tasks and aims

When cultural heritage is at risk as a result of natural disasters, fires, emergencies or other crises, it’s essential to provide rapid and effective assistance. For this reason, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), the Leibniz Research Institute for Archaeology (LEIZA) and the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) have launched a project called

KulturGutRetter (Cultural Heritage Response Unit – CHRU)  so as to be able to contribute to the emergency safeguarding of museums, historical monuments, collections and archives in a crisis situation as part of international disaster assistance. Specialists in cultural property are developing equipment, software, minimum standard procedures (MSP) and training programmes that help the on-site personnel carry out the tasks of damage assessment, salvaging, and emergency conservation of movable and immovable cultural heritage.


digital solutions

Even before the Cultural Heritage Response Unit (CHRU) flies out to the disaster area, remote sensing data, photographic material, maps, and other data are gathered. During deployment, KulturGutRetter specialists using digital apps record and process a great deal of data. To be able to document cultural heritage items and assess damage conveniently, KulturGutRetter experts at the IT department of the DAI are further developing the Open Source apps iDAI.field and QField.

Equipment, mobile lab and standard procedures

Protected monuments and other immovable cultural heritage items can be as much affected by a disaster as movable objects can. At the DAI Architecture Division, experts in building archaeology and heritage conservation are drawing up standard procedures when dealing with immovable cultural heritage. They include the documentation, protection, stabilisation, clearance, salvaging and storage of historical architectural monuments, their furnishings and amenities.

To carry out rapid initial conservation treatment on movable cultural heritage like statues, ceramics and archival material, experts from the KulturGutRetter project at the Leibniz Research Institute for Archaeology have been developing and trialling a light-weight, modular lab. The scalable system is designed to be transported as air cargo to the disaster area. In addition, the researchers are drawing up science-based minimum standard procedures and workflows.

In the mobile lab, specialists can carry out the emergency treatment of objects serially at work stations for photographic documentation, dry and wet cleaning, and packaging.  | Image: M. Pasternak, DAI.

Logistics and Infrastructure

Good planning and logistics for the deployment are essential if cultural heritage is to receive rapid and efficient conservation treatment during a crisis. Experts from the THW, together with the DAI and the LEIZA, are developing the respose mechanism and drawing up plans for logistics, management, personnel and coordination. Operational logistics allow the rapid transport of professional and volunteer personnel and material to the area of deployment. The team is also responsible for getting infrastructure at the site up and running, for instance tents, electricity, lighting, internet and water. The equipment and devices used by KulturGutRetter teams, such as the mobile conservation lab, are designed for rapid transportation by the THW logistics.

The THW can draw on the experience gained by its existing units active abroad and on the support of its more than 80,000 volunteers.

The equipment can be stored in aluminium boxes that are suitable for air transport and can be assembled and disassembled using simple tools | Image: M. Pasternak, DAI.



Dr.-Ing. Katja Piesker (Scientific Director of the Head Office and Head of the Architecture Department of the German Archaeological Institute, DAI)


Christoph Rogalla von Bieberstein (project coordinator), DAI

Dipl.-Ing. Tobias Busen (project coordinator), DAI


German Archaeological Institute (DAI)

Leibniz-Zentrum für Archäologie (LEIZA)

Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW)

Supported by:

German Federal Foreign Office

Deutscher Bundestag


In 2024 KulturGutRetter volunteers will be trained the first time to assist in disaster situations worldwide with the Cultural Heritage Response Unit (CHRU). These days the training of the cultural heritage experts begins. More than 100

Geodatascientist Pouria Marzban (German Archaeological Institute, DAI) works in the field of remote sensing in the KulturGutRetter project. Before the Cultural Heritage Response Unit (CHRU) flies out to the disaster area, remote sensing data, maps, and other data are gathered.

From November 12th to 22nd, 2023, experts from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) took part in a field school in Elephantine, offered by the KulturGutRetter project and the Cairo Department of the German