Time Machine Project Takes Next Step To Reconstructing Europe’s History

The Time Machine FET Flagship is an international collaborative project to build a Large Scale Historical Simulator mapping 5000 years of European history.

It has brought together academic research teams, public organisations and digital companies from all over Europe, and comprises of over 170 institutions, ranging from the major European museums to leading companies in the field of digitisation and artificial intelligence.

To help support these partners, the Time Machine project has announced that it has passed the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme’s first stage of evaluation for bids for the 1 billion Euros of funding available for new Flagships.

The decision, approved by the European Commission, allows the project to submit a full proposal for the second stage of evaluation later this year.

A total of 33 projects from across Europe applied for the Horizon 2020 Flagship funding, which is intended for visionary, science-driven, large-scale research initiatives. Only the Time Machine project and 16 others were selected for the second round – a vital validation of the Time Machine’s scope and efforts.

These efforts include the digitisation of millions of historical documents, paintings and monuments, and the digital transfer of these data into the largest historical computer simulation ever developed.

First proposed to the European Commission in April 2016, the project has since primarily focused on the historical recreation of Venice, but work is already in progress to digitise and simulate other European regions including Amsterdam, Paris, Antwerp and Budapest.

As a free-to-use public resource, the Time Machine will act as the most interactive and detailed historical educational tool ever created, with invaluable uses for schools, universities, policy makers and urban planners.

As an additional benefit, the unique computer simulation technology that is being developed for the project will firmly place Europe as a world leader in the race to innovate artificial intelligence.

On surpassing the Framework’s first stage of evaluation, Professor Frédéric Kaplan, Director of the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne Digital Humanities laboratory said:

This is a first step towards a crucial goal, not just for European cultural heritage, but for the world’s cultural heritage.

Julia Noordegraaf, Professor of Digital Heritage at the University of Amsterdam, said:

We’re delighted with the announcement.

It’s a wonderful recognition of the project’s potential and it means that we can now further develop our plan of action to make the Time Machine possible.