New database of Swedish archaeological research in Greece

9 January 2017

In a recently completed project at the Swedish Institute in Athens, materials from more than a hundred years of Swedish archaeological research in Greece has been made available through the database PRAGMATA. The database includes, among other things, an extensive photo archive and information about a unique archaeological collection which is managed by Museum Gustavianum at Uppsala University.

Swedish archaeologists worked in Greece long before the Swedish Institute in Athens in 1975 was given permission to conduct its own excavations. The documentation from these early excavations often ended up in private archives and the recovered materials were separated to different museums and archaeological storages in Greece and Sweden, where the absence of systematic records have complicated researching the materials.

To increase the availability of the source material and improve the opportunities for transdisciplinary research the PRAGMATA database was created, with researchers and students as the primary target group. Within the project, a large part of the archaeological materials have now been catalogued, organised and digitised. Additionally, previously existing databases and other digital information have been converted to a modern database format and incorporated in PRAGMATA. All documentation has been catalogued and stored in accordance with Swedish archiving standards at the Swedish Institute in Athens where it can be consulted by researchers.

“A serious issue that the Swedish Institute in Athens has been battling for decades, namely not having access to documentation from many archaeological projects and/or not being able to connect this information to available materials, is now finally solved. I look forward to increased research on Swedish excavations in Greece,” says Arto Penttinen, Director of the Swedish Institute in Athens.

PRAGMATA is a result of the infrastructure project “Arkiv och databas över svensk arkeologisk forskning i Grekland” at the Swedish Institute in Athens. The project has been funded by the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences and co-funded by Uppsala University Museum, the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University and the Swedish Institute in Athens.

The structures of the older databases has been preserved in PRAGMATA to enable researchers with knowledge of old databases to conduct specific searches, while other users are able to make more general searches.

“We have used modern database technology and an advanced search engine to make this very complex material searchable and to enable a flexible visualisation of the data,” says Hans Liss, systems architect and database developer for PRAGMATA.

PRAGMATA contains information about archaeological materials, storage, contextual information, photos and links to partly scanned and annotated documentation which directly connects different sources which would otherwise be hard to find. The parts of the documentation which have previously been unavailable, brittle or hard to connect to the excavated materials have been prioritised. The intention for the future is to further grow PRAGMATA with material from all of the Swedish Mediterranean institutes.

Link to the database:

Awaiting permission from the Greek Ministry of Culture, only the material from the Asine collection at Uppsala University is currently searchable. The digitised material stored in Greece will become available pending permission.