NFDI4 Objects

Research Data Infrastructure
for the Material Remains
of Human History

Workspace at osf.io

NFDI4Objects is an initiative to
develop a consortium within the
National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI).

NFDI4Objects figurative mark NFDI4Objects figurative mark by  Vanessa Liebler CC BY-ND 4.0

The aim of the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) is the systematic management of scientific and research data, the long-term storage, safeguarding and availability, as well as the networking of these data at national and international level. The NFDI will bring together a variety of actors in a coordinated network of consortia that will fulfil the task of providing science-based data services for research communities.

(Source: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, own translation)

NFDI4Objects

NFDI4Objects addresses the infrastructural needs of researchers and practitioners with a multidisciplinary background whose work focuses on the material heritage of around three million years of human and environmental history.

In NFDI4Objects the term "object" covers the entire spectrum of traces and legacies of past human activities: Artefacts, architecture, archaeological findings and anthropogenically shaped landscapes, as well as biological or ecological remains.

This legacy represents the fundamental source of knowledge about the cultural and biological development of mankind. Consisting of physical objects, their embedding in multiple contexts and their complex characteristics and biographies, this heritage is preserved in various ways in the landscape, and the buildings and soil archives embedded in it. It is made accessible through continuously developed procedures as well as technologies for detection, documentation, recovery, reconstruction and analysis, which make it possible to interpret and experience it in ever new ways. The acquisition of scientific knowledge and the participation of society require an overall view of these data sets:

In order to fulfil this task, the consortium is pursuing three overarching objectives:

  • NFDI4Objects is an impulse generator and serves to improve digital research and work processes within the specialist communities. The consortium advocates the establishment of the FAIR principles and actively accompanies the digital transformation of working methods.
  • NFDI4Objects meets the challenge to open up large and complex data sets from research processes, and at the same time to enable sustainable and long-term international access to the digital results of research projects according to the needs of the users.
  • NFDI4Objects develops structures and an operating model that enables a common portfolio of expert advice, as well as reliable, demand-oriented and secure services based on existing solutions, in a distributed network and in close coordination with the community and other NFDI consortia.
Training measure capacity building and building maintenance in Gadara (Umm Qais) Training measure capacity building and building maintenance in Gadara (Umm Qais) by  Claudia Bührig © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut - Orient-Abteilung

NFDI4Objects will primarily build on existing infrastructure components, expanding capabilities, services and standards in a demand- and consensus-oriented manner.

Archaeological research has always been data intensive. As a result, universities, heritage authorities and non-university research institutions either have their own storage resources, use state-owned/regional data centres or employ a combination of both. Our community builds on a broad scientific discourse on the interconnection of these systems via standard protocols and services, including linking with services from other scientific domains. Since many of these implementations are based on key technologies that use free software and open specifications, there is high potential for the integration of existing repositories that are not yet interoperable.

3D measurement of the gold mask with a structured light scanner, i3mainz, annual report 2016 3D measurement of the gold mask with a structured light scanner, i3mainz, annual report 2016 by  Guido Heinz © Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Archäologie

Research Data

In the multidisciplinary research processes described above, data are generated that make numerous concrete technical and conceptual demands on a community- and user-oriented infrastructure. The following data types and products are of central importance for the user community of NFDI4Objects:

Sensor data

    Data from mobile, active and passive measurement sensors that are processed or generated during preparation for or in the course of documentary work in surveys and field research:

    Raster data (multiband satellite data and [measurement] images as well as photographs), vector data (XYZM point clouds, LIDAR data, tachymetric data, GNSS data as well as alphanumeric tables and textual records.

Magnetic prospection on Rousay (Orkney Islands) Magnetic prospection on Rousay (Orkney Islands) by  Knut Rassmann © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut - Römisch-Germanische Kommission (RGK)

Laboratory data

    Data generated in a controlled environment (laboratories) and providing information about specific properties of the objects:

    Data from the chemical and physical analysis of objects (archaeometry) and their documentation (laboratory diaries) as alphanumeric and textual data, as well as measurement data and protocols for recording specific object properties (geometry, radiometry), e.g. dendrochronology, morphometry; vector and raster data.

Data products

    Data products as a derivation of primary data that are prepared for use in research processes:

    Digital terrain, landscape and surface models as products of diverse point clouds and GIS-based analyses, digital reconstructions and simulations, as well as 3D copies as object models, 2D geodata in complex spatio-temporal relations, comparison and signature data for feature-based investigations and the use of learning evaluation methods (ML), results of statistical analyses.

Start of a landscape archaeological survey in Mongolia Start of a landscape archaeological survey in Mongolia by  Team Archaeocopter © Team Archaeocopter

Historical data

  • Databases, digital archives (drawings, plans, photographs) and old data stocks, as well as local records, monument registers/local files, historical maps and archive data that need to be transferred to a digital infrastructure within the framework of research processes.
Floppy disk in the surface layer (Kairo, Egypt) Floppy disk in the surface layer (Kairo, Egypt) by  Kai-Christian Bruhn CC BY 4.0

Community

Outreach: Supervision of a basic chemistry course by Jens Dornheim in the NumismaticCollection of the National Museums during the production of galvanos in the context of lab.Bode Outreach: Supervision of a basic chemistry course by Jens Dornheim
in the NumismaticCollection of the National Museums
during the production of galvanos in the context of lab.Bode
by  Johannes Eberhardt © Münzkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz


NFDI4Objects brings together a dedicated community to create a user- and demand-oriented, internationally networked research data infrastructure for numerous related disciplines. These include not only the field of archaeology in the broadest sense (represented by eight different archaeological disciplines in Germany), but also anthropology, architectural history (building research), ethnoarchaeology, geoarchaeology, archaeobotany, archaeozoology, archaeogenetics, palaeopathology, archaeophysics, archaeological conservation and various sub-disciplines in the field of archaeometry, as well as institutions that maintain collections for the preservation of cultural heritage and provenance research.

These specialised disciplines share a common methodological framework, characterised by strong interdisciplinary links and involving many processes that generate large amounts of digital data. An important characteristic of the target group of NFDI4Objects is the a priori existing, strong tradition, competence and dense international networking in the field of digitisation methods and technologies among many of its members, as well as the direct digital acquisition of the data.

Governance

The participation and involvement of the users and their professional associations is firmly anchored in the planned organisational structure of NFDI4Objects and guarantees a working method committed to neutrality. Thus, the consortium is organised on two levels: on the user level and on the operational level. The user level consists of the members' forum and the open forum of users. The operational level is formed by the service portfolio, an office and the consortium spokespersons. The user group is organised into various specialist organisations, whose appointed representatives form the core of the members' forum. The latter is gradually being expanded to include organisational representatives for communities from other specialist areas (whose focus is also on the material legacies of humans). The inclusion of organisations ensures feedback to the specialist communities.

At the user level, an open user forum ensures feedback between users and the operational level, both in the context of conferences and in digital form. The members' forum decides which services are included or even excluded, and selects individual speakers for the individual action lines of the consortium's organisational structure at the operational level.

The needs of the open members' forum and those of the users form the decisive criteria for inclusion in the service portfolio, as does the proof of actual use of the services and the sustainability of their basic services in the decentralised structure. The promotion of services and content (the former at institutional level, the latter at community level) is planned as part of the definition of lines of action to be coordinated by the co-speakers. At the operational level, the co-speakers appointed by the members' forum and the authorised institutions implement the requirements of the users in the service portfolio, and develop concepts for the portfolio’s further sustainable development. The office coordinates meetings and conferences.

Governance Scheme Governance Scheme by  Jana Skundric-Rummel CC BY 4.0

Task Areas

NFDI4Objects foresees the following seven areas of activity to meet the challenges and requirements:

(1) NFDI4Objects for Documentation

NFDI4Objects for Documentation covers all needs arising from the collection, exploration and documentation of primary data sources (documentation of excavations, artefacts, archaeological sites and monuments, etc.) on site, in depots and in collections.

Excavation in the late antique Burgus of Eisenberg (Pfalz) Excavation in the late antique Burgus of Eisenberg (Pfalz) by  Laura Bauer © Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe RLP - Landesarchäologie Speyer

(2) NFDI4Objects for Collecting

NFDI4Objects for Collecting will establish an integrated research data infrastructure and quality-oriented data management processes that optimally serve the complex requirements of scientific object collections and collection-related research.

Early Middle Age vessels in the collection of the RGZM Early Middle Age vessels in the collection of the RGZM by  Volker Iserhardt © Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Archäologie

(3) NFDI4Objects for Analytics and Experiments

NFDI4Objects for Analytics and Experiments will cover platforms, standards and services for desktop-based research, controlled experiments and laboratory-based analysis of objects.

Analysis of Polish coins of the Piasts using proton-induced gamma and X-ray emission Analysis of Polish coins of the Piasts using proton-induced gamma and X-ray emission by  Stefan Röhrs © Rathgen-Forschungslabor, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz

(4) NFDI4Objects for Protecting

NFDI4Objects for Protecting will address applications and data management issues that address the complex requirements of protection, conservation, restoration and related fields of work and research.

Archaeological sondage in the Germersheim fortress Archaeological sondage in the Germersheim fortress by  Bernd Fischer © Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe RLP - Landesarchäologie Speyer

(5) NFDI4Objects for Storage, Access and Dissemination

NFDI4Objects for Storage, Access and Dissemination will provide comprehensive technologies and standards for the long-term archiving of research data, as well as all other aspects of the FAIR principles.

Boxes with archaeological finds in the collection centre „Alte Baumwollspinnerei“ (Speyer) Boxes with archaeological finds in the collection centre „Alte Baumwollspinnerei“ (Speyer) by  Tim Hufnagl © Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe Rheinland-Pfalz

(6) NFDI4Objects for Commons and Qualification

NFDI4Objects for Commons and Qualification addresses the data management related requirements for multi-disciplinary data analysis workflows, the development and maintenance of NFDI4Objects' Commons and the development of tailor-made qualification services.

Examination of a painting with non-destructive methods at the Rathgen Research Laboratory Examination of a painting with non-destructive methods at the Rathgen Research Laboratory by  Stefan Simon © Rathgen-Forschungslabor, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz

(7) NFDI4Objects for Support and Coordination

NFDI4Objects for Support and Coordination manages the structural and content-related development of the consortium internally and externally, coordinates the processes between the fields of activity, ensures the continued science- and community-driven development of the consortium, and develops specific offers for qualification and further education.

... Meeting of the international community at the Foreign Office by  Andreas Paasch © Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

Contact

Are you looking for a place where you can actively participate in the development of the consortium? We have launched a project in the OpenScience Framework. Here you can find all information about the progress of the project transparently and openly online.

  • Coordination

  • Chris Keller

    Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
  • Twitter

  • @nfdi4objects 
  • Initiative's Co-Speakers

  • Philipp von Rummel

    Deutsches Archäologisches Institut
  • Alexandra Busch

    Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum
    Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Archäologie
  • Kai-Christian Bruhn

    Hochschule Mainz
    University of Applied Scienes

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