Knowledge Infrastructur for Cultural Heritage including Archis2: The Dutch Cultural
Heritage (including archaeology) accessible on the Internet
Han de Haan, National Service for Archaeological Heritage
Since the year 1999 the Dutch government has acknowledged the importance of cultural
heritage as an important factor in the look and feel of the country. Cultural heritage has become a
main focus in development and spatial planning. As a policy statement regarding cultural heritage
in relation to spatial planning this was an important step forward. But policy is one thing, being
able to exercise direct influence is something else.
The cultural heritage sector in the Netherlands, and no doubt in many other countries as well, has
a history of fragmentation and serious lack of co-operation. The domains of archaeology (and
listed archaeological monuments), architectural history (and listed standing monuments, listed
village and city views, listed country houses and estates) and historical landscapes are not linked
and information is therefore by definition hard to get. In the case of cultural heritage and spatial
planning, especially in a densely populated country as the Netherlands, this causes serious
problems in implementing government policy towards cultural heritage in everyday use.
Important part of the solution has been seen in creating a digital infrastructure making it possible
to address the different information systems of the different partners. This has become the so
called Knowledge Infrastructure for Cultural Heritage (KiCH), a state started initiative to
facilitate the integrated harvesting of data by means of an Information/Exchange model (called
IMKiCH) and webportal (KiCH). An important aspect of this approach is the fact that all data
remain at the source; therefore KiCH works as a distributed service and source owners remain
responsible for their own data. Databases have to be structured and metadated, which poses
problems of its own.
Important feature of the information model is that is combines geographical information (GIS)
with documents and pictures. Furthermore it can be mapped with the information model used for
spatial planning in the Netherlands.
At this time the department of Education, Science and Culture, department of Agriculture,
department of National Spatial Planning and Alterra (Wageningen Univerity and Research Centre)
have combined their efforts and have in co-operation financed and developed the infrastructure.
At this point all state listed archaeological monuments and standing monuments and the defined
historical landscapes are available through KiCH. Next step will be to find new partners in
provinces and municipalities who are willing and able to participate in KiCH. This is the
challenge for 2006 and further. Eventually KiCH has the ambition to become the main gate to
government information about cultural heritage, spatial planning and rules and regulations
At the Dutch (i.e. Netherlands) National Service for Archaeological Heritage (ROB) the first
generation of an architecture and registration system for the Dutch archaeological heritage (SMR:
the regional Sites and Monuments Record) was in use from 1992 until 2002. It was called
ARCHIS: ARCHaeological Information System. Due to the implementation of the Malta
agreement in Dutch Legislation and the rapid changes in the Dutch archaeological establishment,
this system had become dated. For several reasons it was not possible to adept the system to meet
today’s requirements. It therefore was necessary to design a new Architecture, what has become
the next generation of Archis, with the name of Archis2. The first version was launched in 2002,
and since then several improvements and extensions have been made.
The architecture of Archis2 has three main stating points:
1. Access to information independent of time and place; 2. Registration of information at the
information source; 3. Differential access to information
Points 1 and 2 indicate a high proportion of internet technology, point 3 is the basis of a three
layer model. To provide the archaeological heritage management professionals with information,
the so called expert information layer has been designed; this is Archis2. Through this layer one
can get access to the scientific layer. On this level scanned archives are digitally consultable in a
documentation system. On a higher, more general level information is available to the general
public. For this purpose we have developed a web portal which gives access to several websites
on archaeological subjects. The portal and websites together comprise this general public layer.
Architecture: Archis2 is a fully web based, powered by Java, OpenGIS compliant and has a
Windows look and feel. The data are stored in an Oracle database with a spatial component
(Oracle 10G). It can be seen as a Geographic Information System (GIS). Both administrative and
spatial information are linked together, and can be seen by the user on map layers. With a web
browser Archis2 is available on the world wide web for the authorized user (client). Some little
applets (Java programs) are automatically downloaded at the client side. The requests from the
user are sent (in xml), via the web server (OpenGis complaint), to the application server. The
application server (with Mapextreme Java edition) sends the request to the Oracle 10G database.
Finally the result of the query is sent back from the application server to the client (in xml/gml
Working with Archis2: To make use of the application the user needs a username and a password
to logon. After entering the username and password, the Archis2 application presents itself. The
user can open different functions, each representing specific tables of information. This includes
research reports (ca. 9000), archaeological observations (ca. 60000) archaeological complexes (ca.
1800) archaeological monuments (ca. 13.000 of which about 1800 are protected by law) and
There is also a special map function: for each function there is a separate layer available. There
are special map layers for orientation and research as topographic maps, land use maps, and soil
maps of the Netherlands. The user can open one or more layers, zoom and pan and even change
colours of maps. One can make queries on the database, both administrative and spatial. The
query result can be printed in a report or a map. If the user is authorised he/she can insert, modify
or delete information from the database. For example a spatial contour (shape) of an
archaeological monument can be inserted or modified. This is all effectuated directly in the
Oracle database. Specific draw tools for the spatial information are available in the application.
Our aim at this conference is to show Archis2 real-time. In short the possibilities of the
application will be shown to the audience.
Drs. Arthur Sloos; National Service for Archaeological Heritage (ROB) PO Box 1600, 3800 BP
Drs. Hans de Haan, program-manager Knowledge Infrastructure for Cultural Heritage