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Website launches European archaeology resource

Posted on 14 July 2002

Some of Europe's most important archaeological sites will be available online shortly. Information for professional and leisure use is to be brought together on one site by academics at the University of York.

The Archaeology Data Service (ADS) based at the University, has been awarded 608,000 Euro by the European Union's Culture 2000 programme to develop a system of conserving, spreading and retrieving information. Under the ARENA project (Archaeological Records of Europe: Networked Access) key archives will be made available on the internet via a European portal.

The ARENA project will allow people to search for information about archaeological sites in six European countries - Poland, Romania, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

Jon Kenny, ARENA project officer, said: "This is a huge and exciting project. It will allow academics and the public to search through the resources of several databases across national boundaries at one time - something that's never been possible before."

Because archaeological data is collected in different digital formats such as databases, geophysics, computer-aided drawings and word-processed documents, compatibility can be a problem and formats which have become out of date could be lost forever.

Mr Kenny added: "But ARENA will keep digital archives in a way that both allows easy access and preserves data by updating formats. This means that instead of having to visit many different websites, searchers can use one access point for data that is held in archives right across Europe."

"We know this project will present us with problems, and another task for ARENA will be to tell others how it has found solutions. It will also have to set standards for digital cataloguing which translate across national boundaries."

He added: "Each partner brings different strengths to this project. York provides its expertise in digital preservation and the Norwegians a new generation of Web language called XML; the Danes bring a formidable record in public access to heritage information, while the Romanians have been doing a great deal of digitising, especially using multi-lingual tools. The Polish group bring expertise in geo-spatial technologies and the Icelanders extend the project into literature and the arts."

Notes to editors:

  • Partner institutions in the ARENA project are:
    • Poznan Archaeological Museum, Poland
    • Institute for Cultural Memory, Bucharest
    • National Agency for Cultural Heritage, Copenhagen
    • Institute of Archaeology, Reykjavik
    • The Archaeology Data Service, University of York
  • For more information on ARENA see
  • The Archaeological Data Service exists to collect, catalogue, preserve, and provide user support for digital resources that are a product of archaeological research.
  • The University of York's HEIRPORT portal already works within the UK on a similar model. For more information see
  • Use of the catalogue is free for amateur and academic researchers.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153