Following a preliminary survey in 2003, excavations were conducted in September 2004 till 2008 at the site of Aramus, Kotayk county, Armenia. The excavations are a five-year joint project between the Universities of Yerevan and Innsbruck, the Institute of Azgagrutyun u hnagitutian and the Institute of Ancient History and Near Eastern Studies .
Aramus, located on a hilltop about 1500 m above sea level, is an Urartian fortress occupied in the 1st millennium B.C. A cuneiform inscription found nearby indicates that there may be a connection between the site and the city of Darani, which was conquered by the Urartian King Argishti I in the 8th century B.C. This project will shed light on the development and decline of the Urartu kingdom in relation to the preceding and following social and political structures in the region.
The field school
One of the main objective of Aramus project is to introduce the students to the practice of digital documentation, data recording, survey and archaeological analysis. Since 2004 is active a field school to support the excavation with didactic lessons concerning the applications of several sciences in archaeology (zoology, geodesy, anthropology and informatics). The field school is intended to give students the basic know-how for a professional archaeological work.
The Free and Open Source approach
In 2006, thanks to the help of Arc-Team s.n.c., The Aramus Excavations and Field School was completely supported by Free/Libre and Open Source Software. This fact had positive feedback in the organization of the didactic activities, giving the opportunity to share with the students not only the knowledge necessary for their professional life, but also the instruments. In fact, since 2006, all the informatics lessons are based on ArcheOS, a GNU/Linux distribution created for archaeological aims and released under a free license (GPL).
The Digital Archaeological Documentation Project
As a consequence of the experience of 2006, the Digital Archaeological Documentation Project was born to share (through internet) the know-how concerning the digital documentation of an archaeological excavation. In other words, all the lessons of the field school regarding ArcheOS were written in text format, supported by media (especially video) and shared through a wiki system under the form of tutorials. Moreover a free license (FDL) was chosen to grant the possibility to modify the texts and update them (also with the support of new authors).
The database and the webgis
In the same spirit, in 2009 started a project to share the data of the excavation of Aramus. The first step of the project is the creation of a database to collect all the founds and let it accessible through the net. Moreover the rest of the digital archaeological documentation will be connected thanks to a webgis. In this website is possible to consult the database and the webgis, with the intent to let all the data accessible to scientific community.