2 Archives and Value

The real value of the archives is in their diversity as a commentator on archaeological practice across Europe. This encourages reciprocal approaches through mutal exchange and experiences that enriches our own understandings of our heritage. For example, in Iceland the Institute of Archaeology is currently creating other archives that it can use in a similar method of dissemination, primarily aimed at students for the distribution of knowledge connected with excavations but also as a basis for communicating archaeology to non-archaeologists, archives from Neðri Ás; Stóraborg; Aðaæstrætiare are also due for release via Much of the the inspiration for this work is taken directly from the Institite's involvement in the ARENA project.

The ARENA archives have several areas of commonality, besides their national differences and European significance. They are part of a process of dissemination that transverses national boundaries, in an attempt to increase access to archaeological information. In presenting the excavation archives online the archaeological practice and theory that is nationally characteristic has a common European value by forming a part of the rich research resource. This is perhaps one of the reasons that ARENA is different from other digital European projects that have created access points to archaeological information such as AREA, CIPHER, ARCHTERRA. ARENA celebrates diversity visibly, but behind the scenes has also addressed technological accessibility issues to ensure the longevity or preservation of the archives, thus ensuring open standards and common linkages between data and metadata.

Access to excavation archives imbues them with value; they are presented in the first instance through a gateway which has been translated into every language of the six ARENA countries. The central access point links directly to the archives held on the servers in the presenting countries. While this concept of linking distributed information is not new, the ARENA project has ensured that basic level information about the archives involved in the ARENA project is accessible to six different audiences. Furthermore, each of the ARENA archives has been linked to the Archaeological Data Service's collection catalogue and is therefore accessible through other search and access mechanisms via the ADS catalogue. International accessibility is particularly important as the population of Iceland is comparable in size to a small European town; getting the information out and beyond one's own country is critical in developing regional approaches to archaeology and in obtaining access to avenues of funding.


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