HeDAS: Heritage documentation and analysis service
The Research Infrastructure Heritage Documentation and Analysis Service (RI HeDAS) is a renowned research and service institution, whose impact on the development of research and world heritage protection is based on high methodological standards, excellent research workers and their experienced teams, a unique instrumentation infrastructure and wide international and interdisciplinary cooperation.
RI HeDAS reached the critical size and impact thanks to systematic development of the research infrastructure and is currently the unique Central European institution, which is able to prevent irreversible losses of valuable heritage data caused by an intensified building development activity, in the condition of factual unenforceability of respect towards the protection of the heritage of humankind. HeDAS is able to fundamentally change and innovate the procedures and the efficiency of archaeological rescue research and heritage research.
Building development activity was never so intensive and this boom causes unprecedented liquidation of even whole sites. In the Czech Republic, the principles of heritage protection come into force only very slowly, whereupon many priceless cultural heritage remains vanish in the meantime. The duty of archaeological and heritage protective watching briefs is often circumvented, the legally stipulated archaeological research is abridged by the investors to mere selective recovery of finds.
Methodologically, personally and instrumentally well-equipped institution is able to solve and turn this critical situation, until the practice is settled to the level of heritage protection to meet the requirements of society. This will be achieved by a radical increase in quality, coordination and quickness of research, as well as by offering reliable survey analyses, inclusive of large-scale excavations, to investors still before the beginning of an investment project.
The successful application for strategic research and development grants in 1999–2015 enabled to create a stable research background equipped with buildings, field bases, a unique instrumentation infrastructure and top experts, as well as with a qualified documentation and technical team. Significant milestones in the development mainly were two projects of Research programme of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the ČR in 1999–2004 and 2005–2009, and two educational projects within the Operational Programme Education for Competitiveness in 2009–2012 and 2012–2015. The development of instrumentation infrastructure was also boosted by the participation in the Centre for the Advancement of Research in the Liberal Arts (CARLA) project within the Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovation in 2011–2015.
The scientific and methodological development of the institution was also significantly boosted by many research projects of the Czech Science Foundation (GA ČR). In the past 10 years, 12 projects of this foundation were approved, including bilateral projects in cooperation with foreign partners.
Important achievements also resulted from our engagement in interdisciplinary research and from the long tradition of cooperation with many natural scientific disciplines, such as geology, anthropology, geodesy, zoology and botany. This interdisciplinary cooperation was made good use in realisation of a project within the National and Cultural Identity Programme NAKI (2013–2016) and an interdisciplinary research project of the Grant Agency of Masaryk University (GAMU).
The intensive development of the institution and its well-established position of a methodological leader in many fields within the discipline in the Czech Republic enabled to offer the built-up infrastructures to external subjects as well. The instrumentation infrastructure has been built up in the DAM since 2006 and it currently comprises a complex equipment for geophysical survey, geodetic survey and documentation, 3D analyses, material and artefactual analyses of tangible evidence and samples.
Instrumental equipment of the HeDAS
The research infrastructure rests upon four pillars of unique character, which include instrumentation, building infrastructure, means of transport and, last but not least, excellent key personal resources. The teams of large-scale geophysical survey and field documentation, laboratories for use-wear analysis and laboratories of the analytic-experimental centre cover the needs of scientific and corporate clients within the whole range of acquisition and analysis of archaeological research data, from survey and identification of archaeological features and monuments over collecting of spatial, stratigraphic and environmental data and documentation of the excavation phase of the research through to a complex analysis of tangible evidence, which encompasses expert’s assessments, microscopy of technological marks and use-wear analysis, XRF provenance analyses, 3D morphometric analysis and experimental verification of the data acquired.