Archaeology in a changing economy: towards sustainability

The most significant shift in the comprehension of the role of culture within modern society has been through an improved understanding of the place for culture in the ‘knowledge-based economy’.
It is the assumed integration of archaeology in this economic model and its outcome of “sustainable archaeology” that this theme aims to serve.

The economic crisis that hit Europe after 2008 had a major impact on the archaeological activity and its professionals.

• In Spain, 70% of the private archaeology companies have closed.
• The same has happened in Ireland.
• In Italy 50% of the independent archaeologists earn less than 10,000 € per year.
• The wages of all Greek archaeology professionals have been cut by 30% and all the short-term contracts have been cancelled.
• The United Kingdom has seen a dramatic decrease of nearly 30% in the number of archaeologists between 2008 and 2010.

In more general terms, the crisis’ consequences can be summed up as :
• A contraction of activity.
• A slowdown in the level of investment in basic and applied research.
• A slowdown in the level of investment in the cultural infrastructures.
• A weakening of the network of stakeholders.

At the same time, these changes create a historic opportunity to propose new socio-economic and professional models in archaeology.

The NEARCH network aims to explore these prospects through:
• The up-to-date assessment of the crisis’ impact on archaeology in Europe.
• The redefinition of the archaeological activity.
• The creation of a more balanced model in terms of local responsibility and solidarity.
• The analysis of the role of the State in general and of the public sector.
• The question of the funding of archaeology.
• The discussion of the « productive » model of the systematic excavation.
• The needed requirement for scientific exploitation of the huge amount of data.
• The discussion on the reintroduction of the local populations in the archaeological process.

NEARCH therefore aims to create a laboratory of socio-economic innovation in archaeology and heritage management in view of identifying long-term and endurable models.