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The Register --

News from the Register of Professional Archaeologists

-- EAA Conference Review

Charles M. Niquette

The Fifth Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists was held in Bournemouth, England, on September 15­19, 1999. Berle Clay and I attended as representatives of the Register of Professional Archaeologists. Presently, European archaeology is very similar to our own experiences in the middle 1970s and early 1980s, but yet it is unique and diverse in so many ways. Areas of concern to European archaeologists sound all too familiar: how to define significance, the need for well-justified research designs, the need for standards, and the academic cries of despair over private sector, contract-driven research. To facilitate the reader's understanding of Europe's diverse approach to our discipline, a thumbnail sketch is provided below of the current status of archaeology in that region of the world. This is followed by suggestions regarding possible roles the Register might play in helping to achieve global ethical standards for the conduct of archaeological research.

European Diversity

In the U.K. and Portugal, there are no criteria for determining who is and is not a qualified archaeologist. To compensate, members of the profession in England have created the Institute of Field Archaeologists (IFA). It is about 1,500 strong and appears to be modeled after SOPA. It has a code of ethics and a grievance procedure. This group appears to be taking the lead for setting standards in European archaeology.

County archaeologists in the United Kingdom play a role very similar to our own SHPOs. These regulatory authorities review permit applications for proposed construction projects and decide whether or not archaeology might be required in advance. If a positive decision is reached, the county archaeologists prepares a "brief" (scope of work) to be used by the developer in securing the assistance of an archaeologist. Contract archaeologists in the United Kingdom respond to briefs with a "tender" (proposal and cost estimate). Such contract archaeology is relatively new in the United Kingdom in that the centerpiece preservation legislation was passed only in 1990. At the beginning of this decade, the Crown subsidized much of the archaeology completed in southern England. This was done by regional "units" in Wessex, Oxford, and London. Recently, all three units have been privatized and now serve in a not-for-profit capacity.

To practice archaeology in the Republic of Ireland, one must hold a degree or an advanced degree and have a significant amount of Irish archaeological excavation experience. The government license to practice is only awarded to archaeologists who sit through an interview with Dúchas, the Heritage Service. The Dúchas is an agency of the Irish government's Department of Arts Heritage, Gaeltacht, and the Islands. The interview deals with all sorts of practical issues, such as planning law, National Monuments law, ways to handle private sector field evaluations, and other similar issues. Depending upon the applicant's experience, license eligibility can be restricted to certain date ranges and certain types of archaeology (e.g., medieval, urban/medieval, rural/prehistoric, rural/underwater archaeology). Applications for licenses are only made by license-eligible individuals. They are solely responsible for the quality and presentation of their material. Therefore, in a subcontracting scenario a company sometimes has little control over the quality of the outcome and has no say on how or where the archive is presented and stored. In the past two years, because it also has gone the other way (i.e., under funding by main contractors in excavation and post-excavation scenarios), Dúchas seek the name of the company as a signatory to the license. To compensate, the more professional Irish CRM firms advocate an integrated professional practice as a way of exercising quality control and conducting good work.

The Irish license system can be hugely restrictive and very unfocused on the necessary operation approach to project. According to one Irish archaeologist, "poor, financially driven, archaeology is being practiced here under cover of license requirement (i.e., monitoring of construction processes, such as road pipe-laying) which can have a negligible return to the archaeological record." The same archaeologist told of a 1997 conference that reported, "35 percent of all monitoring licenses/notified jobs had not resulted in any form of report to Dúchas." No calculations were offered regarding the "quality of the archaeological outcome in the remaining 65 percent of cases."

In Ireland, there also is a license system required to do contract archaeology. Each different field methodology to be employed in a given contract is addressed by this system, one for geophysical survey, one for augering, another for "trial excavation" (e.g., exploratory digging completed for evaluation purposes), etc. In each case, a well-founded methodological statement is required that defines the precise activity to be performed, the results of similar efforts in similar situations, and text and maps portraying those portions of a study area for which the technique is proposed.

The Dúchas is understaffed. Seven or eight people review more than 4,600 license applications a year, serving the role of an A-95 review coordinating office. As such, they decide whether or not archaeology is required. One individual with an assistant also reviews approximately 400 archaeological licenses annually. As a result, it takes at least three to four weeks to process a license, and delays can be expected in obtaining permits. On the other hand, once the appropriate permits are issued, the work is completed and the final reports are submitted. The latter are rarely reviewed unless they form the basis for an impact assessment in a planning context. In these cases, they are reviewed by one of the seven or eight staff employed for that purpose. But delays can, and do, occur as adjudication takes place. The delays pose tremendous problems for developers and project proponents.

In Germany, an advanced degree and membership in a variety of labor union choices, none of which is specifically an archaeological union, is required to practice archaeology. The country is divided into three regions and 16 separate, autonomous states. Of the latter, only four require consideration of archaeology prior to construction projects. Each has different regulatory bodies and regulations. Much of the work appears to be salvage related without regard for analysis and reporting.

In contrast, Austria requires practicing professional archaeologists to be members of the state-level archaeological organization or chamber. Membership requires an advanced degree and fee. Failure to adhere to the standards code may result in expulsion from the chamber and would have serious ramifications for one's potential future and ability to practice archaeology in that country.

In the Netherlands, all archaeological work is controlled by the government. There is a dichotomy whereby survey and testing can be done by private-sector archaeologists, but excavations are done by the government archaeological unit and university-based archaeologists. This system will be abandoned next year under new legislation that will allow private enterprise and introduce a system of quality control. This will include a national register, to be maintained by the Nederlandse Vereniging van Archeologen (Dutch Association of Archaeologists, a.k.a., NVvA), but with a legal basis.

In Estonia, as might be expected, things are a bit frenetic. Since separation from the former Soviet Union, there has been an attempt at setting standards by the Society of Archaeology. It is not a professional organization, however, and most work seems to be rescue or salvage in nature.

Norway has very, very strong preservation laws. Despite these laws, it is difficult to gain employment as an archaeologist because of the power of the labor unions. Work is done by the government (Norwegian Museum Association) which tends to have very strict requirements for professional qualifications. These include many years of experience and holding a Ph.D. The County Councils of Norway are responsible for the vast majority of the work done in the country. Interestingly, there is a national board that acts as an adjudicatory body. If political decisions that adversely effect archaeological remains are made at a local level, individual archaeologists are required to report these to the national board. Presumably, the board then investigates the matter and has the power to reverse such decisions.

French archaeologists went on strike last year because the government determined that French archaeology would be subject to free-market economy. The archaeological community opposed this move because they felt this would lead to CRM-driven archaeology that was not research. The government's decision was subsequently reversed. As a result, all CRM archaeology in France is currently completed by a state monopoly, the Association Française d'Archéologie Nationale (AFAN). French archaeologists assume that this will guarantee the research quality. In addition, they believe the "cultural exception" in European Union law allows them to take this action (see below).

Italy seems to be fairly open and without strict government regulations. Italy and Portugal seem to be the most promising countries in which to start CRM companies similar to those in the United States, for I believe these countries lack the state-level restrictions (such as those in France) that would prevent one from practicing archaeology in these two countries.

The Challenges of the European Union

Given this diverse background, participating countries in the European Union (EU) are on the verge of a huge change that has far-reaching ramifications for nearly all aspects of life. As of January 1, 2001, the EU will be fully operational. At that time, state restrictions that inhibit free exchange of goods and services and the ability of individuals to move from one country to the next will vanish. The latter is already occurring since citizens from EU countries must be considered with the same status as nationals. This could mean that an archaeologist in France will be free to practice his/her trade in Ireland, Norway, or England, and vice versa. However, the EU has only very limited powers in the field of culture and the "cultural exception" in EU law may prevent this rule from being applied to archaeology. The professional community is aware of the potential difficulties posed by the "cultural exception" and is attempting to deal with them. One route is to establish standards for conducting European archaeology.

Setting Standards for European Archaeology

During a conference session on setting standards for European archaeology, there were at least two schools of thought. One was to establish a "self-policing" system such as that used by the Registerthat is, an archaeologist should not conduct work for which he or she is not qualified. The other was to create appropriate levels and areas of competence such as the "emphases" employed by SOPA before its demise. I suggested that the Register could become a global vehicle by which to accomplish common objectives. In fact, if a decision were made down the road to incorporate "emphases," these could be added as regional requirements within and underneath the Register umbrella. Willem Willems, president of the EAA, indicated his support for the Register and said that Europeans had much to learn from the American model. Still, he was concerned that the Register'sand for that matter, American archaeology'sunique relationship with Native Americans detracted from its usefulness in Europe. Berle Clay and I suggested that NAGPRA was not specifically mentioned in the Register's Code and Standards, but there was a phrase to the extent that archaeologists should be respectful of Native American views.

Section 1.1c states that "An archaeologist shall be sensitive to, and respect the legitimate concerns of, groups whose culture histories are the subjects of archaeological investigations." This sentence could (and should) be applied anywhere in the world, especially in regions such as Africa, the Middle East, and Australia, where dealing with indigenous populations is a major concern (and one does not need to be a resident of those areas to do field research there). American archaeologists may have a unique relationship with Native Americans, but the issue of aboriginal concerns is hardly unique to the United States. The Code also states:

An archaeologist shall not engage in any illegal or unethical conduct involving archaeological matters or knowingly permit the use of his/her name in support of any illegal or unethical activity involving archaeological matters [1.2(a)].

This is another section of the Code that not only could be used in the United States for dealing with someone ignoring the provisions of NAGPRA or any cultural resources legislation, but could be used wherever such legislation exists and applies because of its general language. The only specific reference of this sort in the Code addresses compliance with the UNESCO Convention of 1970, which deals with international trafficking in cultural materials. There should be no problem in obtaining support for such a provision.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Willem Willems indicated to Bill Lees at the 1998 AIA meeting in Washington, D.C., and again to me in Bournemouth, that he expects that the European archaeological community will, necessarily, discuss the matter more thoroughly among themselves. Nevertheless, he believes that we all should work towards a global register of some kind. Willems' vision is to establish an organization in each country tailored to the needs and legal requirements of each nation. Moreover, he has suggested that a European umbrella-type structure may be required. Still, the Register is, in his opinion, a more suitable vehicle for this than any of the existing or developing systems. Willems is willing to investigate options to extend the Register to Europe, although this must not be done in haste. During our discussions in Bournemouth, Clay, Willems, and I all sensed that most attendees preferred to take some steps at the European level before moving to the global level. Apart from the Scandinavian countries, Portugal, and the Netherlands, we have to deal with persistent fears of "Anglo-Saxon dominance" in many other countries. In some instances (e.g., France and Spain), this sentiment verges on the absurd, but it still must be taken into account. Currently, such fears appear to be directed at the IFA but also can be anticipated if, and when, the Register begins to take a more active interest in European archaeological standards.

In the final analysis, the Register should make a concerted effort to maintain contact with the European community. To this end, Clay and I have volunteered to serve on an EAA working com-mittee on standards. Given the length of time it takes to gain EU acceptance, the Register should work with existing organizations (such as the IFA ), those which have certification requirements for membership, and arrange automatic registration where appropriate. This would serve to increase the Register's membership, visibility, and ultimately, to promote its objectives and goals. ·

Charles M. Niquette, a registered professional archaeologist, is secretary/treasurer of the Register.

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