No information provider is an island, and the ADS sails in international waters. Metadata standards such as Dublin Core and communications protocols such as Z39.50 are developed on a cross-disciplinary international basis and if ADS is to work effectively at national level it also needs to be aware of, and participate in, international initiatives.
A major grant from the European Commission under the Culture2000 programme is allowing the ADS to take the lead in one such partnership. The ARENA (Archaeological Records of Europe- Network Access) Project is a three-year project which aims to extend online access and digital preservation of European archaeological archives. The project, which started in late December 2001, is now in its initial phases. The ADS has signed a cooperation agreement with the National Museum of Denmark, the Norwegian Museum Project in Oslo, Fornleifastofnun Islands in Reykavik, CIMEC (The Institute for Cultural Memory), in Bucharest, Romania, and Poznan Archaeological Museum, in Poland.
Though the partners each have shared interests, they also bring different strengths. The National Museum of Denmark has a formidable reputation for public involvement using new technologies, while the Musem Documentation project has gained considerable experience of structured mark-up, in particular XML. The Archaeological Museum in Poznan and CIMEC in Romania, who were partners in the ArchTerra project, have developed expertise of multilingual computing, while the Fornleifastofnun Islands in Reykavik bring a broad knowledge of cultural management beyond the bounds of conventional heritage management. The ADS, in turn, has expertise in digital preservation and interoperability.
The partners will undertake various activities in order to share best practice and develop training, including the organisation of European workshops in digital preservation, as well as providing online access to a number of significant archaeological archives. We will collaborate on several research projects, including the development of a European map-based search engine, and investigation of XML as a web mark-up language for archaeological archives.
Jon Kenny has been appointed as European Project Officer and will be writing more about ARENA in future editions of ADS News. The first points in Jon's workplan are setting up a joint meeting of the partners, and a conference session on digital data at the next meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in Thessaloniki in September. Jon, previously a project officer with the York Archaeological Trust, is a graduate of the University of York and has completed a PhD at the University of Lancaster. In time, he will collaborate with assistants in each of the partners, but he will ultimately be responsible for co-ordinating their activities, and reporting back to the EC on the completion of the various work packages.
Dr Julian Richards
For enquiries about ARENA, contact Jon Kenny email