Maven: The Complete Reference
An archetype is a template for a Maven project which is used by the Maven Archetype plugin to create new projects. Archetypes are useful for open source projects such as Apache Wicket or Apache Cocoon which want to present end-users with a set of baseline projects that can be used as a foundation for new applications. Archetypes can also be useful within an organization that wants to encourage standards across a series of similar and related projects. If you work in an organization with a large team of developers who all need to create projects which follow a similar structure, you can publish an archetype that can be used by all other members of the development team. You can create a new project from an archetype using the Maven Archetype plugin from the command line or by using the project creation wizard in the m2eclipse plugin introduced in Developing with Eclipse and Maven.