Open School of Archaeological Data

MIndHere we are! At the MAPPA Lab preparing the last details (not so little, sigh) for the first Open School of Archaeological Data.

This year we decided to offer a free opportunity to 10 scholars to work with archaeological open data. We’ll start next Monday (July, 14th) and we’ll finish on Friday (July, 18th). We received 37 applications. The quality was really high, so we admitted 4 more students at the school. We believe this as a great responsibility: 14 archaeologists want to study how to find, to download, to use, to reuse, to publish data in open formats.

We have an ambitious project: to create a new generation of Italian archaeologists a collaborative generation able to work with a trowel, and to share and manipulate data, because we believe that archaeological data are public, are expensive to produce and for this they must be recycled.

We don’t want to teach, but to share our experience. We’ll have in front of us a little group of young scholars with a relevant starting curriculum; they must share their experience between them and with us.

For the first step we’ll be transforming data from native formats to more useful formats, for example using Tabula for liberating tables locked inside pdf files, or making web data extraction easily with software like . After the data mining, we will work with OpenRefine, a powerful tool for working with messy data: is there someone that thinks that archaeological data aren’t messy? We will clean and transform them from one format into another; we’ll geocode tabular data starting from a simple address and analyse the spatial properties of archaeological data. In 2002, Wheatly and Gillings wrote that «Contrary to popular mythology, contemporary professional archaeologists may spend more time using GIS than a trowel». Using qGIS we’ll explore the archaeological data, and with the help of the mathematician Nevio Dubbini we’ll apply to them statistical, geostatistical and mathematical models,

Working with data is useful only if archaeologists will be able to communicate their result to the archaeological community, but mainly to the community of the citizens: archaeologists have a public role in modern society that data can reinforce. So, Francesca Anichini will lead us in the world of storytelling: how to visualise the data via infographics or through graphs that permit to explore networks and complex systems in a dynamic manner using Gephi, whilst Fabio Viola will talk about Datagamification (an exciting topic!).

Archaeologists are open data user, but also open data producer: Matteo Lorenzini will lead us in the world of metadata and Linked Open Data, whilst Francesca Anichini will make us aware of the ethical and legal aspects connected with the opening of the archaeological data and of the importance of using licenses.

Is this geek archaeology? Maybe, but we are all living in geek world!