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Culture 2000

European Union




The devastating floods in Bohemia have paralyzed the Institute of Archaeology

Due to the devastating floods, which have affected Bohemia, the operations of the Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague have been paralyzed.

The Institute was established in 1919, was incorporated into the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1953 and since 1992 has been part of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. The Institute of Archaeology in Prague is the institution in which is concentrated the greatest number of professional workers in the discipline anywhere in the Czech Republic. Their areas of expertise encompass archaeological resources stretching from the Paleolithic to the Early Modern periods, which were and are gained primarily, but not exclusively, from the Czech Republic. Both portable and immovable sources are studied (artifacts, features, settlements and their remains of all kinds, funerary relicts, landscapes). A broad range of methodological approaches is applied to both field and theoretical research. Emphasis is laid on inter-disciplinary co-operation (with the natural and historical sciences in particular). The Institute of Archaeology is also the traditional publisher - and largest in the Czech Republic - of professional publications, as well as of the two major Czech archaeological journals, Pamatky archeologicki and Archeologicki rozhledy. The Institute possessed a comprehensive library and systematically created archive that formed an information base for both the broader professional and non-expert publics. It has contributed to the conservation of archaeological resources as part of the national cultural heritage organisationally, legislatively, informatically and practically (conducting trial excavations, documenting threatened sites and carrying out minor rescue operations), to the organization of scientific life (conferences and public competitions) and to the popularization of archaeology (seminars, exhibitions).

In recent years the Institute of Archaeology in Prague has managed to secure considerable, high quality technical and instrumental equipment. It has at its disposal, for example, the most modern equipment for the creation of digitized documentation, along with the software required for its further processing. To meet requirements for field survey cesium magnetometers and modern total stations are available. One of the professional teams within the Institute has its own aircraft available, with the aid of which a project for the aerial prospect ion of historic landscapes in Bohemia is being conducted.

The well-equipped profilographic laboratory had recently become a fully operative center, the only one of its kind in the former Communist bloc, achieving noteworthy results in particular in the area of classic artefactual archaeology. Thanks to a concerted effort over the last few years it was possible to gradually outfit the conservation laboratory with modern equipment, too. In connection with the ever-increasing interpenetration of traditional archaeological and natural scientific methods in the formulation of theoretical approaches within the discipline attention was also devoted to obtaining the modern instruments required for the work of those colleagues working in the Natural Science Department - a workplace for the processing of samples for pollen analysis, a molecular genetics center for the isolation of DNA from osseous material etc. A central archive of sources for the discipline was also created, and it was in this year, even, that a general reconstruction and modernization of the library was undertaken.

All of the Institute's activities were more or less halted on August 14th 2002, when its principal buildings in Letenska ul. were submerged by floodwaters from the Vltava river to a depth of three meters. The library was destroyed virtually in its entirety, and the store of Institute publications from the last 15 years was also devastated. The geodetic archive (some 10,000 maps and plans) and the photographic archive (some 120 000 negatives and diapositives), the natural sciences and conservation laboratories as well as the archaeological finds depositories were all flooded out.

The Institute of Archaeology in Prague will not be able to recover from this colossal damage without the aid of colleagues, the archaeological community as a whole and the broader public, particularly in recreating the library collections. Any donations of books (professional monographs, proceedings, runs of journals, dictionaries, encyclopedia, textbooks) would be most welcome, in addition to such financial aid as might be offered.

Financial donations may be sent to the account of the Institute of Archaeology in Prague:
Das Jahrhunderthochwasser in Tschechien hat auch das Archäologische Institut der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Prag (Archeologický ústav AV CR) sehr schwer getroffen. Große Teile der Bibliothek, des Archivs und der Laboratorien sind zerstört oder unbrauchbar geworden.

Institute of Archaeology Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Letenská 4, CZ-11801 Praha 1
tel. +4202 57533782, fax +420257532288
Bank account:
Ceská národní banka Praha , SWIFT: CEKOCZPP 17537031/0710

Dr. L. Jiran, Director of the Institute of Archaeology in Prague, one of the partners of the European project "Pathways to Cultural Landscapes"


design: Kai M. Wurm
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