Archaeological documentation and data sharing: digital surveying and open data approach applied to archaeological fieldworks


  • Mattia Previtali Politecnico di Milano
  • Riccardo Valente Politecnico di Milano



Virtual archaeology, 3D reconstruction, open data, Geographic Information System (GIS)


The open data paradigm is changing the research approach in many fields such as remote sensing and the social sciences. This is supported by governmental decisions and policies that are boosting the open data wave, and in this context archaeology is also affected by this new trend. In many countries, archaeological data are still protected or only limited access is allowed. However, the strong political and economic support for the publication of government data as open data will change the accessibility and disciplinary expertise in the archaeological field too. In order to maximize the impact of data, their technical openness is of primary importance. Indeed, since a spreadsheet is more usable than a PDF of a table, the availability of digital archaeological data, which is structured using standardised approaches, is of primary importance for the real usability of published data. In this context, the main aim of this paper is to present a workflow for archaeological data sharing as open data with a large level of technical usability and interoperability. Primary data is mainly acquired through the use of digital techniques (e.g. digital cameras and terrestrial laser scanning). The processing of this raw data is performed with commercial software for scan registration and image processing, allowing for a simple and semi-automated workflow. Outputs obtained from this step are then processed in modelling and drawing environments to generate digital models, both 2D and 3D. These crude geometrical data are then enriched with further information to generate a Geographic Information System (GIS) which is finally published as open data using Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards to maximise interoperability.Highlights:
  • Open data will change the accessibility and disciplinary expertise in the archaeological field.
  • The main aim of this paper is to present a workflow for archaeological data sharing as open data with a large level of interoperability.
  • Digital acquisition techniques are used to document archaeological excavations and a Geographic Information System (GIS) is generated that is published as open data.


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Author Biographies

Mattia Previtali, Politecnico di Milano

Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering

Riccardo Valente, Politecnico di Milano

Department of Architecture, Built Environment and Construction Engineering


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How to Cite

Previtali, M., & Valente, R. (2019). Archaeological documentation and data sharing: digital surveying and open data approach applied to archaeological fieldworks. Virtual Archaeology Review, 10(20), 17–27.