The rise of digital data in archaeology has created a sustainability crisis requiring urgent action, while also creating opportunities. The majority of archaeological interventions are non-repeatable, and the careful recording carried out to document the resource becomes primary data. As this data is increasingly undertaken using digital methods and tools, archaeological data is often born digital, and with no paper surrogates for the primary record. Archaeological researchers are creative and innovative in their methodologies; adopting, adapting and developing novel techniques and approaches, requiring stewardship of a far greater variety of data formats than other cultural and scientific domains, along with more complex understandings of data re-use. This combination of factors, along with the challenges created by development-led archaeology and a research environment focused on project-by-project funding models, makes moving to a sustainable model even more challenging.
At the same time, work around stewardship and management of archaeological data has contributed to the creation of persistent resources, including an increase in the availability of open access to ‘grey literature’, and data from diverse providers has been made interoperable and cross-searchable across national boundaries. Continued effort to make archaeological data open, persistent and sustainable are urgently needed, and archaeologists must work together to raise awareness and take action. The ARIANDEplus infrastructure (https://ariadne-infrastructure.eu/) and Saving European Archaeology from the Digital Dark Age (COST Action SEADDA, https://seadda.eu/), invites papers discussing the sustainability of archaeological data, exemplars of open data and data re-use, and technologies and initiatives that promote interoperability and persistent resources. This session also welcomes papers discussing challenges associated with the sustainability of archaeological data, to promote better understanding of how we may work together as a community to address them.
data management, data stewardship, data sustainability, infrastructure, archive, grey literature