Sunday 13 July 2014

British Archaeology Going Under?

A message to gladden the heart of any archaeologist-hating portable antiquity collector (and there are many): Kitty Knowles, 'Britain must dig deeper to save its archaeology' Independent, Sunday 13 July 2014.

the profession is finding itself under siege. A funding crisis has left it feeling undervalued, understaffed and reliant on volunteers. Although the recession cut the number of working archaeologists by a third, the economy is recovering, and experts now fear that there will not be enough trained archaeologists to meet the demand of developers. As a result, they are warning that further archaeological riches may be lost to the nation for ever. "These are one-off opportunities and, once you have lost a site, you have lost it for ever – you never get that knowledge back," says Mike Heyworth, director of the Council for British Archaeology. Poor job prospects and even poorer pay is exacerbating the problem. "Many archaeologists don't make enough to pay taxes," said Doug Rocks-Macqueen, a consultant for Landward Research Ltd. "The average archaeologist only lasts about five years [after training] before they get a permanent job – which is hard to do – or leave the profession." Indeed, while 94 per cent of archaeologists have a degree, and 40 per cent have a masters or PhD, entry-level positions pay only £17,000 a year, and most of these are temporary. 
Read more here....

Part of the problem is exposed in the article's first line: "We are fascinated by the finds, from royal bones to antique gold, but the profession may go under". we have a allowed archaeology to be seen by everyone exclusively in terms of what we "dig up", rather than what knowledge we produce from it. The more celebrity-status the find ("royal bones and antique gold"), the better. 

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