The Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage

Antiquity, June 1993 | Go to article overview

The Charter for the Protection and Management of the Archaeological Heritage


Introduction

It is widely recognized that a knowledge and understanding of the origins and development of human societies is of fundamental importance to humanity in identifying its cultural and social roots.

The archaeological heritage constitutes the basic record of past human activities. Its protection and proper management is therefore essential to enable archaeologists and other scholars to study and interpret it on behalf of and for the benefit of present and future generations.

The protection of this heritage cannot be based upon the application of archaeological techniques alone. It requires a wide basis of professional and scientific knowledge and skills. Some elements of the archaeological heritage are components of architectural structures and in such cases must be protected in accordance with the criteria for the protection of such structures laid down in the 1966 Venice Charter on the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites. Other elements of the archaeological heritage constitute part of the living traditions of indigenous peoples, and for such sites and monuments the participation of local cultural groups is essential for their protection and preservation.

For these and other reasons the protection of the archaeological heritage must be based upon effective collaboration between professionals from many disciplines. It also requires the co-operation of government authorities, academic researchers, private or public enterprise, and the general public. This Charter therefore lays down principles relating to the different aspects of archaeological heritage management. These include the responsibilities of public authorities and legislators, principles relating to the professional performance of the processes of inventarization, survey, excavation, documentation, research, maintenance, conservation, preservation, reconstruction, information, presentation, public access, and use of the heritage, and the qualification of professionals involved in the protection of the archaeological heritage.

The Charter has been inspired by the success of the Venice Charter as guidelines and sources of ideas for policies and practice of governments as well as scholars and professionals.

The Charter has to reflect very basic principles and guidelines with global validity. For this reason it cannot take into account the specific problems and possibilities of regions or countries. The Charter should therefore be supplemented at regional and national level by further principles and guidelines for these needs.

Article 1 Definition and introduction

The 'archaeological heritage' is that part of the material heritage in respect of which archaeological methods provide primary information. It comprises all vestiges of human existence and consists of places relating to all manifestations of human activity, abandoned structures, and remains of all kinds (including subterranean and underwater sites), together with all the portable cultural material associated with them.

Article 2 Integrated protection policies

The archaeological heritage is a fragile and non-renewable cultural resource. Land use must therefore be controlled and developed in order to minimize the destruction of the archaeological heritage.

Policies for the protection of the archaeological heritage should constitute an integral component of policies relating to land use, development, and planning as well as of cultural environmental and educational policies. The policies for the protection of the cultural heritage should be kept under continual review, so that they stay up to date. The creation of archaeological reserves should form part of such a policy.

The protection of the archaeological heritage should be integrated into planning policies at international, national, regional, and local level.

Active participation by the general public must form part of policies for protection of the archaeological heritage.

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