From: British archaeology discussion list
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Mike Heyworth
some interesting parallels here for the UK perhaps?
University College Dublin News
UCD report calls for repositioning of Irish Archaeology by 2020 to
address critical issues
The current development-led boom has fundamentally changed Irish
archaeology. Today, virtually all archaeological excavations are
undertaken in response to infra-structural and other developments,
whereas before the boom they were dominated by research concerns.
Recent estimates point to the discovery, on average, of a previously
unrecorded site every two kilometres on infrastructural routes. Over
2,000 archaeological excavations, of varying scale and complexity, are
now being carried out each year.
The archaeological profession has coped well with the unprecedented
demand, but the structures are experiencing extreme pressure.
'Legislation requires developers to engage archaeologists to undertake
pre-construction excavations' Professor Gabriel Cooney, UCD School of
Archaeology says, 'But the problem is that in many cases the
archaeologists are not given the time or financial support to publish
excavation reports. Add to that the lack of storage and exhibition space
and consequently the economic and social value of the investment in the
archaeology is lost.'
A Foresight Report titled Archaeology 2020: Repositioning Irish
Archaeology in the Knowledge Society published on 30 May 2006 by the UCD
School of Archaeology addresses the issues and sets out proposals to
rectify the haemorrhage.
The mounting backlog of unpublished excavations is in many respects the
most disconcerting feature of present-day archaeology in Ireland. And
although this may not be a new issue, it has become an intractable
problem over the last decade. The number of unpublished excavations may
now be as many as 4,000 for the island as a whole.
The problem of unpublished excavation reports is further compounded by a
growing concern about the curation and archiving of the paper records
and artefactual data from excavations. The magnitude of the material
retrieved by development-led excavation is overwhelming the provision of
storage and management that exists at present. Museums do not have the
capacity to cope with the influx of archaeological material. Ongoing
deterioration of the quality and usability of archival material and
unprocessed environmental samples makes the process of transforming
archaeological excavations into meaningful knowledge about the past
According to this Foresight Report, the central issue of concern in
Irish archaeology is the lack of connection between the vast amount of
information generation and the key purpose of archaeology which is the
creation of knowledge and understanding about the past.
Irish archaeology needs to be re-positioned by shifting the focus of
development-led archaeology from information generation to knowledge
creation. This requires a fundamental sea-change in mindsets within many
public organisations and private companies concerned with archaeology.
The Foresight Report concludes that three overarching enabling measures
are fundamental to the prospects for repositioning Irish archaeology by
2020 including the establishment of
an Archaeological Knowledge Implementation Partnership
a Bureau for Archaeological Publication and
an Inter-Institutional Collaborative Funding System.
The Foresight Report was informed by a Consultative Forum of decision
makers and other stakeholders drawn from both the public and the private
sectors. The draft report was widely circulated for comments and posted
on the websites of both the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland and
the UCD School of Archaeology. Preparation of the Foresight report was
undertaken by Professor Gabriel Cooney, UCD School of Archaeology, Dr
Muiris O'Sullivan, Head of UCD School of Archaeology and Dr Liam Downey,
Honorary Research Fellow, UCD School of Archaeology.
The report can be accessed via: www.ucd.ie/archaeology