Digital Ecosystem For The French Archaeological Community

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Xavier Rodier

    CITERES-LAT - CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Huma-Num - CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Université de Tours

  2. 2. Olivier Marlet

    CITERES-LAT - CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Huma-Num - CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), Université de Tours

Work text
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Created in 2012, the Mémoires des Archéologues et des Sites Archéologiques (MASA) Consortium has been certified by the Very Large Research Infrastructure Huma-Num. MASA was born from the experience acquired by and within several Maisons des Sciences de l'Homme in the field of processing the documentation produced by archaeologists. MASA's partners have pooled their skills to meet the needs of the archaeological community. The issues identified are multiple and involve several levels of complexity intertwined.
The first level of complexity is related to the nature of the discipline itself: by digging, the archaeologist irreparably destroys his own object of study, even with a rigorous protocol for recording data during their production, the experiment is not reproducible. This places a particular responsibility on the archaeologist and gives his records the status of primary data. The return to this data is often necessary for comparative purposes and reinterpretation.
The second issue is related to the nature of the documentation and its supports, which are very diversified and sometimes very fragile (field notebooks, surveys, plans, plans, photographs, pencil surveys on layers, etc.) and whose digitization should facilitate consultation and storage. The excavation archives are made up of these various recordings and the artifacts collected, which represent a considerable mass of material elements. As the two are inseparable, information systems must ensure that the link between them is maintained.
The third challenge stems from the habit of archaeologists to work with heterogeneous databases, often designed without a methodological and technical choice protocol. Ex-post work is therefore necessary to make these databases standardised and interoperable (RDF, SKOS, DC), to use common repositories that make it possible to consider linking these data on the web of data, to document them with new metadata where appropriate, to enrich them and to facilitate access while ensuring their sustainability.
To meet these objectives, the MASA consortium proposes to the archaeological community a process of data manipulation from acquisition to publication according to a systemic approach that respects FAIR principles. The MASA ecosystem is composed of bricks for archiving and sharing archaeological data sets. Once processed, documented and standardized, the archaeological data sets are put online according to the standards in force (XML, TEI, EAD...). Standardised repositories are used for spatial (GeoNames), temporal (PeriodO) and descriptive (PACTOLS via the OpenTheso thesaurus manager) information. The OpenArchaeo platform ensures their interoperability in a MASA triplestore and allows their interrogation via a simplified HMI that translates requests into SPARQL according to a generic model for mapping archaeological data with the CIDOC CRM ontology. The data are accessible from the publications that mobilize them. The LogicistWriter logicist writing tool offers the matching of inferences with the CIDOC CRMinf extension on reasoning. Each step of the process is documented by a good practice guide in the OpenGuide platform developed for this purpose.
The whole process will be illustrated by the example of the excavation in Rigny (France), which follows all these recommendations from the field recording put online to the logicist publication of the results (Marlet et al., 2019).
With this digital ecosystem, the MASA consortium relies on the data culture of archaeologists and their long experience in computerization to bring the community to respect the FAIR principles and to open these corpus in the Linked Open Data.


Marlet, O., Zadora-Rio, E., Buard, P.-Y., Markhoff, B. and Rodier, X. (2019). The Archaeological Excavation Report of Rigny: An Example of an Interoperable Logicist Publication.
Heritage 2019, 2(1), 761-773;

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