Sonatype releases new library to interact with artifact repositories
From the site: Did you ever want to integrate Maven's dependency resolution mechanism into your application and ended up trying to embed Plexus and an entire Maven distribution? Did you ever want to use Maven's dependency resolution mechanism in a multi-threaded fashion and got burned by the stateful singletons in there? Did you ever want to have a little more control over how Maven calculates the resolved dependency graph, say use another strategy for conflict resolution?
In general, Aether is designed to work with all kinds of repositories. A repository where dependencies are written in POM files is just one implementation.