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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2017/2018


Archaeological Automatic Interpretation and Documentation of cEramics

Prof. Dr. Michael Heinzelmann | Institute of Archaeology

Funding: EU-Programme Horizon 2020 Project partners: University of Pisa, University of Cologne, University of Barcelona, York University, Tel Aviv University, Baraka Arquelogos (Ciudad Real), Elements (Mallorca), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Rome), Inera Srl (Pisa)

n archaeology, ceramica are a central material category for questions of dating. However, its determination is only usually possible for a few specialists and takes a great deal of time. The long-term goal of this project is to optimize the process of analyzing ceramics by means of (semi-) automated recognition processes and the development of a reference database. To this end, the EU-project ArchAIDE is creating a platform that allows academics to determine and classify ceramics at excavations as well as in museums in a more efficient and speedy manner. A reference database will therefore be set up, which will provide both metadata and photographs as well as digitized publications. In addition, 3D models from profile drawings of vessels will be automatically generated, which can then be used as references for the classification of new findings. By means of a web application and native app, this information will be made available for researchers. Furthermore, a semi-automated ceramic determination program will be  integrated into the application, which can be used in different archaeological work and research conditions. Photos of ceramic fragments taken with a mobile device at the excavation site and an automated request for reference material in the ArchAIDE reference database will help the user to classify material.

The function of the University of Cologne team within ArchAIDE mainly consists of providing ceramics metadata, e.g. from CeramALEX and CeramEGYPT - two ceramic projects being undertaken at the Archaeological Institute.
A further objective is to add data to the ArchAIDE database provided by different project partners (photos, drawings, text, etc.). The focus of the current project phase lies on three ceramic classes: Roman amphorae, terra sigillata and majolica. For this purpose, an import tool that enables simple data transfer from external data sources to the reference database will be programmed.

With its research on automated image recognition, deep learning and ceramics classification, the project aims to provide groundwork and a “proof of concept” in order to place research focused on individual ceramic classes onto a broader foundation in the future. In addition to workshops, training sessions for students and commercial users will be held during the project period.

This project has received funding from the European Union‘s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N.693548

Text: Michael Remmy, M.A.


Institute of Archaeology
Prof. Dr. Michael Heinzelmann

Researchers: Prof. Michael Heinzelmann, Michael Remmy M.A., Felix Kußmaul B.Sc
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E-mail mremmy(at)