An "Encyclopedia of Archaeological Heritage"? the Encyclopedia of Life as a model for digital cultural atlases

Shawn Ross, Adela Sobotkova

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


In February 2008 the first demonstration pages of the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) website went online. In less than six hours, it received 11.5 million hits, and has since become a valuable resource for educators, researchers, and the general public around the world. Looking at another metric, the EOL has attracted over $50 million in funding, and eventually expects to receive twice that amount. Has the time come for a similar project in archaeology, an 'Encyclopedia of Cultural Heritage'? The situation in archaeology resembles that in the life sciences several years ago. A number of valuable online databases exist, and attempts to improve interoperability between databases have been initiated (with limited success). Existing resources provide the raw material for an Encyclopedia of Cultural Heritage, which in turn could accelerate the development of interoperable databases and improve data management practices across the discipline. This paper provides an overview of the EOL and a discussion of existing archaeological databases. We consider the EOL as an example for archaeology, and explore the obstacles to and potential benefits of an Encyclopedia of Cultural Heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpace, time, place
Subtitle of host publicationthird international conference on remote sensing in archaeology
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781407306599
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes
EventInternational conference on remote sensing in archaeology (3rd : 2009) - Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India
Duration: 17 Aug 200921 Aug 2009


ConferenceInternational conference on remote sensing in archaeology (3rd : 2009)
CityTiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India


  • Encyclopedia of Life
  • Archaeological databases
  • Web-based research tools


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