This update from the working group on Open Data in Archaeology is brought to you by Nicole Beale and Leif Isaksen. Nicole is a PhD candidate based in the Archaeological Computing Research Group and the Web Science Research Group, University of Southampton. Leif is a Research Fellow in the Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton.

As 2011 draws to an end, it seemed timely to put together a quick update on a year’s happenings around Open Archaeology, as well as providing a brief overview of upcoming events relating to open access within the discipline, and sector of Archaeology.

Forthcoming 2012 Open Archaeology Events

Over the next six months, there are a few events that will contribute to the on-going effort to promote the importance of open access, open data, and open knowledge with Archaeology. In particular, the annual Computing Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Conference 2012, which is being hosted by the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton in the UK (26-30th March 2012) will include a number of prominent ‘Open Archaeology’ events:

  • Nicole Beale and Leif Isaksen (disclaimer: this is us!) will be chairing a session that is intended to provide a showcase for projects and theory related to the subject of Open Content in Archaeology. The session intends to cover legal and practical issues and end with a discussion of lessons learned and future action.
    Session details: The Shoulders of Giants: Open Content in Archaeology
  • Matteo Romanello , Felix Schäfer and Reinhard Förtsch will be chairing a session considering the use of linked open data for the study of the ancient world, considering opportunities and challenges represented by issues such as publication of data, use of live applications, digital libraries and URIs of objects.
    Session details: Linked Open Data for the Ancient World

There are also numerous other sessions that will be including papers covering open data. The call for abstracts has been extended until the 7th December 2011, so please do submit soon if you are planning to contribute to these sessions! CAA abstract submission details.

In an exciting development, CAA2012 introduces the annual CAA Recycle Award. CAA Recycle Award seeks to recognise those who “breathe new life into old data”, and will be presently jointly to:

  • The best exemplar of data re-use at a CAA International Conference (the recycler)
  • The project or institution that made available the source dataset/s (the originator/s).

To follow the CAA2012 twitter account, use the hashtag #caa2012 or the user account @caasoton.

There has been much work to advertise the benefits of open access in archaeology, and the forthcoming events continue this great trend.

Outline of Open Archaeology of 2011

So, a quick review of 2011 follows. I have picked out some notable projects and events here, but by no means have I intended to cover all of the great open content/access/data/science Archaeology projects and events that occurred in 2011. If I have missed any useful references, please do submit them to this post via the comments thread below.

On 24th March, the PELAGIOS (Pelagios: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata In Open Systems) project, which uses Linked Open Data to refer to places in the ancient world, ran a workshop at Kings College London, on Linking Open GeoData in the Humanities. The workshop covered three key themes: referencing ancient and contemporary places online, lightweight ontology approaches, and methods for generating, publishing and consuming compliant data. Gregory Marler’s workshop write-up provides a useful summary.

In April, the Research Information Network’s report “Reinventing research? Information practices in the humanities, which provided case studies for discovery and use of information, mentioned COPAC (an open access catalogue, integrating numerous databases), and put forward open access journals as a desirable dissemination practice.

In mid-May the Workshop “Archaeologists & the Digital: Towards Strategies of Engagement” with the Centre for Audio Visual Study and Practice in Archaeology and the Archaeology and Communication Research Network, at UCL Institute of Archaeology, included presentations and discussions on the benefits of open access or Archaeology. In particular, Brian Hole’s presentation, ‘Open Access and Open Data – and why they matter for archaeology’, covered the opportunities open access provides for collaboration and research not previously possible. Hole discussed the potential of repositories and appropriate licensing. Hole’s presentation is available through Prezi, and Daniel Pett’s write-up of the workshop is available through the 7 Pillars of Wisdom blog. If you have access to the Public Archaeology journal, there is also a review article covering the event by Pett available there. Reference: D. Pett, “Review Article. Archaeologists & the Digital: Towards Strategies of Engagement. A workshop of The Centre for Audio-Visual Study and Practice in Archaeology and the Archaeology and Communication Research Network at UCL Institute of Archaeology, 26th May 2011,” Public Archaeology, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 119-127, May. 2011.

In the summer, the Archaeology Data Service released as part of Data Train, a set of open access teaching materials for the management of research data for Archaeology postgraduate students.

The excellent Day of Archaeology on 29th July, in which over 400 archaeologists participated, included numerous references to the benefits of open access and open data. Some of those posts are included below:

In September, Ant Beck presented the Detection of Archaeological Residues using remote sensing Techniques (DART) project, which embraces an Open Science approach, at the British Science Festival (read the press pack here).

In this same month, the British Museum released a semantic web endpoint to the Collection Online search tool. The press release on the ResearchSpace site told us that “The Museum is the first UK arts organisation to instigate a Semantic Web version of its collection data. The new service brings the British Museum into the ‘linked data’ world and will allow software developers to produce their own applications that can directly manipulate and reuse the data.” The collection data has been mapped to the CIDOC-CRM, and is available on the Collection Space of the British Museum.

In October, the e-journal Internet Archaeology (which is based on a hybrid open access model) went totally open access as part of Open Access Week (24-30th October). Press releases, and mailing list messages informed readers that this was in anticipation of plans to “move fully towards a sustainable Open Access (OA) model.”

Phew, quite an eventful year. Here’s to 2012 providing as many, if not more, excellent opportunities to promote open access, open data, open science, and open knowledge in Archaeology. I for one am most excited about the CAA2012, where I am sure that we will see many great open data examples.

Nicole Beale and Leif Isaksen

Coarse Glazed Ware IV

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Stefano Costa is the coordinator of the Working Group on Open Data in Archaeology at the Open Knowledge Foundation.

When he's not busy with the OKFN, he's doing a PhD in Late Antique Archaeology at the University of Siena.