The Open Context project, “a free, open access resource for the electronic publication of primary field research from archaeology and related disciplines”, was officially launched back on January the 29th:

In April 2006, we proudly launched the Beta version of Open Context, our new open access publication system that enables researchers to distribute their primary field data, notes, and media (images, maps, drawings, videos) on the World Wide Web. Open Context provides an easy to use, yet powerful, framework for exploring, searching, and analyzing excavation results, survey data, and museum collections. Open Context represents an important advance. For the first time, research data can be pooled, compared and explored in a “Web 2.0” system that enables the community to add value, organization, and meaning to the content. Open Context was developed over two years with a series of grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Open Context currently contains over 100,000 items from ten projects, including over 2000 images from sites in Turkey and Iraq. Projects range from comparative collections to archaeological excavation data to slide collections. Of particular interest to users is that each item in the Open Context database can have multiple, high-quality images associated with it. The searchability and easy access to these images provides an excellent resource for teaching. …

I remember chatting with Eric Kansa, the main driver behind the project, back in early 2005 when it was entitled ‘AnthroCommons’ and still at the planning stage so it is great how much has been done in the two years since then. It is also especially good to see that they’ve used an open license (CC by-sharealike) and that there is such an emphasis on making raw material available.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.