The goal of the portal ‘Praha-archeologická‘ (Prague – the City of Archaeology) is to make the archaeological sources of Prague available to professionals as well as the wider public. It shall facilitate the archaeologists and their collaborators to be able to systematically study the past and to embrace it in a faster and broader way. The preservationists shall find there materials helping them decide about the extent of the necessary protection of archaeological heritage, and the businessmen shall draw information about the risks of their business plans.
Through this portal, the wider public has a chance to visit Prague underneath Prague, tracing its past and sharing the excitement of exploration of the unknown. Moreover, they can discover the impeccability of forgotten technologies and handicrafts or learn about endless possibilities of various topics that archaeology offers.
The Praha-archeologicka.eu portal is the main outcome of the project ‘Integrate Information System of Archaeological Sources of Prague (IIS_APP)’ which is the common project of the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS), Prague, v.v.i. and the National Heritage Institute. The project was compiled in 2012. During the period from 2013 to 2017, it will be financed by the NAKI MK ČR program (r. č.13P01OVV014).
Prague as an Archaeological Site
The history of Prague covers more than a thousand years. It was the centre of the medieval state and seat of the rulers for many consecutive centuries, for which it has a prime position among the European metropolises. Especially in the historic centre of Prague, the particular epochs left visible traces – architectural remains. The vast collection of historic monuments, which have survived in Prague, is astonishing and has been acknowledged as part of the world cultural heritage. However, this collection is also comprised of the monuments that remain hidden to both the residents and countless tourists – the outstanding and extensive archaeological collection.
Romanesque structures of the city’s historic centre, luxurious goods as well as objects of everyday use, and the preserved massive layers of debris of buildings, landfills, and rubbish are also part of this collection. Reaching up to several metres, these ‘cultural’ layers provide us with information about the development and changes of Prague from its early times after the mid-9th century to its heyday in the High Middle Ages and the later Industrial Period. All of these archaeological sources are extraordinary even in the European context, despite the fact that they have not been fully discovered and are being presented to the least possible extent.
What is IIS_APP and who is it intended for?
The Integrate Information System of Archaeological Sources of Prague gathers in one place basic information about the circumstances, intensity, and results of archaeological research of the historic core of Prague which has been carried out by many generations. It has a goal to enable the professional public to evaluate effectively the acquired archaeological sources. At the same time, it has an ambition to present information about the scope and value of archaeological heritage for the needs of the public administration.
The presentation and permanent updating of the Map of Archaeological Reference Points (MADB), i.e. the researched areas (test pits) in the Prague Heritage Area and in some other archaeological sites within greater Prague, even in the detailed scale of the cadastre map, is the essence of the system. The particular archaeological findings, either the vanished relics of human activity or the preserved artefacts of the various stages of development of Prague, are published via partial presentations and samples of the findings – from the evidence of everyday life and luxurious objects to the remains of buildings and technological facilities. The examined sites provide references to further information sources such as expert publications which are often presented via modern technologies (digital archives, etc.), including the area of interdisciplinary research.
In 2005, an extensive database of archaeological interventions in the historic core of Prague was published and referred to as the Map of Archaeological Reference Points in the Prague Heritage Area. Its author, L. Hrdlička, had worked in the Institute of Archaeology in Prague, Department of the Archaeology of the Middle Ages, since 1959. He was assigned to conducting terrain research in the historic core of Prague; however, he soon became engaged in the theory as well, especially in the area of rescue research methodology and strategy. L. Hrdlička began to work on the map of archaeological reference points as early as the 1970s. His first steps were to record the fundamental information, which were not protected by copyright, about archaeological research in the centre of Prague agglomeration. It was a time consuming and technically demanding job because at that time the first commonly accessible database tools and sophisticated reproduction technology were still in their infancy, and the amount of information rocketed because of the building of the underground lines and first big shopping centres. The newly established Prague Archaeological Committee and its efforts to take advantage of the building and reconstruction boom in the centre of Prague for recording and learning about its history was the main impulse and source of information for L. Hrdlička.
Archaeological interventions in historic terrains, i.e. those which revealed evidence of human activity to be dated back to the Middle Ages, were the basis of the emerging Map of Archaeological Reference Points. These reference points – ADB (where ADB stands for different kinds of archaeological probes – point, line, site) were drawn by ink on Astralon plastic film and displayed above the imprint of a cadastre map sheet in the scale of 1:1000. Newly recorded probes were gradually added. ADB were numbered step by step in three sets according to the probe’s correspondence to one of the three map sheets 1:5000 (LM 7_1, 7_2, 6_1), covering almost entirely the Prague Heritage Area. The data had been gathered in accessible databases, as a dbase IV file, in the long-term. Accompanied by the cut-out of the map of the left river bank of Prague and later, as an update, published also electronically, the text of the publication included description data and commentary on the conception and compilation of the map. Recorded were not only ADB with precise spatial localisation, but also those with only approximate localisation, for example, in relation to a plot. Some geological reference points were included as a special comparative category. The original map section corresponding with the published data was kept only physically and deposited in the archives of the Institute of Archaeology in Prague, CAS, v.v.i.. Some archaeological events, especially the earlier ones, e.g. from the archaeologically extraordinarily fruitful and significant period of the First Czechoslovak Republic, have not been localised yet because of missing records, partly caused by the war.
Through the recording of archaeological activities in the researched area, the archaeological map project creates a common, fundamental, and irreplaceable source of information for the seemingly unlinkable areas of archaeology – historic preservation on the level of prevention and protection of archaeological sources and the designing of archaeological activities – also for the area of comprehensively conceived evaluation and interpretation of acquired sources with respect to the cognition of Prague history, its outset, and further turbulent development. The necessity of the map is unquestionable; maps of this kind have been a regular part of municipal archaeology in Europe for many centuries (the centre of municipal archaeology in Tours in France and its history is an outstanding example), and maps of other locations are currently being created in our lands too. These maps take advantage of the most recent high-tech tools, interconnecting the spatial information with available data about archaeological sources.
The rise of archaeological events, their accumulation in a small area, and changes in the organisation of the archaeological historic preservation induced the need to innovate the original system of the recording of interventions. From the very beginning, it was progressively based on the depiction of the specific observed positions on a physical foundation as well as on the recording of generally usable coordinate data which can be related to a specific map sheet. The development of GIS resulted in repeated attempts to transfer the existing spatial data into the maps. L. Hrdlička did not succeed to finish the generally accessible and easily usable graphic version of the map; his wider team which had been established to complete it and ensure the continuation of the recording of archaeological reference points of the Prague Heritage Area in the future was also unsuccessful.
Datum vložení: 2.10.2015 | Datum aktualizace: 23.1.2019
Autor: Ivana Boháčová, ARÚ AV ČR, Praha, v.v.i.