Developing FAIR Ontological Pathways: Linking Evidence of Movement in Lidar to Models of Human Behaviour

Laure Nuninger, Rachel Opitz, Philip Verhagen, Thérèse Libourel, Clément Laplaige, Samuel Leturcq, Nathanaël Le Voguer, Catherine Fruchart, Žiga Kokalj, Xavier Rodier

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper proposes an ontological approach to connect the archaeological topographic evidence for movement in the landscape which can be derived from interpretation and spatial analysis of airborne lidar data with models of movement derived from modeling exercises such as Agent Based Modelling or Cost Path Modelling. This computational ontology enables the investigation of movement and its topographic manifestations in the landscape at various spatio-temporal scales. It creates an explicit framework for accessing meaningful information about movement generated through research using both detection and modelling-led approaches. Developing explicit computational frameworks to provide meaningful context is critical, particularly as remote sensing and modelling projects increase in scale and complexity. The process of developing a computational ontology exposes a deeper underlying issue, and one applicable to many topics we address as archaeologists: if we begin to unpack the concept of ‘movement’ it is readily apparent that it is a complex phenomenon, like many human habits, and studying it requires drawing together a variety of types of physical evidence and multiple, often competing, theoretical models of human processes and practices. If we wish to make archaeological ‘data’ on movement available, how do we create appropriate contextual information – really useful metadata – so that this data can be incorporated into the variety of studies for which knowledge of movement is relevant? This is essentially the challenge posed broadly by the FAIR principles, and in particular by the principle of interoperability, which suggests that we “use a formal, accessible, shared, and broadly applicable language for knowledge representation”. Rather than simply seeking to fulfill the requirements of an arbitrary standard, attempting to meet the challenge of interoperability provides an impetus and opportunity to attempt to bridge the gap between data and model, and to reconsider how we conceive and represent knowledge in archaeological digital data and modelling projects. This kind of computational ontology, we suggest, can serve as the key for making the data from both these sources actually FAIR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-75
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Computer Applications in Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


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  • LAC2020+1

    Laure Nuninger (Organiser), Rachel Opitz (Organiser), César Parcero-Oubiña (Organiser), Thibault Saintenoy (Organiser) & Philip Verhagen (Organiser)

    11 Jun 2021

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventConferenceAcademic

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