I recently had the honour of being invited to participate as a tutor in a summer school on the curation of archaeological datasets organised by the Digital Curation Unit of the Athena Research Centre for ARIADNE.  The school took place in Athens from the 12th to 17 June this year.  Case study presentations The participants at the school included both early stage researchers, experienced archaeologists and experts in digital curation from Lithuania, Italy, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria, Greece and Canada.

The aim of the school was to focus on curating archaeological data from fieldwork projects, museum object collections, commercial and community archaeology, and the issues around making legacy data from past projects accessible to archaeologists and scholars today and in the future.

In addition to lecturers introducing specific topics the young researchers taking part in the school were invited to present their case studies and to describe the challenges that they are facing in working with their datasets.  A really interesting set of projects (covering numismatics, ceramics, cremation burials, place names and the web of maps, conceptual modelling and integrating the fieldwork legacy of hundreds of field teams) were introduced and worked on throughout the school in a series of sprints.  All the participants were divided into groups to focus in depth on particular case and then worked together to develop a “solution space” or plan to meet the challenges, which was presented by the researchers on day four.

Data transfer group_Neil Ferris photoOn the formal side, I presented the work carried out to develop the CARARE metadata schema.  I described some of the choices that we made and the issues we faced in developing a schema to integrate archaeological and architectural heritage inventories from 25 different countries.  In my lecture I introduced some of the work that we’ve done with controlled vocabularies, time and space.

The final day-and-a-half comprised of an expert forum, which set out to explore the future of archaeological curation based on the legacy of data and resources from past (and future) projects.  Costis Dallas began the session by asking ‘is archaeology in serious trouble or does it stand on the threshold of new advances?’

The forum then focussed on some of the challenges and advances that can be foreseen for the discipline such as advances in knowledge representation, communication and visualisation, sustainability and openness of data.  On the final day we were divided into groups to discuss our vision for the archaeological digital curation infrastructures of the future!

You can read more about the summer school on the ARIADNE website: http://www.ariadne-infrastructure.eu/News/DCAK2016-summer-school