Archives du mot-clé Archéo & DH

CAA-2014-S07: Emeline Le Goff, Olivier Marlet, Xavier Rodier, Philippe Husi. The interoperability of the ArSol database (Soil Archives)

The interoperability of the ArSol database (Soil Archives)

Reflections and feedbacks experiences on the use of the CIDOC-CRM ontology and the integration of thesauri

Emeline LE GOFF
Olivier MARLET
Philippe HUSI


Presentation held at the CAA2014, session Ontologies and Standards for improving Interoperability of Archaeological Data :


The structure of the Arsol database (CAA 2008, pdf): Husi_Rodier_CAA2008-ArSol


The ArSol system (Soil Archives) was developed by the “Archéologie et Territoires” Laboratory (CNRS – Tours University) for processing archaeological data. It can be used for all stratigraphic excavations and has the dual purpose of data management and research. Since its elaboration in 1990, access to data constituted one of the priorities. The software used for the DataBase Management System (DBMS) is 4th Dimension TM (4D). It was chosen because it enables a client/server and multi-platform application and can be accessed via the internet.


Joining the trend of exchanges of data and interoperability of applications, ArSol will become a system in compliance with computing standards, both in its technical aspects (ontology) and semantic aspects (thesaurus). In this perspective, we are a partner of the MASA consortium (Memory of the archaeologists and the archaeological sites) which aims towards a unified access to digitized corpuses, and is interested in the CIDOC-CRM (Conceptual Reference Model of the International Committee of Documentation).

In this context, the complexity of ArSol then becomes a difficulty: as it was elaborated in order to take into account the needs for stratigraphic and artifact data as well as to the whole documentation constituting excavations archives, this system was constructed as an open system; it is flexible and above all not conditioned by the integration of predefined thesauri. Wishing not to modify the conception logic of the recording structure of ArSol which is based on the manual stratigraphic recording system in use since 1969 on excavations in Tours, it was decided to develop an additional module in order to satisfy interoperability requirements.

The first step consists in the selection of the main information included in ArSol: features and artifacts. Secondly, a stage of mapping aims to establishing the correspondences between fields necessary for the use of the CIDOC-CRM standard and the available fields in our application. In 2014, the integration of the CRM in the database ArSol will thus be realized through a module allowing to export a selection of data towards a RDF version built according to the CIDOC-CRM and structuring as well the value of fields endowed with list of values. This last operation aims at insuring a compatibility with thesauri used by the community of the Social and Human Sciences – in particular PACTOLS. Joined into the ArSol-CRM module, these reference tables will constitute a footbridge to allow outer users to reach all the connected information, listed in ArSol.

 To summarise, this paper will present our reflections as for the construction of the ArSol-CRM ontology, and the methods used to manage semantic equivalences within the framework of the compatibility with thesauri. This experience raises numerous questions around the perspectives and around the sustainability of the development of this kind of specific application, in particular in the field of archaeology. It is part of a valuation practice of the data while respecting their integrity and without forgetting their intrinsic purpose which is to answer research questions at the scale of a site or of a territory.

Emeline Le Goff, Olivier Marlet, Xavier Rodier, Philippe Husi
UMR 7324 CITERES-LAT. Université François Rabelais, Tours

CAA-2014-S07: Frank Lynam. addressing the standards question in archaeological digital data management using Linked Open Data addressing the standards question in archaeological digital data management using Linked Open Data



Presentation held at the CAA2014, session Ontologies and Standards for improving Interoperability of Archaeological Data



The employment of standards by the archaeological digital data management community is by no means the logical and uncontentious design decision that it might at first appear. Whether one chooses to side with the pro or anti standards camps says a lot about their fundamental beliefs on how archaeology should be practiced. On the pro side, standards promise to greatly ease the load of the archaeologist who seeks out broad-ranging generalities and patterns within the material record of the past. For this group, the archaeological method exists within the positivist scientific space; data is fed into processes and truths are produced at the other end. On the other side of the argument, advocates of the postmodernist archaeological method eschew the very constraint and simplicity that the pro-standards camp craves. Insight, for this second group, can only be arrived at through a process of informed contextual and specific analysis; what works for one material-set by definition cannot explain and provide structure for the material of another point in space or time. Therefore, the standard for the postprocessualist is a potentially deterministic methodological tool that is not to be trusted and one that should be avoided as much as is practically possible.

As an archaeologist, I have struggled with the implications of this methodological reality since entering the discipline. At a philosophical level, I see myself as a hermeneutic archaeologist of the Hodder-Shanks-Tilley school of thought and yet as an every-day practitioner of archaeological digital data management, I am drawn to the structure and clarity that the standard promises, and I would suspect that this internal dilemma is not unique to myself. This paper presents a summary of my digital data management investigations over the last number of years within the context of this debate. Specifically, I am interested in how the principles of Linked Open Data might be implemented to alleviate some of these tensions. is a LOD-compliant server architecture that I have designed to implement the theoretical positions generated by my research. Data is housed within a relational database core and is exposed to the digital world as a part of the greater data mesh that we know as the Semantic Web.’s data is semantically transparent, being structured by public ontologies. A web app frontend consumes and contributes to the data housed within the core. The test dataset for the project comes from the excavation and post-excavation records from Priniatikos Pyrgos, a highly complex multi-period site in East Crete. The challenge of designing the web app and the underlying server architecture has been manifest in the provision of a level of structure that the complexity of the data necessitates, while also allowing for the interpretive scope demanded by the researchers active on the project. As such, it is a very practical example of an implementation of cutting edge LOD technology within archaeology that has required a constant attention to the philosophical questions that surround this space.

Frank Lynam
Trinity College, Dublin