(Re)Discovered – Preserved – Forgotten: (Ancient) Cultural Heritage and Data Management in the Digital Age

Project Description

The world is witnessing digital transformations at an unprecedented pace, offering an immense potential that many disciplines, especially within the humanities and social sciences, are not yet equipped to handle. Questions about and challenges facing human heritage and information are at the forefront of debates in all sectors, equally overestimating and disparaging digitization processes and born-digital resources. This doctoral project explores the dimensions of 21st-century data management and preservation of cultural heritage, foremost ancient heritage, to ensure long-term access for research, institutional and public purposes.

This investigation includes an examination of what we understand as «cultural heritage» and «ancient heritage», how this translates into a digital understanding, and which analog and digital standards and best practice approaches are already in use and will be viable in the future — to support both large-scale initiatives (e.g., those adhering to the 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention or the Memory of the World Programme) and often subject-specific, medium-scale enterprises, such as collections, archives, databases, and research projects. Generating common ground will require conscious transdisciplinary efforts, shared cross-disciplinary concepts and vocabularies, as well as interoperable systems and structures.

In order to physically retain and digitally capture cultural objects themselves, a vital element in the protection and preservation of cultural heritage is understanding the many threats to cultural property — natural hazards, armed conflict, and obsolescence, both analog and digital, as well as individual human factors such as neglect, fragmentation of artefacts, trafficking, profiteering, and insufficient funding. Looking into the past by incorporating discussions of provenance and acquisition, and anticipating the future by outlining preparation steps for both best- and worst-case scenarios, the thesis further aims to illustrate the links between and the responsibilities of key actors involved. Merging humanities challenges with digital pathways, it intends to produce individually tailored and generally suitable processes that contribute to a landscape of heritage accessible to all.


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Peter Fornaro

Co-Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Aden Kumler


Victoria G. D. Landau is a PhD candidate at the Digital Humanities Lab of the University of Basel, and a member of the Graduate School of Social Sciences (G3S). Following her BA in Ancient Civilizations and Media Studies, she completed her MA in Ancient History and Digital Humanities, focusing on issues of interdisciplinary research, joint databases, and universal standards for long-term maintenance and access.

Her research areas include digital cultural heritage, ancient heritage, digital history, data curation and visualization, open standards and digital sustainability.

During the course of her doctorate, she has worked as a research assistant in the ERC-Project «Deconstructing Early Christian Metanarratives: Fourth-Century Egyptian Christianity in the Light of Material Evidence» (DEChriM) at the MF School of Theology, Religion and Society (Oslo), as well as for the «Archeion» platform of the Chair of Roman Law, Juristic Papyrology and Private Law at the University of Zurich.




  • Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) — Joint Membership
  • Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS)
  • European Students' Association for Cultural Heritage (ESACH)
  • Society for Classical Studies (SCS)
  • European Association of Archaeologists (EAA)
  • Art Law Foundation (ALF/FDA)


Portrait Victoria Landau

Victoria Gioia Désirée Landau MA
PhD Candidate

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Digital Humanities Lab

University of Basel
Spalenberg 65
CH-4051 Basel