ArchaeoGRID Science Gateways for Easy Access to Distributed Computing Infrastructure for Large Data Storage and Analysis in Archaeology and History

ArchaeoGRID Science Gateways for Easy Access to Distributed Computing Infrastructure for Large Data Storage and Analysis in Archaeology and History

Giuliano Pelfer (Center for the Study of Complex Dynamics (CSDC), University of Florence, Florence, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCMHS.2018010105

Abstract

This article describes how archaeological and historical research grew as a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary activity due to availability of larger amount of data within the reconstruction of global historical and archaeological contexts at a global spatio-temporal scale. The increased information, also integrated with data from the Earth Sciences, has had an effect on the exponential increase of complex sets of data and of refined methods of analysis. For such purposes, this article discusses the ArchaeoGRID Science Gateway paradigm for accessing ArchaeoGRID Cyberinfrastructure (CI), a Distributed Computing Infrastructure (DCI), that can supply storage and computing resources for managing and analyzing large amount of archaeological and historical data. In fact, ArchaeoGRID Science Gateway is emerging as high-level web environment that makes easier the access, in a transparent way, to DCI, as local high-performance computing, Grids and Clouds, from no specialized Virtual Research Communities (VRC) of archaeologists and historians.
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Introduction

The project of the ArchaeoGRID Cyberinfrastructure (CI) is an international initiative that, starting from the first proposals (Pelfer, 2004, 2006; Pelfer, Barceló, & McDonnell, 2005), aimed to provide the possibility to exploit advanced Distributed Computing Infrastructure (DCI) technologies for acquisition and analysis, for storage in large databases, for management and dissemination of archaeological and historical data. Main ArchaeoGRID CI goals are addressed to curation and analysis of big amount of historical and archaeological data coming from written sources, remote sensing, field surveys, excavations and laboratories, with a view to research, knowledge, heritage management, information exploitation and preservation. ArchaeoGRID CI also gives the possibility to understand the historical and archaeological knowledge as commons in the era of digital revolution and allows the development and test of data simulation models with many variables and multiple space-time information.

In fact, challenges and problems affecting current historical and archaeological research deal with the analysis of historical processes in large geographical areas and for long time periods. So that archaeologists and historians increasingly view mass data sets as the means by which it can be analyzed multivariate phenomena such as the human-environmental dynamics, the development of social complexity and the integration of ancient economies. Mass data sets have been produced through collaborative field projects, regionally integrated databases held by state and federal agencies, technologies such as LiDAR, compilations of heritage data and new forms of data storage and retrieval. Terrestrial and Satellite Remote Sensing applications in archaeology and in history have become increasingly frequent.

Applications depend mostly on the rising interest of the scientific community in modern methods for surveying geographic data, which have become increasingly powerful, automatic and reliable. Remote Sensing, with its various techniques, offers the rapid acquisition of a huge quantity of metric and qualitative data from large contiguous territories, making it possible to study settlement process in a framework of larger spatial structures. For an appropriate and widespread use of these data, it is still necessary to have recourse to GIS techniques and simulation methods; as a matter of fact, only the combined use of such methodologies provides a full exploitation of their potential for an in-depth understanding and an effective utilization of data.

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