Contract Archaeology in Europe: An Experiment in Diversity

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Contract Archaeology in Europe: An Experiment in Diversity

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World Archaeology


Kristiansen, Kristian

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Taylor & Francis Online, JSTOR




Abstract: In a previous discussion article, 'Do we need "The archaeology of Europe"?' (Kristiansen 2008), I argued that, although a European archaeology is being promoted by both the European Association of Archaeologists and the European conventions, such as the Valletta Convention of 1992 and the European Landscape Convention of 2000, there are still more divergences than commonalities, due to the strong national organization of archaeology in Europe. I especially considered archaeological heritage terminology, the language of references in books and journals, and the structure of archaeological journals which all pointed to an increasing national focus of archaeological research and publications. In this article I take a closer look at the structure of developer-Funded excavations, or contract archaeology, in Europe. I argue that contract archaeology represents a laboratory for the testing of different principles of organization, control and quality assessments. Although the Valletta Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage stipulates the basic principles of developer-funded rescue archaeology, its implementation since 1992 among the European nations, and indeed also among the regions within nations, such as the federal states (landes) in Germany, varies dramatically. By analysing a few ' model countries' I demonstrate that this variation comes down to, and originates from, two basically different political principles: that of 'socialism' and that of 'capitalism' (Following Willems and van den Dries 2007b). As they have different implications for quality control and research the choice of one or the other has far-reaching consequences for the future of archaeology in Europe.

Additional tags: contract archaeology; European archaeology; quality control; socialist and capitalist models; diversity in archaeology


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