The modern political and cultural boundaries that straddle the map of the world tend to be recent phenomena. While disparate heritage agencies and research projects have different traditions of preserving, studying and presenting the historic environment, this diversity misrepresents the past. Modern boundaries risk perpetuating unhistorical divisions between populations who moved freely across the borders that we now police.
Archaeologists have thus to look beyond the modern political map, but this is more easily said than done. Because different national and local agencies have their own traditions of recording and interpretation, their records seldom compare easily. The problem is all the more evident as information technology makes it possible to swap and exchange information with ease. In the UK, academic archaeology has always had a broad, internationalist view. Given that the ADS exists to support that community wherever it may work, the problem of reconciling data sets from these diverse heritage management organisations lies squarely on our shoulders.
This issue of ADS NEWS looks at a number of innovative projects which are helping to put the "world" in the World Wide Web. The European Union is funding an exciting research project called ARENA, with partners in six (very) different European countries. The ADS is also a partner in a broader EU project on digital preservation called ERPANET - supporting and extending our mission for long-term preservation. Archaeological research is brought into focus with a new data set of palaeolithic tools - among the earliest and most universal forms of human creativity. Finally, a developing partnership with the University of California at Berkeley gives a taste of how the ADS is collaborating with organisations far beyond these shores to support research locally. These efforts are supported by a developing technical infrastructre, such as the launch of HEIRPORT - a new Z39.50 portal for the historic environment - and our new strategic relationship with UKDA to acquire deep storage facilities.
Archaeology is a worldwide discipline: read on to find out how ADS is rising to that challenge.