Mapping Our Heritage: Towards a Sustainable Future for Digital Spatial Information and Technologies in European Archaeological Heritage Management

Peter McKeague, R.H. van 't Veer, Isto Huvila, Anne Moreau, J.W.H.P. Verhagen, Loup Bernard, Anwen Cooper, Chris Green, N. van Manen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89
Number of pages104
JournalJournal of Computer Applications in Archaeology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2019


As highlighted earlier, efforts to guarantee the sustainable archiving of digital archaeological data have been partially successful at the local and national level, even when the spatial dimension of archaeological data has not been the primary focus. However, even well-established initiatives are still very vulnerable to changes in the political climate. Almost all organisations curating archaeological data do so on the basis of governmental funding, and changes in political priorities can easily lead to loss of datasets if curating these is not part of the legal obligations of administrative authorities at local, regional, national or transnational levels. The Dutch national digital archive DANS, for example, is currently financed by the Dutch government as a partnership between the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), as part of a larger effort to curate scientific research data. However, there is no guarantee that this agreement will continue in the future, and if so, whether accessing data will remain free of charge, and if DANS will continue to receive enough funding to adapt its services to changing technological and research environments. And the Netherlands are ahead of many other countries in acknowledging that there is a problem that needs to be addressed at the national level. The funding for the German IANUS initiative (IANUS 2019), for example, was ended in 2017 without a follow-up strategy for implementing the project’s results. Clearly, sustainability is not just a matter of developing exchange standards and creating repositories, but also of developing infrastructures that have a sound financial and legal basis. This paper developed from presentations held by the authors at the EAA2017 conference in Maastricht (30 August – 2 September 2017) in the session “Mapping our heritage. Towards a sustainable future for digital spatial information and technologies in archaeological heritage management”, organized by Philip Verhagen, Niels van Manen, Loup Bernard and Isto Huvila. Some of the presentations are available online (EAA 2019). Verhagen and Van Manen gratefully acknowledge the support of CLUE+, the Research Institute for Culture, Cognition and Heritage at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in organising this session. This paper is further based upon work from the COST Action ARKWORK (2019), supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology, Huvila’s work was partially supported by the Archaeological Information in the Digital Society project (ARKDIS) project funded by the Swedish Research Council Grant 340-2012-5751.

FundersFunder number
Research Institute for Culture
Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences
European Cooperation in Science and Technology
Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek


    • spatial technology
    • digital archaeological data
    • heritage management
    • sustainability

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