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11-06-2012
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Background of the project#

Archaeological archives consist of all records and materials, generated by any type of archaeological project, that are deemed worthy of long-term curation. This includes artefacts and other material evidence, as well as the written, drawn and photographic records and digital data. The successful preservation of the archive for the future benefit of the people of Europe depends on the implementation of best practice in creating, compiling, transferring and curating the results of every archaeological project.

In 2008 The Europae Archaeologiae Consilium (http://www.E-A-C.org) held a symposium on archaeological archiving which concluded that many member countries shared common problems. The most pressing issues are the provision of good access to archaeological archives, setting and sustaining digital archive standards, wide variations in archaeological recording methods and maintaining good curatorial practice in order that historic artefacts and collections can properly be preserved, displayed, accessed and circulated within Europe in accordance with the Treaty of Valleta, 1992 . There was unanimous agreement that it was desirable to develop a guide to best practice and adopt an overarching standard for archaeological archives across Europe. The EAC Board formed a Working Party briefed with finding solutions to the issues identified at the symposium (http://www.european-archaeological-council.org/13-0-Archives.html).

The EAC working party has eight representatives from seven countries and has met on a quarterly basis over the last two years. It also has a corresponding member from the Society of American Archaeologists, which is working towards a similar goal and the two groups will share developments. The EAC working party, with the addition of EU Culture Funding, has now evolved into the ARCHES project, which ahs the pacific aim of developing standards for good practice in archaeological archiving. At regular meetings the working party has covered the common ground that our respective countries share with respect to archiving and has thoroughly debated the means for developing the proposed standard, as well as disseminating it in the form of a manual. We now have an agreed set of aims and a detailed methodology for achieving our goal.