Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Social & Cultural Innovation / Project


European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science

An infrastructure for heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management


The European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS) is a distributed Research Infrastructures to support research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management. It will comprise: E-RIHS Headquarters and National Hubs, fixed and mobile instruments in national infrastructures of recognized excellence, physically accessible collections/archives and virtually accessible heritage data. Both cultural and natural heritage are addressed: collections, buildings, archaeological sites, digital heritage. E-RIHS will provide state-of-the-art tools and services to cross-disciplinary research communities advancing understanding and preservation of global heritage. It will provide access to a wide range of cutting-edge scientific infrastructures, methodologies, data and tools, training, public engagement, access to repositories for standardized data storage, analysis and interpretation. E-RIHS will enable the community to advance heritage science and global access to the distributed infrastructures in a coordinated and streamlined way.

In the ESFRI Roadmap since 2016, E-RIHS is in the Preparatory Phase towards the Implementation Phase that is foreseen to start in 2021.


Heritage Science has brought about the need of structuring the net of infrastructures operating throughout Europe. Fragmentation, duplication of efforts, isolation of small research groups put at risks the competitive advantage of European heritage science research, promoted so well by the unique cultural heritage. The long-term tradition of this field of research, the ability to combine with innovation, and the integration promoted by EU-funded projects such as EU-ARTECH, CHARISMA and IPERION CH in conservation science, and ARIADNE in archaeology represent the background of E-RIHS.

E-RIHS exploits the synergy of the cooperation among the academy, research centres and cultural institutions. The global lead that the EU holds in this research field, so precariously supported by a combination of national and EU measures, requires a joint and resolved effort. This has been fully recognized by the European Union with the continuous and reiterated support of initiatives aimed at integrating existing Heritage Science infrastructures, as well as, with a focus on Member States’ national research programs, the JPI on Cultural Heritage, coordinating efforts of 17 EU national funding bodies supporting heritage science. The enthusiastic reviews of these initiatives testify the success of their action to advance knowledge and to establish a research community, acknowledged as advanced in official EU documents concerning conservation, or quickly growing in the field of archaeology.

This demonstrates beyond any doubt both the scientific and the socio-economic importance connected with Heritage Science: it is a sector and a research community that has achieved the maturity necessary to make the leap towards a permanent European Research Infrastructure that will impact broadly on society and economy.

steps for implementation

E-RIHS is currently leading a Preparatory Phase with the aim to establish the European Research Infrastructures Consortium (ERIC). The establishment of a legal structure and governance and the refinement of the business plan for long-term sustainability will be the three most important deliverables, together with the implementation of users’ access strategy taking advantage of the existing projects of the consortium. E-RIHS partnership joins 15 countries – 14 EU Member States plus Israel, 2 ERICs RIs and 3 institutions representing scientific communities. E-RIHS also involves over 100 heritage science institutions worldwide. Participation to E-RIHS ERIC is open to more potential founding Members – or Observers – throughout the next years of the Preparatory Phase. E-RIHS will be launched as a stand-alone RI in 2021. Further developments are planned for connecting and including partners and facilities outside Europe, and gradually reaching the status of a Global Research Infrastructure.

legal status
political support
lead country
prospective member countries
The full list of research institutions involved must be found in the website of the RI
Roadmap Entry
Preparation Phase
Interim/Transition Phase
Implementation/Construction Phase
Operation Start
estimated costs
capital value
Not Available
25 M€
4 M€
20 M€
5 M€/year

to be hosted in Italy, Florence