Should commercial archaeologists have a role in exploring our marine heritage?
Long story short, this is an argument whether or not Archaeologist should get involved in Marine Heritage in England. Some argue yes and some no.
It has been argued that underwater sites/shipwrecks should be handled the same as land sites. And i agree. These sites should be protected and preserved.
But one should note that:
Much of the archaeological work in the UK is conducted by commercial archaeologists. This work is often funded by a developer, whose project is impacting on the archaeological resource, under the “polluter pays” principal of environmental policy. There is, however, another group who describe themselves as commercial archaeologists, who are more controversial. (Source)
This is the section of the commercial salvage community whose interest is in the commercial exploitation of historic shipwrecks. Their work involves the salvage of maritime archaeological sites with the aim of profiting from the sale of material recovered, although it is often justified as “saving” the material from imminent destruction or for “archaeological investigation”. (Source)
Archaeology is an applied science, and like any other scientific process conducts work in an objective way to recognised standards, documenting, archiving and sharing the data so that it is available for peer review and use by other researchers, now or in the future. Archaeological sites are a finite and non-renewable resource, and there is a fundamental expectation to preserve them for the benefit of the community as both a physical resource to be enjoyed and a means of learning more about the past. (Source)
The commercial sale of archaeological material is fundamentally incompatible with these aims. Rather than preserving the resource for the community, commercial salvage removes the resource from that community and places it in private hands, thus preventing public enjoyment of archaeological sites and further research into and understanding of the past. (Source)
So i agree that maybe its best if these commercial Archeologist stay away.
What do you think?
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