Origin E-RIHS
Since 2001, the European Union has been encouraging collaborative projects in the field of natural heritage research. This means that a large number of universities and laboratories have been collaborating on movable heritage research for many years. In practice, this has always involved the same players. The European Union has decided to make funds available one more time for an international cooperation project called IPERION HS Integrated Platform for the European Research Infrastructure in order to then invest in a permanent infrastructure. The aim is to establish a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). A number of ERICs are already active in Europe and E-RIHS has started to prepare for the creation of the Cultural Heritage ERIC in 2024 (E-RIHS-ERIC).

Precursors IPERION HS
What projects preceded IPERION HS? The European project LabsTECH (2001-2004) provided the first impetus for cooperation in cultural heritage research. It involved 11 scientific and technological laboratories from eight countries. Within the successor EU ARTECH (2004-2009), a start was made with the development of a joint mobile laboratory (MOLAB) and access to advanced research techniques in the existing laboratories (FIXLAB). A significant expansion of the network took place with the subsequent EU project CHARISMA (2009-2014), in which 21 partners from 12 countries participated. This project developed ARCHlab in which researchers could search for information in the archives of the participating research institutes. This network launched IPERION CH (Cultural Heritage 2015-2018): the direct predecessor of IPERION HS (Heritage Science).

The goal of IPERION HS (2019-2022) is to concretely shape an international network for science-based heritage research. IPERION HS represents the transitional phase towards the final establishment of the international E-RIHS ERIC consortium. In it, 23 countries cooperate in scientific projects on heritage. In addition, IPERION HS provides training and opens up a wide range of scientific instruments, methods, data and tools for heritage research.

Structure IPERION HS
From the first projects in which European cooperation between research laboratories and knowledge institutions for cultural heritage was pursued, the Netherlands Institute for Cultural Heritage was involved, now part of RCE. Of IPERION HS in the Netherlands, RCE is the main contractor of the project, collaborating with the Rijksmuseum, University of Groningen, Delft University of Technology, Vrije Universiteit, and KNAW DANS.

IPERION HS spearheads
The activities in IPERION HS cover three interrelated areas: international access to science facilities, collaborative research and network strengthening. The project has eight focal points.

1 set up basic structure of the collaboration where steering, decision-making and financial and quality management takes place. This takes place via a Governing Board, Steering Committee, project coordinators and various advisory bodies.

2 Further development of ARCHLAB, with the goal of providing international access to archives and data from previous studies and research.

3 further development FIXLAB, providing access to state-of-the-art laboratory techniques and physical locations.

4 further development MOLAB, which enables non-invasive measurements and research on cultural heritage objects, collections, buildings and sites using a collection of mobile instruments.

5 coordination of all joint science activities. Activities focus on improving the scientific and technical quality of research, methodology development, and cost-effective data management (such as innovative methods for linking archaeological datasets).

6 increase innovative impact of project and research results from spearhead E. Among other things, there will be a roadmap for exploiting, sharing and exchanging the knowledge, tools and data for the future E-RIHS / ERIC.

7 Encourage participation in E-RIHS / ERIC by offering user training and encouraging interaction through a user forum. This develops professionalism and gives users a voice in the concretization of IPERION HS. This is also where the connection between the various heritage domains is made.

8 set up a central desk where international applications for ARCHLAB, FIXLAB and MOLAB are synchronized. It is also the office of IPERION HS for training, communication and operations. This is also where the relationship with other European initiatives and networks is established.

For more information on the projects that preceded IPERION HS, see links.