Stefan EICHERT / Viktor JANSA
(University of Vienna, Inst. f. Prehistory and Historical Archaeology, Vienna, Austria)

Keywords: Database, GIS, open source, usability,  CIDOC-CRM


OpenATLAS is a database application for the work with archeological, historical and spatial data. The development is currently at an early stage and carried out by a small team from the University of Vienna.
It is open source, cost-free as well as easy to install and use with no special computer knowledge needed. It is designed for users within the scientific community in the field of cultural heritage, that seek an applied database solution for organizing and analyzing their scientific data.
OpenATLAS runs on all common operating systems (Linux/Mac/Windows) and can be configured for single-offline users as well as it can be connected to a server for a multiuser environment.
It is powered by Postgresql and PostGIS (or Sqlite and Spatialite in the file based-offline version) and therefore also connectible to every common GIS program like for example Qgis or ESRI’s ArcGIS.
OpenATLAS implements an object-oriented data-model and mainly deals with 4 types of information:

  • Physical entities like archaeological sites, finds, stratigraphical units
  • Human entities like persons, groups of persons and institutions/organizations
  • Temporal entities like activities, events, phases, actions
  • Sources like articles, images, documents, that refer to other entities

Entities of various classes may be related to other entities and OpenATLAS automatically creates links between them if necessary. Therefor it uses classes and properties from the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model of the International Council of Museums. This provides interoperability and compatibility to other projects and databases that use this standards too as well as it offers a high flexibility and the possibility of adaption for individual purposes.
OpenATLAS aims to be an applied database solution for information from the field of cultural heritage – especially for archaeological data. It combines an easy to use graphical user interface – that also beginners and non-computer-specialists can work with – with a powerful database-backend. It offers a high GIS- functionality and implements international data-standards. As it is open source it can be developed further for various other purposes.