research projects, Open Context (Figure 1) is aimed at streamlined, Web-based access and retrieval of excavation and collections-related content. Funding for the development of Open Context came from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as part of their Education Program’s effort to make high-quality instructional resources freely available on the Web.

Open Context enables researchers to publish their primary field data, notes, and media (images, maps, drawings, videos) on the World Wide Web. It provides an easy to use, yet powerful, online database for exploring, searching, and analyzing multiple excavation results, survey datasets, and museum collections. These diverse datasets can be explored by browsing through a map or through different search options. Open Context is built with standard but powerful Web technologies (MySQL and PHP), making it easy to integrate with a host of other Web services, including weblogs, e-journals, and commercial search engines. Search engine discovery is becoming an increasingly significant factor in determining the impact and uptake of research (Jensen 2005; Vaughan and Shaw 2005)." (

More Information

see: Open Context, an Open Access resource for the electronic publication of primary field research from archaeology and related disciplines [1]