Arachne (Archaeological Database)
Arachne is the central object-database
A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

 of the German Archaeological Institute
German Archaeological Institute
The German Archaeological Institute is an institution of research within the field of archaeology , and a "scientific corporation", with parentage of the federal Foreign Office of Germany-Origin:...

 (DAI). In 2004 the DAI and the Cologne Digital Archaeology Laboratory (CoDArchLab) at the University of Cologne
University of Cologne
The University of Cologne is one of the oldest universities in Europe and, with over 44,000 students, one of the largest universities in Germany. The university is part of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, an association of Germany's leading research universities...

 (FA) joined the effort to support Arachne as a tool for free internet-based research.


Arachne's database design uses a model that builds on one of the most basic assumptions one can make about archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, classical archaeology
Classical archaeology
Classical archaeology is the archaeological investigation of the great Mediterranean civilizations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Nineteenth century archaeologists such as Heinrich Schliemann were drawn to study the societies they had read about in Latin and Greek texts...

 or art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

: all activities in these areas can most generally be described as contextualizing objects. Arachne tries to avoid the basic mistakes of earlier databases, which limited their object modeling to specific project-oriented aspects, thus creating separated containers of only a small number of objects. All objects inside Arachne share a general part of their object model
Object model
In computing, object model has two related but distinct meanings:# The properties of objects in general in a specific computer programming language, technology, notation or methodology that uses them. For example, the Java objects model, the COM object model, or the object model of OMT...

, to which a more class-specific part is added that describes the specialised properties of a category of material like architecture or topography. Seen on the level of the general part, a powerful pool of material can be used for general information retrieval, whereas on the level of categories and properties, very specific structures can be displayed.


The ancient sculptures database was originally started in 1995 using FileMaker
FileMaker Pro is a cross-platform relational database application from FileMaker Inc., formerly Claris, a subsidiary of Apple Inc. It integrates a database engine with a GUI-based interface, allowing users to modify the database by dragging new elements into layouts, screens, or forms...

, and has been supported since 2001 from the then newly established chair for Humanities Computing at Cologne university. It is also used by students undertaking development projects.

Thanks to significant and ongoing support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft is an important German research funding organization and the largest such organization in Europe.-Function:...

 since 2001, Arachne started to integrate negative archives of ancient sculpture that went beyond the specialised documentation retained in Cologne itself: the Malter- and Fittschen Archives, and since 2003 the negatives of ancient sculpture of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. All that totaled in 40.000 high quality scans of ancient sculptures, that are presented with a state-of-the-art scientific documentation. Started in 2006, the digitalization of historic glass plate negative collections resulted - until August 2009 - in another 65.654 digital images, beginning with those of the German Archaeological Institutes in Athens, Cairo and Istanbul. Beside this larger projects lots of activities are going on on different levels, for example the online preparations for the »Corpus der Antiken Sarkophagreliefs«.

In 2004 Arachne has been reworked from the bottom structurally as well as editorially. After that it has been rebuilt from scratch using an MAMP
The acronym MAMP refers to a set of free software programs commonly used together to run dynamic web sites on servers running the Apple Macintosh operating system, Mac OS X:* Mac OS X, the operating system;* Apache, the Web server;...

 environment. Being strategically positioned as a central object-database for a large federal institution which possesses about two millions of images inside their photographic archives and produces even more data each year in the course of its research activities, Arachne's potential is not too modest. To meet it, there is still a long way to go.


Starting from week 17 of 2011, Arachne has over 6.000 registered users who can access more than a million scans and about 275.000 objects free of charge. Quality of data differs regarding the state of documentation and has to be improved in the areas where just a basic description took place. Forecasting the target area in quantities one could refer to statistical estimations of huge digitization-projects of Cultural Heritage
Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...

 in Europe. They foresee being able to digitize approximately 30 % of the existing material in the given financial circumstances. That would lead in the region of 700.000 digital images from archive material. With addition of newly produced documentation, one could hope for 2 millions of scans in 10 years from now.

All objects should then reflect their contextualisations in basic categories of material and topography. All categories of material cultural heritage from classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 as well as from Asia and South America should then be integrated. Regarding interoperability, different steps have been taken to ensure the widest possible use and visibility of data, while on the other hand fulfilling the liabilities of intellectual property rights-management and copyright-protection, that DAI and FA took when documenting in the framework of collections, museums, excavations etc.

Technical aspects of interoperability do address the way data is shared and connected inside the DAI itself, mainly between Arachne and several GIS who are being used on DAI excavations and surveys
Archaeological field survey
Archaeological field survey is the method by which archaeologists search for archaeological sites and collect information about the location, distribution and organization of past human cultures across a large area...

 - so a given object will only reside once inside the overall dataspace of DAI, minimizing redundancy. In that sense DAI will support uniform resource identifier
Uniform Resource Identifier
In computing, a uniform resource identifier is a string of characters used to identify a name or a resource on the Internet. Such identification enables interaction with representations of the resource over a network using specific protocols...

s (URI) in the near future, to unmistakable identify objects residing in Arachne. It is the policy of DAI and FA to implement the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model
CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model
The CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model provides an extensible ontology for concepts and information in cultural heritage and museum documentation. It is the international standard for the controlled exchange of cultural heritage information...

, for which different projects and proposals are ongoing. Newly implemented is the support for the Open Archives Initiative
Open Archives Initiative
The Open Archives Initiative is an attempt to build a "low-barrier interoperability framework" for archives containing digital content . It allows people to harvest metadata...


As a partner of CLAROSnet Arachne is committed to work on the issues mentioned above as well as to build a multilingual interface, that it lacks until today. Since April 2009 Arachne is i18n-ready, so the technical framework for internationalization has been implemented. After the necessary translation-work Arachne will have an English, Italian and Russian Graphical user interface
Graphical user interface
In computing, a graphical user interface is a type of user interface that allows users to interact with electronic devices with images rather than text commands. GUIs can be used in computers, hand-held devices such as MP3 players, portable media players or gaming devices, household appliances and...

 (GUI) in 2011. It was the policy of DAI and FA to address issues of that complexity not on their own but in an international framework. A solution must be found for this in the near future.

Another section of Arachne is providing ancient books with no Intellectual Property
Intellectual property
Intellectual property is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which a set of exclusive rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law...

 rights on them; here Arachne is at 300 volumes with more than 60.000 pages, for which annotations can be made. This project is called the iDAI.Bookbrowser. The digitized Archaeological literature will also be integrated into the thematic portal of Propylaeum. In the long run a linking between the objects in those volumes and the objects in the databases is planned. This has been done in an exemplary way with Scipione Maffei's book about the Museo Maffeiano from 1749 and Clarac
Clarac may refer to the following places in France:*Clarac, Haute-Garonne, a commune in the Haute-Garonne department*Clarac, Hautes-Pyrénées, a commune in the Hautes-Pyrénées department...

's Musée de Sculpture antique et moderne from 1828 onwards.

Another part of the iDAIbookbrowser is a project called Comprehending the ancient world with a semantic network Stichwerkprojekt in coorparation of the DAI Rome and the FA. In this project engraved prints so called Stichwerke of ancient sites, buildings, sculptures and other archaeological artifacts are digitized and linked to the relevant records of the “real“ objects in Arachne.

Emagines is a project, funded since 2006 by the German Research Foundation , for digitizing the large and partially very old collections of images held by the German Archaeological Institute...

 is a project, funded since 2006 by the German Research Foundation (DFG), for digitizing the large and partially very old collections of images held by the German Archaeological Institute
German Archaeological Institute
The German Archaeological Institute is an institution of research within the field of archaeology , and a "scientific corporation", with parentage of the federal Foreign Office of Germany-Origin:...


The „Berlin Sculpture-Network
Berlin Sculpture-Network
The Berlin Sculpture-Network is a cooperative project between the Antiquities Collection of the Berlin State Museums and the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the Free University of Berlin. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the initiative “Translating...

“ is a cooperative project between the Antiquities Collection of the Berlin State Museums
Berlin State Museums
The Berlin State Museums, in German Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, are a group of museums in Berlin, Germany overseen by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and funded by the German federal government in collaboration with Germany's federal states...

 and the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the Free University of Berlin
Free University of Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin is one of the leading and most prestigious research universities in Germany and continental Europe. It distinguishes itself through its modern and international character. It is the largest of the four universities in Berlin. Research at the university is focused on the...


See also

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