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Reason to apply for a COST Action & prospects: COST Action SAGA (CA17131)



Contribution towards the workshop 'How to overcome the fragmentation in Cultural Heritage research and funding in the context of Horizon Europe?' organised by COST Association
Biannual Conference
EuroMed 2018
European - Mediterranean Conference 2018
Digital Heritage: Progress in Cultural Heritage
Documentation, Preservation and Protection
Nicosia, Cyprus
Oct 29
- Nov 3
Springer Nature Proceedings Cover Pages
#EuroMed 2018
#EuroMed 2018
Workshop 2 - Registration is mandatory for all, free participation (31 / 10 / 2018) 14:00 - 18:00:
This special workshop is fully sponsored by the EU Horizon 2020 - European Cooperation in Science &
Technology (COST) programme (H2020 COST WORKSHOP)
TITLE: How to overcome the fragmentation in Cultural Heritage research and funding in the context of
Horizon Europe?
COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is an EU-funded programme that enables
researchers to set up their interdisciplinary research networks in Europe and beyond. It is a unique
means for them to jointly develop their own ideas and new initiatives across all fields in science and
technology. COST has been contributing to closing the gap between science, policy makers and society
throughout Europe and beyond.
In the COST-dedicated workshop, participants from COST Actions will debate on the following topics:
Fight against fragmentation of activities and dispersion of resources.
Given the high interdisciplinary nature of the domain, the need for a better structured dialogue and a
common understanding between communities is clearly a main priority. The difficult collaboration
between scientists in Humanities and IT specialists is an opportunity and not an enemy and requires the
main actors in the field to develop a new culture of sharing, to re-design their skills and profiles and to
open up to co-creation.
Linking research with needs of society and citizens: Culture is more and more seen as the new
cement for redefining European identity and integration. Investigating cultural heritage and
promoting discoveries in combination with new technologies, contribute to a better
understanding of our common past in order to valorise, conserve, protect and preserve the
European heritage.
The dissemination of knowledge to the general public is another critical challenge, including how
citizens can be actively involved in promoting, contributing and exploiting cultural heritage around
them. This topic becomes therefore innovative by connecting research for the benefit of the broad
society: protect and preserve cultural heritage for future generations.
Find out more about COST here
Participating Actions:
CA17131 - The Soil Science & Archaeo-Geophysics Alliance: going beyond prospection
CA15201 - Archaeological practices and knowledge work in the digital environment
TD1406 - Innovation in Intelligent Management of Heritage Buildings
IS1310 - Reassembling the Republic of Letters, 1500-1800 A digital framework for multi-lateral
collaboration on Europe`s intellectual history
TD1201 - Colour and Space in Cultural Heritage
Archaeo-geophysics currently stands as a powerful discipline in European archaeological research to
discover, study and record subsurface archaeological sites. Its importance lies in its capacity to reveal hidden
archaeological assets in a non-destructive, rapid and detailed manner in comparison with traditional and
more invasive archaeological methods such as excavation or test-trenching. Less-invasive and cost-effective
field procedures, such as those provided by geophysical means, are increasingly becoming a top priority to
mitigate the destructive effects on our cultural heritage from intensified land use, climate change and the
current conflict panorama. By using geophysical techniques, archaeological remains can be detected
remotely, from the ground surface, sea surface or from the air. These techniques measure and map spatial
variations of a range of physical properties of the subsoil which may be representative (the proxies) of the
subsurface archaeology. In the last decade, a major technological development in archaeo-geophysics has
been the introduction of multi-sensor and motorised instrumentation. This has revolutionised archaeological
prospection by allowing extremely fast and high-resolution surveys to explore large areas.
Whilst the discipline of archaeo-geophysics is going through an exciting phase of technological development,
a major problem concerning researchers and practitioners is that our ability to interpret the full suite of
information extractable from geophysical datasets has not kept pace with developments in technology and is
still very limited. This deficiency prevents geophysical survey moving beyond basic prospection and
becoming a significant tool for answering nuanced questions about archaeology and the landscapes it is part
of. The reason for this limitation is that there is still much to learn about the relationships between soil
properties and geophysical measurements. Since the publications of Clark (1990), Scollar et al. (1990),
Fassbinder & Stanjek (1993) or Weston (2001 & 2002), back in the early stages of the application of
geophysics to archaeology, most of the progress achieved in this topic has come from some significant but
very fragmented studies. Also, much of the work has focused on understanding of soil magnetic properties
whilst other soil properties that contribute to geophysical contrast have been considered to a lesser extent.
Bridging this gap requires fine-tuned and multidisciplinary teams, experimental approaches, testing field and
analytical methods and solutions for multivariate data integration and analysis. The lack of continuity in the
development of this topic should be understood, partly, because of the scarcity in funding that has been
devoted to Humanities in Europe during the last decade and the consequent research priorities followed by
many institutions. These have been more interested in being at the foreground of technological
development rather than competing with more time-consuming and resource-demanding projects devoted
to in-depth understanding and interpretation of proxy data. Besides, there has been little scholarly
discussion devoted to distilling the outcomes and structuring the achievements of the projects that have
been completed in this topic into validated and shared “lessons learned”. Overcoming these challenges is a
prerequisite for maximising the cost-effectiveness of geophysical methods, harvesting the expected benefits
of large-scale investments in instrumentation and allowing a broader uptake of geophysical methods in the
cultural heritage sector.
Our principal reason to apply for a COST Action was to build a multi-disciplinary international network in
order to bring together geophysicists, archaeologists, soil scientists and a wide range of experts in other sub-
disciplines in geoscience to make a major push forward in our capability to interpret geophysical data for
archaeological purposes. Our prospects are that after four years of intensive collaborative work, SAGA will
have created a framework for emerging field procedures and enhanced data-interpretation solutions. SAGA
will have facilitated a broader understanding and use of integrated geophysical methods in cultural resource
management routines in countries where these methods were not previously common. In countries that
already integrate geophysical prospection in cultural heritage management, SAGA will have educated
practitioners and curators in the cutting edge of our improved understanding following the integration and
synthesis of concepts, methods and knowledge from adjacent disciplines.
From the perspective of the COST Action Archaeological Practices and Knowledge Work in the Digital Environment
(ARKWORK), there is a lot of relevant on-going work in different European countries for increasing the understanding of
digital and digitalising archaeological and archaeology-related work and knowledge production. Two years of activities
within the Action has confirmed some of the earlier assumptions and observations of the proposers but at the same
time, underlined the significance of other factors that were not considered to be as problematic as they appear to be.
The focus of the Action on practices has at the same time confirmed the importance and difficulty of conducting
research on what people do and how to leverage on that understanding to inform practitioners. One of the most
important take-away so far has been by far the significance of reaching a common understanding on what research is
about both for successful scholarly and scientific collaboration, communication and dissemination of results and
societal impact of the work. The presentation will discuss briefly key insights into the 'articulation work' carried out in
COST-ARKWORK to reach a common understanding of the research field and its linkages to the archaeological practice,
and its implications for overcoming fragmentation of research and practice in archaeology and material cultural
heritage in Europe.
Europe is one of the World's regions presenting the areas (pillars): scientific wisdom, systems & data and social
A multidisciplinary interoperable approach is of national heritage of every country and culture. They usually consist of
multiple facets and materials often altering dramatically throughout their life span due to changes imposed by society,
their environment and usage. It is through the conservation and restoration of these buildings, and the collections
therein, that the cultural identity of our past can be preserved and transferred into our future.
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