ArcheoFOSS 2022
MASPAG & Pyarchinit, the newborn collaboration of Sapienza and AdArte in the Sultanate of Oman

Marco Ramazzotti
Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Francesco Genchi
Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Guido Antinori
Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Panel: GIS open source solution for archaeological context in between Universities, Public Administration, societies, research center: pyArchInit case.

During the latest fieldwork season (November 2021 - March 2022), the Missione Archeologica della Sapienza nella Penisola Arabica e nel Golfo (MASPAG) launched a new archaeological survey in central Oman directed by Marco Ramazzotti and coordinated on field by Guido Antinori, in an area of the Al Batinah South Governorate unknown to archaeology, where a landscape archaeology project was initiated combining remote-sensing and ground verification activities. This operation also saw the first result of the collaboration between the MASPAG research group (survey coordination Marco Ramazzotti and excavation coordination by Francesco Genchi) and the company adArte srl (Luca Mandolesi and Enzo Cocca are partners in the company and responsible for the development of the pyArchInit platform): just as the first season of the survey served to estimate the archaeological potential of the area, its preparation became an important workshop to discuss open-source solutions in archaeological contexts (whether stratigraphic excavations or archaeological landscapes) and dialogue between universities and private companies. From the first meetings, the potential of implementing pyArchInit in MASPAG’s documentation system clearly emerged, however, we highlighted the need to expand the existing system to meet the scientific ambition of our archaeological survey, i.e. documenting data collection not only from a stratigraphic excavation but from an archaeological landscape. Finding a way to implement this function, not yet developed in the plug-in, was the first and major point of discussion that prompted us to experiment with the basic functionalities of QGIS, aiming to build a geodatabase with descriptive tables of the survey’s transects and areas, the Topographical Units (TU) recognized in them and their archaeological features. The resulting tool was intended as a beta version, which was positively field-tested by the survey team - using the QFIELD plug-in for data input directly in the field. The next step, will be the concrete integration of pyArchInit with MASPAG’s documentation system, which will lead to a twofold objective: the company will be able to extend the reach of the pyArchInit platform with a landscape documentation tool, while at the same time, the Sapienza team will have the pyArchInit platform available for all scientific documentation, from survey to excavation. The experimental nature of the collaboration, in fact, has perfectly matched the spirit and prospects of Sapienza’s activities in Oman: the imminent closure of the excavation of the monumental necropolis of Daba al-Bayah (Grandi Scavi Sapienza program from 2019), will open up the possibility of launching a new series of field activities, the Batinah survey being the first example to be followed by others, including the possible stratigraphic excavation of the Shokur site in the oasis of Dank - az-Zahira governorate. These new perspectives, fully endorsed by our partner adArte, have given us the opportunity to establish a collaboration with the company that we’re sure will lead to some very important scientific results, on the one hand, but has also demonstrated how the collaboration between university and private companies can be worthwhile.