Tasks and challenges

Modern archeological research is concerned not only with traditional academic and scientific questions. Initiatives forcultural preservation, knowledge transfer, education/professionalization, and touristic development have gained considerable significance for our discipline and are becoming increasingly important. Their relevance for the international legal foundations of our work lends them added importance. DAI is committed to uphold and follow these international legal principles. In our guidelines and decisions we also set standards of our own.

The current legal situation requires us to consider how the excavation site and the monuments should be managed after the excavation – and this as early as in the planning stages of an excavation. Implicitly, the legal regulations also call for a comprehensive site management. This involves various tasks and process steps that in turn call for a scientifically sound investigation and documentation of the monument. These are a prerequisite, not only for preservation and restoration measures but for developing viable and sustainable presentation concepts based on the findings of the individual excavation sites.

1. Prospection

Extensive prospections are the first step in every modern excavation Aerial images, satellite images, area scans (e.g. airborne laser scanning), and geophysical prospection methods are used to visualize subterranean structures.The objective is to render visible the subterranean structures within their wider context and to limit the excavation activities to purposefully defined excavation trenches.

2. Building documentation

All archeological documentations must be based on a documentation of the current state of the structure in question, i.e., a precise, true-to-deformation documentation.The methods used to create such documentations are the same whatever the age of the structures – whether it be 10,000-year-old stone circles on GöbekliTepe, Egyptian pyramids, Greek temples, Roman city gates, or modern-era residential buildings that are still inhabited.Building documentations are a prerequisite for understanding the structure's history, study its architectural and constructional idiosyncrasies, and reconstruct its original appearance.Preliminary measures for conservation and/or restoration, e.g. material and damage mapping, also rely on sound building documentation. It is also needed to responsibly plan historic preservation measures, which as a rule should include not only the preservation of an original building structure but also the traces left throughout its history.This forms the essential basis without which plans for necessary additions, reconstructions, or static stabilizations cannot be realized.Thanks to the fast-paced development of measuring technology, constructions researchers now have access tonumerous new documentation methods, including digital photogrammetry and lasers scanning, that also facilitate visualizations of planned preservation and restoration measures in their topographic environment.

3. Survey

A survey takes into account the wider spatial context, investigating the monuments within whole landscapes.The objective of the survey is to document cultural landscapes with all their historic monuments and to gain an understanding of their historic development. Surveys are created through mappings, satellite images, and, particularly, systematic area inspections.Surveys form the basis needed to preserve cultural landscapes or, at the least, document them before necessary infrastructure projects (e.g. highway constructions) begin.

4. Documentation and archiving

Careful documentation is at the core of all activities.Excavations can only be done once as the younger layers of earth – which are closer to the surface – must be removed to access the older, deeper layers.This means that the process of excavation is irreversible, which is why each excavation must be thoroughly and fully documented.The management and handling of archives therefore involves particular challenges.Most importantly, we need to find ways to ensure the long-term storage and preservation of data, most of which is now collected digitally.To address this issue, DAI cooperates closely with numerous German partners in the development of the research data center IANUS (ForschungsdatenzentrumfürArchäologische und Altertumswissenschaften).

5. Digital monument indices

As early as 1815, Prussian architect and city planner Friedrich Schinkelissued a memorandum demanding the creation of monument indices for the registration and protection of significant heritage buildings.Today most German Federal States maintain digital monument indices that also include archeological sites.However, many countries worldwide are still lacking monument indices that would provide planners of infrastructure measures access to information on heritage sites in order to prevent the destruction of archeological treasures or at least ensure their prior, thorough documentation.For this reason, DAI not only established a user-friendly fast-registration system for monuments (iDAI.search), but also designed its digital environment (iDAI.welt) to allow guest and partner countries access to the collected data in order to facilitate a setup of local or national monument indices.

6. Monument preservation measures

Once an archeological monument has been excavated, it requires continuous preservation and conservation.The exposed parts of the structure are typically in a state of ruin, with deteriorating tendency.Many excavated walls, pillars, columns, etc. are unstable because their original static structures are not intact. Drystone and mud walls in particular will crumble relatively quickly if unsupported. Extensive restoration efforts are required to save floors, mosaics, and murals that are exposed to the elements. Comprehensive heritage preservation is thus an essential part of responsible archeological site management.While protecting the ruin is a top priority, appropriate measures should also be taken to make the archeological site comprehensible to the general public so that its potential as a tourist magnet can be tapped. This increases the effort required to protect the ruin against corrosion and make it accessible in a way that is appropriate for a public monument. This process involves a number of individual decisions that must consider the respective preservation conditions as well as the topographic and political situation and possibilities.Individual decisions may cover a wide range of measures that includes securing wall copings and joints, setting up architectural samples, extensive structure protection, and even partial reconstruction.After the site has been scientifically investigated, competent experts plan and supervise the preservation measures, which are carried out with the highest standards of technology and craftsmanship.

7. Touristic development

Cultural tourism represents a significant part of numerous national economies. According to a study by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (J. Leissner), the sector accounts for a considerable percentage of the gross national product (GNP) in European countries like Malta (20 %), Cypress (25 %), France (7 %), and Germany (8 %).Archeological sites are a major element of the sector in many countries. The touristic development and mediation of these sites is accordingly relevant.A prerequisite for this is the research and scientific investigation as it generates the content to be mediated and is essential for optimal mediation. With its research activities, the German Archeological Institute supports the partner countries in their touristic development of archeological sites.

8. Usage concepts

Monuments located in cities pose special questions regarding their development and usage.Considerable challenges must be faced in the touristic development and preservation of such sites. One of the main questions often is how monuments may be integrated and used in an urban environment that has its own specific functional requirements.

9. UNESCO World Heritage

The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was signed in Paris in 1972 and adopted in 1975.190 nations have ratified the Convention and committed to record, protect, and preserve all world heritage within their borders.In order to fulfill these tasks, the ratifying countries also pledged to participate in, support, and contribute to international cooperation.DAI is also bound by this pledge. Our activities around the world supports nomination procedures for archeologically relevant sites, including most recently our initiatives at Pergamon and GöbekliTepe. Our research also promotes nominations, e.g. at the Erbil citadel (Kurdistan Region, Iraq).

10. Awareness raising

In order to preserve the world's cultural heritage, we must not leave the full burden of protecting archeological sites and museums to government institutions.The initiative for these tasks must arise from the will of the public.They key to forming such a public will consists in educating the public about the existence and character of their archeological cultural heritage and create an understanding of the relevance this heritage has for our present society. Such a sound foundation of shared knowledge and understanding can only be built with a multi-level approach. DAI follows through with projects like education materials we developed for schools in Egypt to mediate archeological knowledge and understanding in class. Efforts include information material and workshops for local residents as well as exploring and providing other communication channels such as smartphone apps.

11. Builders' training and education

DAI has a long tradition of knowledge transfer from research to practical application and craftsmanship. This automatically yields further insights on structures and buildings.Specifically, this includes our long tradition of training and education in so-called "Bauhütten", traditional workshops and places of learning for builders.The objective her is to train craftsmen, conservators, and stone masons in order to ensure the long-term protection of historic monuments and build a sustainable foundation of expertise. The work of the Bauhütte set up during the excavation at Trajaneum in Pergamon in 1979 through 1994 continues to have effects in Turkey to this day. Similar projects have been or are being set up in Yeha (Ethiopia)´, at numerous Egyptian sites as well as elsewhere in Turkey (e.g. in Hattusa).

12. Training and education

In addition to training in conservation, craftsmanship, and stonemasonry, our cooperation, education, and professionalization programs include academic and scientific courses, summer schools, university training as well as training and education in disciplines of archeological practice. Our aim is to build expertise and competence in an interaction between Germany and our guest and partner countries.

13. Protection of cultural assets and the fight against the illegal art trade

Illegal excavations are a threat to known and unknown archeological sites around the world. As these predatory excavators rummage the earth for antiques they can sell on the illegal art market they destroy architectural structures as well as archeological layers beyond all hope for recovery, thus robbing the objects of their historical context. DAI therefore supports the local antiques authorities in their fight against this type of destruction. We participate in international measures and lobby to adapt German laws for a better protection of the world's cultural heritage.

The "Law Act implementing the UNESCO Convention of 14 November 1970 on the means of prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property" as well as an update of the "Law for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict" came into effect in May 2007.In November 2007, a correction of this law was published. On October 15, 2008 followed the needed "Register of Cultural Goods Act". The ratification document for the UNESCO Convention was filed with the UNESCO on November 30, 2007. The law came into effect in Germany on February 29, 2008 (Bundesgesetzblatt year 2008 part II No. 7, issued in Bonn on April 8, 2008). This law focuses on exceptional national cultural goods. These must be registered in lists which need to be made public in Germany. Archeological findings from illegal excavations are as a rule not registered as they are still unknown and therefore not recorded in any list. In accordance with the UNESCO Convention, the possibility of posteriori registrations is aimed at exceptional cultural treasures. Yet this does not suffice to stop the catastrophic destruction of archeological sites and architecture.

This is why the coalition agreement for the 18th legislative session of the Federal German government includes a resolution to revise the law in order to adopt the recently revised EU legislation in Germany.