Aim and scope
AEZEL, also known as Limburg TimeMachine, aims to digitize heritage information about people, property and goods and visualize this within an easily accessible and authentic framework thus making the information available to a wide audience.
AEZEL started in 2009 in Sittard, as a collaboration between creator and initiator Martin Pfeifer and the Euregional Historical Center Sittard-Geleen. Meanwhile, the original concept has evolved into a full blown collective cooperative and connects partners from various historical associations and archives in both Dutch Limburg and Belgian Limburg. The collective has currently realized the dazzling data entry figure of 170,000 plots and properties. In 2017, the genealogical database "Alle Limburgers" with millions of genealogical data (realized by LGGI in collaboration with the combined Limburg Archives) was also included in AEZEL. As a result, who / where / when/ what can now integrally be displayed on your computer screen revealing even the scan of the authentic source. Due to the innovative data structure, AEZEL.EU is now one of Europe's leading projects within this field.
The first version of AEZEL.eu was presented to the general public on 10 October 2020. Hundreds of volunteers have entered millions of genealogical and cadastral data, which are bundled in this website. The Province of Limburg has expressed its appreciation for AEZEL and even nominated AEZEL for the national heritage volunteer prize! The webinar that preceded this go-live with an explanation of AEZEL can still be viewed via this link. You can go straight to the start of the webinar by moving the dot to 5.30 minutes.
Historical information is always linked to time and place and often also very personal. AEZEL offers the possibility to provide this information via Geo Reference (meaning via interactive maps). Both Cadastral information and personal information. In addition, extra information layers can be added "on to the map". More about the main structure of the website can be found under the section ‘Projects”.
The aim is to keep AEZEL an open source and easily accessible, so that both associations and individuals are able to share their information worldwide. Because sharing information makes data more accessible and provides a better context and understanding for all!
The target audience of AEZEL is quite wide, because both individuals and associations, but also professional heritage organizations and governments can benefit greatly from the data presented. The AEZEL website is easy to browse and can be consulted effectively by user friendly keyword searches.
Most of the heritage information currently available is stored in multiple archives, often underground. AEZEL offers a unique opportunity to digitize available artefacts and make them available via the internet. In this way, AEZEL contributes to a better overall access to the archives. A win / win situation.
Authenticity (proof) is a crucial factor within the AEZEL concept. This is why a lot of archive material such as Cadastral information is scanned. Ultimately, the key elements of any archive shall become available digitally.
To achieve this goal archives or historical institutions can facilitate AEZEL in a number of ways:
- By providing some office space (with internet connection) for volunteers
- By scanning (or facilitating) documents, in particular land registry registers
- By answering relevant questions from volunteers
- By referring volunteers' registrations and questions about AEZEL to specialists or project managers.
The institution can also supply a project manager to assist AEZEL.EU.
Another forté of AEZEL.EU is that Governmental departments can easily find contextual information, useful for the Environment Act. And they can also save money on an annual basis by having historical core data available quickly.
Within the participating municipalities, AEZEL proves to be of great use in the field of archaeology, historic preservation and other work areas related to cultural history, heritage and, more common, for the Environmental Act.
A municipality and most certainly its politicians are often judged on the basis of emotion. Heritage information is a very clear component in this and that information is largely stored in the archives. Unfortunately, archives are sometimes seen as a necessary evil. This is unfortunate because with a limited financial investment the archives can ensure a much greater self-awareness of the municipality and its citizens and thus become a boost and binding tool.
AEZEL therefore asks the municipalities to consider whether a small budget can be made available to have relevant archive artefacts scanned in order to include the municipality’s heritage within AEZEL. Not only because of cultural-historical considerations, but also (and perhaps especially) from the point of view of better service to citizens. In 'Geography' you can see under 'Minute plans' whether these cadastral maps for your municipality are already visible in AEZEL.
Naturally, the municipality can also facilitate AEZEL by promoting this initiative and can participate in the recruitment of volunteers, as is already the case in a number of municipalities.
Cultural and Historical Societies
AEZEL offers historical key data and enables Societies to couple available information by linking to AEZEL on their website. Via AEZEL specific collections can be displayed and made available to a wider audience. See under section “Collectors”.
Throughout Limburg there are a lot of people engaged in collecting information about specific heritage themes such as:
- History of towns and villages
- War History
- Ancient Occupations
- Names and history of houses and buildings,
- Burial Sites
- Limburg dialects
- Amateur archeology
- etc. etc.
Collectors, often spend years of dedication and intensive research on their topic of interest. They often posses a wealth of information and interesting artefacts. Sometimes collectors have their own website, but often the data is simply stored on the computer at home. Unfortunately all this knowledge is tragically lost when a collector gets older or dies. However, this kind of detailed information can be of great interest, especially if linked to the other information within AEZEL!
The purpose and design of AEZEL enables collectors to store their information in AEZEL. This can be done in the form of a backup, without linking to AEZEL projects, so that its future existence is guaranteed, but also through a link with added information on location, time and personal data. This makes these typical collections all the more meaningful because the context is broadened.
Are you such a typical collector and are you interested in the options AEZEL offers, please contact your local representative for more information. (See FAQ10)
Anyone interested in history, family history etc. finding out about the past of a house or the old city wall, can retrieve information from AEZEL.EU. Browsing through our database is fun and enlightening. Take a look at the examples on the info page about Geography and specifically the theme Minute Plans.
AEZEL.EU as such was never specifically intended as an academic research project.Yet new insights into the history of town and region have come to light, simply because we can now answer complicated questions with regard to construction data, sociological issues and historical-sociographic and demographic research by cross referencing the mass data made available.
Research into archaeological history can also benefit from AEZEL. For example by combining aerial photography and mass data from the land registry, bastions, city gates, historical road structures, burial sites and other archaeological facts of the city and region reveal their previously untold secrets.