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Contents Foreword Introduction Standards Appendix Bibliography
Documenting the Cultural Heritage
  Importance of Documentation
  Need for Documentation Standards
  Core Data Index
Core Data Standard
  Object ID
Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites
and Monuments

The Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites and Monuments is the result of a collaboration between the documentation committee (CIDOC) of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the archaeology documentation group of the Council of Europe. The standard has its origins in an international conference of representatives of national archaeological records held in Copenhagen in 1991. At this conference it became clear that there were already many similarities between the approaches used for different national records, but that there was a need for closer co-operation in a number of areas, including that of documentation standards. The decision to develop a core data standard for archaeological sites and monuments was made at the 1992 CIDOC meeting in Quebec, and the Archaeological Sites Working Group was established to undertake the project. The aims of the group are as follows:
  • To facilitate communication between national and international bodies responsible for the recording and protection of the archaeological heritage,

  • To assist countries at an early stage in developing systems for the recording and protection of the archaeological heritage,

  • To facilitate research utilising archaeological core data where this has an international dimension.
Shortly after the working group was established, the European Plan for Archaeology was launched under the aegis of the Council of Europe’s Cultural Heritage Committee. The launch of the Plan, in April 1993, followed the signing of the revised European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage at Valletta (Council of Europe, 1992) in January 1992, and was in accordance with Resolution 1 of the third Conference of Ministers responsible for the Cultural Heritage. One of the four main elements of the European Plan for Archaeology was a programme focusing on inventory and documentation techniques and standards with regard to the archaeological heritage. An important part of this programme was the preparation of a core data standard for records of archaeological sites and monuments, intended to complement the Council’s Core Data Index to Historic Buildings and Monuments of the Architectural Heritage. When the Council of Europe working party became aware that the CIDOC working group was already preparing an archaeological data standard modelled on the Core Data Index, it decided that the most practical course of action was to adopt the CIDOC data standard as the basis of its own standard, subject to minor adjustments reflecting the narrower geographical focus of the Council of Europe.

In developing the standard, the working group recognised the importance of reaching a wide audience and involving archaeologists in as many countries as possible. From a small committee representing Canada, Denmark, France, Romania, and the UK, the group has expanded to include members from Albania, Brazil, Israel, Kenya, Madagascar, Poland, the Russian Federation, and the USA. There are also corresponding members in Germany, Jamaica, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, and Zambia. From the outset, the group undertook to ensure that its work was carried out in collaboration with other interested bodies, and there has been liaison with a number of organisations, including the Council of Europe, ICOMOS, the Getty Information Institute, and other CIDOC working groups. A questionnaire survey was undertaken to identify the contents of the standard. One hundred and nine responses were received from 35 countries, from organisations representing 177 individual inventories.

The International Core Data Standard for Archaeological Sites and Monuments of the Architectural Heritage has retained a close relationship with the Core Data Index to Historic Buildings and Monuments of the Architectural Heritage in order that countries wishing to include all information relating to the man-made environment on one database can do so. Moreover, the standard can be linked with other standards for movable objects, including the CIDOC standard for archaeological objects (1992), CIDOC’s International Guidelines for Museum Object Information (1995), and Object ID (1997).

The standard was published in draft form in 1995 and circulated widely to heritage organisations. In September of that year it was discussed at a colloquy in Oxford organised by the Council of Europe and the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. The delegates to the meeting recommended that the standard be approved as part of the Council’s European Plan for Archaeology.

The Core Data Standard has been designed to make it possible to record the minimum categories of information required to make a reasonable assessment of a monument or site, whether for planning, management, academic, or other purposes. In addition, it makes it possible to provide references to further information held in databases, documentation centres, and elsewhere that may be necessary for the detailed understanding and care of individual monuments or sites or categories of monument or site. It is also envisaged that the standard will:
  • Provide a model that can be used as a framework by organisations wishing to establish new recording systems,

  • Encourage consistency in the recording of archaeological sites and monuments,

  • Function as an exchange format for the sharing of data

  • Form the basis of collaborative projects.
The authors of the standard recognise that different organisations record archaeological information for different purposes and to varying degrees of detail. For this reason, a number of sections, sub-sections, and fields are optional rather than mandatory, thereby allowing different organisations to record at a level appropriate to their aims and resources. The standard is intended for use in conjunction with the data model selected for the national or regional database. The data model will, in most cases, require modification to reflect the requirements of the organisation.

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