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Sharing Heritage and Archaeological Data Effectively (IG18128), or SHADE, is a COST Innovation Grant (CIG) funded project that seeks to provide a sustainable model for the ARIADNE Research Infrastructure (RI) and as such facilitate access for individuals and organisations to publish their data online. SHADE is a follow-on action resulting from the work of the SEADDA (Saving European Archaeology from the Digital Dark Age) Cost Action.

Making archaeological data open and freely accessible online for academic research, professional archaeologists and wider citizens must be a priority across Europe. However, there is currently a fragmented picture and uneven access to knowledge of Europe’s rich archaeological heritage. At the present time, only a handful of COST Member Countries have the required specialist knowledge and mechanisms in place to ensure archaeological data will be freely and openly available for reuse by future generations of researchers. Failure to address this inequality means the world will be divided into countries and regions whose archaeological research legacy is available, and those where it is irrevocably lost. This lack of equity also hampers participation in research collaboration.

Members of the COST Action SEADDA have worked closely with the European Union funded research infrastructure ARIADNE to provide a single point of access to archaeological data. By December 2022 the ARIADNE portal provided interoperable open access to over 3.3 million digital data resources, covering some 50 countries, 4 continents, and the whole span of human history from early hominids to the Cold War. The ARIADNE Research Infrastructure (RI), was established as a not-for-profit association that plans to develop a straightforward chargeable service to maintain and develop the portal. On such a basis, the CIG aims to provide a solution whereby individuals and organisations can be given access to the skills and tools to publish their data online, without duplicating efforts at national, regional and local levels. This solution avoids the creation of multiple data silos, and creates a single point of access, capable of addressing major research questions, and solving heritage management problems.

The grant, which lasts for 12 months, has the following objectives:

  • Create a charging model for the ARIADNE RI, based on the actual costs of adding data sets to the Knowledge Base.
  • Promote the ARIADNE RI internationally, and set targets for the number of datasets and new members to be added per annum.
  • Provide training in the preparation of FAIR archaeological data for aggregation in the ARIADNE RI.
  • Create a business plan for the ARIADNE RI, such that it is sustainable and the costs of updating existing data, adding new data sets, and adding new members are covered
  • Permit a wider cross-section of archaeologists and heritage managers, drawn from a larger number of countries, to participate in European funding proposals, as members of the ARIADNE RI.