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Managing the archaeological heritage.

The need for dynamic management of the archaeological heritage, aptly if somewhat ponderously described as 'a non-renewable cultural resource', was first recognized in the USA in the early 1970s following the passage of the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act (still fondly known to veterans of the struggles that led up to its enactment as 'Moss-Bennett' after its sponsors in the House of Representatives). The message spread slowly across the world and into the consciousness of international bodies. To protect the threatened archaeological heritage there had to be strong doctrinal and legislative texts to form a framework within which strategies and programmes could be developed.

The original US term 'cultural resource management' (CRM) was found to be too broad in meaning for translation into other languages, and it is gradually being replaced, outside the USA at any rate, by 'archaeological heritage management' (AHM) in more recent documents and publications. But whatever the terminology, this new field of human endeavour is concerned with the identification, protection, preservation and presentation to the general public of the material remains of the past, of whatever period and in whichever region or country.

The doctrinal setting was provided by the International Committee on Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM) of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). ICOMOS had hitherto been the province largely of architects and architectural historians, but a successful campaign launched in 1981 by archaeologists to make their views heard in a respected international professional body led to the creation of ICAHM in 1984. As its prime task, ICAHM identified the need for an international charter comparable with the hallowed Venice Charter of 1966, which had become universally accepted as providing the philosophical basis for architectural conservation worldwide. Several years of concentrated work by a small group of archaeologists and heritage managers led to the formulation of the Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage, which was ratified by the General Assembly of ICOMOS meeting in Lausanne in 1990.

Sadly, that vitally important document has had very little publicity since it was approved. Indeed, its publication in this issue of ANTIQUITY constitutes its first appearance in its entirety in any archaeological journal in any language. It focuses on the main areas of concern for the archaeological heritage manager -- protection policies that are integrated with general planning, the need for adequate legislation, the relationship of heritage management with economic development, the identification of each country's heritage stock, the study of that heritage, its maintenance and conservation, its presentation to the public, the need for professional standards for those charged with the work, and international co-operation. Since it is intended to be of universal application, in both developed and developing countries in every quarter of the globe, it is of necessity general in its language. Nonetheless, the broad principles of archaeological heritage management are clearly and firmly enunciated.

In January 1992 representatives of 20 member States of the Council of Europe signed the revised European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage at Valletta (Malta). This is a revision of the well meaning but largely ineffectual 1969 Convention, which limited itself to archaeological excavations and has been largely disregarded. The Revised Convention of 1992 is far more comprehensive in its coverage, touching upon most of the topics included in the ICAHM Charter. We are not printing this Convention in full, since it has already had surprisingly wide publicity among the European archaeological community. Instead, we have asked Patrick O'Keefe, the distinguished Australian international lawyer specializing in heritage legislation who was associated with its drafting, for a commentary, and Gustaf Trotzig of the Central Board of State Antiquities (Riksantikvarieambetet), Sweden, who was chairman of the working group which produced the draft Convention, adds some personal observations.

The 1992 European Convention is not an ideal or perfect document. As a result of pressure from certain countries, the issue of making developers responsible for funding archaeological work that their projects necessitate is skirted round, and the stance on the use of metal detectors is weaker than many would have liked to see; there are also some near-weasel words on the subject of the trade in antiquities. There is, however, one significant breakthrough: for the first time account is taken of the underwater heritage in an international convention of this kind. It is to be hoped that the countries that have already signed the Convention will not delay in ratifying it, so as to incorporate its provisions into their respective national legal codes. Until then it will remain nothing more than a pious statement of hope.

Doctrine and legislation are fine, but it is on (and under) the ground that archaeological heritage management needs to be effective. English Heritage has made significant progress in this field in the last few years, as may be judged by the paper by Geoffrey Wainwright, Chief Archaeologist of English Heritage and a member of the Council of Europe working group that drafted the Convention. He describes the policies adopted for the identification and protection of England's archaeological heritage, as enshrined most notably in Planning Policy Guidance Note No. 16 (better known as PPG 16), which is beginning to play a telling role in planning policies in England and Wales.

Another view from English Heritage is put by Bill Startin, the Principal Inspector responsible for the ambitious Monuments Protection Programme. We publish the slightly amended text of a breezy but perspicacious (not to say provocative) address that he gave to the Annual Conference of the Institute of Field Archaeologists last year in Birmingham, in which he confronts the dilemma of the heritage manager in adjudicating between the demands of research and those of preservation.

A transatlantic perspective on the applicability and efficacy of the ICAHM Charter is put by Ricardo J. Elia, Head of the Office of Public Archaeology at Boston University. He examines the success of the US system over the past two decades in the optic of the Charter -- and finds it wanting in several particulars. This is an objective but highly personal assessment, and one which may well not receive the blessing of the CRM/AHM 'establishment' in the USA. It does, however, highlight the practical problems involved in translating the irreproachable principles of the Charter into practice in the US situation, and as such it contains much that should be taken to heart both there and around the world.

One element of the archaeological community that is not overlooked in the European Charter but which the ICAHM Charter ignores is the voluntary sector -- the amateurs, the benevolat, the avocational archaeologists, or what you will. Only in a handful of countries is there any form of working relationship between this group and the professional community -- in all too many there is nothing but antipathy and confrontation. Yet this is a resource of goodwill and often highly developed skills that the financially disadvantaged heritage managers neglect at their peril. The amateurs far outnumber the professionals and they represent a potent force that is simply waiting to be organized so as to help in the protection of the heritage, to the protection of which they are as committed as the professionals. Riemer Knoop of the Archeologisch Informatie Centrum in The Netherlands gave a powerful address to the Annual Conference of the European Forum of Heritage Associations, which is seeking to improve the image of the voluntary sector and to bring about greater European collaboration, in Belgium last year, which we publish in full. This is a perceptive survey of the under-used potential of the Forum and its members and an indication of how it might best be deployed, by a professional archaeologist who has succeeded in standing back from the preoccupations of his profession. His vision of a heritage protection movement akin to and perhaps allied with the Green movement is an alluring one, worthy of consideration and implementation.

In the closing years of the 20th century the philosophical, legislative, and organizational apparatus for the protection and management of the archaeological heritage is slowly fitting into place in certain parts of the developed world. But much remains to be done, and quickly, otherwise little is likely to survive into the 21st century and beyond.

HENRY CLEERE, ICOMOS, Hotel Saint-Aignan, 75 Rue du Temple, F-75003 Paris, France.
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Author:Cleere, Henry
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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