Archiving Archaeological Research Data - On Requirements, Objectives and First Experiences from a German Respectively Saxon Point of View

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Reiner Göldner


Preserving digital data over long times is an ambitious task. While most analogue documents are best stored without touching them, digital data need permanent care and curation. Regarding some differences between analogue and digital data - lifecycle, complexity, functionality and so on - it can be realized, that digital archiving is a new challenge.

This paper will deal with requirements and objectives on archiving archaeological research data, as discussed in a working group of the Association of State Archaeologists in Germany (Verband der Landesarchäologen in Deutschland – VLA). Interesting themes of that discussions were “Archive Objectives”, “Worthiness of Archiving”, “Suitability of Archiving” and “Future Use Scenarios”. This paper will also deal with first experiences in building up a digital archive for archaeological research data in Saxony. This archive follows principles of “Open Archival Information System” (OAIS). It is based on professional software that has to be adapted to the special requirements of archaeological data like e.g. excavation documentation. OAIS defines six complex functions to be performed, e.g. data management and preservation planning.  Preservation strategies are presented to give an idea on how to preserve content and function of archive material while systems are changing over time. This is an alternative to the idea, knowing file formats will solve all preservation problems.

Archiving is the most intensive and most expensive way to store data. But aren’t there any alternatives? This paper will address some small steps leading towards a proper archiving without using large budgets. Going such steps will help to reduce the risk of losing important digital information. Going these steps will also bridge the gap until proper preservation tools will be available at a reasonable price.

This article may be helpful for archaeologists that are about to build up an archive to preserve digital data for long terms. The presented concept of preservation strategies may be of interest for specialists on digital archiving.


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How to Cite
Göldner, R. (2017). Archiving Archaeological Research Data - On Requirements, Objectives and First Experiences from a German Respectively Saxon Point of View. Studies in Digital Heritage, 1(2), 165–181.
Special Issue "Cultural Heritage and New Technologies 2016"


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