Digging into thousands of reports: Google for archaeologists

16 February 2022

Alex Brandsen of the Faculty of Archaeology of the University of Leiden developed a search engine called AGNES, which searches very precisely through thousands of archaeological reports. His PhD defence took place on 15 February 2022.

The Archaeology domain is one of the leading proponents of open data in the arts and humanities. The e-depot for Dutch Archaeology is accommodated by DANS and enables access to thousands of archaeological reports, data of excavations and surveys. How to select and find reports with information on for instance cremations in the early Middle Ages in the Netherlands? Alex Brandsen has developed a search engine called AGNES based on deep learning which is a form of artificial intelligence. A kind of Google for archaeologists. DANS contributed by offering the data in a structured manner. His PhD Defence took place on 15 February 2022.

DANS and Alex Brandsen continue to work together in the EXALT (Excavating archaeological literature) project led by Leiden University which is part of the Dutch Research Agenda and programme of future directions in Dutch archaeological research. As a postdoc, Brandsen will work on the accuracy and multilingual aspect of the search engine.

DANS is supporting developments that will enable the use of data for new research questions and, as a trusted repository, will ensure the sustainable archiving of newly created data. Recently, the Dutch Council of Culture stressed the importance of making available archaeological reports of high scientific quality. Now it is time for digging into archaeological reports.

More information

Read more about AGNES here.

Photo: Early Medieval cremation found in an urn in The Hague. Waasdorp, J.A.; Eimermann, E. (): Solleveld, Gemeente Den Haag. DANS. https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-zt3-7j7n (licensed under CC0).

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Hella Hollander M.A.

Data Station Manager Archaeology