Access to data, interoperability and standard structure are vital to guarantee the usability and usefulness of Cultural Heritage records, as yet digitally archived in a myriad of different ways, stored separately from each other and dispersed, as the material culture they refer to, in huge quantity of different institutions.
In archaeological research a plethora of national documentation standards exist. Sometimes they are enforced by national regulations, as is the case in Italy or the Netherlands; in several other cases there is no national provision of a “standard” documentation system. In almost all cases, regulations are interpreted by individual archaeological researchers in the most diverse ways and lead to as many documentation standards as archaeologists, for instance by adding some field in forms, systematically not filling others, albeit prescribed, etc.
The AMA project proposes a way to escape this confusion to foster the adoption of standards. The so-called CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) will guide this process. AMA will map other “standards” to CIDOC-CRM and showcase that this creates no additional problems, on the contrary gives the advantages of interoperability.
CIDOC-CRM provides definitions and a formal structure for describing the implicit and explicit concepts and relationships used in cultural heritage documentation. Since CIDOC-CRM is well dealing with museum collections, while work is still to be done for archaeological excavation data, the AMA project will develop a tool for semi-automated mapping to CIDOC.
The AMA project will provide a flexible Open Source tool support for mapping existing datasets, as archaeological excavation data, museum collections (based on diverse data structures as well as non-structured data, i.e. text descriptions) to a CIDOC-CRM compatible form, suitable for data interchange and to aid interoperability between existing and future repositories. It will additionally generate from such mapping the necessary information to convert individual datasets to the common, CIDOC-CRM compliant structure. This will allow the use of interoperable tools e.g. for search. AMA will also promote multi-lingual accessibility to the CRM.
AMA will provide an initial set of mappings from a number of currently used national or official standards that should cover a substantial amount of system currently in use, allowing also for small variations and providing a guideline for further mapping implementations. It will start from a survey of ongoing projects on documentation standards. One of AMA’s explicit goals is to stimulate the adoption of CIDOC-CRM as reference model by heritage professionals and heritage policy makers, showcasing the bi-directional equivalence between it and existing national or de-facto standards and providing the tools to implement such mapping.
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