The Institute of Archaeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague (IAP) focuses on the research of the human past in its entirety and comprehensively deals with its relationship to a number of cultural, biological and environmental variables. The IAP covers all areas of the study of archaeological source material not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad, starting from the fieldwork, through the analysis of the material remains, for example, within the context of archaeological cultures, to generalising models and concepts of past societies.
The IAP carries out these activities within scientific teams composed of individuals and smaller working groups created to address specific projects. The range of activities of the IAP teams not only relies on its long tradition of basic research in the given area and at the same time, but also reflects the current state subjected to the social demand and logically, to the success of project applications.
Besides the essential primary research, the activities of the IAP scientific teams are also directed to the field of applied research. In particular, such activities primarily aim at the long-term provision and development of the branch infrastructure, ensuring the archaeological heritage care, and the obligations of the IAP arising from Act No. 20/1987 Coll., On state monument care. Moreover, the IAP manages the most extensive branch library in the Czech Republic and makes it accessible to professional archaeologists, researchers, students and the general public.
Communication with the general public at the level of presentation of the scientific work results, or the provision of information related to the protection of archaeological heritage form an essential segment of the IAP activities.
The IAP research is embedded in a broader perspective both in terms of information obtained and theoretical background, as well as methodology. As far as the geographical determination of the IAP research is concerned, we can deem it “soft,” which means that the research does not necessarily focus only on Europe. What matters are the topics assessed and their context, not their geographical parameters.
Movable and immovable primary sources form the material basis of the IAP research, and, therefore, their registration, documentation and publication consume an essential part of the IAP’s scientific capacities. However, the sources themselves do not constitute knowledge or cognisance.[i] The IAP researchers must, therefore, analyse the sources, set them into an appropriate concept and interpret them. By doing so, they have to formulate relevant research questions and seek answers to them.
It is essential to publish the results. The IAP researchers consistently pay their attention to submitting their publications to the appropriate periodicals and editorial boards. Studies that go beyond the national dimension of the research are primarily published in foreign languages in renowned journals and publishing houses. However, the strong national anchoring of archaeology does not allow us to resign from publications in the Czech language.
Recently, the societal significance of our research has also been highlighted. Going hand in hand with this emphasis, we strive to communicate with the general public through exhibitions, promotional publications, lecture series, web applications or volunteering programmes.