The report “Impact of COVID-19 on Archaeology and Cultural Heritage” was written as part of the work undertaken for the deliverable D2.3 Final Report on Community Needs and is available as a separate PDF for download here.

This report presents the results of an ARIADNEplus study on the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the sectors of archaeology and cultural heritage. The study was carried out to understand the consequences for these sectors and how ARIADNEplus could contribute to recovery, beneficial changes in practices, and future resilience. ARIADNEplus focuses on uses of digital technologies for archaeology and cultural heritage and this is also the main theme of the study results.

The study describes impacts on academic as well as contract archaeology and cultural heritage institutions and professionals:

  • In academic archaeology, site-based fieldwork and public archaeology, as well as laboratory work has been affected. Planned fieldwork campaigns and field schools with students and volunteers in 2020 and 2021 had to be cancelled. In coming years less funding for archaeological projects may be available.
  • The impact on preventive archaeology carried out by companies and public organisations appears to be lower, at least compared to the economic crisis some years ago which forced many contract archaeology businesses to close. However, some companies had to furlough staff and terminate temporary contracts; the situation for smaller companies and self-employed archaeologists has become insecure.
  • In academic archaeology the knock-on effect of the COVID-19 crisis will be felt for a long time, particularly by graduate students and early-career archaeologists due to the disruptions of field and laboratory work and reduced employment chances. Established archaeologists had more time to analyse data from past field seasons, prepare publications, and applications for new research and public archaeology projects.
  • Also, an increase in access to available data in digital repositories has been observed, and it seems likely that the COVID-19 crisis made archaeologists more aware of the importance of publicly shared data, data repositories and discovery and access services.
  • In addition to looking for reuseable new and legacy data, archaeologists also explored tools for improving digital documentation and online platforms for collaborative research, including support of small local teams, where fieldwork was possible.
  • The cultural heritage sector has overall suffered more from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis but benefitted significantly from using available online platforms to stay connected with audiences and offer cultural content and experiences.

Concerning archaeology, the study addresses suggested changes in research methods, how work on collection databases continued during the crisis, and the role of repositories for data access and reuse. Furthermore, it includes a spotlight on how the COVID-19 crisis raised awareness of the FAIR data agenda. The study suggests that the overall message to be drawn from the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis is “no return to business as usual”, instead progress in Open Science practices should be promoted.

The final chapter summarises the study results and gives recommendations for activities ARIADNEplus might support, what the project can offer, perceived beneficial changes in archaeological research and cultural heritage communication.