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’The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic crisis on archaeology in higher education in the UK’

multiple impacts,
possible solutions
Edited by Nathan Schlanger
and Kenneth Aitchison
Published 2010
by Culture Lab Editions,
Elisabethlaan 4 B-3080 Tervuren
ISBN 978-2-9600527-7-0
Produced on behalf of Archaeology in
Contemporary Europe: Professional Practices
and Public Outreach.
Designed by Pascale Coulon
Copyright © CultureLab and individual authors
This publication has been produced with the
support of the European Commission (through
the Culture 2007-2013 programme) in the
framework of the ACE project – “Archaeology
in Contemporary Europe. Professional Practices
and Public Outreach”.
The European Commission cannot be held
responsible for any use which may be made
of the information contained herein.
All contributors to this publication have done
so in their personal capacity. The views and
analyses expressed here remain their authors’ sole
responsibility, and do not necessarily reflect or
represent those of the publishers, the sponsoring
organisations, their institutions or the European
Cover Photo: Archaeologists defending higher
education, research and employment (Paris,
January 2009, photo: Nathan Schlanger).
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multiple impacts,
possible solutions
Edited by Nathan Schlanger
and Kenneth Aitchison
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Preface and acknowledgments 7
1. Introduction. Archaeology and the global economic crisis 9
Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison
2. The crisis – economic, ideological, and archaeological 13
Jean-Paul Demoule
3. The impact of the recession on archaeology in the Republic of Ireland 19
James Eogan
4. United Kingdom archaeology in economic crisis 25
Kenneth Aitchison
5. The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic collapse
on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom 31
Anthony Sinclair
6. Commercial archaeology in Spain: its growth, development, and the impact
of the global economic crisis 45
Eva Parga-Dans
7. A crisis with many faces. The impact of the economic recession
on Dutch archaeology 55
Monique H. van den Dries, Karen E. Waugh & Corien Bakker
8. One crisis too many? French archaeology between reform and relaunch 69
Nathan Schlanger & Kai Salas Rossenbach
9. The crisis and changes in cultural heritage legislation in Hungary:
cul-de-sac or solution? 81
Eszter Bánffy & Pál Raczky
10. Archaeology in crisis: the case of Poland 87
Arkadiusz Marciniak & Michał Pawleta
11. The impact of the economic crisis on rescue archaeology in Russia 97
Asya Engovatova
12. The effect of the global recession on cultural resources management
in the United States 103
Jeffry H. Altschul
13. Postscript: on dead canaries, guinea-pigs and other Trojan horses 107
Nathan Schlanger
14. Annex I
Job losses in UK archaeology - April 2010 117
Kenneth Aitchison
15. Annex II
Note for administrators and liquidators of archaeological organisations 127
Roger M. Thomas
Abstracts in English 131
Résumés en français 135
Deutsche Zusammenfassungen 139
Resúmenes en español 144
Preface and acknowledgments
The texts presented here are extended and updated versions of the papers given
at a session entitled “Archaeology and the global crisis - multiple impacts, pos-
sible solutions”, held on the 17th September 2009 at the 15th annual meeting of
the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) in Riva del Garda, Italy. As co-
organisers of this session, we were particularly happy to see that over a hundred
colleagues attended and took part in some lively discussions, where sober realism
was mixed with hope and determination. The session furthermore benefitted from
the friendly atmosphere and excellent organisation of the EAA meeting itself, as
skilfully orchestrated by Franco Nicolis together with Martina Dalla Riva, their
teams and sponsors.
Indeed the European Association of Archaeologists as a whole, so we feel, has
amply fulfilled its vocation as meeting-ground and think-tank for professional
archaeologists from Europe and beyond ( We are grateful
in any case that our session at Riva del Garda was sponsored – in an intellectual
sense – by three EAA committees or working parties. One is the “Committee on
archaeological legislation and organisation in Europe”, chaired by Christopher
Young and Jean-Paul Demoule: the crisis and the structural changes that follow
make the critical and comparative work of this committee more important than
ever before. Further support was received from the “Committee on professional
associations in archaeology”, chaired by Kenneth Aitchison, a committee that is
acutely concerned with working practices in European archaeology and how they
are being affected by the economic situation. The third and most recently created
of these EAA groups is the working party on “ACE - Archaeology in contempo-
rary Europe: professional practices and public outreach” (www.ace-archaeology.
eu) – a European Commission ‘Culture’ programme funded network gathering
a dozen of partners from across the continent to examine together the fields of
practice and social dimensions of contemporary archaeology. In addition to the
invaluable material support provided by the ACE network, many of its partners
contributed their comments and insights to the preparation of the ‘Crisis’ ses-
sion, and also through subsequent meetings in Thessaloniki (with our Aristotle
University partner) and in Budapest (with our KÖH partner). In this volume, ACE
partners have contributed the chapters on the situations in the Netherlands, Spain,
France and Poland. Another relevant European initiative is the “Discovering the
Archaeologists of Europe” project (, a review
of the archaeological labour market in twelve European Union states with the sup-
port of the European Commission ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ programme in 2006-2008.
As data for the project were collected in 2007, at the height of the economic cycle,
they give us very valuable information and insights for critical comparisons with
the ongoing crisis situation.
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
8 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
Thanks are due of course to all the contributors to the session. As is frequently
the case, not all the papers given there could be included in the present publica-
tion, for various reasons. This could be compensated, however, by a couple of
new chapters which fit well with the volume’s aims and coverage. We thank all the
authors for working under a tight schedule, and for responding to several last min-
ute requests. While the authors retain full responsibility for the contents of their
contributions, it is us, as editors, who will have to be excused for any eventual
typos, repetitions or misplaced hyphenations that may have remained during the
accelerated production process of this publication.
KA would like to thank the following: Peter Hinton, Michael Dawson and
Gerry Wait for commenting on draft texts, and all colleagues on the Committee
for Professional Associations in Archaeology whose discussions contributed
directly or indirectly to the genesis of this volume.
NS would like to thank friends and colleagues in the ACE network and at the
EAA for their discussions and encouragement. Thanks are also due to INRAP,
the lead-partner of the ACE network, and especially to the Cultural development
and communication team for their advice and support in the preparation of this
volume. The same goes to Pascale Coulon who so efficiently put together, at such
short notice, the disparate files and images into the shape of a proper publica-
tion. The ACE coordination team, Sonia Lévin and Kai Salas Rossenbach, were
as always here to improve and smooth things out, notably regarding the quadri-
lingual abstracts, which have been translated by Juliette Guilbaud (into German),
by Kai Salas Rossenbach (into Spanish), and in some cases through the individual
authors. Finally, special thanks to our publisher, Culture Lab Editions, for unwav-
ering support.
Nathan Schlanger and Kenneth Aitchison
August 2010
1. Introduction. Archaeology and the global
economic crisis
This is probably the first multi-authored attempt to take a global, or at least
international, look at the current economic crisis and its effects on archaeology.
Archaeologists of course have always shown much professional interest in crises,
even if only from a distance. There have been as we know many and varied crises
throughout human history: natural disasters such as earthquakes, flash floods or
droughts, or human-created famines, epidemics, and wars have all left tangible
traces in the archaeological record, subject to much research and numerous inter-
pretations. Economic crises for their part are probably more difficult to identify
in the record: what can be found of the 1630s tulipmania speculative bubble in
Holland, of the commercial blockades of the Napoleonic wars, or indeed of the
Wall Street collapse of 1929? But while economic crises may be elusive to grasp as
archaeological events and processes in the remote past, they are certainly impos-
sible to miss when, as has been the case since 2008, they hit the profession at full
force. Unmistakable as they may be, however, the effects of the current economic
crisis on archaeology still need to be detailed, elaborated, and analysed – this,
broadly speaking, is what the present volume begins to do.
At the onset, it has not seemed to us necessary to propose here any strict
or even encompassing definition of the crisis. In the current context, everyone
will readily gather that we are talking about this sharp economic recession
that settled over much of the world, following a series of catastrophic financial
events that began to unfold in the United States in 2007. The overexposure of
many banks there in lending to ‘subprime’ borrowers led to an unprecedented
financial shock to the entire economic system across the western world, which
has continued – in differing forms – until the present day. Most contributors
provide further details regarding their respective countries and sectors, including
quantitative information and projections, without for that transforming their
texts into macro-economic dissertations. In fact, alongside the sheer mass of data
and numbers, it is striking to note just how rapidly has this notion of ‘global
economic crisis’ become something of a collective representation, a shared syn-
drome, a fateful mantra that leaves much leeway for interpretation, extension or
application. Without delving here too deeply into the socio-linguistics or seman-
tics of the term ‘crisis’, the politics of its uses nevertheless call for comment. As
it permeates both ordinary and professional discourse, this notion finds itself
expediently and strategically employed: in the name of the crisis, sometimes by
its mere mention, actions are legitimised, decisions are delayed, expectations are
raised, plans shelved, procedures reconfigured, pills sweetened, plugs pulled and
so forth.
So while the ‘crisis’ is emphatically here with us (at least for the foresee-
able future) we really cannot take its presence and its implications at face value
without some prior critical consideration or contextualisation. This applies to
all of us in general, as citizens, as voters and as taxpayers, but also specifically to
the fields of archaeology and archaeological heritage management that concern
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
Nathan Schlanger
Kenneth Aitchison
Nathan Schlanger
ACE project – ‘Archaeology in
contemporary Europe
Institut national de recherches
archéologiques préventives, Paris
Kenneth Aitchison
Head of Projects and Professional
Institute for Archaeologists, UK
10 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
us. Firstly, we need to remember that many different patterns and processes have
been going on before the crisis. A truism this may be, we still need to acknowl-
edge, however briefly and partially, that such antecedents help us set the crisis
in perspective and better understand its impacts. That the countries described in
this volume each have their different archaeological traditions, systems and con-
figurations is something we all know – it can however be novel and illuminating
to appreciate these differences through the singular prism of the crisis. Together
with that, we need also to consider what goes on alongside the crisis. While the
current events focus our immediate concerns, it would be far too easy for us
– and indeed for our elected representatives, our political and economical deci-
sion makers – to refer and defer all choices and policies to the crisis. Alongside
continuities or attempts to return ‘back to normality’ in heritage management,
we can also expect some broad changes and reorientations to occur, which their
instigators may claim to be simply accelerated, facilitated or indeed rendered
inevitable by the crisis. This may well be so, but it is our responsibility, as the
professionals directly involved, to remain alert and examine these changes for
their worth on a case-by-case basis.
As can be seen, the crisis is indeed a complex matter, the impacts of which upon
archaeology are likely to be multiple and far-reaching – on the practice of the
discipline, on its practitioners, and ultimately on the knowledge we produce and
disseminate about the past. Our guiding hypothesis (as presented at the EAA ses-
sion that is at the origin of this publication) is that to a greater or lesser extent, all
sectors of archaeology will ultimately be affected. This has led us to distinguish,
with admittedly a certain degree of arbitrariness as well as overlap, between four
major themes or impact areas. For each, we raise a series of issues or possibilities,
which could, when substantiated, generate further thought and discussion.
– The first theme concerns the impact of the crisis on research funding and pri-
orities. We would like to know whether the budgets dedicated to research (be they
structural or project based, in universities or research bodies) have been affected
by the crisis, in terms of available funding, evaluation criteria, types of projects
selected, eligible expenditures, etc.
– The second theme, which has initially attracted the most attention for obvious
reasons, concerns the impact of the crisis on professional employment. Here the
issues are of employment, job security, recruitment and redundancies (notably in
commercial archaeology). This in turn relates to the health and prospects of vari-
ous archaeological employers, in both public and private sectors. A further issue
concerns professional training and skills, by higher education institutions and by
employers – and how they are to be maintained in in times of crisis.
– The third theme, which proves perhaps too early to fully grasp, has to do
with the impact of the crisis on conservation and public outreach policies. This
concerns not only the fate of archaeological documentation and finds, as studied,
curated and stored by field workers or by museums, but also that of the various
activities (personnel, publications, exhibitions etc) which are aimed at communica-
tion and public outreach – at a time when the broader public’s interest in the past
and its value may need to be reassessed.
– The fourth theme has to do with the impact of the crisis on heritage man-
agement, policies and legislation. In question here are the various structural,
policy and legal modifications that follow from – or are amplified, accelerated, or
alternatively delayed by – various official or governmental responses to the crisis.
These include changes in the legal definition of ‘archaeological sites’, changes in
the intensity, monitoring, timing or funding of protective measures, the merging of
heritage management institutions or their functions, the effects of economic ‘new
deals’ and re-launch initiatives, etc.
With different degrees of detail, the contributors to this volume have addressed
these four themes, providing the reader with an in-depth comparative picture of
the multiple impacts of the global economic crisis on archaeology. In the case of
archaeology in the United Kingdom, the themes in question are actually dealt
with in several papers: mainly employment-related issues by Kenneth Aitchison
in his chapter and in annex I, research and higher education by Anthony Sinclair,
and matters pertaining to legislation and heritage management by Roger Thomas
in annex II. In other cases, the contributors have touched on all themes in their
papers: Arkadiusz Marciniak and Michał Pawleta for Poland, Nathan Schlanger
and Kai Salas Rossenbach for France, and more succinctly James Eogan for
Ireland. Most contributors have focused on a particular sector, broadly speaking
that of archaeological heritage management. This is either because, in compari-
son with the other impact areas, the evidence was particularly rich or topical
in that sector – as in the paper by Monique van den Dries, Karen Waugh and
Corien Bakker on the Netherlands, and that by Eva Parga-Dans on Spain – or
because there were useful quantitative or qualitative leads to follow, as did Asya
Engovatova for Russia, Eszter Bánffy and Pál Raczky for Hungary, or Jeffrey
Altschul for the United States.
Whatever the case, this volume as a whole focuses mainly on matters relat-
ing to archaeological heritage management. Interestingly, this focus is conveyed
through a range of largely overlapping terms used by the contributors: many
talk of ‘preventive archaeology’, and others mention ‘rescue archaeology’, the
‘industrial sector’, ‘commercial archaeology’, ‘cultural resources management’,
‘developer-funded’, ‘compliance driven’, and indeed ‘professional’ as distinct (?)
from ‘academic’ archaeology. We considered it important, as editors, to respect
this terminological variability, which in some cases reflects some real conceptual
or even ideological differences, but which also rests on a common underlying basis
– which can be conveyed by the relatively clear and neutral term of Malta archae-
ology. This common orientation towards archaeological heritage management
is of course related to the areas of competencies and interest of the contributors
themselves, but even more so to the fact that it is at present at the archaeologi-
cal forefront of the current economic crisis. Building on national legislations that
have been reinforced over the past 20 years – themselves based on the Council of
Europe’s 1992 ‘Malta’ or ‘Valletta’ European Convention for the Protection of
Archaeological Heritage (see
Archeologie/default_en.asp) as well as the ICAHM – ICOMOS 1990 Charter for
the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage (http://www.icomos.
org/icahm/documents/charter.html) – archaeological heritage management has
been a continuously growing sector in terms of economic activity, employment and
productivity – one that risks now feeling the full force of the crisis. It is also a sec-
tor that captures some of the social and political choices surrounding our attitudes
to our heritage and to the past, as Jean-Paul Demoule indicates in his opening
paper, and as Nathan Schlanger re-examines in the postscript.
Two additional comments to conclude this introduction. First, it might be perti-
nent to reiterate here the usual disclaimers. Rather than obtain formal, authorised
statements, our aim here has been to gain a sense, qualitative or quantitative, of
Introduction. Archaeology and the global economic crisis
12 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
the stakes and the problems areas raised by the crisis. All the contributors to this
volume, whether they come from academia, the commercial sector, or state bod-
ies, are certainly knowledgeable about the situation prevailing in their countries,
but they do not pretend, and nor are they expected, to present anything like an
official, sectorial or national viewpoint.
Next, as we noted at the onset, this volume represents something of a first.
But it may well not be a one-off. Provided that sufficient interest and goodwill
can be found, we envisage the publication – perhaps in a year’s time, for the next
EAA meeting in September 2011 – of a second volume in which information will
be updated and commented on, and of course new countries, sectors and impact
areas represented and analysed.
Please do contact the editors if you are interested in contributing to this publi-
cation and its aims.
2. The crisis economic, ideological,
and archaeological
1 Introduction
Since its creation more than a decade ago, the European Association of
Archaeologists (EAA) has served as a useful forum for debating different
understandings of the organisation of archaeological heritage management
across Europe. This has been one of the tasks taken on by the EAA sponsored
“Committee on Archaeological Legislation and Organisation in Europe” and
this is also one of the goals of the EC funded ACE project, “Archaeology in
Contemporary Europe”. This EAA session and the publication that ensues is
therefore highly appropriate for raising and summing up some of the broad issues,
economic, ideological and archaeological, brought to the fore by the current
global crisis.
2 Two world views
Broadly speaking there are in Western philosophy two contrasting concepts
of society. In the Anglo-Saxon ‘common law’ tradition, society regulates itself,
either, following the optimistic version of Adam Smith, through the operations of
a “hidden hand” or, in the more pessimistic versions of neo-Darwinism, socio-
biology and economic liberalism in general, by means of the ‘struggle for life’.
For the American economist Nobel prize winner Milton Friedman, for example,
“the State in not the solution, but the problem”. This principle seems to have been
abandoned in a matter of hours at the beginning of the recent economic crisis, in
October 2008.
For the other tradition, mainly in continental Europe, it is the state, in its role
as the expression of the community of citizens, which organises and regulates
social life. Up until the 1980’s in many parts of western Europe, most of what con-
cerned the general interest – such as education, a large part of culture, as well as
transports, energy, post and telecommunications, and indeed banks and insurance
companies – were the responsibility and the property of the state, that is to say of
the community of citizens. It was only during the 1980s that this state of affairs
was put in question, essentially for reasons of ideology rather than economic inef-
ficiency, and without a real public debate.
As for archaeology: in the second model, it is the nation state that takes charge
of the protection of archaeological heritage, either through a state archaeological
service or through dedicated public bodies. In the first model archaeological heri-
tage is treated as merchandise or a service. Commercial archaeological companies
are at the service of their clients, the developers, with only the postulation of some
‘code of ethics’ to ensure quality control within the overall framework of the free
market economy. It should be noted that the term of ‘developer-led archaeology’,
as sometimes used in Anglo-Saxon countries (and in translations into English) is
Jean-Paul Demoule
UFR Histoire de l’art et archéologie
Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
14 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
in this respect misleading. In reality, it is not the developers who originated the
protective measures such as preventive or rescue archaeology, but rather it is the
community of citizens, as expressed through the state, its laws, regulations and
policy guidances. It is the state which decrees that archaeological remains need to
be studied prior to their destruction. The seemingly innocent term of ‘developer-
led’ in this sense reveals wider conceptions of heritage management.
It should be remarked that there has never been anything in the nature of a public
debate or consultation within the European Union regarding these two different eco-
nomic and political approaches. For instance, it is possible to imagine and bring into
being a common European public service is such fields as railways, postal services or
electricity provision – just as there now moves towards common European airspace,
or, more topically, a common banking supervisory mechanism. Such an approach
was never really considered. In almost every field of economic and social life, the
option of a generalised commercial competition was the one taken, as if as a matter
of course. The advantages of such generalised commercial competition, as claimed
by the likes of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, were supposed to result in lower
prices and better quality, on the premise that people will choose to buy the best
products at the lowest prices. This has not really been the case, for several reasons.
3 Half a dozen reasons for questioning the benefits of economic
First, as shown by the Nobel prize winner for Economics, Stieglitz, the “hid-
den hand” of the market would work only if people had complete information
regarding merchandises and services. But it is never the case: people often chose
the degree of information they feel they need, and they can also very easily be
manipulated regarding the information they have access to.
Second, supposedly competing companies often engage in agreements of
various sorts, verging on illegality. Such deals between mobile phone operators or
between roads and infrastructure companies have recently occurred in France, for
Third, commercial companies and their shareholders prefer immediate con-
crete benefits to long-term investments – as can be seen with privatised railway
Forth, regarding archaeology, the notion of competition is often seriously
misunderstood. It so happens that developers do not set out to buy the best pos-
sible archaeology, that is, the most securely dated and documented interpreta-
tion of, say, Early Bronze Age occupation in a given region of Northern Italy, as
could be provided by the best archaeological operator. Developers simply want,
following the regulations in force, their grounds to be cleared of archaeological
remains as quickly and cheaply as possible. Economic competition in the field of
archaeology has therefore nothing to do with scientific competition: it is simply
an incitement to excavate for the lowest possible costs, as unfortunately can be
observed every day. Scientific research is of course also subject to various calls and
grants, many of them highly selective and competitive, emanating from national
and international bodies. But the criteria for choosing between competing propos-
als have little if nothing to do with the lowest possible costs, and much with the
research project proposed by the biding departments or laboratories, and their
record of excellence and delivery. Private sector research does of course exist, but
it thrives mainly in economically rewarding domains (such as medicine, weapons,
food, transport) where quality can be directly controlled and enforced, and where
research has mostly applied rather than fundamental objectives.
Fifth, the ‘Code of Ethics’ is a noble notion that may be relevant or applicable
in some (possibly Protestant) countries of Western Europe, but is it not pertinent,
to be realistic, in many parts of our continent and in much of the world. Such a
code supposes in fact a shared commitment to strong scientific control, which does
not seem to be the case, for example, with the first attempts at introducing com-
mercial archaeology in France.
Sixth, as a final point to return to our preoccupations with the current global
economic crisis, it is clear that the effects of such a crisis on commercial compa-
nies, in any economic or cultural field, are quite different and more challenging
than is the case with public bodies operating under the guarantee of the State.
4 A case study : the introduction of commercial companies to French
As we all know, and as we can further appreciate from the analyses and details
provided throughout this volume, the effects of the current economic crisis on
archaeology are serious indeed. Many colleagues in private companies have lost their
jobs, and there is also a risk that much scientific data and documentation will defi-
nitely disappear – just like the professional expertise generated over the years. We
have, of course, to express our feelings of solidarity with these jobless colleagues.
I would like now to take up as a test case the example of France, where com-
mercial archaeology was introduced only in 2003 (see also Schlanger & Salas
Rossenbach, this volume). Over the years, France had accumulated serious delays in
matters of archaeological heritage protection. One of the reasons was that for long
archaeology did not play much of a role in the construction of national identity: the
country’s ‘noble’ ancestors were rather the Greeks and the Romans, and the Louvre,
with all its rich holdings in these domains, contains almost no finds recovered from
the French soil. It was only in 2001, some time after the Malta convention was rati-
fied, that the parliament passed a law which installed the ‘polluter pays’ principle
and which created a national research institute in charge of preventive archaeology,
INRAP, which took charge of evaluations and preventive excavations across the
country in collaboration with the universities, the CNRS, the ministry of culture
and the archaeological services of various towns and counties. For my part, I have
participated in the drafting of the law, and I served as INRAP’s first president from
2002 to 2008 (see Demoule 2002, Demoule & Landes 2009).
The sudden generalised application after 2001 of the ‘polluter pays’ principle
to all development projects across France led to numerous reactions, especially in
regions where preventive archaeology had hitherto been poorly practiced. These
reactions coincided with the arrival of a new conservative majority in power.
Resentment against preventive archaeology in general focussed on the 2001 law,
and the parliamentary majority decided in 2003, among other amendments to the
law, to open archaeology to commercial competition.
Presumably made under the expectation that excavations costs would be
reduced, this decision was clearly ideological in its motivations. It certainly had
no scientific justification: the scientific community as one vigorously protested
this decision, through demonstrations, petitions, newspaper articles and so forth.
The crisis – economic, ideological, and archaeological
16 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
Internationally, the EAA board issued a declaration whereby, taking into account
the traditions in each country, the French system of preventive archaeology was
perfectly coherent. At the same time, the European Commission in Brussels
received complaints regarding the ‘state organisation’ of French archaeology – and
then rejected them (2 April 2003) on the grounds that it was the sovereign right
of each member state to set the organisation it saw fit in the field of culture. Thus,
for the member states of the European Union, there is absolutely no compulsion to
introduce commercial competition in archaeology.
In the first years following the 2003 amendments, there was little competition to
be seen from commercial companies, who had to obtain a licence from the min-
istry of culture in order to operate. From 2007, however, this competition begun
to be increasingly felt, to the extent that it represents now something like a third
of archaeological excavations undertaken in the country. It should be stressed that
in France archaeological assessments or diagnostics prior to excavations can only
be carried out by public bodies, for the most part INRAP or the licensed services
of towns or departements (counties). The legislator sought here to avoid the risks,
observed in quite a few countries, of private companies, under pressure from their
commissioning developers, having so little luck at findings archaeological remains
at all. For the same reasons, private archaeological companies in France cannot be
directly linked to developers, even if some attempts are being made now to bypass
this rule. Of the twenty or so private companies now licensed to operate in France,
two are foreign (Swiss and English). At least one company, having applied highly
reduced costs, went into bankruptcy and raised the fate of the excavated finds and
related documentation (see annex II, in this volume; for some UK advice in this
The introduction of commercial competition in French archaeology has had a
number of effects, including several that were not anticipated. Excavation costs, to
begin with, have not actually seen any significant reduction – which at least shows
to the developers that the rates practiced by INRAP were in no way excessive.
Together with that, the defects of the system are becoming apparent. For example,
there are known cases of private companies which, having won their contract by
proposing lower prices, went to the developer to renegotiate and increase the price
on the pretext that the evaluation did not fully reveal the extent and complexity
of the area to be excavated. In other cases, some private companies simply ceased
excavating as soon as the limit of their revenues was reached, while others applied
far more summary (and cheaper) methods than initially commissioned. The reac-
tions of the French ministry of culture have been variable. By law, its services are
responsible, in each region, for prescribing excavations, for issuing permits to
the operators, and for controlling the quality of their work. In some cases, the
regional services welcomed and even encouraged the arrival of private companies,
which made it possible for them to increase the number of participants and retain
power and importance. As well, their level of scientific exigency towards private
companies is often reduced, in comparison with INRAP standards. A paradoxi-
cal situation was also observed where one state service unduly favoured a private
company at the expense of another state service, INRAP.
Another harmful consequence of this ideologically promoted commerciali-
sation has undoubtedly been the fragmentation of the archaeological process.
Before then, the methodology for excavations and for the recording and analysis
of archaeological finds could be defined in a homogenous way by INRAP. With
the array of participants now in existence, it is possible to find different parts of
the same archaeological sites excavated by different operators following differ-
ent methodologies, making any coherent synthesis impossible. It is clear that this
system of commercial competition, however desirable it was to some for political
and ideological reasons, will have to be considerably reconsidered also in scientific
terms as soon as circumstances allow.
5 Towards a coherent approach to European archaeology
In a recent issue of the journal World Archaeology, dedicated to ‘Debates in
World Archaeology’, Kristian Kristiansen wrote a paper entitled “Contract archae-
ology in Europe: an experiment in diversity” (Kristiansen 2009). Comparing the
different systems of preventive archaeology in operation, Kristiansen regrouped
them into two main categories – those of statist (or ‘socialist’) inspiration, and
those of ‘capitalist’ obedience – and concluded that the former offered the best
guarantees of scientific quality and communication. With the crisis, it becomes all
the more timely for us European archaeologists to come and think together, espe-
cially within the EAA, on what could be the more relevant kinds of organisations
for European Archaeology. Decisions need not be taken of course in the immedi-
ate future. But we have to put on the table all the current problems, make them
explicit and debate them together.
The crisis shows us that, following twenty years of growing economic and
commercial deregulations, the ‘hidden hand’ of the market has somehow lost its
touch, and seems not to work, at least not in any simplified form. Without the
massive state interventions of the states of the Western world, the economic situa-
tion would have been even worse. Closer to our concerns, there is ample scope to
reconsider the value of the ideas that cultural heritage might be just a merchandise,
and archaeology a commercial service to be provided.
More specifically to the discipline, recent research in methods and theories have
focussed on the conditions in which archaeological reasoning and hypotheses
– such as ‘post-processual’ or ‘critical’ theory – were being generated. However,
as archaeologists, historians and indeed social scientists, we need also to be criti-
cal and reflexive regarding the concrete structures and institutions within which
archaeological research in conducted, concrete conditions which cannot be sepa-
rated from the archaeological discipline as a whole.
To find a source of optimism in the economic crisis, it can be expected that the
new programmes devised in France and in other parts of Europe to encourage the
economy will lead to large scale state investments in such publics works as roads,
railways or other infrastructures programs, which in turn will create more jobs
for preventive archaeology – and generate new knowledge about the past. Be it as
it may, the complex situation emerging from the global economic crisis was not
expected, and could well have serious and long lasting effects on archaeological
heritage management and scientific research. Such bodies as the EAA can take a
leading role in the ensuing debates, and it is our collective responsibility as citizens
and as professional archaeologists to take part and to contribute.
Demoule J.-P., 2002, Rescue archaeology: the French
way, Public Archaeology, 2:170–7.
Demoule J.-P. & Ch. Landes (eds), 2009, La fabrique
de l’archéologie en France, Paris, La Découverte.
Kristiansen, K. 2009, Contract archaeology in Europe:
an experiment in diversity, World Archaeology, 41/4,
The crisis – economic, ideological, and archaeological
3. The impact of the recession on archaeology
in the Republic of Ireland
1 Introduction
This paper provides a brief overview of the organisation and structure of
archaeology in the Republic of Ireland; it assesses the impact of the recession on
the practice of archaeology in Ireland and will attempt to consider the prospects
for the future. The Republic of Ireland is an interesting case study as the sustain-
ability of the economic model that supported archaeological activity has been
challenged by the global banking crisis and a domestic economic downturn. This
has led to a collapse in the amount of archaeological work being commissioned
from private sector archaeological consultancies and a consequential steep rise in
unemployment among the archaeological profession in Ireland.
The paper is written in a personal capacity and should not be seen as an expres-
sion of the views of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland or its members.
2 Organisation and structure
Archaeological services in the Republic of Ireland are provided by a state-super-
vised private sector. This model of organisation was effective and adaptable in the
face of the unprecedented economic growth experienced in the country in the era of
the so-called “Celtic Tiger”. The construction projects stimulated by this economic
growth led to the completion of thousands of excavation projects annually and the
employment of large numbers of archaeologists, particularly in the private sector.
The emergence of a private sector in Irish archaeology was not the result of an
explicit policy but was a response to the requirements of developers, initially pub-
lic sector development agencies and later private sector developers, for archaeolog-
ical advice and excavation services in the late nineteen-eighties. Its emergence was
facilitated by a general reluctance of state bodies or universities to get involved
in the direct provision of archaeological services to mitigate the archaeological
impact of proposed developments and the insistence by the relevant statutory
bodies of the application of the “polluter pays” principle. These actions associated
with the transposition of the European Union Environmental Impact Assessment
directive into Irish law in 1989 and the placing the national Sites and Monuments
Record on a statutory footing (as the Record of Monuments and Places) in 1994
created a market for archaeological services.
3 Scope of private sector activity
Archaeological services to the public and private sectors are generally provided
by commercial companies and sole traders. The services provided by these com-
panies generally include archaeological assessment and evaluation, archaeological
excavation and post-excavation services. Assessment of the scope of commercial
James Eogan
Vice-Chairman, the Institute of
Archaeologists of Ireland
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
20 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
archaeology in the Republic of Ireland is hampered by a lack of data and research.
Anecdotally the most significant aspect of the archaeological business in Ireland
is the provision of excavation services. Archaeological excavation can only be car-
ried out with a permit granted by the Minister for Environment, Heritage & Local
Government in accordance with the provisions of the National Monuments Acts
(1930-2004). Summary reports on each excavation have to be published in the
annual Excavations Bulletin. Research suggests that more than 90% of the exca-
vations carried out each year are in response to the requirements to comply with
development consents (Eogan 2008). As these excavations are generally carried
out by archaeologists operating in the private sector the Bulletin is a good proxy
for the health of the commercial archaeology in Ireland.
These data reveal (Fig. 1) that between 1995 and 2002 the numbers of archaeo-
logical excavations carried out grew by an average of 30% per annum, between
2003 and 2007 the numbers of excavations stabilised at a level above 1,500, with
annual fluctuations in the order of +/- 15%. Data provided by the Department of
Environment, Heritage & Local Government show that the number of excavation
permits issued in 2008 was 37% less than in the previous year and that there was
a year-on-year reduction of 44% in 2009. In real terms the level of archaeologi-
cal activity has reduced to levels last seen by the profession in the late 1990s.
Projections for the current year suggest that there might be slight increase in the
number of excavations carried out.
This growth in archaeological excavations impacted on employment lev-
els in Irish archaeology. Research carried out as part of the “Discovering the
Archaeologists of Europe” project in 2007 has shown that commercial archaeo-
logical companies employed 974 staff in the Republic of Ireland (McDermott &
La Piscopia 2008, 20 ff.). Follow up surveys by the Institute of Archaeologists
of Ireland in 2008 and 2009 suggest that the reduction in excavation activity
has led to a consequential reduction in employment levels in the private sector
where employment fell by 80% in the two years following the collection of the
“Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe” data (Eogan & Sullivan 2009; Eoin
Sullivan pers. comm.).
It is difficult to make an assessment of the scale and scope of the private sec-
tor in Irish archaeology as, apart from employment surveys, no research has
Fig. 1. Annual totals of
excavations reported in
the Excavations Bulletin
(red); annual totals of
archaeological excavation
permits issued by the Dept.
of Environment, Heritage
& Local Government
(green) [data for 2010 are a
projection based on the first
10 weeks of the year].
The impact of the recession on archaeology in the Republic of Ireland
been undertaken. National Roads Authority data reveals that sixteen different
archaeological companies have won contracts to provide archaeological services
on national road schemes in the last 15 years. One area where data can be col-
lated is in tender submission for public sector contracts where in accordance with
European Union procurement rules companies are required to provide information
on their turnover and staff numbers to demonstrate their competence to undertake
the contract being tendered for.
Data available to the author shows that between 1999 and 2006 the self-
reported levels of employment in companies tendering for projects in the south-
eastern region rose from an average of 84 to 161. In the corresponding period
average annual turnover increased from 0.81 million to 6.94 million. At face
value these figures suggest steady growth in terms of employment and revenues.
However, they figures only tell part of the story as an examination of the employ-
ment statistics at individual company level show that over this period there were
large annual fluctuations. Similarly, analysis of the self-reported turnover figures
show that companies experience large fluctuations in the order of -40% to +200%
year-on-year. These figures suggest that for companies tendering to provide
archaeological services to mitigate the impact of major road construction projects,
the archaeological industry is a challenging one where on-going commercial health
and the ability to provide employment for archaeological professionals is depen-
dant on winning at least one large contract on an annual basis.
4 Discussion
The Republic of Ireland is a small open economy. Over the past fifteen years
there was significant growth in investment by the public and private sectors.
Private sector investment was largely in property and was driven by low interest
rates, the availability of credit, a stable macro-economic environment, high levels
of employment and high levels of consumer spending. Public sector investment
was facilitated by booming tax receipts (mostly so-called transaction taxes) and
a structured approach to investment through seven-year National Development
The global economic crisis has hit Ireland particularly hard because of the
specific local conditions. For the archaeological profession the impact has been
compounded as since 2007 archaeological works have been completed on many
of the significant motorway projects; this coincided with the reduction in invest-
ment in private sector development projects due to the global economic downturn
and banking crisis. The collapse in tax revenues has meant that the public sector
has not been in a position to invest in other public projects that might require
archaeological services. The impact of the recession can be seen in the reduction
of about 66% in the number of archaeological excavations being carried out and
a drop of 80% in employment levels in the private sector. At least one established
archaeological services company is being wound up and a second company has
sought protection from their creditors in the courts.
The impact of the recession on the private sector in Irish archaeology has been
deep; however, the figures have to be seen in the context of the profession having
gone through a period of unprecedented growth and expansion over the previ-
ous ten years. This is, of course, cold comfort to those colleagues who have lost
their jobs or whose income has been substantially reduced. However, it should be
22 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
acknowledged that the “Celtic Tiger” years were good for archaeology in Ireland;
not only did it provide employment opportunities for professional archaeolo-
gists but it led directly to the generation of significant new data. Unlike much of
Western Europe up to the late twentieth century the Republic of Ireland had a
largely rural character, a low population density and an economy based for the
most part on the export of primary agricultural products, principally meat and
dairy products. The form of agriculture practised was low-intensity and did not
require large-scale mechanisation. Apart from the construction of canals and rail-
ways and some limited industrialisation, Ireland was not generally affected by the
nineteenth century industrial revolution. The last fifteen years witnessed the type
of urban, industrial and infrastructural developments that many other countries
went through in the middle of the twentieth century. However, in the case of the
Republic of Ireland this economic expansion took place in the context of a devel-
oped regulatory framework and an adaptable professional archaeological structure
that was able to respond to the scale of development to ensure that all significant
archaeological impacts were appropriately mitigated.
The challenges for the years ahead are manifold. Firstly, the profession must
lobby to ascertain that the legislative and administrative structures are in place
that will ensure that development in the future is subject to the same level of
archaeological assessment as took place before and during the boom; it would
be easy for some policy makers to argue that, in the changed economic circum-
stances, this level of archaeological assessment was a hindrance to future economic
development. The Minister for Environment, Heritage & Local Government has
received government approval to draft a new National Monuments Act that is
intended to provide a more efficient and streamlined legislative framework for the
protection of archaeological heritage in the twenty-first century and to provide for
greater recognition and protection for archaeology (including landscapes) under
planning legislation. Historically the administration of archaeology in the Republic
of Ireland has been underfunded at central and local government level, and in the
current climate the likelihood of securing additional posts is low – nevertheless,
there may be scope to re-deploy some public sector staff to new areas of responsi-
bility. A logical legislative framework and an efficient and responsive administra-
tion will ensure the optimum level of protection for the archaeological heritage
and will benefit the profession as a whole.
Secondly, the data generated through the compliance-driven excavations has to
be secured and made available for future study. The provision of secure long-term
storage for archaeological artefacts and archives has been a perennial problem.
The National Museum of Ireland has recently acquired a lease on an 18,000 m2
building which is being fitted out as a Collections Resource Centre, the National
Monuments Service will sub-let part of the building for the storage of the “paper”
archives from excavations; therefore for the first time there will be a single loca-
tion containing archives from excavations.
Thirdly, the free exchange of data between the different sectors in the archaeo-
logical profession has to be maintained and fostered. Unlike some other countries
the degree of co-operation between the academic and commercial sectors in Irish
archaeology has been close; the academic sector has also taken a close interest in
seeking to develop the profession as a whole (University College Dublin 2006,
Royal Irish Academy 2007). This data generated from compliance-driven archae-
ology during the years of the “Celtic Tiger” has re-invigorated academic research
and has opened up many new avenues of investigations. Already a number of
The impact of the recession on archaeology in the Republic of Ireland
innovative projects have sought to harness the knowledge value of the flood of
data that has been produced over the last fifteen years, to integrate it with exist-
ing data sets and to revise existing narratives incorporating this data. Much of
this work has been enabled through funding provided by the Heritage Council
through its archaeological grants schemes and through the Irish National Strategic
Archaeological Research Programme (INSTAR) (http://www.heritagecouncil.
ie/archaeology/research-funds-grants/instar-web-archive/). This work is particu-
larly important, as it demonstrates to policy makers and the public that the money
spent on archaeology in the context of development, yields data that can be
transformed into knowledge through analysis, which then enables us to refine our
understanding of how society developed on the island over the past ten millennia.
Discoveries made during the last decade and a half have been exhibited in
the National Museum of Ireland and local museums and this has heightened to
awareness and understanding of archaeology nationally and locally among the
general public; the National Roads Authority also has been particularly successful
at disseminating information at a local level. Funding for this sort of research and
dissemination can be particularly vulnerable in straightened economic times, and
while budgets to the Heritage Council have been cut over the past two years it has
been possible to maintain these programmes.
Undoubtedly the global economic crisis has had a significant impact on the
archaeological profession in Ireland. The challenge now is to ensure that the sig-
nificant benefits that accrued in the previous period of growth are consolidated so
that when conditions improve we are in a position to provide the archaeological
services that society requires and to continue to contribute to the building of an
awareness of our shared national and European heritage.
I would like to thank Martin Reid,
archaeologist, National Monuments
Service, Department of Environment,
Heritage and Local Government, for
providing me with figures relating to
the issuing of permits for excavation
in 2010.
Eogan, J., 2008, Archaeology and the “Celtic Tiger”.
Poster presented at WAC-6 (
Eogan, J., & Sullivan, E., 2009 Archaeology and
the demise of the Celtic Tiger. In The Archaeologist,
No. 72 (Summer 2009), 26–27.
McDermott, C. & La Piscopia, P., 2008. Discovering
the Archaeologists of Europe: Ireland. A Report to
the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland and the
Heritage Council. Institute of Archaeologists of
Ireland, Dublin.
University College Dublin, 2006, Archaeology 2020.
Repositioning Irish Archaeology in the Knowledge
Society. University College, Dublin.
Royal Irish Academy, 2007, Archaeology in Ireland:
A Vision for the Future. Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.
4. United Kingdom archaeology in economic crisis
1 Introduction
Archaeological practice in the United Kingdom is essentially a private sector
activity, undertaken by commercial companies on behalf of private and public
developers. One direct consequence of the global economic situation has been a
downturn in the UK construction industry, which began in the summer of 2007 and
sharply accelerated in autumn 2008.This decline in construction work directly led to
job losses in archaeology.
Following a change of UK government in May 2010, economic policy for
dealing with the crisis has switched from the previously held Keynesian approach
which sought to refloat the economy through public investment to a set of policies
which aim to reduce the national budgetary deficit by cutting state spending. This
change in strategy is now directly impacting upon research funding and employ-
ment and skills.
2 The boom years and the link to construction
Following the publication of governmental guidance on the treatment of
archaeology within the spatial planning system in England in 1990 (PPG 16),
archaeology became a material consideration within the planning system. Put sim-
ply, this means that the presence or potential presence of archaeological remains
on a site where development was proposed would affect whether or not permis-
sion would be granted for that development.
It became very rapidly accepted that developers would fund investigations to
assess or evaluate sites to identify the extent, degree of preservation and quality
of archaeological sites to support their applications for planning permission, and
that if needed they would subsequently fund excavation and recording as either
Kenneth Aitchison
Head of Projects and Professional
Institute for Archaeologists, UK
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
26 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
a condition of or an agreement upon their permission to develop being granted.
Archaeology had become part of the sustainable development agenda – archaeo-
logical remains were recognised as an environmental resource, and if they were to
be impacted upon, the polluter would have to pay to mitigate against the damage
they were causing.
Within a few years, this system had been replicated in the other constituent
parts of the United Kingdom, and the archaeological sector grew at a rapid rate,
supported by a housing market that showed rising prices every year from 1992 to
2007. Over this time, housing represented approximately 65-75% of all new con-
struction. In the ten years from 1997, economic growth was maintained not only
through the housing boom (and a credit boom that serviced this) but also through
large-scale investment in public services.
In 1997-98, approximately 4425 people were working in UK archaeology (in
all archaeological roles, not just in development-led fieldwork). By 2007-08, this
number had risen to 6865, an increase of 55% over ten years. At this time, two
in every three archaeologists worked in field investigation and research roles, and
93% of all archaeological investigations were initiated through the spatial plan-
ning process.
3 The downturn hits contractors
In the summer of 2007, in the very week that the employment data for the UK
in 2007-08 was being collected through the “Discovering the Archaeologists of
Europe” project (see, the first signs of the
oncoming economic crisis became apparent. The ‘credit crunch’ of 2007 meant
that August 2007 marked the peak of the housing boom, and the amount of work
being done by archaeology’s clients began to slowly decline.
In the autumn of 2008, the effects of the current global economic crisis sud-
denly and seriously impacted upon commercial archaeological practice in the
United Kingdom. Small- and medium-scale development was effectively halted
when the global economic crisis deepened severely to the accompaniment of
numerous bank bailouts, rescues and nationalisations.
The effects of September and October 2008 immediately led to hundreds of
archaeologists losing their jobs and several archaeological companies going out of
Since then, the Institute for Archaeologists has been gathering data on the
effects of the crisis upon archaeological practice since the start of 2009, reviewing
labour market indicators and business confidence every quarter.
By March 2009, 650 jobs had been lost – the equivalent of 1 in every 6 field-
workers’ jobs. This represented about 10% of all the jobs in the entire archaeo-
logical sector.
There was a certain level of recovery in the sector during the summer of 2009, but
by March 2010 the numbers in employment had returned to the low levels of one year
before and archaeological businesses remained uncertain about the future effects of the
economic situation. The situation is volatile, and business confidence is low.
Using average salaries and employment levels as indicators, it can be estimated
that approximately £148m (179m) was being spent by developers in 2007-08. By
2009-10, this was likely to have dropped to around £130m (157m).
4 Heritage management, policies and legislation
The short-lived recovery in the number of archaeological jobs in the summer of
2009 was fuelled by capital investment by the state. A number of planned major
roads projects were brought forward as the government deliberately sought to
spend on infrastructure to boost the economy, but this was a temporary measure
which had ended even before the change of government in May 2010.
The government guidance on archaeology in the planning system in England,
PPG 16, which was in many ways the trigger for the growth of archaeological
practice during the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century was replaced in
March 2010 by Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment
(PPS 5). This document was not produced in response to the economic situation – it
had been in development for approximately eight years – and it will lead changes
in archaeological practice. It allows for a greater degree of selectivity in which sites
will be investigated, with emphasis being placed upon a site’s significance and with a
more proportionate level of information needing to be provided by the applicant for
planning permission before an application is decided.
PPS5 should have been accompanied by a new law on the historic environment,
but this was prevented by the economic crisis. The Heritage Protection Bill was
dropped from the government’s list of proposed legislation in December 2008 as
the scale of the economic problems overshadowed all other matters, and then it
did not find its way on to the legislative agenda for the final Parliament before the
May 2010 general election.
The Historic Environment (Amendment) Scotland Bill was introduced to the
Scottish Parliament on 5 May 2010, with the intention of harmonising and consoli-
dating legislation in Scotland. This is not related to the economic crisis, but it has
to ensure that it does not bring additional cost implications for national or local
The number of applications to study archaeology at universities in the UK
(which had previously been rising) fell from a peak in academic year 2006-07 until
2008-09, but then (in common with the total number of applicants for all sub-
jects) rose significantly in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11, in response to the eco-
United Kingdom archaeology in economic crisis
28 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
nomic climate as more people sought to enter higher education as an alternative to
the uncertain workplace. However, applications to study archaeology were much
lower than the aggregate increase for all subjects (the Universities and Colleges
Admissions Service identifies that overall applications to universities rose by 23%
for the 2010-11intake, but for archaeology by only 2%).
5 New government and cuts
The Conservative-led government that took office in the UK in May 2010
immediately sought to cut governmental spending in almost all areas. The first direct
effect on archaeology and the historic environment has been in the annual budget of
English Heritage, the national agency for the historic environment in England, which
was cut by £4.8m (5.8m) in June 2010, an immediate 3.6% reduction of the grant-
in-aid received from the state. The Government has already warned that this may be
cut further during this year, and future funding for this agency will be determined
following the Comprehensive Spending Review in September 2010.
This cut has led English Heritage to reassess current spending on research and
priorities, and this has meant that several training initiatives have been stopped.
The amount of money being granted by the state to universities has also been
severely curtailed. These cuts, which were first announced late in 2009, can be
aggregated up to a total of £900m (1,080m) across all universities by 2013, and
are expected to impact most heavily on staff numbers.
Similarly, the local government settlement through which local authorities
are funded will be revised from April 2011, and this will undoubtedly be greatly
reduced. This will have the effect of threatening archaeological advisers’ posts
within local government, which will then directly impact on the local authorities
abilities to manage development proposals which might affect archaeology.
The government is now also no longer in a position to fund as many infra-
structure projects (and the associated archaeological work) as previously. The
Department for Transport’s budgets were cut by £683m (822m) in May 2010,
cancelling or deferring three major roads projects and reducing the railway
network’s budget.
6 Conservation and public outreach
The economic crisis has had relatively little visible effect upon conservation and
public archaeological outreach in the UK so far, although there has been one very
high profile casualty of the current Government’s spending cuts – the funding for
the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre was withdrawn in June 2010.
7 Conclusions
The United Kingdom’s archaeological profession was the first in Europe to fully
embrace the competitive, free-market model. This greater exposure to market
allowed the sector to grow larger than in any other European state before the crisis
and the crash, which then meant that more people were exposed to its effects than
in any other state.
Because of the professional structure in the UK, it is in the area of professional
employment and skills that the effects of the economic crisis have been felt most
keenly, as this was a direct, primary consequence of archaeology’s clients reducing
The second wave of the crisis is now affecting archaeological practice outside
the commercial sphere – in universities, national and local government, as research
and development funding is cut. This has been compounded by political decisions
that are aggravating the immediate impact of the crisis, although this is done in the
hope that they will, over time, ameliorate the situation.
The archaeological profession in the UK is suffering in the present economic
climate. It has grown with the market and now has to shrink with the market,
but twenty years of experience of how to operate successful businesses means that
entrepreneurial attitudes and real business skills have become embedded within the
profession. These are the skills and attitudes that are being relied upon to maintain
archaeology’s position within the process of sustainable development.
United Kingdom archaeology in economic crisis
5. The end of a golden age? The impending
effects of the economic collapse on
archaeology in higher education in
the United Kingdom
1 Introduction
Quite by chance, the most recent audits of the two archaeological sectors in
the United Kingdom – the professional, commercial or developer-funded, and
the academic – were conducted at the very moment when the economic crisis
begun to surface (with the ‘collapse’ of the Northern Rock bank in the autumn
of 2007). For the professional sector this survey was Institute for Archaeologists’
Archaeology Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) survey for 2007-8 (Aitchison and
Edwards 2008); for the academic sector it was RAE 2008, the sixth Research
Assessment Exercise undertaken by the four UK higher education funding coun-
cils. Both surveys paint a picture of Archaeology in 2007 in better health than ever
before. Indeed, such was the strength of the profession in these two surveys that it
is tempting to describe the last decade (roughly 1998-2007) as a golden period for
archaeology in the UK.
The economic collapse has already dramatically changed this picture of health
for the professional sector in the UK. In the academic sector, its effects have not
yet been directly felt, but it is possible that the collapse will instigate a deeper and
longer lasting set of changes than elsewhere, because they may fundamentally alter
the current drivers or incentives for higher education institutions (HEIs) and aca-
demics in departments of archaeology. These changes will occur over the next ten
years and grow out of a number of present tensions that are already identifiable.
These include the effects of rising tuition fees on students’ perception of the dif-
ficulty and value of higher education (HE), falling application numbers, a concern
with employability, increased competition for academic posts and the wages and
working conditions in the professional sector of archaeology.
Even though these tensions are of long standing, it will be the current economic
crisis and its direct impact on the future funding of HE that will instigate change.
Since the changes have not yet started it is only possible at this moment to outline
the factors that will cause change and the possible change scenarios that might
occur. In order to make sense of these, I shall set out the current situation of
archaeology in higher education, as well as the basic principles that organise and
fund this level of education in the UK. It is important to remember throughout
that HEIs in the UK are independently funded and managed organisations; they
are also intensely competitive one with another in the UK, and increasingly with
other HEIs internationally. The policies and actions they follow are driven by how
they can effectively increase their funds and profits, and enhance their reputation
and competitive edge.
Anthony Sinclair
Subject Centre for History, Classics and
Archaeology, Higher Education Academy
School of Archaeology, Classics and
Egyptology, University of Liverpool
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
32 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
2 Archaeology in UK higher education, 1997-2007
Between 1997 and 2007, there was a considerable degree of renewed economic
investment in the UK HE sector; archaeology, in common with many disciplines,
enjoyed a considerable period of growth. This led to an increase in the numbers
of academic archaeologists educated and employed; the numbers of students1, and
new departments were created to teach archaeology in universities. Assessments of
teaching and research quality completed in this decade reveal a record of excel-
lence in both areas in the UK.
There is no official record of the number of staff by discipline in UK universi-
ties. The evidence, however, from the IfAs LMI survey, the RAE 2008 returns, and
institutional websites (for departments not submitted to the RAE 2008), makes
it possible to say that there were more than 600 individuals employed for the
purpose of teaching and research in archaeology in UK Higher Education 20092.
Looking back over the previous decade, using the three IfA LMI surveys for 1997-
8, 2002-3 and 2007-8 (Aitchison 1999, Aitchison & Edwards 2003, Aitchison &
Edwards 2008), and the institutional submissions to the UK’s Research Assessment
Exercise for 1996, 2001 and 2008 (RAE 2010a, 2010b, 2010c), we can observe
a steady rise of more than 35% in total staff numbers engaged in teaching and
research (Fig. 1). The age spread and gender balance have remained roughly con-
stant over this period with the average academic archaeologist still being male and
in his forties (Fig. 2).
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800
RAE staff (Cat A). IfA staff (estimated)
20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
1997-98 2002-03 2007-08
20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
1997-98 2002-03 2007-08
Fig. 1. Numbers of
academic staff in
archaeology in UK Higher
Fig. 2. The age profile
for UK archaeologists in
Higher Education.
The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic collapse on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom
These 600 and more academic staff are spread amongst approximately 30
institutions offering places where students can take a degree in archaeology as a
single honours subject. Additionally there are a few other institutions in which
students might study Archaeology as a significant component of either joint-hon-
ours degree programmes or degrees in related subjects such as Classics. In contrast
to many other countries in Europe, archaeology departments in the UK are large
in size (Collis pers. comm. June 2006 Conference on Teaching and Learning in
Archaeology 2006, Liverpool.). Although a small number of archaeology depart-
ments have fewer than 10 full-time staff, many have more than 15 full-time teach-
ing/research staff, with the largest having 64 full time staff (Fig. 3).
From outside the HE sector, the activities of teaching and research seem
inseparably interwoven. Indeed many in the university sector would argue that
what constitutes the ‘higher’ element of HE is the fact that students learn about
their disciplines in an active research environment and from teachers who are
themselves undertaking basic research. This is often phrased as ‘research-led
teaching’. Be that as it may however, a significant feature of the UK HE system is
a separation between research and teaching: as activities with different processes
of funding and assessment of performance. And just as finance and assessment
largely determine the student’s experience and her actions in HE, so do the same
factors shape and drive the perceptions and activities of individual academics and
3 The funding and assessment of teaching in higher education
The money that institutions receive for teaching is determined nationally. This
comprises a sum of money paid by government (via the national funding councils)
for each student as well as tuition fees paid by students themselves. At a national
level, the number of HE student places that can be funded is set by government,
and institutions must agree on the number of students that they will teach with the
funding councils. Within institutions, there are annual student number targets set
Nottingham Trent
Central Lancashire
UHI Millennium INstitute
University of Wales,
Queen’s University
University College
Total Staff Numbers Research Active Staff FTE
Fig. 3. Staff & research
active staff numbers in UK
departments (RAE 2008).
34 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
per discipline area. In the period from the mid 1990s up to 2007, there was a drive
to increase student numbers in HE, and humanities and arts departments were
able to increase their student numbers significantly, with subsequent employment
opportunities available to them in an enlarging service economy3.
The money from the funding councils is allocated according to the costs of
teaching a full-time student following a specific discipline for their degree. The
disciplines are grouped into funding bands according to the form of teaching
involved. In England and Wales the highest sum is allocated to the band which
groups the medical sciences. This is followed by the sciences and engineering, then
the laboratory/fieldwork-based social sciences (including geography and archaeol-
ogy) and finally the library-based humanities and arts (including history, english,
classics). In Scotland, however, archaeology is in the lowest band, and students are
funded at the same level as english, history and other humanities.
Additionally, in the UK, students have contributed financially to their HE for
more than ten years. Between 1998 and 2006, students were required to pay an
annual tuition fee of up to £1250 (means-tested against parental income). In 2006
this was changed into a variable but capped fee, with the exact amount set by indi-
vidual HEIs for each of their degree programmes4 up to an upper limit of £3,225
per year (2009-10)5. With very rare exception, however, all universities now charge
all students the same, uppermost fee. In practical terms, students take out stu-
dent loans to pay for their tuition fees, that are offered to students by the Student
Loans Company - a public-sector organisation6. The money to fund these loans is
provided up front by the government; graduates repay these loans at reduced levels
of interest once they are earning more than £15,000 per annum. Any outstanding
loan repayments are (to be) cancelled after 25 years.
For HEIs, teaching income is largely capped at a national level. There is little
opportunity to increase this income and the only ‘penalty’ for HEIs is when they
accept more students than the places they have been funded to provide. The only
other route to increase teaching income is to attract foreign students for whom
student places are not capped. HEIs are, therefore, keen to attract such students7,
and seek to improve their reputation (largely in terms of their research reputa-
tion) on the one hand, and, recently, to develop links with foreign universities
that might lead to a steady stream of foreign students coming to the UK ‘mother’
institution later on in their degree.
Between 1991 and 2001, teaching in UK universities was assessed through an
exhaustive performance review organised on a subject by subject basis with every
department visited and assessed by independent, discipline-specific inspectors. For
archaeology (assessed between 1999 and 2001), the overwhelming majority of
departments were judged to be ‘excellent’ in their teaching. The considerable level
of resource invested in preparation for these national subject performance reviews
led to a modification of the process so that teaching reviews are now conducted
periodically within universities in a ‘light touch’ manner, though with some external
contribution. In the UK, therefore, funding for teaching is also not directly affected
(either up or down) by the assessment of teaching quality. It is assumed that this will
be achieved in an HE market place through the (non-)application of students to par-
ticular HEIs and degree programmes. Currently, however, the number of applicants
for student places is greater than the number of funded places available.
Finally, the UK has also benefited from the creation of a series of subject-
focussed teaching support centres (originally called the Learning and Teaching
The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic collapse on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom
Support Network) that are part of the Higher Education Academy. Funding comes
from the national higher education funding councils, and, to a small extent, from
institutional subscriptions. The Subject Centres work to enhance teaching at a
disciplinary level by recognising that individual academics more often than not
see themselves as members of a discipline, not as teachers in higher education
per se; academics are more likely to engage with individual discipline specialists
when sharing and developing best teaching practice rather than with education
specialists. The Subject Centres organise conferences and workshops on teach-
ing issues, they produce publications on themes such as the enhancement of
employability skills and approaches to assessment; they also fund pedagogical
research. Archaeology is supported by the Subject Centre for History, Classics
and Archaeology ( The Subject Centres appear to be
unique to the UK.
4 The funding and assessment of research
It is unquestionably research that has had the greatest impact on those universi-
ties where archaeology is taught. In contrast to their teaching income, however,
individual HEIs can significantly increase their income that derives from research,
through the receipt of individual research grants (from the UK research councils)
awarded to individual academics and research teams, and just as importantly on
the basis of the outcomes of the most recent research assessment. These factors are
ones that university leaders feel that they can directly influence; they have, therefore,
introduced detailed processes to support (and monitor) research grant bids and
research assessment outputs and submissions at departmental and individual level.
Departments of archaeology (along with Classics and Ancient History) are usually
located in the ‘traditional universities’ (institutions that were recognised by charter
before 1992). These universities now largely defined themselves as research-intensive
institutions; their research ratings are often advertised as an indicator of institutional
quality to potential students, especially those from abroad.
Research grants are highly sought after by HEIs, since they now pay not only
the direct expenses for undertaking research, but also the full costs of staff time
when working on the research projects, and the indirect costs of supporting a proj-
ect of research within the HEI (these include running costs for rooms and equip-
ment, the costs for the provision of central services to researchers, etc). They are
fully economically costed. Within the humanities and social sciences, the receipt of
a research grant can now bring in large sums of money (£200k - £500k), but since
the research councils for this area have the lowest level of funding, the success rate
for research grant applications is very low. In the humanities and social sciences,
therefore, success in the assessment of research quality through the publication of
high-quality research outputs is all the more important.
Archaeology departments have been remarkably successful in the Research
Assessment Exercises. Until the 2008 review the published research rating given
during the RAE was at a department level as a whole. From RAE 2008, however,
the research assessment rating was extended down to individual outputs and,
therefore, individuals. In the last exercise, RAE 2008, more than £70 million
pounds was raised by departments as income for archaeological research (between
2001 and 2008), and of the publications submitted, more than 50% of these at
every institution were assessed as being either ‘world-leading’, ‘internationally
36 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
excellent’ or ‘internationally-recognised’ in their quality (Fig. 4). Moreover, during
this same period, postgraduate research student numbers have increased enor-
mously (Fig. 5), with 745 students completing their doctorate, and another 240
students completing a research masters (MPhil, MRes) between 2001 and 2008.
Full-time PG Part-time PG
Archaeology departments in the UK, therefore, have blossomed in this research
assessment driven environment, and they have expanded and modelled themselves
over the course of twenty years as units for whom success in the next RAE has
been the dominant driver. Success, at a departmental level, in this environment
requires the production of research outputs that can be recognised as being of
world-leading or international quality, ideally paid for through research grants
received from recognised research councils or funding bodies. These outputs take
the form of peer-reviewed publications that might be articles in high-impact jour-
nals, or monographs (not teaching texts); between 1990 and 2008, archaeological
peer-reviewed journals increased in number, and doubled in output to meet this
publication need (Sinclair 2009). For individuals to get employment in academia,
Nottingham Trent
Central Lancashire
UHI Millennium Institute
University of Wales,
Queen’s University
University College
World-leading Internationally-Excellent Internationally-Recognised Nationally Recognised
Fig. 4. Research quality for
UK departmental outputs
(RAE 2008).
Fig. 5. Number of
postgraduate students in
The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic collapse on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom
they must demonstrate proof of present and future research quality (as measured
in publications and grant income), and competition for such positions is now
extraordinarily high8. In the last audit, RAE 2008, almost all full-time academic
staff (in archaeology) were classified as research active for RAE assessment
(Fig. 3). Once in post, individual success (if measured by promotion) is usually
perceived as resulting from the quality and quantity of one’s research outputs,
and prior to the last two RAEs, there has been a thriving ‘transfer market’ (and
promotions to assist retention) between institutions for individuals perceived to be
valuable RAE assets.
The drivers related to research rather than teaching, therefore, are by far the
strongest in the vast majority of universities with departments of archaeology.
They directly affect practice at a departmental level, govern success in the acquisi-
tion of academic posts, and, significantly, they are also perceived to affect directly
the promotion of individual within institutions. Teaching is undertaken, and often
delivered well, but it is research that drives change. As a result, academic archaeol-
ogy has followed a specific trajectory in the last fifteen years, that is quite differ-
ent to that followed by professional, developer-funded archaeology; and this has
led to a wide gulf separating these two different forms of practice. Much, if not
most, of the archaeological fieldwork and publication that results from devel-
oper-funded archaeology would not be recognised (within an RAE), as “research
of world or international quality”, the standard to which all RAE publications
aim9; and archaeologists in higher education have become progressively removed
from this developer-funded work, and knowledge of its findings10. Moreover,
archaeological fieldwork projects run by academic archaeologists, and funded as
research projects, are driven by their RAE submittable, potential written outputs
(usually derived from extensive post-excavation analysis and interpretation), with
the result that the field skills of academic archaeologists are also not the same as
those of employed in developer-funded archaeology. In such different worlds, there
is consequently little opportunity for individuals to move between the academic
and professional employment sectors, especially at a senior level. The result is that
the vast majority of senior staff in either archaeological sector have little practical
knowledge of the driving factors and organisational structures that shape work
outside their own area of academia or professional field archaeology.
5 The impact of the economic crisis on higher education
In the professional archaeological sector, the impact of the economic crisis
on employment and skills has been both immediate and readily apparent since
the beginning of 2008 (see Aitchison in this volume). These impacts can also be
related directly to the economic crisis itself: the effect of a significant reduction
in the level of development-related construction that generates most archaeologi-
cal activity undertaken by private contractors. In higher education, the effects
of the crisis have been significantly less visible up to the middle of 201011. There
is also a much slower pace of change in educational (public sector) institutions
than in the private (professional) sector. This is due to the continuing intake of
students, and the (usually) long-term employment contracts for academic and
non-academic staff12 that makes it difficult to reduce staff numbers13, and the use
of public finance by the previous Labour government, to support the national
38 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
Within academic archaeology, however, one clear exception can be seen in the
rapid effects of the crisis on university-based archaeological contracting units. Like
their counterparts in the commercial sector, these companies have had less work
during the crisis; unlike their private competitors, however, universities impose
high overheads on these units which makes them less competitive, whilst the finan-
cial accounting systems in universities make it less easy for the income from one
project to support work related to another. Moreover, as noted above, the publica-
tions of these units do not make much impact within the RAE driven HE sector. In
the last two years the units at Sheffield, and Manchester have been closed down in
their host institutions14; others are under close scrutiny. The closures of these units
will further widen the gulf of knowledge between institutions and the professional
archaeological sector. It is possible, however, that archaeological contract work
may survive in the universities to the extent that it can take the form of a special-
ist post-excavation service that may lead to research assessable outputs, or in the
form of ‘consultancy’, especially for foreign governments, where the international
expertise of UK-based academics may help.
The next casualty of the economic crisis in academic archaeology is likely
to be the Subject Centre for History, Classics and Archaeology (along with
the other twenty three Subject Centres). The Higher Education Academy is
funded directly by the funding councils who have already stated that the Higher
Education Academy will see its level of funding reduced by at least 30% in the
next three years. The structure of the HEA must change and it is more than
likely that the Subject Centres will be reduced in number, with perhaps a range
of disciplines brought together within a unit dedicated to the Humanities and
Social Sciences.
Beyond this the picture is not yet clear. Writing in the spring of 2010, it is
evident that higher education sector is about to experience a huge reduction in the
level of public funding that it receives (from August 2010), caused by the need to
reduce the large public deficit developed during the crisis. It has been estimated
that this drop in financial support from the public purse will be as much as 25%
over the next three years (Universities UK 2010a: 13). This reduction will affect
both the level of direct grant support to institutions to pay for teaching and
research, as well as the money available to the research councils available for
research grants. In addition to a reduction of funding level direct to higher educa-
tion institutions and researchers, both government and institutions believe that
the current tuition fees system is unsustainable; for government the upfront costs
of providing the money for student loans are too high15, whilst institutions claim
that the current level of tuition fees needs to be raised so that, along with other
sources of income, universities can recover the full costs of tuition (Universities
UK 2010a:21). Moreover, the higher education budget will not be protected from
cuts, unlike that for earlier years education. Higher education is still a relatively
restricted form of education in the UK16, and both government and institutions
have consistently argued that the possession of a degree increases the average
lifetime earnings of graduates17. A university education is, therefore, to an indi-
vidual’s own benefit, and should be paid for. In November 2009, an independent
review of higher education funding and student finance (the Browne Review) was
launched, to report by September 2010. It is widely assumed that this review will
recommend that tuition fees should be raised from their current level, and possibly
uncapped (allowing universities to charge any level of tuition fee that they feel the
market will allow). It is also assumed that the review will recommend changes to
The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic collapse on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom
the current student loans system, to reduce the costs of these loans to government.
This might mean that the tuition fee s loans would be paid back with market rates
of interest, or perhaps provided by private banks rather than the government-
backed, Student Loans Company18.
With these changes in mind it is possible to make a number of predictions
about the actions and expectations of government, institutions and students based
on current practices in UK higher education. It seems likely that:
Government (via the funding councils and the research councils) will;
• reduce the HE budget,
• target some HE funding towards those subject areas that are of national impor-
tance for the provision of essential skills19,
• expect universities to ensure that all students graduate with the ‘necessary skills’
able to secure employment in graduate level jobs,
• expect universities to provide a high quality of student experience (measured by
student satisfaction rates in national surveys),
• target research funding for research to universities that are most successful as
research institutions, and to areas / projects that will most clearly benefit the
national economy.
Institutions will;
• look at their current costs and make cuts where necessary / possible,
• maximise their current research and teaching strengths in the STEM subjects and
support their future development,
• emphasise and attempt to enhance the quality of the student experience at their
own institution,
• become more efficient in teaching students, with greater use of e-learning, and
other more structured forms of self-directed learning by students,
• raise extra teaching-related income by reaching out to wider students catch-
ments through the recruitment of foreign students (especially non-EU students)
on campus, by increasing the development of greater distance-learning provision
to recruit students who are based off campus, and by offering CPD provision to
• generate extra income through research outputs (largely in the form of intellec-
tual property) and paid consultancy,
• recruit new staff / replacement staff more carefully to support their longer term
strategic aims defined by projected teaching need and research income generation.
Students will;
• have to pay more in tuition fees for their higher education,
• decide whether higher education is a worthwhile investment for their future,
based on absolute need (medical training for example), future employment
and predicted salary according to degree programme followed and institution
attended, degree of parental support, institutional support where available,
• expect a clear enhancement of their employment prospects after graduation, and
choose their degree course, and university with this in mind,
• have clear expectations about the quality of their student experience at
• seek to reduce their overall costs (tuition fees, maintenance costs, and lost
income) where possible through paid work or residence at home.
40 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
At a local, institutional level the effects of the economic crisis upon individual
departments of archaeology are much more difficult to predict. Every university is
autonomous, and can adapt in its own way depending on its currently perceived
strengths and future prospects. There are however, a number of nationally identifi-
able trends in archaeology that can be identified and these will determine the range
of the longer term effects of the crisis.
6 Possible trends ahead
A serious problem for archaeology is the declining number of applicants for
degree programmes. From the early 1990s until 2000, the number of applicants
for archaeology degree courses in archaeology increased markedly (Fig. 6). This
was almost certainly a result of both a national policy to increase student numbers
in higher education combined with an increased exposure to archaeology itself
caused by television programmes such as Time Team, and Meet the Ancestors.
From 2000 onwards, however, whilst institutions have been able to fill their places
in archaeology (or within the schools of faculties within which archaeology exists),
they have done so from a much smaller number of applicants (Fig. 7).
applications acceptances
Fig. 7. Numbers of
applications and
acceptances to archaeology
degrees (V4** degree
Fig. 6. The number of
male and female students
studying archaeology
(V4** degree codes).
The reasons for this decline are multiple. It seems likely that the (reduced)
television presence of archaeology no longer attracts the extra applicants it once
did. The relative absence of archaeology as a common subject of study pre-higher
education, means that students must be prepared to ‘make a leap of faith’ in
studying a subject they have no direct experience of, and therefore cannot predict
their potential degree level success / future employment potential. Finally, students,
parents, and careers advisors worry about future employability since they do not
clearly understand the knowledge and skills that are taught in archaeology in HE,
and when it is also clear from web sources that getting a job in archaeology is
both competitive, often poorly paid and usually short-term.
At the moment, there is demand for perhaps as many as 250,000 more univer-
sity places than there is available funding20. Even though the number of univer-
sity applicants and enrolments in England rose following the rise of tuition fees
in 2006 (Universities UK 2010b), this will surely change if there is a significant
increase in tuition fees. A recent survey, commissioned by the Sutton Trust, has
shown that 80% of 13-15 year old children state that they are likely to go to uni-
versity; but, if tuition fees increase to £5,000 per annum this percentage drops to
67%, at £7,500 per annum it drops to 45%, and at £10,000 the figure is just 18%
(Sutton Trust / IPSOS MORI 2010). Student place capacity may then outnumber
potential student numbers, and the competition for students will become intense.
In addition to falling undergraduate student numbers, we should also expect to
see a significant reduction in postgraduate student numbers. In the past decade the
numbers of doctoral level students, the research income per staff member and the
research ratings of archaeology departments, by comparison with other depart-
ments in the arts and humanities, sheltered archaeology departments from the
effects of falling student numbers. At the moment archaeology departments are
producing very many more students with doctorates than can find academic posi-
tions. Without the prospect of an academic career, there is much less likelihood
that students will want to continue onto doctoral level study.
With lower student numbers, and with a lower research grant income for
archaeology departments, it will be very difficult for them to maintain their cur-
rent staff numbers. In the immediate future it is likely that we shall see the posts of
retiring staff left unfilled, or ‘transferred’ to other disciplines with buoyant student
numbers; this will leave some specialist areas uncovered, requiring staff to teach
outside their current range. According to the most recent LMI survey approxi-
mately 7-8% of academic staff in archaeology were within 5 years of retirement in
2007 (Aitchison & Edwards 2008: Tables 34 & 35). If the reduction continues we
can expect redundancies to occur.
Would a reduction in the number of archaeology graduates be a problem?
Even though the professional-commercial and academic sectors have largely acted
independently of each other in the last twenty years, reduced student numbers and
staff in universities will have repercussions in the professional sector. In the UK, a
career in professional archaeology requires a university degree21, even though in
all previous labour market surveys, employers have commented that archaeology
graduates were inadequately trained for employment in professional archaeology
(usually lacking field skills experience, specialist skills in areas such as desk-based
assessment, as well as a real understanding of the professional archaeological
sector). Moreover, many archaeologists leave professional field archaeology after
just a few years to pursue other career paths. This is not a problem at the moment:
there are more archaeology graduates that posts and there is room for labour
The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic collapse on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom
42 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
movement. It has also been argued that the production of many more archaeology
graduates than the actual number of employment places has had a damaging effect
on the professional sector because of the surfeit of applicants for even the lowest
paid jobs (Aitchison 2004). A reduced archaeological graduate output, resulting in
a closer alignment between the number of archaeology graduates and places in the
labour market for professional employment would appear to be no bad thing.
Unfortunately this assumes that enough archaeology students will still seek a
career in archaeology – which might no longer be the case. In the UK, the per-
ceived reputation of the university at which you study is important: the same
children interviewed for the Sutton Trust’s survey (2010) noted that they would
not necessarily choose the cheapest degree programmes, but evaluate the perceived
income advantage conferred by studying at different universities. At the moment,
the starting wage in archaeology is not as high as that available to new graduates
in many companies22. Yet, archaeology, as noted above, is largely taught in the
traditional universities commonly perceived by students, parents and many gradu-
ate recruiters to offer a better standard of education than the new (post-1992)
universities, and therefore a greater graduate potential. These older universities
will almost certainly charge the highest tuition fees. It is very possible that a career
in professional archaeology, following a degree at a traditional university, would
look remarkably unattractive without a significant increase in wages to help pay
off the debts incurred. This problem can only be exacerbated if the current loans
repayment system is changed as well. If the overall number of archaeology gradu-
ates decreases, private contractors may no longer be able to entice new graduates
into the profession.
Within the traditional, research-intensive universities, a new set of drivers devel-
oping on the current language of transferable skills and employability could soon
have greater influence than those created by the old RAE process (at least within
disciplines in the humanities and social sciences), even if the research drivers will
almost certainly not be forgotten. The large majority of archaeology graduates in
the traditional universities (those without sufficient parental financial support to
pay for the majority of their higher education) will need to seek employment that
can both pay off the costs of their education as well as offer them a reasonable
standard of living. To find these jobs these graduates will need to sell their trans-
ferable employability skills. Institutions will be keen to emphasise transferable
skills within the curriculum in order to meet the demands of government above
and students below and maintain their student income. The research-intensive
institutions that (currently) offer archaeology degrees will also need to show that
their graduates can find employment in well-paid sectors. With a reduction in the
overall number of graduates in the UK, graduate employers will further target the
graduates from universities with a high quality reputation.
Archaeology graduates with well-taught numeracy and IT skills could become
quite attractive and sought after, and Departments of Archaeology will need to
revise their curricula accordingly to emphasise these skills so as to maintain stu-
dent numbers.
If the above prediction is correct, departments of archaeology will need to
maintain and ideally increase undergraduate numbers on archaeology programmes
of study, whilst archaeological employers will need to develop new relations with
universities through which to train and develop the next generation of profes-
sional archaeologists. A number of possible ways in which this might occur can be
Departments of Archaeology will need to;
1. properly highlight and develop the large range of transferable skills that they
believe are present in an archaeological education, as set out in the Qualification
and Assessment Authority’s subject benchmark statement for Archaeology (QAA
2007). In particular the skills for IT, data handling and numerical literacy, and
teamworking, as well as business and customer awareness (which might be taught
through an understanding of professional archaeological practice) are all impor-
tant transferable skills identified as essential to graduate employability by the UK’s
Confederation of British Industry (CBI 2009) and which enable archaeology to
stand out from other humanities degrees.
2. to emphasise the scientific side of their discipline, as a means by which young
people might be attracted into developing careers in science. This would allow a
‘rebranding’ of archaeology as an ‘applied science’.
3. (in the new universities) concentrate on teaching for professional archaeol-
ogy, allowing the traditional universities to go their own way. This would build
some links between higher education and employment, and might be attractive to
students if the tuition fees in these universities were lower.
Archaeological Employers could;
4. increase significantly the wages of professional field archaeologists to
make such posts attractive in the context of the new cost framework for higher
5. recruit their labour force from other countries where the costs of an archaeo-
logical education will be less of an individual financial burden
6. open up professional archaeological employment to those without a degree
in the subject. The NVQ in Archaeological Practice would then provide the frame-
work for training and continuing professional development for these ‘apprentices’.
This, however, transfers the responsibility for archaeological training to other
providers not yet in existence, or to employers in the form of apprenticeships.
The current system of archaeological training could be
7. transformed to forge a new working relationship in which students would
balance work in contracting firms whilst at the same time studying for a degree in
archaeology. Some of the credit (assessment) for the degree would then be given
to work-based learning. Although there is already an NVQ in Archaeological
Practice, within which credit is already gained for work-based learning, a degree
from a traditional university is likely to be a more attractive qualification for
such students since it would offer future employability skills beyond one sector of
employment. This would be of interest even to students not planning to continue
into professional archaeology since work experience itself enhances employability.
In sum, whatever happens, there can be little doubt that we are entering a very
significant period of change in which the economic crisis and the need to reduce
public spending might dramatically transform the relationship between commer-
cial and academic archaeology for the coming generation.
The end of a golden age? The impending effects of the economic collapse on archaeology in higher education in the United Kingdom
44 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
can be found on the BBC website
(available at:
stm. For official information
use the UK Governments own
DirectGov website (available
6. Since 1990, students have also
had to pay the costs of their own
maintenance whilst in higher
education. Maintenance loans
are available to students from
the same student loans company
for this purpose, though payable
immediately after graduation and
with interest.
7. This is especially the case for
students coming from beyond the
European Union; the tuition fees for
these students are the highest.
8. In two recently advertised sets of
academic positions, the University
of Liverpool received more than
230 applicants for a one position
(though widely defined in research/
teaching remit), whilst the University
of Bournemouth received more than
140 applications for posts quite
tightly defined in teaching/research
areas. Many of these applicants
have years of research experience
and output after the completion of
their PhDs.
9. Only a very small number of staff
in archaeological field units based
in universities are entered into the
10. This has also not been helped by
the fact that much of this developer
funded work has remained
unpublished as grey literature.
11. The one visible change to date
has been the removal of government
tuition fees support for students
studying degrees that are equivalent
of lower in level to a qualification
that they already hold. This has
effected support for students
retraining for a new career, and
two institutions in particular that
have particularly attracted this
type of student because of their
use of distance learning (the Open
University) or ‘after hours’ teaching
(Birkbeck College).
12. I do not include the numerous
fixed-term teaching-related
appointments often to facilitate
a period or research leave for
academic staff.
13. Most universities have already
been offering ‘voluntary severance’
schemes to reduce the numbers of
their more highly paid staff, though
few staff from within the academic
community in archaeology seem to
have taken up this option.
14. Part of the old Manchester
University Field Archaeology Unit
is now based at the University of
Salford. See note 2 for more details
on these university-based units.
15. In a recent interview published
in the Guardian newspaper, the
minister for Higher Education,
Mr David Willets – the current
Minister of State for Universities
and Science – described the
current funding system for higher
education in the United Kingdom as
“unsustainable”, and “a burden on
the taxpayer that had to be tackled”.
(The Guardian, 9th June, 2010:
available at:
16. The most recently published
figures, for the academic year 2007-
8, show an average participation
rate in Higher Education of 43% for
English students aged between 17
and 30: balanced at 38 %for males
and 49% for females (DIUS 2009).
17. In 2007, a research report
commissioned by Universities UK
and completed by Price Waterhouse
Coopers estimated that a graduate
on average receives a premium
of £160,000 over a lifetime
(Universities UK 2007: 5). This
figure, however, varies significantly
according to the occupational area
that the graduate enters; it varies
from a premium of £340,000 for
graduates in Medicine and Dentistry,
to £51,549 for a graduate in the
Humanities to just £34,949 for a
graduate in the Arts. Significantly,
these figures do not take into
account any of the costs of higher
education, or any ‘lost’ earnings that
might have been accrued whilst a
18. The idea of a graduate tax to
pay for HE is consistently rejected
because of the large immediate-term
costs of moving to such a system,
and the fact that it would introduce
an hypothecated tax.
19. Science, technology, engineering
and mathematics (usually called the
STEM subjects) have already been
identified as nationally important
skills areas deserving of enhanced
support. (DfBIS 2009: 12)
20. Professor David Green, the Vice-
Chancellor of the University, has
given this estimate in an interview
with the BBC on 26th May, 2010.
(Report available at: http://news.
21. The most recent Labour Market
Intelligence Survey indicates that
of 141 individuals returned in their
survey who were both employed
in archaeology and below the
age of 30, all but two individuals
hold a university degree or higher
qualification (Aitchison & Edwards
2008: Table 42).
22. The average starting salary for
a graduate is £25,000 in the UK
(Association of Graduate Recruiters
– Winter Survey 2009. Cited in
Xpert HR online employment
intelligence. At: http://www.
starting-salaries-to.html. Consulted
on 6th July 2010.), whilst the
average salary for all archaeologists
in the UK is £23,310 (Aitchison &
Edwards 2008: 13)
Aitchison, K. 1999. Profiling the Profession:
A Survey of Archaeological Jobs in the UK.
York, London and Reading: Council for British
Archaeology, English Heritage and the Institute
of Field Archaeologists. (Available at: http://www.
Aitchison, K. 2004. Supply, demand and a failure
of understanding: addressing the culture clash
between archaeologists’ expectations for training
and employment in ‘academia’ versus ‘practice’.
World Archaeology 36(2):203-19.
Aitchison, K. & R. Edwards 2003. Archaeology
Labour Market Intelligence: Profiling the
Profession 2002/03. Bradford: Cultural Heritage
National Training Organisation / Institute of
Field Archaeologists (Available at: http://www.
Aitchison, K. & R. Edwards 2008. Archaeology
Labour Market Intelligence: Profiling the
Profession 2007-8. Reading, Institute of Field
Archaeologists (Available at: http://www.
CBI, 2009. Future Fit: preparing graduates for
the world of work. Available at: http://www.cbi.
DfBIS, 2009. Higher Ambitions: the future of
universities in a knowledge economy. London:
Department for Business, Innovation and
Skills. (Available at:
DIUS, 2009. Participation rates in higher
education: Academic Years 1999/2000 -
2007/2008 (Provisional). National Statistics First
Release SFR 02/2009 (31 March 2009). London:
Department for Innovation, Universities and
Skills. (Available at:
QAA 2007. Subject benchmark statement for
Archaeology. Available at: http://www.qaa.
RAE 2010a. 1996 Research Assessment Exercise.
Available at:
html (consulted 17th May 2010)
RAE 2010b. RAE 2001 Submissions. Available at: (consulted
17th May 2010)
RAE 2010c. RAE 2008 Research Assessment
Exercise Submissions. Available at: http://www. (consulted 17th May
Sinclair, A. 2009. To stones and bones,
add genes and isotopes, life histories and
landscapes: acculumalating issues for the
teaching of Palaeolithic Archaeology. Research
in Archaeological Education 1(2). Available at:
Sutton Trust / IPSOS MORI 2010. Young People
Omnibus 2010. (Available at: http://www.
Universities UK, 2007. The economic benefits
of a degree London: Universities UK / Price
WaterhouseCoopers (Available at:http://www.
Universities UK, 2010a. Submission to the
Independent Review of Higher Education
Funding and Student Finance - call for proposals
May 2010. London: Universities UK (Available
Universities UK, 2010b. Variable tuition fees
in England: assessing their impact on students
and higher education institutions. A fourth
report. London: Universities UK. (Available at:
6. Commercial archaeology in Spain: its growth,
development, and the impact of the global
economic crisis
1 Introduction
This paper presents an overview of the impact of the global economic crisis on
the Spanish archaeological sector. This study is a part of a broader initiative to
analyse and systematise information on this sector, under a research theme entitled
“The Socioeconomics of Heritage” of the Heritage Laboratory, a department of
the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). In this context, we have been
developing an empirical study in the new market generated in the 1990s connected
with Spanish archaeological heritage management, with particular attention to the
emergence, structure and development of this market sector, examining the rela-
tionships between the actors and institutions involved in the generation of knowl-
edge and innovation processes. To promote better knowledge of this sector, the
present study analyses and discusses the current situation of archaeology in Spain
and the effects of the global crisis. While we still lack sufficient quantitative data
to fully identify the consequences of the crisis, we have developed a methodology
to identify or measure these effects.
2 Overview of the Spanish archaeological sector
The Spanish archaeological sector is composed of heterogeneous agents with
different interests and objectives that are classified in three main fields: the legal
(or regulatory) field, the academic field and the commercial field. These fields
involve different types of agents and organisations that are connected with the
processes of archaeological management, as can be seen in Fig. 1.
The legal (or regulatory) field is made up of government institutions that
have responsibilities regarding archaeological heritage at international, national,
regional and local levels. These institutions carry out three basic activities: regula-
tion, heritage management and commissioning of archaeological services.
The academic field includes research bodies, universities and museums; these
institutions carry out activities linked to the conservation, production and transfer
of archaeological knowledge.
As for the commercial field, business activities are carried out by organisations
offering archaeological services to clients, such as government institutions and the
construction sector
Eva Parga-Dans
The Heritage Laboratory
Spanish National Research Council
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
46 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
Research Institutes
Archaeological heritage
Demand and supply
3 General description of Spanish commercial archaeology
3.1 The emergence of a new activity
In the early 1980s a series of major historical events marked a turning point in
the understanding, protection and management of Spanish heritage in general, and
of archaeological heritage more specifically. The first significant event was the pub-
lication of the Spanish Historical Heritage Law in 1985 to ensure the protection
and preservation of the country’s heritage. A series of requirements for the protec-
tion and management of heritage assets were subsequently developed to compen-
sate for the absence of control mechanisms during the years of urban expansion
in the 1960s. The second major event was related to the transfer of competencies
from the central government to the regional governments between 1979 and 1983.
After the publication of the Spanish Constitution (1978), a model based on the
territorial structuring of seventeen regions was implemented, each with legislative
autonomy, executive powers and administration through elected representatives.
Each of the seventeen Spanish regions then developed their own approach for
managing and regulating the historical and archaeological heritage, and for ensur-
ing the adequate conservation and correct use of these assets.
The implementation of these new requirements meant that the regional authori-
ties had to regulate any activity liable to affect archaeological heritage. This of
course increased the workloads of these bodies, given their numerous other activi-
ties in terms of urban planning and public works developments. These regional
administrations also lacked the necessary human and financial resources to assume
these new responsibilities. Until the publication of the Spanish Historical Heritage
Law (1985), archaeological works were conducted at the expense of the urban
development, without planning or control. Most interventions were carried out
with limited resources, relying on the goodwill of archaeologists linked in some
way with the universities. However, following the implementation of the Law and
the transfer of responsibilities for heritage matters to the regions, the demands led
to the creation of a sector based on archaeological services. The regions began to
outsource archaeological heritage management work to professionals in the field,
Fig. 1. Main agents and
fields in the Spanish
archaeological sector.
while maintaining the role of monitoring and controlling this work. A new labour
market begun to emerge, connected with archaeological heritage management.
Based on the regional guidelines of cultural heritage laws and management, com-
panies were structured and gradually gained experience, diversifying their services
and creating value, building a labour market in which cooperatives, businesses and
self-employed professionals settled into a new sector: commercial archaeology.
3.2 Defining commercial archaeology
It is difficult in Spain to define the archaeological profession and the learning
process involved in this activity, given the absence of specific university degrees in
archaeology. Actual archaeological operations are carried out by individuals, who
are referred to in professional terms as ‘archaeologists’. This definition is considered
to refer to graduates in history who specialised in prehistory and archaeology, or to
individuals who are able to justify their skills in archaeology through professional
experience. Not all graduates in history and prehistory will be archaeologists, but to
count as an archaeologist it is necessary to have completed these studies. This defini-
tion seems then to leave out those who have entered the archaeological profession
through their own learning process. Commercial archaeology is “an activity gener-
ated in relation to Archaeological Heritage, when a correct control of this heritage
calls for specific actions to be carried out that are generally developed as part of a
contract, providing a specific service and charging for it” (Criado Boada, 1996).
The services offered by archaeological companies, as requested by enterprises,
government agencies and private clients, include the following:
– Documentation services. These activities are related to recording, cataloguing and
producing inventories of cultural heritage and archaeological sites to be protected.
– Intervention services, involving a series of activities carried out on the
archaeological heritage with archaeological methodology. For example, in a build-
ing project that may affect archaeological resources, the archaeological company
has to estimate the consequences of these actions, and then take steps to control or
rectify the possible damage, always under the supervision of government agencies
(culture, urban and /or environment departments). Funding for these intervention
activities comes mostly from government agencies and from private companies,
whose development projects threaten to destroy or damage archaeological sites.
– Enhancement services or museum projects. These activities are designed to
render knowledge about the past accessible in different social contexts. Following
intervention work on the threatened archaeological heritage, these valorisation
activities should begin to give meaning to cultural resources, so as to penetrate the
market mechanism and generate social profitability (Criado Boada 1996a, 1996).
– Consultancy services, including advisory activities, training and procedures
related to archaeological assets that require field expertise.
– Cultural diffusion services, involving activities connected with the knowledge
society and / or resources related to archaeological heritage management.
4 Designing a methodology for assessing the impact of the crisis on
Spanish commercial archaeology
Upon the above background, a methodology was devised for characterising the struc-
ture and size of the Spanish archaeological sector, and the impact of the crisis on it.
Commercial archaeology in Spain: its growth, development, and the impact of the global economic crisis
48 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
At the onset, it should be remembered that in Spain there are no official sources of
systematised data on the archaeological sector. This makes it difficult to carry out a sci-
entific study of this topic, as much time and resources are required in order to gather the
primary data. This dearth of information is also related to the lack of empirical studies
on this sector, and to the absence of a binding definition of the archaeological profession.
The results presented in this paper can therefore only be an estimation.
To collect quantitative and qualitative data on the size, structure and develop-
ment of the Spanish archaeological sector, I designed a survey-based methodology.
The empirical research phase was carried out in two sequential parts.
The first part is based on qualitative assessments. Information was collected
from secondary sources and from exploratory interviews.
Secondary sources, including archival material and publications on archaeo-
logical heritage management and on commercial archaeology. In addition to
Spanish sources, comparisons were made with other countries engaged in com-
mercial archaeology (United States and United Kingdom).
Exploratory interviews were carried out with various actors in the Spanish
archaeological sector, including commercial companies executives, university
professors, researchers from public research bodies (CSIC), heritage managers in
regional governments, and archaeological associations.
The second part is based on quantitative assessments. This included gathering
primary socioeconomic data through:
– The creation of a database of archaeological companies in Spain. A total
of 273 such companies were identified. Generally speaking, it is estimated that
around 2,358 people were working for archaeology companies in Spain during
2008; this number includes 457 business owners and their 573 full-time contract
employees, and a further 1,328 employees with part-time contracts.
– The drafting of a questionnaire sent to all the 17 regional archaeological heri-
tage departments in Spain, to collect information on the structure and the work of
these departments.
– An initial survey dedicated to archaeological companies in Spain is being car-
ried out. Official letters have been sent to the companies included in the database,
to inform them of the project and the questionnaire. These companies were subse-
quently contacted by phone and informed that they could respond to the question-
naire through a webpage.
In order to estimate the impact of the crisis on archaeological activity, the fol-
lowing dimensions are considered to be important:
– Data on the volume of archaeological activities over the past few years (2006-
2009) will make it possible to analyse the growth of archaeological activity during
this ‘critical’ period.
– Quantitative information on market sales and investments in the last few
years (2006-2009) in the private sector. This survey, undertaken through the ques-
tionnaire, was finished in November 2009. Information was obtained for 212 of
the 273 cases registered, representing a high level of response, at around 78%.
– Quantitative data on the evolution of the employment market in archaeology
during this period (2006-2009).
– Qualitative information on the effects of the crisis on commercial archaeol-
ogy, including opinions, attitudes and behaviours.
As already indicated, the methodology presented here should make it possible,
despite the lack of formal and systematised data on the Spanish context, to esti-
mate the effects of the crisis on the archaeological sector.
Commercial archaeology in Spain: its growth, development, and the impact of the global economic crisis
Fig. 2. Dates of creation of
archaeological companies
(by region).
5 The impact of the crisis - some preliminary results
In presenting these initial trends regarding the effects of the crisis, it is impor-
tant first of all to review the structure and size of commercial archaeology.
The development of the Spanish archaeological sector, as we know, took off in
the early 1990s, after the Spanish Heritage Law (1985) had attributed competen-
cies in archaeological management to the 17 regions, each with their own legisla-
tion. This ‘boom’ from the 1990s onwards can be seen in Fig. 2.
Less than twenty years old, Spanish commercial archaeology is still an imma-
ture sector. The companies are small, usually with one owner or two partners and
one full-time employee, who contract part-time temporary personnel according to
demand. Until recently the archaeological services offered were quite generic, but
now specialisation has begun and the companies have diversified their services. It
is noteworthy that the concentration of these 273 registered companies in Spain
differs considerably across the regions, as the following figure shows.
50 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
The regions of Andalusia, Catalonia and Madrid have considerably more
than 30 archaeological companies each, while Castile-León, the Community
of Valencia, Castile-La Mancha, Galicia and Aragón have between 30 and 20
companies. A last group of regions – Extremadura, Asturias, the Basque Country,
Murcia, Navarra, Cantabria, the Canary Islands, La Rioja and the Balearic Islands
– have less than 10 archaeological companies each.
However, this steady growth in the Spanish commercial archaeology sector
ground to a halt in 2007, as a result of the global crisis. The rise in mortgage rates
in the United States in 2007 lead to serious adverse consequences for banks and
Fig. 3. Number of
archaeological companies
by region, across Spain.
Fig. 4. Spanish index
of production for the
construction, industrial and
service sectors (1989-2009).
Source: WonkaPistas based on Eurostat
and INE.
Commercial archaeology in Spain: its growth, development, and the impact of the global economic crisis
Fig. 5: Spanish
Unemployment Rate (2005-
Source: National Statistics Institute.
financial markets around the globe. The crisis worsened dramatically and quickly
in 2008, and the Spanish economy proved to be particularly vulnerable in that its
growth over the last decade was based on a boom in the construction industry.
Fig. 4 shows that the construction sector experienced a high rate of growth
between 1994 and 2007, and in 2006 actually surpassing the levels of both the
industrial and the service sectors. Indeed, the Spanish economic growth of the last
decade owed much to the construction boom. According to the National Statistics
Institute, the relative importance of construction in Spain’s GDP rose from 11.7 %
in 1996 to 17.9 % in 2007. In terms of employment, the sector grew in the same
period from 9.3 % of the country’s total employment to 13 %. However, from
2007 onwards the construction sector began to collapse: given the large number
of people and companies working in this sector, the consequences for the Spanish
economy – and its labour market – were serious.
While June 2007 saw the lowest level of unemployment in the Spanish democ-
racy, the unemployment rate has since then risen sharply, reaching over 11% of the
active population. As an attempt to mitigate the catastrophic effects of the crisis, the
government introduced a funding program called “Plan E” in 2008. This strat-
egy includes different courses of action aimed at developing the economic system
and employment. In the construction sector, the government are investing major
resources in the revitalisation of public works, to alleviate the effects of job losses.
For this reason the crisis in this sector is not as severe as could be expected, although
the prospects are not positive.
It is also important to keep in mind that the crisis and its effects show clear
regional differences. While the construction sector was the overall driving force
behind the Spanish economy until 2007, it was much more significant in some
regions than in others: consequently, the effects of crisis were hardest felt in the
regions where the construction sector was more important. This was the case in the
Mediterranean regions (Catalonia, the Community of Valencia, Murcia), as well as
Andalusia, Madrid and Extremadura. The crisis was less felt in the regions of north-
ern Spain – Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country – which are less
directly dependent on construction, and where the relatively aged population created
less demand for new housing.
52 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
Quite logically, the activities of the Spanish archaeological sector depend closely
on the constructing sector, and reflect similarly the effects of the crisis. The main
activity of commercial archaeology is based on intervention services. When the
development projects of construction companies, of the government or or private
clients impact on the land in ways that could harm cultural heritage elements
that are protected by law, archaeological companies are contracted to assess the
viability of the action. The crisis is having therefore a strong effect on commercial
archaeology, especially in those regions with a large construction sector and which
have previously experienced an expansion in archaeological activities, such as
Catalonia, the Community of Valencia, Andalusia, Madrid and Extremadura. In
regions such as Galicia and the Basque Country, where the archaeological sector
had been less developed, the effects of the crisis are less marked.
The following figure shows the volume of archaeological activity by region,
using data provided by the regional heritage departments of Galicia, the Basque
Country, the Community of Valencia, Andalusia, Madrid, Catalonia and
Extremadura. Some information is still missing, but the situation of the sector is
quite perceptible. Basically, the archaeological market grew steadily from 1990
until 2006-2007, but has since stagnated or declined, due to the effects of the
economic crisis.
From 2001 to 2006 the volume of archaeological activities grew steadily
in the region of Catalonia, especially after 2003, and by 2006 it had surpassed
2500 actions. We have no quantitative data on the current situation, but the
qualitative information we have obtained indicates a decrease in activity due to
the crisis.
Also The Community of Valencia experienced a period of growth from 2001
to 2007, rising steeply in 2005, and surpassing 1500 actions in 2007. In 2008 this
trend changed, and archaeological activity began to decrease.
A large amount of archaeological activity is carried out in Andalusia, more
than 1000 actions per year. We only have data for the years 2007 to 2008, and it
would be interesting to have figures from before this period. This said, the figures
indicate that activity is decreasing.
In the case of Galicia, archaeological activity has remained stable during the
period studied (2001-2008), with an increasing trend of around 700 actions per
year until the levelling observed in 2008.
– The Madrid region has experienced growth from 2002, reaching a peak of
800 actions in 2006. This has since decreased to 400 in 2009.
Fig. 6. Volume of
archaeological activity.
Source: Own elaboration (data
provided by regional heritage
Commercial archaeology in Spain: its growth, development, and the impact of the global economic crisis
In the case of the Basque Country, the available data for the years 2006 to
2008 shows a decline in the volume of archaeological activity. The Basque case is
however specific, since the data that we analysed comes from the regional depart-
ments, whereas a large volume of activity in this region is carried out by the
provincial departments.
Finally, data on Extremadura from 2005 to 2007 shows that archaeological
activity grew during this period, but we do not have any data for 2008.
Although the dynamics vary from region to region, the trend in archaeological
activities appears to have changed in 2008. After a period of intense growth in the
case of the Community of Valencia, and a period of moderate growth in Galicia,
the volume of archaeological activity in these regions began to decrease in 2008.
The downturn began earlier in the case of Madrid, as in the Basque Country. For
Catalonia and Extremadura we do not have enough data at present to account for
the situation. I am currently gathering information, both qualitative and quantita-
tive, in order to identify and characterise temporal trends in archaeological activi-
ties for the whole of Spain.
6 Conclusions
While these results are of course still preliminary, we can see that the global
economic crisis is affecting archaeological activity in Spain. Following years of
steady growth that culminated in 2006 or 2007, a change of tide begun to be felt.
From then on a downturn began, with a reduction of archaeological activities
more pronounced in some cases and in some regions that in others. More informa-
tion will soon be collected to complete the series. We will also need to seek and
analyse (as yet unavailable) data on the impacts of the economic crisis on the two
other sectors of Spanish archaeology, the academic and the regulatory.
So far as the commercial archaeological sector is concerned, its dependence on
the construction sector was discussed. The downturn in that major sector of the
Spanish economy has led to considerable unemployment, but also to a dwindling
of demand for archaeological intervention services, with a reduction in activi-
ties that could pose a threat to cultural heritage and therefore also a reduction in
measures to evaluate and prevent these threats. Measures recently taken by the
government with regards to construction and unemployment have served to allevi-
ate the impact of the crisis. This is also the case with archaeology, where much of
the demand for its services comes from public works. During 2008 the administra-
tion still worked with the budgets that had been approved in the middle of 2007,
before the crisis. It can be expected that the budgets for 2009 will show a more
pronounced reduction. In any case, the outlook is not positive, and we can expect
that the evolution of archaeological activity will be worsening in 2009 and 2010.
With regard to the current economic crisis, it seems that the majority of the
companies are feeling its effects through a reduced demand for services. 62.3% of
the companies state that they have detected a reduction in the demand for services
from the public sector, and 77.4% state that they have also noticed this in the
private sector. In general terms, 79.2% believe that the economic crisis is hav-
ing a negative effect on the development of their companies. We therefore believe
that it is very important to establish strategies aimed at mitigating the effects of
the global crisis in the Spanish archaeological sector, especially the commercial
sector. For example, it could be of considerable interest to redirect archaeological
54 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
activity from the almost exclusive focus it currently has on corrective interventions
in the field towards more widely defined prevention activities, such as assessment,
management, sustainable cultural tourism, territorial planning and so on. Such
a change in trend towards a real approach cultural resources management could
serve to reduce the profound dependence of Spanish archaeology on the construc-
tion sector, and give it some new orientations.
Aitchison K., 2009, After the ‘gold rush’: global
archaeology in 2009, World Archaeology 41(4);
Aitchison K. & Edwards R., 2003, Archaeology
Labour Market Intelligence: Profiling the
Profession (2002/2003), Reading : Institute of Field
Aitchison K. & Edwards R., 2008, Archaeology
labour market intelligence: profiling the profession
(2007/08), Reading : Institute of Field Archaeologists.
Criado Boada F., 1996a, El futuro de la Arqueología ¿
la Arqueología del futuro?, Trabajos de Prehistoria
53 (1); 15-35.
Criado Boada F., 1996b, Hacia un modelo integrado
de investigación y gestión del Patrimonio Histórico: la
cadena interpretativa como propuesta, PH Boletín del
Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico, 16: 73-78.
Fernández de Lucio I., Castro Martínez E., Conesa
Cegara F., Gutierrez Gracia A, 2000, Las relaciones
universidad-empresa: entre la transferencia de
resultados y el aprendizaje regional, Revista Espacios.
King T. F., 2005, Doing Archaeology. A cultural
resource management perspective, Walnut Creek, Left
Coast Press.
Roberts H., Ahlstrom R., Roth B. (eds) 2004, From
Campus to Corporation: The emergence of Contract
Archaeology in the Southwestern United States, The
SAA Press.
Vence Deza X., González López M., 2008, Regional
Concentration of the Knowledge-based Economy in
the EU: Towards a Renewed Oligocentric Model,
European Planning Studies, 16/4: 557 – 578.
7. A crisis with many faces. The impact of the
economic recession on Dutch archaeology
1 Introduction
In April 2008 the Netherlands officially declared itself to be in economic reces-
sion. It was estimated that the Dutch economy would suffer a decline of at least
4% or even 5% over 2009. The building sector in particular was affected. The
inherent link between the construction industry and the archaeological sector
meant that the sector began to prepare itself for hard times in 2009 and beyond,
particularly where the amount of fieldwork and subsequent employment rates
were concerned. With this in mind, the aim of this paper is to provide a general
analysis of the effects of the economic crisis on the archaeological sector in 2009.
During its preparation members of the commercial employers association VOIA
were questioned as well as municipal archaeologists and developments in the num-
ber of field projects and jobs were monitored. Results show that the so-called crisis
in Dutch archaeology had many faces, the situation being less straightforward
than first predicted.
2 The economic situation
For 2009 the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) estimated
an economic decline of around 5% and a rise in the unemployment rate of 5%.1
Industry and the building sector were targeted as being particularly affected.2 The
building sector experienced a 40% drop in demand for homes and other property
development. Figures for June 2009 show hardly any jobs advertised within the
large building companies. A research agency study for the building industry esti-
mated a total reduction of 15% in the building market, combined with the loss of
50,000 jobs in the sector over 2009 and 2010: a total of 1 in 10 jobs.3 The report
also predicted no signs of recovery before 2012.4
Taking actions similar to those in other countries, the Dutch government
launched a package of rescue measures totalling 6 billion euro in order to stimu-
late the economy. These measures were especially aimed at supporting the building
sector, by reviving shelved government-funded projects, by bringing new projects
forward in the planning process, and by protecting jobs within the sector as much
as possible.5 By means of a central government-funded ‘crisis budget’ of 395 million
for 2009 and 2010, municipalities, developers and builders have been encouraged
to continue with scheduled projects.6 In addition, municipal councils have agreed to
lower the price of building plots.
Despite these measures, the effects of the crisis have meant that the national
budget deficit continues to grow rapidly. For 2009 the deficit was estimated at
around 5% of the gross domestic product (GDP), around 33 billion euro, and for
2010 as high as 6.7% of the GDP.7 Additional measures have been introduced to
further reduce this deficit. For instance, national spending in 2010 will have to be
Monique H. van den Dries,
Karen E. Waugh
& Corien Bakker
Monique H. van den Dries,
Faculty of Archaeology,
Leiden University, Netherlands
Karen E. Waugh,
Vestigia B.V. Archeologie & Cultuurhistorie,
Amersfoort, Netherlands
Corien Bakker,
Dienst Stadsbeheer, The Hague,
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
56 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
reduced by at least 12 billion euro. To achieve this, the government has launched a
list of (possible) measures, such as raising the pension age from 65 to 67, lowering
the income level for means-assisted mortgage repayments by the state, shortening
the duration of social insurance payments (such as financial support for the unem-
ployed), and raising the student fees for higher and academic education.8 These
measures, whilst aimed at lowering the budget deficit, are also expected to have a
negative influence on economic growth, for instance a decline in consumer purchas-
ing power. This would again lead to a negative economic knock-on effect on, leading
to the introduction of additional cost-reducing measures.
Another consequence of the recession from 2010 onwards will be that local and
regional authorities will be facing severe cuts in their budgets. Not only will less
money be provided by the national government, but at the same time their income
from selling of land and legal dues will fall as development projects have, at least
in the short-term, almost come to a halt.
3 The archaeological sector
As a consequence of large-scale changes in legislation and government policies
since 2001, archaeological heritage management in the Netherlands is now largely
paid for by developers and carried out by municipal councils and commercial
companies. In fact, well over 90% of all archaeological work is currently devel-
oper-funded (Waugh 2008, 24) and 42% of the archaeological community draws
more than 75% of its turnover from activities which are funded by developers
(Fig. 1).
The majority of archaeological work, fieldwork in particular, is carried out
by the commercial sector (table 1).9 About 90% of all archaeological fieldwork
is carried out by private companies, self-employed archaeologists or by agency
personnel hired by municipal archaeology departments. The commercial sector
itself is made of over one hundred companies (Fig. 2). These include excavation
companies, archaeological consultancies, specialist services, and staffing agen-
cies. A relative large number of archaeologists work for small companies or are
Fig. 1. Developer-funded
income in 2007-2008
(After Waugh 2008, table 7).
A crisis with many faces. The impact of the economic recession on Dutch archaeology
Table 1. The share of
mitigation projects
carried out by municipal
archaeologists and
companies in in 2008.
Source: Archis.10
Total Share carried out by municipal
archaeological services* (%) Share carried out by companies (%)
Desk based assessment 1163 17.2 74.9
Evaluation by coring 2570 1.9 96.5
Field walking survey 35 2.9 82.8
Trial trenches 509 11.2 80.6
Excavation 207 30.3 57.7
Watching brief 247 9.3 85.5
Total 4672
* This does not include projects carried out by regional services.
The introduction of developer-funded archaeology and the subsequent develop-
ment of a commercial sector led to a rapid growth in work and employment, espe-
cially from 2002 onwards. In 2007/2008 a survey conducted by Vestigia, as part
of the European project “Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe”, estimated
a total of nearly 800 practising archaeologists in the Netherlands (Waugh 2009,
28).11 In another recent study, carried out by the national heritage agency, it is
estimated that over 600 jobs (based on full-time employment) are provided by the
commercial sector.12 This probably accounts for over 60% of the total number of
Dutch archaeologists. At the start of 2009, municipal archaeological departments
employed 247 people (Arts & Bakker 2009).
consultancy evaluations and
presentation Total
mid 2008
mid 2009
Exact turnover figures for the Dutch archaeological market are not available.
We only know that the turnover of the municipal archaeologists amounted 24.3
million euro in 2009 (Arts & Bakker 2009). A survey by the VOiA (Vereniging
Ondernemers in Archeologie)13, the trade association for archaeological compa-
nies in the Netherlands, calculated that the commercial sector had an estimated
turnover of 34.4 million euro in 2004.14 For the archaeological sector as a whole
the turnover was estimated to be between 44 and 49 million euro for that year.15
Up until 2008, the number of projects that companies carried out increased with
74% (their share of the total number of projects increased only slightly from 83%
in 2004 to 87% in 2008). Consequently, it can be assumed that the turnover of
the commercial sector has grown, perhaps to around 50 million euro in 2008.16
The total amount of business may have grown to 70-80 million in 2008.
Fig. 2. The number of
companies active in
different areas of Dutch
Source: VOIA.
58 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
4 The situation in archaeology anno 2009
4.1 Archaeological companies
The figures above illustrate the close relationship between archaeology and
the development and building sector, and our reliance on developer-funding. It
is therefore arguably to be expected that when the building sector is hit by an
economic recession that serious negative effects will rapidly be felt throughout the
archaeological sector, for instance by a visible reduction in the number of field-
work projects and secondly (as a direct consequence) a serious downturn in the
employment rate.
Half way through 2009, VOIA members were asked whether, and to what
extent, their own company was feeling the effects of the economic crisis.17 The
majority of members signalled no need for large scale redundancies and certainly
no recent dramatic downturn. A general feeling in the sector was that the begin-
ning of the year had indeed been rather sluggish as far as new, and especially
large-scale, contracts were concerned. There were also indications that (fieldwork)
companies had begun to consolidate towards the end of 2008 and the beginning of
2009. This is also shown by the statistics, to which we will turn below (see Fig. 3).
By the beginning of 2009, however, many companies, especially the larger ones,
already had a full portfolio of work to reasonably see them through the coming
Towards the summer and into the autumn, the general impression was that the
number of projects being tendered was still comparable to the previous couple of
years. There was certainly no feeling of ensuing crisis. And although the majority of
archaeological companies work on low profit margins with limited reserves, none of
the larger organisations were facing bankruptcy or had ceased operating. In fact, to
the contrary, there was a small growth in the number of new companies (see Fig. 2).
In addition, many of the smaller and one-person-companies, had been working so
hard due to high demand over the preceding couple of years that they had been able
to build up financial reserves and were now relieved to see the situation changing from
“hyper” to “normal”.
Such positive signals were, however, only one part of the picture. There were
clearly some difficulties as well. A few companies, who were already experiencing
difficulties in keeping their employees working, were unable to renew temporary
contracts and had to let go of staff. Some one-person companies were also begin-
ning to seriously consider giving up their self-employed status and returning to
more secure employment. Although supporting figures are lacking, it seems that
specialists in particular, whom are often self-employed, were having a hard time.
Such difficulties cannot be attributed exclusively to an economic crisis. Other
explanations include the implementation by some companies of an internal risk
management policy as a result of greater external competition and a continued
lack of success in tendering procedures. Such arguments can be supported by
the fact that only a few fieldwork companies seemed to experience difficulties at
this time whilst others still had a healthy workload and a full portfolio. Some
companies even considered not tendering for projects coming up in the follow-
ing months due to the extent of prior obligations. The specific difficulties experi-
enced by specialists were also not new. Observations in 2008 had already noted
that 56% of all trial trench research projects and 30% of all excavation projects
did not include any specialist analyses (Van den Dries & Zoetbrood 2008, 47).
A crisis with many faces. The impact of the economic recession on Dutch archaeology
The demand for specialist expertise had already reduced by a total of 50% in all
excavation projects (including trial trenching).18 This drop is also reflected in the
number of specialist analyses being published. The National Agency for Cultural
Heritage has also signalled that the number of specialist reports being produced
is declining compared to the growth in the number of archaeological field reports
(Erfgoedbalans 2009, 108).
4.2 Municipal archaeology
As well as the commercial companies, all 44 municipal archaeologists, all of
which are members of the Convent van Gemeentelijk Archeologen19, were asked
to comment on their experiences. Whilst the majority of municipal archaeolo-
gists are in government employment and may not immediately loose their own
jobs when development projects are postponed, the local government archaeology
departments often employ staff on temporary contracts, and these would clearly
be put at risk by a fall-off in work.
Towards the summer almost 60% (26) of those approached had replied to the
survey. As with the companies, however, no uniform picture emerged from their
answers. About 42% (11) indicated that they had noticed some effects of the crisis
with development projects being postponed. Two replies reported considerable less
work than previously and that temporary contracts had not been renewed On the
other hand, three municipalities had been taking on more work than previously!
4.3 The national information system Archis
As a third step, input in the database of the national information system Archis
was monitored. All field activities and finds are required to be registered and
documented in this system. It should therefore, in principle, be possible to use the
system to detect changes in trends.20 For example, for many years we saw a rise
in the number of field projects (Fig. 4 and 5). Even 2008 still showed a growth of
10.8% in comparison with 2007. In 2009 this trend apparently clearly changed.
When we carried out a first analysis of entries for the first quarter of 2009, the
change was not that clear (see Fig. 3), but on repeating the analysis after the first
half of the year (entries up to the first of September), the number of archaeological
field projects had actually declined by 16% in comparison with the same period
in 2008.21 At the conference of the European Association of Archaeologists, in
September 2009 in Riva del Garda, we therefore presented an expected decline for
2009 of at least 8%, taking into account – as has been the case in previous years
– that the market would improve slightly during the autumn.
During the second part of 2009, analysis of the entries in Archis indicated a
small revival, but with another decline towards the end of the year. The total
picture suggests a decrease in projects of 10.8% for 2009. This decrease does not,
however, count for all fieldwork projects. Fig. 4 and table 1 show that the number
of evaluations by corings (bore hole surveys in Fig. 4) have decreased the most. On
the basis of the average number of projects each month in the first half of the year,
an overall decline of 12.1% was predicted. At the end of the year, however, the
situation was actually worse than predicted, a decline of 15%. In the Netherlands
it is customary procedure to begin new archaeological projects with an evalua-
tion survey using corings. This method is used to localise and map potential sites
predicted on the basis of desk-based research. A decrease in the number of such
60 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
evaluations being carried out may arguably be a first indication that fewer projects
are actually being started and that the economic crisis is beginning to have a nega-
tive effect on archaeological projects.
field walking bore hole
trial trenches excavation watching
Interestingly, the situation regarding trial trenching is slightly different. In the
first part of 2009 (until August) entries in Archis indicated a growth. On this
basis it was estimated that the year might show a total increase in trial trenching
projects of 6.5%. However, in the second part of the year this picture changed
rather rapidly and the growth was replaced by a decline of 2%. The fact that the
number of trial trenches did not at first decline whilst the number of evaluations
by coring did, may indicate that there were still a considerable number of projects
“in stock” at the beginning of the year. As trial trenches are usually carried out as
the second phase of an evaluation process, the number of projects was probably
directly related to the evaluations already started in 2008 (or earlier). The decline
in trial trenching in the second half of the year was probably a direct result of the
fact that fewer evaluations by coring (i.e. new projects) were conducted in the first
half of 2009. Support for this interpretation can be found when comparing the
Fig. 3. Field projects carried
out throughout the year.
Source: Archis.
Fig. 4. Development of
various types of field
Source: Archis.22
A crisis with many faces. The impact of the economic recession on Dutch archaeology
Table 2. Development of
field projects in 2009.23
ratios of projects carried out in 2008 and 2009, as they have hardly changed. In
2008 1 of 5 evaluations by coring led to further trial trenching, and in 2009 this
was still 1 of 4.4.
A more serious decline can be seen in the number of excavations. On the
basis of the first half-year figures, it was predicted that the number of excava-
tions would decline in 2009 by 6.7%. In fact, a decline of 7.2% was recorded.
Interestingly, the ratio has hardly changed. In 2009 1 of every 11.3 evaluations by
coring and 1 of every 2.4 trial trench projects resulted in an excavation, whereas
this was respectively 1:12 and 1:2.4 in 2008. Once again the results seem to indi-
cate a reduction in the total number of new archaeological projects.
The final process that we looked at, the watching briefs, initially also seemed
to predict a decline. On the basis of the average monthly numbers until August,
it was predicted that there would be a decline of 3.6% in the number of projects.
However, the opposite occurred and the end of 2009 showed an actual growth of
3%. This may seem unusual in times of recession, but the last few years have seen
a relatively large increase in the number of watching briefs (see Fig. 4) although,
in comparison with 2008 (with an increase of 8.7%) the speed of the growth has
started to slacken off. Nevertheless, in comparison to other procedures the num-
ber of watching briefs has increased. In 2008 1 in 10 evaluations by coring were
followed by a watching brief whilst in 2009 this increased to 1 in 8.6. This trend
cannot be linked to a general exponential growth in the total number of archaeo-
logical projects. Although no concrete evidence is available, it could be argued that
the figures reflect an (increasing) choice for alternative, cheaper research methods
instead of (more expensive) excavations.
Numbers in
Numbers in first
part 2009
(up to and
including August)
for 2009
Numbers over the
whole of 2009
decrease 2009
bore hole survey 2571 1506 - 12.1% 2231 - 15%
trial trenches 509 361 + 6.5% 521 - 2%
excavation 208 129 - 6.7% 201 - 7.2%
watching brief 248 159 - 3.6% 260 + 3%
TOTAL 3571 2180 - 8.4% 3272 - 10.8%
It must be stressed that the overall downturn of 10.8% is an average for the
whole country and that considerable differences occur if we look at the picture
on a regional level. For example, figures from the southern peripheral province
of Zeeland showed only a minor decrease of 3.1% in the number of field projects
in the first half of the year, from 223 projects in 2008 to 216 in 2009. Up in the
north, in the province of Groningen, a rise of 15.7% was recorded (from 338 to
391), whereas the central province of Utrecht showed a sharp decline of 50.1%
(from 879 to 438 projects). The province of Zuid-Holland also showed a reduc-
tion of 7.2% (from 869 to 806).
These figures are interesting as they appear to contradict the general economic
situation in each of the provinces. On an economic level, the central province of
Utrecht was affected the least by the recession, whilst the more peripheral provinces
were most affected.24 Within the limited scope of this article there is no opportunity
to analyse this phenomenon in more detail, we can only guess at the reasons why
archaeology appears to have bucked the general trend. This may well be explained
62 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
by the fact that the archaeological sector has experienced a delayed reaction to
the situation in the building sector. The gradual decline in archaeological projects
towards the end of the year may support this assumption. When taking the whole
of 2009 into account (see Fig. 5), the province of Zeeland showed the largest decline
(26.8%). The number of projects in the province of Groningen continued to rise,
although in total slightly less than in the first part of the year (11%). In the province
of Utrecht 2009 showed a total decline of 13.7% (compared to 50.1% in the first
half of the year) and in the province of Zuid-Holland, 5.6%.
It is difficult to explain these regional differences, particularly as the figures for
each region are based on different types of fieldwork. In the province of Zeeland,
for instance, only the number of trial trenching projects increased, whereas all other
types of field projects showed a decline. In fact, this is the only one of the four
provinces that showed a growth in trial trenching projects (80%). In the province
of Groningen growth is due to an increased number of watching briefs and excava-
tions. The provinces of Utrecht and Zuid-Holland both experience a slight decline in
all field projects except for excavations (a growth of 15% and 9% respectively).
4.4 Duration of projects
Apart from fewer projects, another indication of the effect of an ongoing crisis
may be looked for in the duration of individual projects. An increase in a more rig-
orous, and academically selective approach to research designs has certainly lead
to a reassessment in strategy and resulted in less extensive, and therefore shorter,
and potentially cheaper, projects. An analysis of the duration of projects does
present a different picture (see Fig. 5) but to be honest, the differences between the
average duration of projects in 2008 and 2009 is so minimal that as a factor on its
own it should not be afforded too much significance.
Utrecht Z-Holland Zeeland Groningen
number of projects
mean duration
In the province of Zeeland, where the total number of projects decreased, the
average duration of a project showed a slight increase from 3.5 days in 2008 to
4 days in 2009. In the province of Groningen on the other hand, the opposite
occurs: a rise in the number of field projects, but on average a shorter duration
from 8.2 days in 2008 to only 6 days in 2009. In the province of Utrecht the
Fig. 5. The growth and
decline in the number
of field projects (in
percentages) in four
provinces in 2009, and the
growth and decline of the
mean duration of these
A crisis with many faces. The impact of the economic recession on Dutch archaeology
figures remain fairly constant, 8 days in 2008 and 7.9 days in 2009. The province
of Zuid-Holland showed a small increase from an average of 3.7 days in 2008 and
4.5 days in 2009.
4.5 Alternative explanation
At the same time there might be another factor influencing the recent observed
regional growth or decline in fieldwork. As a consequence of the implementation
of the new archaeological system and the new spatial planning act in 2007 and
2008, many provincial and local authorities are in the process of adapting their
policies and regulations on archaeological work within the planning process. The
provinces, who were until 2008 mainly responsible for enforcing surveys and
evaluations, are now delegating many of their planning responsibilities to local
councils. In 2009, many local councils had still not started, or were still in the
middle of making regulations for archaeology in the planning process. Stricter
regulations and new direct local council involvement on archaeology has a con-
siderable influence on the number of archaeological evaluations. For instance, in
situations where regulations on preventive archaeology are missing, the number of
watching briefs is bound to rise. On the other hand, the implementation of local
archaeological characterisation maps is expected to lead to an overall reduction of
the number of small-scale surveys and evaluations. Also, the regional adoption of
standard guidelines for applying coring or trial trenching in evaluations in par-
ticular situations might be more responsible for the rise or fall of these methods in
2009 in the above-mentioned provinces than economic factors.
4.6 Vacancies
A final factor that was investigated in order to get an impression of the true
extent and character of any crisis in Dutch archaeology is the employment rate. A
dramatic fall in employment is certainly the case in the development and build-
ing sector and is also very evident within the archaeological sector in many other
European countries (see other contributions in this volume).
We questioned one of the larger archaeological employment agencies in the
Netherlands, Vriens Archeo BV, about its findings over the last year. The agency
had noticed a slight increase in the number of advertised vacancies in the first
quarter of 2009 (10%) compared to the year before (see Fig. 6). This supports
the view of the companies who claimed still to have had a reasonable amount of
work in the first months of 2009. The agency noticed a decrease in the number of
advertised vacancies in the second quarter of the year (21%, from 99 to 78). This
decrease was much greater than that experienced in previous years, and also backs
up the picture presented by some companies who had to lay off temporary staff
for the first time in years.
This does not mean however that the unemployment rate among Dutch
archaeologists rose in this period. In fact the opposite proved to be the case. Since
there were still companies who were structurally understaffed when it came to
qualified personnel, these employees that were laid off were mostly very quickly
re-employed elsewhere. The increase in the number of vacancies filled by Vriens
Archeo BV a this time supports this analysis. While the number of vacancies
decreased, the so-called success rate for candidates for vacancies increased from
82% in the first quarter of 2008 to more than 95% in the first quarter of 2009.25
64 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
April-June July-August Sept-Dec
In the second half of 2009 there was a sharp revival of 35% in the number of
vacancies (from 78 to 105), which was followed by a reduction of 16% again in
the last quarter of the year. This coincides with the temporary growth of the num-
ber of field projects right after summer (see Fig. 3). The number of vacancies that
were subsequently filled remained at a high level, 92% in the last quarter of 2009.
This may indicate that there were enough people available to fill the posts, or that
there was a higher percentage of employees changing jobs.
4.7 Students
Another visible effect of the crisis can be considered. All universities and acad-
emies have seen an increase in student numbers (Fig. 7), 25% in total. A decline in
job opportunities, especially for young people, tends to lead to an increased uptake
of higher education opportunities, rather than running the risk of unemployment.
Departments of Archaeology have experienced a growth in student numbers. The
Faculty of Archaeology in Leiden, for instance, has 32% more new students in
2009 than in 2008. Across the country as a whole, there have been a total of over
100 first year archaeology students registering at universities and over 50 in other
higher education institutions.
Leiden Groningen Amsterdam
Amsterdam (VU) Total
Fig. 6. Number of vacancies
advertised by employment
agency Vriens Archeo BV.
Fig. 7. Student numbers
Source: Leiden University.
A crisis with many faces. The impact of the economic recession on Dutch archaeology
An increase in student numbers seems to be one of the few positive effects
of the crisis. This state of affairs may sadly only be temporary. The impending
increases in student fees may well lead to another decrease in student numbers.26
Rising student numbers may also turn out to be disadvantageous in the longer run
for the students concerned. If the number of jobs in archaeology starts to stabilise
again, then the moment will inevitably be reached when demand does not meet
the increased supply of new archaeologists. After many years of full employment
such a turn around in circumstances could well lead to the threat of unemploy-
ment again.27
5 Analysis
On the basis of the above figures it could be concluded that there are indica-
tions that the economic crisis is having negative influence on the sector as a whole.
However, we must bear in mind that the total amount of work available over
2009 as a whole still nearly equals that of 2007, when we were very happy with
such statistics. It is, however, interesting to observe how a relatively positive situ-
ation can change rather rapidly and that a deep recession such as is being expe-
rienced at present has different effects on the various parts of the archaeological
heritage management process as well as on the various groups within the archaeo-
logical community. The fact that almost all evaluation work is carried out by
commercial companies, inevitably means that they are hit first when new projects
are delayed or cancelled.
Despite the fact that the volume of fieldwork has decreased, this situation
has, as yet, had no dramatic consequences. To date there have been no recorded
bankruptcies in the archaeological sector, compared with other sectors that have
recorded a total of 8012 bankruptcies in 2009.28 The Netherlands, in this respect,
seems to be in an exceptional position, especially when compared to the dramatic
situation in other European countries in which archaeological heritage manage-
ment is primarily a commercial activity (Aitchison 2009). There may be several
reasons for this difference. One reason may be found in the way the Dutch com-
mercial sector operates. Because of the size of the country, most companies can
fairly easily operate across several regions or even across the whole country. In
addition, the majority of companies do not specialise in one type of activity, but
prefer to offer the entire range. Such companies have been able to remain flexible
and can adapt to changing circumstances. In fact, the regional diversity discussed
earlier in this article may eventually turn out to be beneficial for companies that
have learnt to diversify: it may be that fewer evaluations are being carried out
in one region, but a company may well be compensated for this by being able
to undertake other types of projects in another. A diversification in activity base
seems to be the answer here.
The main reason that the archaeological market remains fairly stable in
the Netherlands, lies in the organisation of the heritage management system.
Archaeological research in the Netherlands is primarily conducted as preventive
archaeology which relies heavily on tenders and contracts from local authorities
(municipalities). These authorities are responsible for decisions on building and
development and therefore also decide on the premises for archaeological research.
Projects are predominantly funded with public money. According to the data in
Archis, only a small part (10-15%) of all field projects in 2008 were commissioned
66 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
by the private sector, the vast majority were commissioned by government or semi-
government organisations. Current government-funded building projects such as
new motorways and road widening schemes, railways, terminals, coastal and river
defences, wind parks and power stations are providing a large number of archaeo-
logical projects. A decrease in private sector initiatives is being compensated by an
increase in public sector financed projects.
The early stage of development of the new archaeology system in the
Netherlands is also an important factor for consideration. Many local govern-
ments in particular are only just starting to put the Valletta Convention into prac-
tice and are now in the middle of developing their own archaeological policy and
ensuring its implementation within their own organisation. Demand for municipal
and regional characterisation maps and inventories is still high (including so-called
second generation maps based on an evaluation of earlier products), and accounts
for a considerable number of contracts (mostly in the consultancy sector) and a
fairly constant number of vacancies for local archaeological officers. Such work
also leads to an increase in the number of desk-based studies being carried out (see
Fig. 8). This necessary work on policy-based projects is providing compensation
for the decline in fieldwork projects and will most probably keep the sector as a
whole fairly busy for possibly at least another two years.
Because of the reasons given above, it is not expected that the situation will
deteriorate further in the short term. The archaeological sector may even profit
from the governmental measures undertaken to stimulate the property develop-
ment. These new policy-development activities may partly compensate the decreas-
ing demand for archaeological research. Furthermore, there are also indications
that since the end of 2009 the economic situation within the country has started to
Nonetheless a note of caution is important. There are several reasons why
we can expect that the worst is still to come. Firstly it is acknowledged that the
archaeological sector traditionally exhibits a delayed reaction to any changing
circumstances in the building and development sector. It is clear that, in 2009,
many companies are still working on long-term projects and contracts won in
2008 or even earlier. The big question is what will happen once these contracts
come to an end if they cannot be replaced with new ones. The decreased number
of evaluations by coring in 2009 may well lead to a further fall in the number of
trial trenching projects and full-scale excavations in 2010. Whilst at the moment it
may still be possible for one-person companies to have a little bit more spare time,
their financial situation may quickly change, the longer this calm period lasts and
the longer they have to eat into their savings.
Secondly, the uncertainty of the economic situation as a whole must be con-
sidered. Although it seems that the recession may be coming to an end and that
the first improvements have been signalled, the long-lasting effects of the crisis
are very difficult to predict. The long term prognosis could well suggest a further
ongoing crisis. For the development and building sector, for instance, a further
decline of 4.3% is expected in 2010.29 Long-term government policy will also con-
tinue to concentrate on spending cut-backs in an attempt to improve the budget
deficit. If the present phase of government-funded building projects is not replaced
by new private sector developments in the near future, then the archaeological sec-
tor will clearly begin to suffer. In addition, the expected cuts in the budgets of local
governments themselves might also lead to stagnation in the further development
A crisis with many faces. The impact of the economic recession on Dutch archaeology
and implementation of archaeological policies and even a less strict application of
rules and regulations in projects. In that case the “second dip” can put an extra
strain on the employment of local policy officers and strengthen the call for fewer
archaeological interventions.
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009*
6 Concluding remarks
Although the economic crisis has had a visible negative effect on the archaeo-
logical sector in the Netherlands, it has not, as yet, lead to severe situations such
as mass unemployment, as experienced in other European countries. For now we
count our blessings. The sector may even profit from the crisis. It is known that
Dutch archaeology has been growing rapidly for many years and, as a result, there
has been a period of little or even no unemployment for almost any archaeologists
wanting to work in the sector. Ironically this has meant that the infrastructure
has been rather overstrained: too many companies competing heavily for projects,
with unsustainable levels of price cutting as a result and a serious shortage of
well-qualified personnel. The economic crisis may well help to steady and stabilise
the situation and may eventually allow the stronger companies that do survive to
charge more realistic rates that allow the build up of financial reserves in order to
survive future market fluctuations. Finally, It is worth recalling that a decline in
economic growth and development activities can also significantly reduce the pres-
sures on, and threat to, the archaeological heritage in situ. The crisis, therefore,
has many faces.
Fig. 8. Desk-based
Source: Archis.
1. CPB, June 2009 forecast, see
18.html (last accessed 19-01-2010).
2. CPB, Memorandum March 2009,
memo222.pdf (last accessed 19-01-
3. Ibidem.
4. Economisch Instituut
Bouwnijverheid, press release
April 2009, see
ShowPers.cfm?ID=358 (last accessed
economie/Kredietcrisis (last accessed
woningbouw (last accessed 19-01-
7. CPB June 2009 forecast, see
18.html (last accessed 19-01-2010).
8. Rapport van de werkgroep
Gerritse, Mogelijkheden voor
ombuigingen, stabilisatie en
intensiveringen (February 2009), see
ect&s=obj&objectid=118822 (last
accessed 19-01-2010).
9. These figures have been taken
from the national archaeological
information system Archis
10. These figures are all drawn
from the national archaeological
information system Archis
( Due to delayed
input within the system and
corrections these numbers may vary
slightly over time.
11. See www.discovering-
12. Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel
Erfgoed, Erfgoedbalans 2009,
Archeologie, monumenten en
cultuurlandschap in Nederland,
p. 105.
68 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
14. VOIA, 2006, Actuele
omzetcijfers voor de
archeologiebranche. See http://www.
che%20onderzoek%20DEF.pdf (last
accessed 19-01-2010)
15. Ibid.
16. We have to take into account
that many are small coring projects
(one or two days) and that the
average price per project was much
lower than in former years.
17. This gives a fairly reliable
indication of the situation as at the
time, nearly all companies operating
in Dutch archaeology were members
of this organisation.
18. Specialist work refers here
mainly to archaeo-botanical,
archaeo-zoological and small finds
work. Other specialisations as for
instance physical geography and
pottery don’t show the same drop.
19. See www.gemeente-archeologen.
20. Care must, however, be taken
in making interpretations and in
forming conclusions. Some changes
in trends may, for instance, be
partly explained by changes in
reporting behaviour. Prior to 2006
not all activities were systematically
reported as this was not yet
obligatory. For subsequent years
the figures should be expected to be
fairly reliable. However, due to the
backlog in data entry in the system
small deviations in results may
occur when figures are reanalysed at
different moments in time.
21. Field projects include field
walking surveys, evaluation by
coring, excavations, trial trenches
and watching briefs.
22. The data on the early years
(until 2005) may not give a complete
image of the situation as probably
not all projects were registered in
the system then.
23. These figures are all drawn
from the archaeological information
system Archis (
Due to retrospective input and
corrections the numbers may slightly
change over time.
24. See http://www.parool.
(accessed 19-01-2010).
25. We do not have information on
the type of contracts these people
are employed on. It may be a
temporary situation, if it concerns
mainly short contracts.
26. Already the student fee is over
1600 euro per year (in 2009).
27. We have some information on
the demographic composition (age
pyramid) of our profession, on the
size of the oldest generations of
archaeologists and the pace with
which they need to be replaced
by younger ones (Waugh 2008,
table 32, p. 40). As the largest group
of the employees 58% is between 29
and 49 years of age, and only 18%
between 49 and 60, the natural out
flow of older employees will not be
very high in the next decade.
2009.html (last accessed 19-01-
29. TNO Bouw en Ondergrond,
2009, Bouwprognosis 2009-
2014, TNO-report 034-DTM-
2009-04560. See http://www.
(accessed 19-01-2010).
Aitchison, K., 2009, After the ‘gold rush’: global
archaeology in 2009, World Archaeology 41(4),
Arts, N. & C. Bakker, Gemeentelijke archeologie
anno 2009, Archeobrief 2, Jaargang 13, 22-25.
Dries, M.H. van den & P.A.M. Zoetbrood,
2008, Werk in uitvoering (2): van veldwerk tot
standaardrapport, een onderzoek naar de kwaliteit
van rapporten van archeologische proefsleuven en
opgravingen, Erfgoedinspectie, Den Haag.
Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, 2009,
Erfgoedbalans 2009, Archeologie, monumenten en
cultuurlandschap in Nederland, Amersfoort.
Waugh, K.E., 2008, Discovering the Archaeologists
of Europe: The Netherlands, Archaeology Labour
Market Intelligence Survey 2007-8, Vestigia Report
595, Amersfoort.
We would like to thank all the individuals from the
following organisations who provided us with data
and experiences: NVvA, VOIA, CGA, Vriens Archeo
BV, Vestigia BV, Leiden University, the Inspectorate
for Cultural Heritage and the National Agency
for Cultural Heritage. We are grateful that our
colleagues Nathan Schlanger and Kenneth Aitchison
organised a session on the impacts of the economic
crisis at the conference of the European Association
of Archaeologists in Riva del Garde and provided
the opportunity for us to present the situation in the
8. One crisis too many? French archaeology
between reform and relaunch
1 Introduction
The notion of crisis is not, of course, alien to French archaeology. Some histori-
cal landmarks will suffice to confirm this: the French revolution with its vandalism
and historical monuments, Napoleon III and his national antiquities, the laws of
1913 and of 1941, the infrastructure reconstructions of the post-war years and
their corresponding episodes of heritage destruction, the early days of the Ministry
of Culture, the ratification of the 1992 Malta Convention, the build-up to the
2001 law, its subsequent modifications, and so on. All in all, French archaeology
displays a somewhat punctuated pattern of progression, where various expecta-
tions regarding archaeological research and heritage management emerge, build-
up and lead, usually through crisis and controversy, to hard-earned legal, opera-
tional and organisational achievements (see various discussions in Poulot 2006,
Demoule & Landes 2009, Les Nouvelles de l’archéologie 2004, and references
Running throughout these episodes is the major question of individual and col-
lective responsibility towards the archaeological heritage. Throughout the first half
of the previous century, the debate had focused on questions of checks and bal-
ances regarding ‘desirable’ archaeological remains, i.e. those which presented some
scientific (and occasionally financial) interest to their landowners or excavators.
A series of legal and administrative measures gradually established the scheduling
and protection of historical monuments, made the declaration of fortuitous finds
compulsory, and required both official permits and scientific qualifications prior to
any archaeological intervention. By the last decades of the twentieth century, the
debate has finally broadened to include also ‘unwanted’ or accidental archaeologi-
cal remains – namely those hitherto buried and unknown deposits exposed (and
threatened by destruction) in the course of infrastructure and building works, and
usually seen as a burden by the landowners or developers concerned. Drawing
strength from precedents in environmental protection and international treaties,
measures of control and mitigation regarding such remains were gradually estab-
lished through the ‘polluter-pays’ principle. Overall, then, lurching from crisis
to crisis, the general long-term tendency in French archaeology has clearly been
towards the increased capacity of the state to oversee and regulate the scientific
exploitation, protection and valorisation of the nation’s historical and archaeologi-
cal heritage.
Entering now the second decade of the present century, this general tendency
seems to be put on hold, or at least to be taking on some different inflections.
Without assuming some inevitable ricorso -like movement, the wave of heritage
protection appears to have reached its crest, and is beginning now to subside
in favour of other political or ideological priorities, concerning for example the
role of the state, decentralisation, land-use, public services, economic and social
policies and so forth. This is why in France, perhaps more than anywhere else
discussed in this volume, the impacts of the current economic crisis can only
Nathan Schlanger,
Kai Salas Rossenbach
ACE project – ‘Archaeology in
contemporary Europe
Institut national de recherches
archéologiques préventives, Paris
Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions, Edited by Nathan Schlanger & Kenneth Aitchison, 2010, ACE / Culture Lab Editions.
70 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
be understood in the light of broader ongoing processes and configurations.
Specifically to archaeology, the heritage law of 2001 and recent modifications in
2003 have had significant effects, as we will see, but even more important have
been the overarching public policy reforms initiated following president Nicolas
Sarkozy’s 2007 elections, including an unprecedented restructuring of institutions,
administrations and employment policies. As for the crisis, significantly, it is not so
much the economic downturn as such that has so far affected archaeology (though
the decline in construction activities and the rise in unemployment are definitely
being felt) as much as the various counter-measures enacted by the government
within its ambitious relaunch or recovery plan. So, within the limits of the data
available to us, and without attempting to be exhaustive, we will draw together in
this chapter some strands and links in this composite picture, in between reforms
and relaunch. The four impact areas of the crisis as identified throughout this vol-
ume – research, employment, outreach and legislation – will all be touched on, but
we proceed with a brief introduction to the organisation of archaeology in France,
provide some details on the various reforms already enacted, and finally address
the crisis, the relaunch measures and their implications for archaeological research
and heritage management in France.
2 A brief outline of French archaeology, circa 2001
Although academic research and higher education are clearly among its essen-
tial constituents, our entry point to French archaeology here is through heritage
management, and specifically preventive archaeology. This is not only because
preventive archaeology has become the largest and most dynamic sector in terms
of funding, employment and archaeological results produced, but also because the
recent fluctuations it has endured shed light on the system as a whole. Moreover,
‘programmed’ archaeology seems to follow a reasonably well-established pattern,
at least so far as field practice is concerned, involving nominal excavation permits,
scientific programmes and corresponding budgets. Preventive archaeology, by con-
trast, has been carried out for several decades with only the flimsiest legal, regula-
tory or financial basis. Only in 2001, after years of campaigning and successive
recommendations, was this long-awaited grounding achieved. The newly drafted
book V of the Heritage code defined preventive archaeology in these terms:
“Preventive archaeology, which pertains to a mission of public service, is an
integral part of archaeology. It is governed by the principles applicable to all
scientific research. It undertakes, on land and under waters, within appropriate
delays, to identify, to preserve or to safeguard through scientific study those ele-
ments of the archaeological heritage affected or likely to be affected by public or
private development works. It also aims to interpret and to disseminate the results
obtained.” (Article L. 521.1).
As part of the 2001 law, a pre-existing association for excavations (AFAN) was
transformed into the National institute for preventive archaeological research,
INRAP, an Etablissement public under the joint tutelage of the Ministries of
Culture and Communication and of Higher Education and Research, with some
2000 employees and an annual budget of 150 Million euro for 2009. With its
research and public service objectives legally enshrined, preventive archaeology
sets and pursues clear objectives regarding the production of knowledge about the
past, specialised studies, publications and public outreach. In comparison with
One crisis too many? French archaeology between reform and relaunch
countries where the ‘academic’ and the ‘commercial’ (also called ‘professional’ or
CRM) branches of archaeology have increasingly drifted apart, several traits of
the French system – the territorial anchoring of its research, the encouragement of
interdisciplinary collaborations, the long-established practice of ‘mixed research
units’ (UMR) bringing together researchers and initiatives from the CNRS, univer-
sities, museums, ministries, local archaeologists, INRAP etc. – contribute, at least
for now, to maintain these links.
A further specific feature of the French system concerns a fundamental opera-
tional and regulatory distinction between two successive phases of preventive
archaeological activities. The first, evaluations or diagnostics, serves to identity
and assess previously unrecorded archaeological remains on land slated for
development (usually through mechanical trial trenching). The second phase,
involving full-scale excavations, focuses then on specific, localised remains which
require further documentation and study. In both cases, operations are undertaken
upon prescriptions and with permits issued by the regional archaeological services
(SRA) of the Ministry of Culture, while research designs, results and publications
are evaluated through regional and national expert bodies. Crucially, these two
phases are also distinguished by their legal and financial standing. The diagnostic
phase, which is considered to be a public service, draws its funding not from the
developers concerned directly (which could have invited unwelcome pressure and
compromises), but rather through a Preventive Archaeology Tax applicable per
square metre, above a certain threshold and with various exemptions, on all devel-
opments across the country, whether subject to archaeological prescriptions or
not. Income from this tax is mutualised and shared more or less equally between
diagnostic expenditure, a special archaeology fund for needy developers, and the
financing of research and public outreach activities. Excavations, on the other
hand, are each subject to a specific contract between the archaeological operator
and the developer, including questions of schedules, delays and also costs, which
are calculated in function of the nature and complexity of the archaeological
deposits (as estimated through the diagnostic work), and the equipment, personnel
and competencies required to achieve the set scientific goals of analysis, interpreta-
tion and publication.
3 After 2003: towards commercial competition between licensed
As the law on preventive archaeology came into effect, the systematic applica-
tion of the Tax and of the ‘polluter-pays’ principle – coupled with some frustra-
tions over unscheduled delays related to overloads and caps on employment – led
several developers and local representatives to lobby for amendments to the law.
Some genuine adjustments were certainly called for, but the solution adopted by
the conservative-led parliament in august 2003 (and 2004) consisted effectively in
‘opening up’ the field of preventive archaeology to commercial competition, in the
expectation that costs and delays would consequently be reduced.
These changes led to considerable upheaval in French archaeology. The sta-
tus of archaeological diagnostics as a public prerogative was preserved, with the
addition of locally-based municipality and council archaeological operators which
are now able, alongside INRAP, to undertake them. The excavation phase, on the
other hand, was recast as a commercial undertaking, with developers now directly
72 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
commissioning operators to execute the archaeological prescriptions on their
behalf. Public developers have to abide by call-for-tender procedures, but they can
nevertheless decide on the relative weight they wish to accord to such factors as
duration, scientific quality, or indeed costs. Private developers can dispense alto-
gether with such procedures, contract directly with the operator of their choice,
and only then, almost as a fait accompli, present the proposed excavation design
to the state services for them to examine its scientific pertinence and operational
feasibility before issuing the permit.
As an ostensible safeguarding move, a specific licensing or accreditation system
(agrément) was put in force for preventive archaeology, such that only licensed
operators can be commissioned by developers, and only their personnel can receive
from the SRA the nominal permit required for taking responsibility over preven-
tive archaeological operations. To obtain the licence, candidate operators have
to provide information on their functional capabilities, their available expertise,
employment strategies, budgets, infrastructural set up, equipments and so forth.
The Ministry of Culture, relying on expert advice from the National council for
archaeological research, then awards the licence (for a renewable period of five
years), subject to some territorial and chronological specifications. With regards
to diagnostics, as noted, the only operators eligible are those based within pub-
lic bodies such as municipalities or local authorities. For excavations, however,
licences are also granted to other operators such as associations and privately
owned companies, who can participate in the excavation market and respond to
calls from their potential clients, the developers. After a slow start, the impact of
these modifications is increasingly perceptible. By mid- 2010, there were approxi-
mately 80 operators licensed for preventive archaeology in France, of which 60 are
local public bodies of various sorts, unevenly spread across about a third of the
country’s départements, and 20 are private companies1. Apart from their names,
area of archaeological competencies and contact details, information on the scale
and turnover of these licensed operators is hard to obtain: it is estimated that pub-
lic operators employ altogether some 350 archaeologists, as do the private ones.
All this reflects the sharp rise in their activities these last couple of years. For 2009,
and taking important regional variations into account, only 60% of the c. 350
excavations carried out in France were undertaken by the state operator INRAP
– the remaining 40% being more or less evenly divided between local public
operators and private companies.
4 A market in crisis?
This new phenomenon of commercial competition in French preventive
archaeology raises a number of issues that prove instructive to examine (see also
Demoule, this volume). To begin with, it might be recalled that preventive archae-
ology as a whole, excavations included, was defined as a mission of public service,
aimed at gaining and disseminating scientific knowledge about the past. In these
circumstances, it is both unfair and unrealistic to expect developers to evaluate
bids on scientific (as distinct from commercial) criteria, especially when there are
grounds to suppose that the state services may not always be able to exercise their
monitoring role to the full (see below). In the new conditions created, when any
field methodology, expertise or even chrono-cultural interpretation may provide its
holder (and deny others) a competitive edge in the market, it can be expected that
One crisis too many? French archaeology between reform and relaunch
the wider aims of inter-institutional scientific collaborations on shared research
designs may be affected, together with publications and public outreach actions.
The same goes for the segmentation of archaeological activities across a multiplic-
ity of operators, chosen on a case by case basis with little regard for operational
let alone research considerations. To be sure, the rules so far prohibit these opera-
tors from having structural, financial or legal links to the developers for whom
they work, but this could be yet anther ‘impediment’ to competition or accelera-
tion that may soon be waived, now that archaeological operators directly cre-
ated by building-works companies are in the making. While these and other less
appealing consequences loom large (regarding for example cost-cutting measures,
profit margins and employment conditions among some operators), there are little
indications as yet whether the presumed benefits of the competitive system will be
in evidence, such as reductions in delays or indeed in overall costs.
A series of more specific questions arise from the coincidence between the
upsurge of commercial preventive archaeology, from about 2008 onwards, and
the global economic crisis – all the more so that this coincidence was readily seized
upon by the authorities to further bolster the ‘market’2. Admittedly, the practical
implications of such encouragement to potential operators are difficult to evalu-
ate. For one, information on changing numbers and success rates of applicants
for licences over time is not readily available. As well, since the scientific, opera-
tional or financial criteria for awarding the licence do not seem to be explicitly
stated, it is difficult to assess whether they have been recently modified in any way.
Finally, be it for reasons of confidentiality or of expediency, it appears difficult to
gain some inkling regarding the eventual refusals, suspensions, or withdrawals
of licences. What is certain, however, is that the French preventive archaeology
market, public and private alike, benefits from a comforting safety net: in case
operators cease trading or see their licence withdrawn, it is already set by law
that the archaeological finds and related documentation they hold will be recov-
ered and studied by the state operator – namely by INRAP (Article L. 523-13).
Archaeological heritage management is certainly well served here (compare with
annex II, this volume), but by thus effectively underwriting the operators, the
licence-awarders and the prescribers alike, this bail-out provision sits somewhat
uneasily with the ideals of level commercial competition.
Nevertheless, even though we may expect more recession-induced bankrupt-
cies to be declared, we can also surmise that the preventive archaeology ‘market’
might well grow in the coming years – with the crisis aiding. In effect, the relaunch
plan initiated by the government includes some major infrastructural works that
will require substantial diagnostics and excavation work (see below). Even if few
of the newly licensed public or private operators have the scale and logistics to
partake in such grands travaux, they will be able to better jostle into competitive
position for the more routine operations. As well, in addition to the nearly auto-
matic increase in surfaces and sites to be identified and prescribed for diagnostics
and excavations, some changes can also be anticipated regrading the prescription
policies themselves. Just as the regional archaeological services have been under
instructions in the past few years to “enhanced selectivity” so as to reduce the
number of diagnostic prescriptions, so they might be encouraged from now on to
increase these numbers, if only in order to keep afloat the newly created ‘market’
of commercial preventive archaeology3.
74 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
5 Reforms in motion: public policies, research and higher education
Known by the acronym of RGPP, the general revision of public policies
(Revision générale des politiques publiques) is a key component of the reforms
launched by President Sarkozy since 2007, seeking a leaner and meaner state,
more efficient and modern. This massive exercise, set in successive waves of inter-
mediary steps and targets spread over several years, has already affected virtu-
ally all areas of public policy. As far as archaeology is concerned, the effects have
been mainly felt through the Ministries of Culture and of Higher Education and
Research, where they have involved the restructuring of institutions, their adminis-
trative functions and their employment policies.
To begin with the matter of employment, a key measure of the RGPP involves
the systematic non-replacement of one out of two retirements among state func-
tionaries and public employees. This reduction of personnel applies to all min-
istries and state functions (including some 50,000 schoolteacher posts not being
renewed, i.e. lost, between 2007 and 2010)4 and of course also to the Ministry
of Culture, which as we saw holds administrative responsibilities over heritage
management and protection. In a subsequent wave of the reform plan, this mea-
sure extends to public bodies and decentralised structures, which, through non-
replacement or other means, will have to ‘gain in productivity’ by shedding 1.5%
of their workforce every year. Incidentally, this trimming down may prove even
more tasking in times of crisis: not only there are fewer private sector employment
alternatives to be found, it is also manifest that the relative resilience of such a
country as France to the more traumatising effects of the recession has to do with
its longstanding tradition of strong public sector spending and employment.
While this employment strategy has at least the merit of being plain, the
restructuring of administrations and functions in the framework of the RGPP
has taken quite a multiplicity of forms. At the headquarters of the Ministry of
Culture, the previous dozen or so distinct directions have been merged into three
major directorates (alongside a reinforced general-secretariat), respectively entitled
Artistic creation, Media and communication and Heritages, the latter includ-
ing sub-directions dealing with museums, libraries, archives, architecture, and
archaeology. Within this reassembly of functions and services, some casualties are
to be expected in the name of ‘rationalisation’: the Centre national d’archéologie
urbaine (CNAU) is one of the bodies slated to be dissolved. Even more challenging
are the ongoing reshuffles and reorganisations at the regional level, including the
functional capacities and hierarchical links between the regional archaeological
services (SRA), the regional directions of cultural affairs (DRAC) and the prefec-
tures. Finally, the sword of the RGPP specifically fell onto preventive archaeology,
when the Council for the modernisation of public policies decreed in June 2008
that “The running (politique) of preventive archaeology shall be rendered more
efficient. Income from the preventive archaeology tax shall be improved. The
development of a competitive offer shall enable the multiplication of intervention
capacities with regards to excavations. The modes of recruitment within the state
operator INRAP shall be modernised”5. As we saw at length above, this aspired
multiplication effectively means the encouragement of new public and private
operators onto the ‘market’.
Turning now to French research and higher education, structural changes in
the framework of the RGPP and through other routes have been particularly
wide-ranging. The 2007 ‘Law on the responsibilities of universities’ (LRU) cast
One crisis too many? French archaeology between reform and relaunch
these institutions into a sudden state of ‘autonomy’, which implies among other
things an increase in performance-related funding and revenue-generating activi-
ties, accompanied by an administrative overload and a greater say for external
members, especially business figures, in the university’s scientific and governing
bodies. Notwithstanding this autonomy, French universities have been instructed
to forge between themselves thematic alliances as well as geographical clusters
(not necessarily with the same partners), opening the way for a distinction to be
made between teaching-focussed institutions and those oriented towards research
and innovation, which would be relocated – crisis permitting, that is – in purpose-
build campuses à l’américaine.
For reasons both ideological and parochial (i.e. poor standing in the Shanghai
Index), French public research has been deemed underachieving and out of tune
with the more utilitarian or vocational objectives sometimes described as ‘the
knowledge economy’. In succession were created national agencies for funding
(ANR) and evaluating (AERES) research, the former reinforcing the logic of
short term ‘project’ grants, with a particular emphasis on ‘public-private part-
nerships’ cemented through unduly generous tax rebates for the latter sector6.
The National centre for scientific research (CNRS), for its part, has seen some
of its main missions and means, indeed its ‘autonomy’, considerably curtailed:
this includes its capacity to set long-term projects for its c. 250 archaeolo-
gists, or indeed to initiate and federate mixed research units (UMR) with other
institutions. These changing circumstances are reflected in the CNRS prospective
document for 2009-2013, whose readers have been invited to consider the social
sciences and humanities also as a “strategic asset” for companies, so as to better
understand human challenges and social changes, and thus inform their manage-
rial decisions.7
Lastly, the RGPP policy of closing down every other retired post will be
encroaching into an already tense employment environment, where career difficul-
ties are felt from the very entry level. Amazingly, France is among the few coun-
tries where PhD holders are actually less likely than Masters to find a job: three
years after graduation, 11% of humanities and social sciences PhD holders are still
unemployed, and of those employed about a third are on short-term contracts.
The employment level of French PhDs is three times worse than the OECD aver-
age, and moreover this deficiency cannot be explained by the numbers of doctor-
ate holders involved, which per age-cohorts is proportionately lower than in most
comparable countries.8 Not unexpectedly, to refocus on archaeology, the overall
trend in disaffection and decline in numbers of university students is not abating,
although a larger proportion are now applying for professional master courses in
preventive archaeology, in the (not unreasonable) expectation that jobs are still to
be found in that area.
The effects of these ongoing developments on the production and transmission
of knowledge about the past still need to be evaluated, but they are likely to have
both medium and long-term repercussions. Already under-represented in compari-
son with European neighbours, archaeological positions in research institutions
and universities will be further reduced by the non-replacement of half the posts
which would have been available with the imminent retirement of the late 1960s
and 1970s cohort. Research funding for programmed archaeological excavations
in France and abroad appears more difficult to obtain, and likewise quite a few
archaeological journals and publication outlets have had their allocations cast in
doubt. It was not surprising in any case to see researchers and university teach-
76 Archaeology and the global economic crisis. Multiple impacts, possible solutions
ers from across the social sciences and humanities, archaeology included, at the
forefront of the exceptional (but ultimately only partially successful) country-wide
wave of protests, petitions and demonstrations during 2008 and 2009.
6 The relaunch plans: increased investments, lightened procedures
As we have gathered, then, France was well in the throes of substantial upheav-
als when the global economic crisis struck in 2008. Thus, in addition to its
structural capacities in terms of public sector and economic policies, the country
may have actually also benefitted from the fact that it was already on its toes, as
it were, in comparison with more complacent neighbours caught off-guard. In
any case, the government deployed early on a fairly comprehensive relaunch plan,
with a specifically created Ministry in charge of its application. Alongside various
measures for reducing costs and deficits, the relaunch plan also includes, in the
venerable state macroeconomic tradition, a stimulus package for the acceleration
of major infrastructure programmes. A global budget of some 10 billion Euros
(originating from the state, major public developers, local authorities and private
partnerships) has been dedicated to a range of works for the coming four years,
including the construction of four TGV lines and several highways and navigable
So far as preventive archaeology is concerned, these infrastructure programmes
are by and large expected to compensate for the slow-down in the construction
sector. Substantial tracts of land will be subject to earthworks, and will conse-
quently generate prescriptions and require diagnostics and excavations in the