Archaeological information system of the Czech Republic: towards open data and research

S1: Open Science in Archaeology: Impact & Significance | Standard presentation

The Archaeological information system of the Czech Republic (AIS CR, is a core infrastructure of Czech archaeology. It integrates digital services and resources aimed at various stakeholders, e. g. the general public, professional archaeologists, memory institutions, and researchers. AIS CR fundamental mission is to enable “Open Science Archaeology” by providing FAIR data documenting current and past archaeological fieldworks including excavations, surveys, metal detecting finds, etc. Currently, AIS CR publishes more than 150,000 records on fieldwork events and documents, including 25,000 aerial images, 75,000 excavation reports, and more. The information in the AIS CR covers the area of the Czech Republic from ca. the first half of the 19th century.

Essential parts of the AIS CR infrastructure are: (1) the central database and its data entry interface, the Archaeological Map of the Czech Republic (AMCR); (2) a web-based application Digital Archive of the AMCR, where all available data and documents are published; and (3) a public API providing metadata records using the OpenArchives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH).

The talk briefly introduces these parts of the system, underlying logic, and processes, and focuses mainly on the implemented data model and a consideration of its strengths and constraints, particularly with data reuse in mind. Furthermore, the accessibility of metadata through the API will be discussed, especially concerning the limitations of OAI-PMH. Presently, the major restraint is that the API solution does not provide ways to effectively perform filtering on the data, thus pushing the prospective data reusers to query and reconstruct the whole database. For now, this drawback is partially balanced by the accessibility of AIS CR data through the Ariadne infrastructure and its services.

Although the whole process of digitization and the opening of Czech archaeology started some ten years ago, there are still numerous challenges ahead of us. The goal of the talk is to position the AIS CR as a national archaeology data infrastructure in a broader discussion of “Open Science Archaeology”, and evaluate what we did well and what steps introduced limitations further along the way.