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3. The production line of the Archimedes Project

To acheive these goals, a variety of qualitatively different sources are being digitized for a digital research library which will represent the knowledge base required to study the long-term development of mechanical thinking. These sources, which are made freely available to the research community at large as part of the Archimedes Project, include theoretical texts and documents of practical knowledge from different historical contexts and in different languages (mainly Greek, Latin, Arabic, Italian, and English); images of artefacts of mechanical technology; and also video documentation of activities guided by intuitive physical knowledge as well as of still extant traditional techniques involving mechanical knowledge.

Accordingly, the production line of the Archimedes Project comprises three major dimensions:

  • the digitization and standardization of sources,
  • the extraction of organizing structures of shared knowledge as well as those characteristic of innovative processes,
  • the creation of a content-based access system to the source repository.

For all three dimensions, electronic tools are being developed which allow for the integration of technical and scholarly competence in analyzing the sources. Given the nature of the Archimedes Project as the backbone of a wide-ranging interdisciplinary research project, this integration of different competencies should, however, not remain limited to the circle of the institutions who bear primary responsibility. The project aims in fact at becoming a growing international digital research library that integrates more and more research institutions, archives, and libraries, offering not only direct and open access on the Internet to primary materials usually restricted to a small group of scholars but also a platform for collaborative research on these sources.