The Ostlänken archaeological investigations in GIS

Coordinator: Daniel Löwenborg

One of the major archaeological projects in terms of rescue excavation in Sweden the coming years will be the Ostlänken project, a new railroad connecting the south of Stockholm (Järna) with Linköping through a double-track railroad. Since this will pass through areas rich in archaeological remains, many archaeological excavations will be carried out before the railroad is constructed.

However, results from several previously excavated sites are also included, and the identification and re-examination of these activities form the current project, funded by Trafikverket.

The aim of the project is to create a GIS dataset with all previous excavations (back to 1965) so that they can be used as a starting point for further excavations and planning. Where available, we collect digital data and harmonise this (data structure and coordinate systems). Where there is no digital data we use plans that we georeference and digitise.

The great challenge here is to use old excavations with old or local coordinate systems, which can be very time consuming to fix. It is really fascinating to see excavations from the 1970s and 80s "come to life" as they are brought into the system so that they can be seen in their correct location and compared to modern landscape and other excavations. This is a huge benefit compared to having to rely on reports with plans and maps that might be very difficult to relate to a modern map.

When the project is finished the data will be made available openly for further use and research through the Swedish National Data Service, where data previously collected likewise already is available, and this data forms part of the SND participation in the EU project ARIADNE. Having access to standardised detailed GIS data from excavations has great potential for research, especially if it will be possible to include data from new excavations in a searchable database that will bring together the data produced from all excavations. This will allow future archaeologists to analyse a digital archaeological puzzle at a landscape scale, using the information from a large number of excavations to better understand the development of settlements and society within the area.

Read more about the project at (nytt fönster)