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Inst. of Archaeology, Prague: a message from the Director

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  • Alastair Millar
    I have been asked to pass on this statement from Dr. L. Jiran, director of the Institute of Archaeology in Prague. This message has been cross-posted to the
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 29, 2002
      I have been asked to pass on this statement from Dr. L. Jiran, director of
      the Institute of Archaeology in Prague. This message has been cross-posted
      to the ARCH-L, Britarch and EuropeanArchaeology mailing lists - please feel
      free to forward it to as many other colleagues and lists as you feel it may
      be relevant to.


      Due to the devastating floods which have affected Bohemia, the operations
      of the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague
      have been paralysed. The Institute was established in 1919, was
      incorporated into the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1953 and since
      1992 has been part of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. The
      Institute of Archaeology in Prague is the institution in which is
      concentrated the greatest number of professional workers in the discipline
      anywhere in the Czech Republic. Their areas of expertise encompass
      archaeological resources stretching from the Palaeolithic to the Early
      Modern periods, which were and are gained primarily, but not exclusively,
      from the Czech Republic. Both portable and immovable sources are studied
      (artefacts, features, settlements and their remains of all kinds, funerary
      relicts, landscapes). A broad range of methodological approaches are
      applied to both field and theoretical research. Emphasis is laid on
      inter-disciplinary co-operation (with the natural and historical sciences
      in particular). The Institute of Archaeology is also the traditional
      publisher - and largest in the Czech Republic - of professional
      publications, as well as of the two major Czech archaeological journals,
      Památky archeologické and Archeologické rozhledy. The Institute possessed a
      comprehensive library and systematically created archive that formed an
      information base for both the broader professional and non-expert publics.
      It has contributed to the conservation of archaeological resources as part
      of the national cultural heritage organisationally, legislatively,
      informatically and practically (conducting trial excavations, documenting
      threatened sites and carrying out minor rescue operations), to the
      organisation of scientific life (conferences and public competitions) and
      to the popularisation of archaeology (seminars, exhibitions).

      In recent years the Institute of Archaeology in Prague has managed to
      secure considerable, high quality technical and instrumental equipment. It
      has at its disposal, for example, the most modern equipment for the
      creation of digitised documentation, along with the software required for
      its further processing. To meet requirements for field survey caesium
      magnetometers and modern total stations are available. One of the
      professional teams within the Institute has its own aircraft available,
      with the aid of which a project for the aerial prospection of historic
      landscapes in Bohemia is being conducted.

      The well-equipped profilographic laboratory had recently become a fully
      operative centre, the only one of its kind in the former Communist bloc,
      achieving noteworthy results in particular in the area of classic
      artefactual archaeology. Thanks to a concerted effort over the last few
      years it was possible to gradually outfit the conservation laboratory with
      modern equipment, too. In connection with the ever-increasing
      interpenetration of traditional archaeological and natural scientific
      methods in the formulation of theoretical approaches within the discipline
      attention was also devoted to obtaining the modern instruments required for
      the work of those colleagues working in the Natural Science Department - a
      workplace for the processing of samples for pollen analysis, a molecular
      genetics centre for the isolation of DNA from osseous material etc. A
      central archive of sources for the discipline was also created, and it was
      in this year, even, that a general reconstruction and modernisation of the
      library was undertaken.

      All of the Institute's activities were more or less halted on August 14th
      2002, when its principal buildings in Letenská ul. were submerged by
      floodwaters from the Vltava river to a depth of three metres. The library
      was destroyed virtually in its entirety, and the store of Institute
      publications from the last 15 years was also devastated. The geodetic
      archive (some 10,000 maps and plans) and the photographic archive (some 120
      000 negatives and diapositives), the natural sciences and conservation
      laboratories as well as the archaeological finds depositories were all
      flooded out.

      The Institute of Archaeology in Prague will not be able to recover from
      this colossal damage without the aid of colleagues, the archaeological
      community as a whole and the broader public, particularly in recreating the
      library collections. Any donations of books (professional monographs,
      proceedings, runs of journals, dictionaries, encyclopediae, textbooks)
      would be most welcome, in addition to such financial aid as might be

      Financial donations may be sent to the account of the Institute of
      Archaeology in Prague:

      Account name: Archeologický ústav AV ČR v Praze
      Account number: 17537031 / 0710
      Bank: Czech National Bank (Česká národní banka)
      SWIFT code: CEKOCZPP


      Forwarded by:
      Alastair Millar, BSc(Hons)
      alastair@... - alastairmillar@...
      Consultancy and translation for the heritage industry
      Hornicka 1736, CZ 413 01 Roudnice, Czech Republic
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