The Institute of Heritage Science (ISPC) of the National Research Council of Italy was established in 2019, following the merger of renowned and long-standing archaeological Institutes focusing on Mycenaean and Aegean-Anatolian, Phoenician-Punic, and Etruscan-Italic civilisations, as well as Institutes involved in the field of Cultural Heritage. Over the years, they have explored unchartered areas of archaeological investigation, triggered multidisciplinary synergies, and sponsored the supporting role of “ancillary sciences”, in line with the CNR policy promoted since the early 1960s. The convergence of the “two cultures” led, more than fifty years ago, to pioneer interdisciplinary innovative research areas that today are generally referred to as archaeogeography, archaeogeophysics, and archaeomatic.
In particular, in the early 1980s the Institute for Etruscan and Italic Archaeology (IAEI) sponsored the application of computer techniques to classify archaeological objects, by starting a research programme on the Automatisaton of Etruscan corpora. In 1990 the Institute also promoted the establishment of the international Journal «Archeologia e Calcolatori» and in 1995 convened the III International Symposium on Computing and Archaeology in Rome, in partnership with the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei and the Sapienza University of Rome, under the auspices of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. More than one hundred papers were presented and published only a year later in the 7th issue of the Journal, in two volumes of more than 1300 pages.
Today, more than 30 years after, the research line on computer applications in archaeology is still alive and a new Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Science Laboratory has been established. The scholarly Journal «Archeologia e Calcolatori», which is internationally recognised as a point of reference for the theoretical debate, recently celebrated its 30th anniversary and in the last decade has demonstrated its vitality through a new series of publishing initiatives: 2005 was marked by the early and challenging participation in the Open Archives Initiative and 2007 by the enhancement of a new series of Supplements. As a result, the Journal offers today a comprehensive open access repository of electronic resources that allow readers to follow the development of computer applications in the study of archaeological data, from fieldwork to laboratory investigations, from cultural heritage management and preservation to data dissemination and education.
A sample of the initiatives promoted within the Journal «Archeologia e Calcolatori» is illustrated below, bearing witness to the evolution of computer methods and tools over the years.
For the first time, the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Computing and Archaeology, held in Rome in 1995, are here made available to the visitor for download. The programme of the Symposium was subdivided into 10 sections dedicated to specific topics, ranging from computer applications in archaeological fieldwork to classification of archaeological artefacts, computer analysis of textual data, inventory and documentation strategies for archaeological heritage preservation, data dissemination and education. The last section was dedicated to “Methodological problems and future perspectives” and important theoretical aspects on knowledge modelling and formalisation of archaeological interpretation were addressed, giving rise to a lively debate.