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Conference: Quo vadis? Long-term research projects in European Archaeology

October 26–28, 2011 in Schleswig, Schloss Gottorf

The aims of the conference

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Exceptional archaeological finds and ancient monuments in the open countryside have been known for centuries. Particularly significant examples are the Childerich grave in Tournai (discovered in 1653) and the golden horns found at Gallehus in southern Jutland (discovered in 1639 and 1734). The excavation of such monuments first started at the end of the 18th century and has continued – with interruptions – until today. This is true of Stonehenge in Great Britain, Birka in Sweden and Jelling in Denmark.

Hedeby 1934

The archaeological investigation of such well-known sites, which often started over a century ago, has undergone fundamental changes over the course of time. Excavation techniques themselves, for example, have continuously improved, and methods developed by various scientific disciplines have been increasingly employed in both the actual excavation and the subsequent analysis of the finds and features. Recent innovations have been the use of metal detectors and geophysical prospection. At the same time, series of inter-connected questions have been formulated, which also cover the detailed analysis of what are often vast quantities of find material as well as methodological and theoretical considerations of the significance of large-scale excavations and long-term projects.

The conference in Schleswig will bring long-term excavations in Europe into the centre of scholarly discussion for the first time. Starting with an examination of individual sites, the aim is to encourage an open debate on the future of long-term excavations. In addition, the question of medium and long-term financing strategies must be considered, as must the questions of communication with the public and presentation in museums.

The following key questions are particularly important:

  • How can finds and records be permanently secured, analysed and published?
  • How are current research strategies organised and what lies in store for long-term projects in the future?
  • How can large projects act as role models for smaller projects and which projects can be identified as examples of best practice?
  • What concepts can ensure sustainability in the communication of large-scale projects to the public and their presentation in museums?
  • How can the various research approaches be coordinated and common approaches be found for the sustainable development of large-scale archaeological projects?

The conference is part of a week of celebrations of the 175th anniversary of the State Museum of Archaeology in Schleswig. It is just one of several events in 2011 to celebrate this anniversary of the museum, which was founded by the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen and is one of the oldest of its kind in Germany. The State Museum of Archaeology in Schleswig is itself in charge of long-term research projects, such as the investigation of Hedeby and finds from the Early Bronze Age.

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