Large-scale open data integration in archaeology: challenges and prospects

S1: Open Science in Archaeology: Impact & Significance | Keynote presentation
  • Julian Richards
    University of York

Research e-infrastructures, digital archives, and data services have become important pillars of scientific enterprise that in recent decades has become ever more collaborative, distributed, and data intensive. The archaeological research community has been an early adopter of digital tools for data acquisition, organization, analysis, and presentation of research results of individual projects. However, the provision of e-infrastructure and services for data sharing, discovery, access, and re-use has lagged behind. In the UK the Archaeology Data Service was established in 1996, and other countries have followed with their own archaeological repositories. But the international situation is still very patchy with some countries still reluctant to provide open access to heritage data, and others lacking capacity and expertise. The EU-funded ARIADNE e-infrastructure has begun to address this, enabling data providers to register and provide open access to resources through the ARIADNE data portal, facilitating discovery, access, and Open Science research.

By the end of 2022 ARIADNE has aggregated resources from over 30 data providers, spanning over 50 countries and 4 continents, and had changed attitudes to open data across much of Europe and beyond. The portal provides online access to some 3.5 million research resources. However, it is equally important that we do not simply create another data silo, just larger than previous efforts. The ARIADNE Knowledge Base is therefore based upon Linked Open Data technologies and is underpinned by a flexible and extensible architecture. We have also taken care not simply to “make a great heap” of all the data and, learning from previous data aggregation projects, we have defined a sub-set of the CIDOC-CRM as a strict ontology and paid close attention to data standards and controlled vocabularies to achieve a high level of interoperability. This paper will discuss some of the challenges of large-scale data integration and describe the approaches adopted to ensure that the ARIADNE Knowledge Base is an effective tool for resource discovery and Open Science research in Archaeology.