Would it be possible to travel through time as easily as we travel through space?

Could you see how your street looked like 500 years ago?

Could we browse social networks of the middle ages?

Could we bring the past back as a common resource for our future?

Our common past is the Next Frontier.

The Time Machine FET Flagship builds a Large Scale Simulator mapping 2000 years of European History, transforming kilometres of archives and large collections from museums into a digital information system. These Big Data of the Past are common resources for the future that will have a huge cultural, economical and societal impact. Researchers from all over the world are now joining forces to bring the past back in one of the most ambitious project ever on European culture and identity.

Towards a new paradigm

Cultural Heritage is one of Europe’s most precious political, economic and social assets. Today, Science and Technology can profoundly transform the conservation and experience of the cultural heritage with an impact on research, education, new applications and, in turn, on the economy and society at large. Computer and Data Sciences, Physics and Chemistry, Material Sciences and Robotics, can join forces with the Humanities to open a new paradigm for Historical Sciences.

Mapping 2000 years of European History

The Time Machine FET Flagship aims at building a Large Scale Historical Simulator mapping 2000 years of European History. Extending on the proposal submitted to the attention of the European Commission in April 2016, Time Machine is a program that brings together research teams from all over Europe and the participation of about 200 institutions. The goal of this consortium is to develop new technologies for the scanning, analyzing, accessing, preserving and communicating of cultural heritage at a massive scale. Data extracted from this digital patrimony are the basis for the reconstruction of the historical evolution of most European cities and the economical, cultural and migration networks between these urban nodes.

Writing a common history of Europe

This is something of complexity and scale unseen to date. To obtain the necessary data for such a reconstruction, Time Machine has to develop new technologies for a scanning infrastructure able to digitize massive amounts of fragile documents from the European heritage that would be the basis of the largest database ever created for European archival documents. Meanwhile, high performance computing clusters are used to process this mass of documents using increasingly accurate machine vision algorithms, segmenting, indexing and transcribing their content, ultimately making them searchable like any other documents we search on the web. The information networks extracted from the documents constitute a massive semantic graph of linked data – probably the largest ever built about the past - unfolding in space and time as part of an historical geographical information system.

Big Data of the Past

These Big Data of the Past are expected to lead to data-driven historical simulations, making the past de facto as easily accessible as the present. New families of historical search engines, as well as immersive and augmented reality interfaces and other tools, will generate what one could describe as time capsules to seamlessly navigate 2000 years of European history. Thousands of time travellers are already ready to engage in the project, for curating the data, design algorithms and ultimately, to a certain extent, writing a common history of Europe. That approach in turn could apply to other cities, communities and regions of the world.

The Venice Time Machine

Time Machine is anchored in the technologies and methodologies pioneered by the Venice Time Machine, an on-going 10-year seed project focusing on the city of Venice and its 1000 years of history and featuring EPFL, Università Ca’ Foscari, Archivio di Stato di Venezia, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, as well as an international board including scholars from Princeton, Stanford, Columbia and London Universities. Venice Time Machine provides a proof of concept of archival digitization and machine learning to reconstruct the shape of the city over its history, along with the evolution of its continental and Mediterranean Venetian networks over time. The project maps circulation of news, money, commercial goods, as well as migration of artistic patterns along the roads from Venice to the Netherlands and Germany or down to ports of the Black sea, reconstructing, through the history of Venice, a united story of the construction of Europe. Time Machine is a spatial and temporal extension of this ambition, the potential of which the Venice chapter already highlights.

A shared patrimony

All technological development of the Time Machine FET Flagship are open source, in line with the notion of a shared patrimony and cost effectiveness for other institutions in following the same methodologies and encouraging the creation of start-up and services based on similar approaches and standards. That can lead to local initiatives for fostering tourism, cultural entertainment services and new approaches to urban planning.

Europe’s cultural heritage to the future

We believe Time Machine and the projects it will generate represent a unique opportunity to take Europe’s cultural heritage to the future, enhanced as a shared patrimony and a common history, for the next generations.

Key Points

European and National Programs


Europa Nostra is the pan-European federation of heritage NGO’s which is also supported by a wide network of public bodies, private companies and individuals. Covering more than 40 countries in Europe, the organisation is the voice of civil society committed to safeguarding and promoting Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. Founded in 1963, it is today recognised as the most representative heritage network in Europe. Plácido Domingo, the world-renowned opera singer, is the President of the organisation.

Europa Nostra campaigns to save Europe's endangered monuments, sites and landscapes, in particular through the 7 Most Endangered programme. It celebrates excellence through the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards. It also contributes to the formulation and implementation of European strategies and policies related to heritage, through a structured dialogue with European Institutions and the coordination of the European Heritage Alliance 3.3. Europa Nostra has strongly promoted and is actively contributing to the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018


The Time Machine FET Flagship has the support of CLARIN-EU (The Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure – European Research Infrastructure - ). CLARIN makes digital language resources available to scholars, researchers, students and citizen-scientists from all disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences, through single sign-on access. CLARIN will provide its expertise for the alignment of relevant tools and services, the integration of metadata of Time Machine language resources in the CLARIN infrastructure in order to enhance their visibility. 


The Time Machine FET Flagship is committed to valorize the Europeana integrated catalog and collections, as the basis for higher level data models. At the technical level, Time Machine will help the national aggregators and partners to leapfrog to new technological standard for cultural heritage storing, display and analysis, facilitating the access and enrichment of Europeana’s 53 million cultural documents.

Archives Portal Europe

The Time Machine FET Flagship has the support of the Archives Portal Europe Foundation, a consortium of 17 European national archival institutions, which maintains and further develops the Archives Portal Europe, the largest online access point to descriptions of archival material. At the moment – February 2017 – the Archives Portal Europe gives access to more than 250 million descriptions brought together by more than 800 archival institutions from 33 European countries. To these descriptions are already more than 200 million digital objects (scans) directly linked via the Archives Portal Europe and much more are made accessible, namely via their presentations on the websites of the Archives Portal Europe’s data providers. The Archives Portal Europe team has recently started an ambitious endeavour: providing a uniform way of publishing more detailed information from rich archival sources such as Notary records. For these so-called additional finding aids the newest version of the international standard for archival descriptions EAD will be used: EAD3, which can tag detailed information on for instance events, persons and places in a more meaningful and semantic way. This is exactly the kind of information the Time Machine FET Flagship project needs and the Archives Portal Europe will offer the project access to its network of data providers and co-operation in implementing ways to make use of their information via its infrastructure.


The Time Machine FET Flagship receives the support of DARIAH, the pan-european research infrastructure for the Arts and the Humanities, regrouping several hundreds of scholars and dozens of research facilities. DARIAH’s working groups covering topics ranging from Text and Data analytics to Guidelines and Standards are already playing a crucial role for organising the technological and scientific discussion addressed in the Flagship and will be key to structure their on-going development at the European level.


The Time Machine FET Flagship is strongly supported by the EuroSDR – the European Spatial Data Research network linking national mapping and cadastral agencies with research institutes and universities for the purpose of applied research in spatial data provision, management and delivery. EuroSDR advanced expertise about 3D modelling, spatial data archiving, historic data infrastructures, advanced photogrammetry, Linked Data, Big Geodata and ‘Geo’-business modelling contributes to making the Time Machine reality.


The Time Machine FET Flagship is supported by the ICARUS network, regrouping 160 archives and scientific institutions from 30 European countries. This continuously expanding network of coordinated institutions brings to the project the access to extremely large collection of documents and the access to relevant expertise to interpret them. Time Machine shares equally with all these institutions the technological innovations and infrastructure developed in the Flagship.


The Consortium of European Research Libraries is partner of the Time Machine Project. It includes 300 European libraries (and a growing number of US libraries with substantial European book heritage) and run the Heritage of the Printed Book database, with over 6 million records of books printed between 1450 and 1830.

IIIF Consortium

Time Machine promotes the use of the IIIF APIs, guidelines and best practices. It encourages partners to share their cultural heritage data using these open standards and to develop new services in this framework. Time Machine also organises the development of higher level services based on the IIIF standards including handwritten word recognition, image matching, document analysis, complex annotations and more and explores the extension of the IIIF approach to other kind of services, beyond image delivery. This could include services for music, video, 3d, maps, biography, genealogy, and so forth.


The Time Machine FET Flagship is supported by the READ H2020 project, a multidisciplinary consortium of 13 partners working in Computer Science, Pattern Recognition, Machine Learning, Image Processing and Humanities. The project boosts the development and usage of cutting edge technology for the automated recognition, transcription, indexing and enrichment of handwritten archival documents and develops a collaborative platform for this purpose.


Time Machine collaborates with the European Association for Urban History (EAUH). EAUH was established in 1989 with support from the European Union. Its goal is to provide a multidisciplinary forum for historians, geographers, sociologists, anthropologists, art and architectural historians, planners and other scholars working on various aspects of urban history from the middle ages until the present. The EAUH supports the FET Time Machine Flagship because it will be an excellent opportunity to make big data available and accessible for the reconstruction of the historical development of European cities in relation to economic growth, cultural diversity and migration networks. These topics are highly relevant to the scientific network and the conferences of the EAUH.


Time Machine collaborates with the European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS). This pan-European project aims to support research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management. The project will provide state-of-the-art tools and services to interdisciplinary research communities that advance understanding and preservation of global heritage.


Time Machine collaborates with the MAPIRE project, a cooperation between the Austrian State Archives, the Geophysics and Space Science Department of the University of Budapest and a number of other institutions. The project originally enabled the user to navigate historical maps of the Habsburg empire using state-of-the art technologies including Google Maps, Google Earth and OpenStreetMap. It recently extended its area of coverage to now include 20 European and more than 100.000 map sheets.


Time Machine collaborates with 15cBOOKTRADE to help retracing the history of 450 000 copies of incunabula, currently located in about 4000 different public libraries. The circulation of these books will be informed by the other historical reconstructions and circulation maps developped by the Time Machine’s partners.


Time Machine collaborates with Fragmentarium, the International Digital Research Lab for Medieval Manuscript Fragments. Collaborating with 15 partner institutions throughout Europe and the USA, the project aims, over the next years, to lay the foundations for research on medieval manuscript fragments by providing open standards and guidelines.


Time Machine works with CLARIAH, the Common Lab Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities, to define sustainable strategies for accessing, processing, preserving and exploiting digital data for humanities scholars.


Time Machine collaborates closely with the Golden Agent project, which goal is to disclose existing and new datasets on the production of the creative industries of the Dutch Golden Age by combining linked open data and multi-agent technology. The project will make 2 millions scans available of notarial acts/probate inventories in the City Archives of Amsterdam providing this way insight in the consumption of cultural goods of the 17th Century of Amsterdam.


Time Machine collaborates also with the CREATE Program of the University of Amsterdam. This program volunteered to develop an Amsterdam Time Machine, based on the Venetian experience, exploiting the wealth of data and knowledge present within the Amsterdam context.


Time Machine collaborates with POSTDATA (Poetry Standardization and Linked Open Data), an ERC Starting Grant EU Funded project, whose aim is to transform poetry collections into standardized, machine-readable Linked Open Data. It will allow researchers from different languages and cultures to retrieve information from sources of varied origins, making data interoperable thanks to the combination of ontologies, Natural Language Processing technologies and machine learning applied to poetry analysis.


Time Machine collaborated with project FRIDA, a pioneer digital Atlas of festivals in Renaissance Italy, with the long-term goal to focus on festivals in Renaissance Europe, developed at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with the researchers at Politecnico di Milano and Columbia University. FRIDA aims to develop new methodological and experimental approaches to overcome recovery biases of historical records and systematically recompose the montage of ephemeral events in a way that allows for the reconstruction of a full multi-media experience. The technological development proposed by Time Machine will substantially advance the tool set available to interrogate the FRIDA Atlas.

Founding Partners

Austrian National Library (AT)

Bar-Ilan University (IL)

École nationale des chartes (FR)

EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (CH)

FAU, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (DE)

FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur (DE)

Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD (DE)

Ghent University (BE)

Huygens Institute for History of the Netherlands (NL)


Iconem (FR)

Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes (FR)

Institut National de l'Information Géographique et Forestière (FR)

Naver Labs Europe (FR)

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NL)

Picturae (NL)

Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PL)

Qidenus Technologies GmbH (DE)

TU Delft (NL)

TU Dortmund (DE)

TU Dresden (DE)

TU Wien (AT)

Università di Bologna (IT)

University Ca' Foscari of Venice (IT)

University of Amsterdam (NL)

University of Antwerp (BE)

University of Luxembourg (LU)

University of Warsaw (PL)

Utrecht University (NL)

Institutional Network


AIT Angewandte Informationstechnik Forschungsgesellschaft, Graz

Archives of Upper Austria

Austrian National Library, Vienna

Centre for Information Modelling - Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, Graz

Diozesanarchiv Graz-Seckau, Graz


Innsbruck University, Innsbruck

Lower Austrian Provincial Archives, St. Pölten

Paris Lodron University of Salzburg, IZMF, Krems

St. Pölten Diocesan Archives, St. Pölten

TU Wien, Vienna

Vorarlberger Landesarchiv, Bregenz

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Historical Archives of Sarajevo, Sarajevo


Antwerp Art City, Antwerp

Antwerp City Archives, Antwerp

Centre for the Study of Flemish Music, Antwerp

City of Antwerp, Heritage section , Antwerp

Flanders Architecture Institute , Antwerp

FOMU, Photo Museum in Antwerp, Antwerp

Ghent University, Ghent

Library Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, Research group Labo XIX&XX, Antwerp

MoMu, Fashion Museum in Antwerp, Antwerp

Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, Brussels

Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels

Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussel

Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels

State Archives of Belgium, Brussels

University of Antwerp, Antwerp


Archives State Agency of Republic of Bulgaria, Sofia

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Literature, Sofia

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Information and Communication Technologies, Sofia

CLaDA-BG, EInfrastructure for Bulgarian Language and Cultural Heritage Resources and Technologies, Sofia

Ontotext, Sofia

Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski", Sofia


Canton of Geneva State Archives, Geneva

Canton of Valais State Archives, Sion

Cantonal Archeology and History Museum of Lausanne, Lausanne

EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne

ETH Zurich, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich

Republic and Canton of Geneva

Swiss Federal Archives, Bern

Swiss National Library, Bern

University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (HES-SO), Yverdon-les-Bains

University of Lausanne, Lausanne

University of Zürich, Swiss Art Research Infrastructure, Zürich


Cyprus University of Technology, UNESCO Chair on Digital Heritage , Limassol

Czech Republic

Czech Technical University in Prague, Prague

Moravian Regional Archives in Brno, Brno

National Archives of the Czech Republic, Prague

University of Hradec Králové, Philosophical Faculty, Hradec Králové


Archiv des Bistums Passau, Passau

Bavarian State Archives, München

Cologne Center for eHumanities, Cologne

FAU, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen

Federal Archives, Bundesarchiv, Koblenz

FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur, Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen

Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD, Darmstadt

German Archaeological Institute, Berlin

Hessian State Archives

Humboldt University of Berlin , Berlin

Landesarchiv Baden-Wurttemberg, Stuttgart

Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development, Dresden

Qidenus Technologies GmbH, Berlin

TU Dortmund, Dortmund

TU Dresden, Dresden

ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe


Danish National Archives, Copenhagen


National Archives of Estonia, Tartu


Bilboko Gotzaitegia - Roman Catholic Diocese of Bilbao

Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid

Spain National Library, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid

Spain State Archive

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, PROLOPE Research Group, , Bellaterra

University of Valencia, València

UPC, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona

UPVLC, Universitat Politècnica de València , València


Aalto University, Espoo

National Archives of Finland, Helsinki

University of Helsinki, Helsinki


BnF French National Library , Paris

CEA- French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, Grenoble

Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris, Paris

Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris

École nationale des chartes, Paris

Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Lyon

Iconem, Paris

INHA, Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art, Paris

Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes, Paris

Institut National de l'Information Géographique et Forestière, Saint-Mandé

IRCAM, Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music, Paris

Laboratoire de recherche historique Rhône-Alpes, Lyon, Lyon

Le Louvre, Paris

Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris, Paris

Naver Labs Europe, Meylan

Paris-Est University, Marne-la-Vallée

United Kingdom

CARMEN - The Worldwide Medieval Network, Southampton

Digirati, London

University College London, London

University of Oxford, 15cBooktrade, Oxford


Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini

National Center for Scientific Research “Demokritos", Agia Paraskevi

University of the Peloponnese, School of Fine Arts , Nafplion


Croatian State Archives , Zagreb

Dubrovnik State Archives , Dubrovnik

University of Zadar, Zadar


Arcanum Ltd., Budapest

Budapest City Archives, Budapest

National Archives of Hungary, Budapest


Maynooth University, Co. Kildare


Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan

Board of the Israel Antiquities Authority, History of Jerusalem

ClearMash Solutions

Digi Doc , Ramat-Gan

Israel Museum, Jerusalem

MIA Computers, Herzeliya

National Library of Israel, Jerusalem

Semantic Interfaces , Tel-Aviv

Thomson Reuters , Petah Tikva


Associazione Nazionale Archivistica Italiana, Roma

Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck Institut for Art History , Roma

Centro Museale delle Scienze Agrarie, Portici

Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice

ilCartastorie, Museum at the Banco di Napoli Historical Archives, Naples

Regesta, Roma

Università di Bologna, Bologna

University Ca' Foscari of Venice, Venice

University of Naples Federico II, Napoli

Venice State Archives, Venice


The Office of Chief Archivist of Lithuania, Vilnius


University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg


National Archives of Malta, Rabat


Amsterdam City Archives, Amsterdam

Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam

Archief De Domijnen, Sittard

Brill, Publishing House, Leiden

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, Amsterdam

City of Amsterdam, Monuments and Archaeolgy , Amsterdam

Huygens Institute for History of the Netherlands, Amsterdam

Museum of Poverty - Foundation Past for Present, Sittard

National Library of the Netherlands , Den Haag

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Hilversum

Picturae , Heiloo

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

RKD, Netherlands Institute for Art History, The Hague


TU Delft, Delft

University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam

Utrecht University, Utrecht


National Archives of Norway , Oslo


National Archives in Krakow , Kraków

Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center, Poznań

University of Warsaw, Warsaw


Xpectraltek, Braga


National Archives of Romania , Bucharest


Historical Archives of Novi Sad, Novi Sad


Swedish National Archives, Stockholm


Archives of the Republic of Slovenia , Ljubljana


Comenius University in Bratislava, Bratislava

Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic , Bratislava


Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis




Steering Committee

Management Staff


For all inquieries related to the project, contact us at: contact@timemachine.eu