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Taming the Beast. Approaches to Digital Archiving in Czech Archaeology

David Novák, Martin Kuna and Olga Lečbychová

Cite this as: Novák, D., Kuna, M. and Lecbychová, O. 2021 Taming the Beast. Approaches to Digital Archiving in Czech Archaeology, Internet Archaeology 58.


As in other countries, Czech archaeology has embarked on a journey of digitisation. This creates the need to cope with the rapid growth of digital data, which must be stored securely over the long term and be accessible in a comprehensible and useful way. This causes several problems. Although there is a centralised and well-resourced digital agenda that meets the requirements of the Heritage Law, outdated legislation and the absence of comprehensive rules do nothing to regulate the management of the most valuable data - the primary documentation of fieldwork events. At present, only summary information on archaeological fieldwork and the final reports, which should contain a substantial selection of documentation, are centrally collected and stored. This is a situation that is difficult to accept as primary (raw) data with a greater information value is disappearing into thin air. The premise for change lies in supplying the existing central infrastructure - The Archaeological Information System of the Czech Republic (AIS CR) - with the tools to acquire and archive primary data on a larger scale, while at the same time, amending the legal obligations imposed on archaeological practitioners. Sustainable change requires a significant overhaul of the current concept, objectives and especially the practice of archaeological fieldwork projects, particularly in the planning and post-excavation phases.

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  • Keywords: archaeological archiving, digital repositories, heritage management, primary data, Czechia
  • Accepted: 21 January 2021. Published: 31 May 2021
  • Funding: This article was funded by SEADDA as part of COST Action 18128, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union
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Corresponding author: David NovákORCID logo
Institute of Archaeology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

Martin KunaORCID logo
Institute of Archaeology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

Olga LečbychováORCID logo
Institute of Archaeology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Brno

Full text

Figure 1: The number of field intervention notifications by region based on the AMCR data. The comparison of sub-periods suggests a positive trend in coverage rates across regions, but also significant differences in archaeological heritage care performance. Created by D. Novák

Table 1: Accessibility of archive collections in individual archaeological organisations based on data from a questionnaire survey. Figures show the proportion of institutions making the collections accessible in a way as specified. Compiled by D. Novák

Table 2: Data types usage in Czechia based on responses to a questionnaire survey of archaeological data curators. Compiled by D. Novák

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