The Semantic Web and the Digital Archaeological Workflow: A Case Study from Sweden

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Paper delivered at "Opening the Past" conference, Pisa, June 2013

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The Semantic Web and the Digital Archaeological Workflow: A Case Study from Sweden

  1. 1. The Semantic Weband theDigital ArchaeologicalWorkflowA Case Study from SwedenMarcus Smithmarcus.smith@raa.se
  2. 2. SwedishOpenCulturalHeritage
  3. 3. SOCH• K-samsök –‘Cultural Cross-Search’
  4. 4. SOCH• K-samsök –‘Cultural Cross-Search’• Metadata aggregator &web service for culturalheritage institutions
  5. 5. SOCH• K-samsök –‘Cultural Cross-Search’• Metadata aggregator &web service for culturalheritage institutions• Monuments, buildings,museum collections…
  6. 6. SOCH• K-samsök –‘Cultural Cross-Search’• Metadata aggregator &web service for culturalheritage institutions• Monuments, buildings,museum collections…• 40 institutions(≈25–30 million triples)
  7. 7. SOCH• K-samsök –‘Cultural Cross-Search’• Metadata aggregator &web service for culturalheritage institutions• Monuments, buildings,museum collections…• 40 institutions• 4.7 million databaseobjects• 2.1 million artefacts• 880 thousand photographs• 830 thousand monuments• 440 thousand documents• 110 thousand historic buildings• 40 thousand personages• 2000 historical events• 1500 historic maps
  8. 8. SOCH• K-samsök –‘Cultural Cross-Search’• Metadata aggregator &web service for culturalheritage institutions• Monuments, buildings,museum collections…• 40 institutions• 4.7 million databaseobjects• From the Paleolithic…Paleolithic aurochs metatarsus – SHMM
  9. 9. SOCH• K-samsök –‘Cultural Cross-Search’• Metadata aggregator &web service for culturalheritage institutions• Monuments, buildings,museum collections…• 40 institutions• 4.7 million databaseobjects• From the Paleolithic…• …to the present dayCopper alloy bottle cap – SHMM
  10. 10. Harvesting, Linking &Dissemination• Object metadataharvested from thecontent provider usingOAI-PMHCultural HeritageInstitution’sDatabaseSOCHLocal SOCHadapterOAI-PMH
  11. 11. Harvesting, Linking &Dissemination• Object metadataharvested from thecontent provider usingOAI-PMH• The metadata is thenenriched with additionalsemantic links torelated objectsBurialmounddepicted bydescribed by found atArtefactDocumentPhotoVendelPerioddated to
  12. 12. Harvesting, Linking &Dissemination• Object metadataharvested from thecontent provider usingOAI-PMH• The metadata is thenenriched with additionalsemantic links torelated objects• Links can be manuallyadded (UGC)Burialmoundhas topicBookWikipediaArticledescribes
  13. 13. Harvesting, Linking &Dissemination• Object metadataharvested from thecontent provider usingOAI-PMH• The metadata is thenenriched with additionalsemantic links torelated objects• Links can be manuallyadded (UGC)• Available as RDF,queryable via an APISOCHApplicationRDF/XMLREST +CQLHTTP
  14. 14. Benefits of Linking• Linking facilitates cross-search
  15. 15. Benefits of Linking• Linking facilitates cross-search• Linking simplifiesdiscovery, and clarifiescontextObjectmetadataRelatedexternalobjectsImagesRelatedSOCHobjects
  16. 16. Benefits of Linking• Linking facilitates cross-search• Linking simplifiesdiscovery, and clarifiescontext• Linking allowsunanticipatedconnections appear! The old gallows (Galgberget), Visby – Riksantikvarieämbetet
  17. 17. Benefits of Linking• Linking facilitates cross-search• Linking simplifiesdiscovery, and clarifiescontext• Linking allowsunanticipatedconnections appear! The old gallows (Galgberget), Visby – Riksantikvarieämbetet’Galgberget: Memories of Wisby’ – Västergötlands Museum
  18. 18. SOCH as a Platform• SOCH as a platform fordevelopment
  19. 19. SOCH as a Platform• SOCH as a platform fordevelopment• Kringla: a web interfacehttp://kringla.nu/
  20. 20. SOCH as a Platform• SOCH as a platform fordevelopment• Kringla: a web interfacehttp://kringla.nu/• Mobile apps
  21. 21. SOCH as a Platform• SOCH as a platform fordevelopment• Kringla: a web interfacehttp://kringla.nu/• Mobile apps• Mashups
  22. 22. SOCH as a Platform• SOCH as a platform fordevelopment• Kringla: a web interfacehttp://kringla.nu/• Mobile apps• Mashups• Museum portals
  23. 23. SOCH as a Platform• SOCH as a platform fordevelopment• Kringla: a web interfacehttp://kringla.nu/• Mobile apps• Mashups• Museum portals• Over 225 million APIrequests since launchin 2010
  24. 24. Licensing & Reuse• Only metadata is indexed– all objects link back to apermanent URI at thesource institution withtheir full record
  25. 25. Licensing & Reuse• Only metadata is indexed– all objects link back to apermanent URI at thesource institution withtheir full record• All metadata is CC0
  26. 26. Licensing & Reuse• Only metadata is indexed– all objects link back to apermanent URI at thesource institution withtheir full record• All metadata is CC0• Metadata includeslicensing information forthe main record
  27. 27. Licensing & Reuse• Only metadata is indexed– all objects link back to apermanent URI at thesource institution withtheir full record• All metadata is CC0• Metadata includeslicensing information forthe main record• Of 1.8 million ‘rich’objects, 1.2 million areCC or PD
  28. 28. Licensing & Reuse• Only metadata is indexed– all objects link back to apermanent URI at thesource institution withtheir full record• All metadata is CC0• Metadata includeslicensing information forthe main record• Of 1.8 million ‘rich’objects, 1.2 million areCC or PD• SOCH is the Swedishnational aggregator forEuropeana
  29. 29. The Future of SOCH• More institutions deliveringdata
  30. 30. The Future of SOCH• More institutions deliveringdata• SPARQL endpoint
  31. 31. The Future of SOCH• More institutions deliveringdata• SPARQL endpoint• Ultimately, we’d like it ifSOCH in its current formwasn’t needed – if eachinstitution made their owndata available as SPARQL-queryable RDF on thesemantic web.SOCHAPI
  32. 32. The Future of SOCH• More institutions deliveringdata• SPARQL endpoint• Ultimately, we’d like it ifSOCH in its current formwasn’t needed – if eachinstitution made their owndata available as SPARQL-queryable RDF on thesemantic web.
  33. 33. The DigitalArchaeological Workflow(DAP)
  34. 34. The Problem• No central fieldworkregister
  35. 35. The Problem• No central fieldworkregister• No central digitalarchive forarchaeological data’Charles Babb parts storage’ – SDASM (flickr)
  36. 36. The Problem• No central fieldworkregister• No central digitalarchive forarchaeological data• Digital availability offieldwork reports patchy
  37. 37. The Problem• No central fieldworkregister• No central digitalarchive forarchaeological data• Digital availability offieldwork reports patchy• Existing resources notlinked ’silos’ – Doc Searls (flickr)
  38. 38. The Problem• No central fieldworkregister• No central digitalarchive forarchaeological data• Digital availability offieldwork reports patchy• Existing resources notlinked• Inefficient informationtransfer(digital → paper → digital)The Output Unit.How It Works: The Computer – Ladybird Books
  39. 39. Consequences• Information describing thesame thing is spreadacross several unrelateddata sources• The relationshipsbetween different objectsare either absent or notdescribed• Digital information is stillprocessed according toan analogue paradigm,causing friction• Duplication of effort• Responsibility forinformation managementunclear amongstakeholders• Information is difficult tofind, and lacks greatercontext• Acute need for a digitalarchive
  40. 40. Goals for DAP• Fully digitised seamlessinformation transfer
  41. 41. Goals for DAP• Fully digitised seamlessinformation transfer• Digital archive forarchaeological data’CERN storage servers’ – skimaniac (flickr)
  42. 42. Goals for DAP• Fully digitised seamlessinformation transfer• Digital archive forarchaeological data• Access to source data
  43. 43. Goals for DAP• Fully digitised seamlessinformation transfer• Digital archive forarchaeological data• Access to source data• Semantically linked data‘Anchor Men of the Mauretania’Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (flickr)
  44. 44. Goals for DAP• Fully digitised seamlessinformation transfer• Digital archive forarchaeological data• Access to source data• Semantically linked data• Openly licensed,reusable data’Come in We’re Open’ – jilleatsapples (flickr)
  45. 45. Goals for DAP• Fully digitised seamlessinformation transfer• Digital archive forarchaeological data• Access to source data• Semantically linked data• Openly licensed,reusable data• Centralised ‘events’(fieldwork) register’Come in We’re Open’ – jilleatsapples (flickr)
  46. 46. Each monument has its own URILinks to:- monument survey data- reports, grey literature- GIS data, or scanned material- Objects, small finds- Photos, plans, drawings- Post-ex lab analysesNationalMonumensRegisterEvents +FieldworkregisterFieldworkdocumentationReports, media(Samla)Finds(Museums)SOCHMapserverSearch interfaceMap-basedsearchWikipediaObjectsMonumentsurvey dataFieldworkdataRequest ResponsePhotos, plans, drawingsCouncildecisionsOther datasources…Biblio-graphy(Libris)PlatsrMetadatasearchEvents feedUGCResults: SpatialMapUGC
  47. 47. Event-orientedMonuments Register• The national monumentsregister is a register ofmonuments(!)’Ottarshögen in the parish of Vendel, Uppland, 1979’Upplandsmuseet (Kringla)
  48. 48. Event-orientedMonuments Register• The national monumentsregister is a register ofmonuments(!)• Not so mucharchaeological events:survey, excavations,inventories, etcArchaeological event: kittens!A cooking pit; Straumen, Inderøya, Nord-TrøndelagNTNU Vitenskapsmuseet (flickr)
  49. 49. Event-orientedMonuments Register• The national monumentsregister is a register ofmonuments(!)• Not so mucharchaeological events:survey, excavations,inventories, etc• The information that doesexist is unstructured,making it difficult tosearch and reuse.’bricks’ – Judy van der Velden (flickr)
  50. 50. Event-orientedMonuments RegisterMain problem:• It’s difficult to find the resultsfrom archaeologicalinvestigations (events whichaffect ancient monuments) – oreven if such events haveoccurred!…because:• We lack (a system for)structured information aboutarchaeological eventsSolution:• Objects describing eventsmust be semantically linked tothe monuments they concern• Monuments gain a traceable‘biography’ in the registerBenefits:• Because this is linked data, wecan for example connect the‘event’ of an excavation of asite to the field documentation,reports, and finds it generates
  51. 51. FieldworkDocumentation• Overwhelming majority ofexcavations in Swedenuse a common digitalfield recording system:Intrasis
  52. 52. FieldworkDocumentation• Overwhelming majority ofexcavations in Swedenuse a common digitalfield recording system:Intrasis• So most adhere to acommon schema
  53. 53. FieldworkDocumentation• Overwhelming majority ofexcavations in Swedenuse a common digitalfield recording system:Intrasis• So most adhere to acommon schema• Intrasis is an OOdatabase• Lends itself well toexpression as RDFObjectAttribute 1Attribute 2Attribute 3…
  54. 54. FieldworkDocumentation• Overwhelming majority ofexcavations in Swedenuse a common digitalfield recording system:Intrasis• So most adhere to acommon schema• Intrasis is an OOdatabase• Lends itself well toexpression as RDFObjectSubjectPredicate
  55. 55. FieldworkDocumentation• Overwhelming majority ofexcavations in Swedenuse a common digitalfield recording system:Intrasis• So most adhere to acommon schema• Intrasis is an OOdatabase• Lends itself well toexpression as RDF• So the potential exists forcross-searchableexcavation data on thecontext level
  56. 56. FieldworkDocumentation• Overwhelming majority ofexcavations in Swedenuse a common digitalfield recording system:Intrasis• So most adhere to acommon schema• Intrasis is an OOdatabase• Lends itself well toexpression as RDF• So the potential exists forcross-searchableexcavation data on thecontext level• …with links to supportingdata elsewhere, e.g. GIS,& field survey data;sample & environmentaldata with SEAD, etc.
  57. 57. What’s next?• Internal review of our systems andprocesses• Internal and external modelling ofconcepts and processes• Draw up a common information model tobetter manage digital archaeological data• Plan a new system architecture• Draw up ontologies/taxonomies for variousSwedish heritage concepts and createlinkable authorities
  58. 58. What’s next?• Not intending to reinvent the wheel – aimto apply existing standards and modelswhere possible – CIDOC-CRM, SWORD,etc• There is no ‘perfect’ solution, and we can’tsolve everything in one go• But we aim to have the rudiments in placeduring 2015
  59. 59. SOCH http://ksamsok.se/http://kringla.nu/DAP http://www.raa.se/kulturarvet/arkeologi-fornlamningar-och-fynd/den-digitala-arkeologiska-produktionskedjan/http://goo.gl/4o6hmhttp://www.raa.se/marcus.smith@raa.se

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