‘this house believes that archaeological resources are not finite, and are renewable’

Posted on April 11, 2016


Sarah May, of Heritage for Transformation, had the idea to have a full debate, following debate rules, at TAG in Bradford. If you remember last year I did a crowdfunding campaign to video TAG. Well some of those videos are done including the debate. It was very interesting to see people’s thoughts on if archaeological resources are renewable… or not:

Most UK heritage policy and much ethical deliberation is based on the notion that archaeological resources are finite and non – renewable. However, recent understandings of archaeology as a constructive discipline call this certainty into question (eg Holtorf 2001). While individual artefacts can be damaged, transformed or even destroyed – these events may also add to the significance of places that archaeologists are interested in. Should we continue to direct our ethical concern to ‘saving’ a diminishing resource, or can we promote the use and celebration of that resource without seeing it as endangered (May 2009) .

Holtorf, C. (2001) Is the past a non – renewable resource? in Layton, R., Stone, P. and Thomas, J. (eds) Destruction and conservation of cultural property . Routledge , 286 – 297 .
May, S. ( 2009 ) Then Tyger Fierce took life away: The contemporary material culture of tigers. In Holtorf , C. and Piccini , A. (eds) Contemporary archaeologies: excavating n ow . Peter Lang, 65 – 80.

Speaker for the motion (Cornelius HOLTORF )
Speaker against the motion (Mike NEVELL )
Debate from the floor
Summary by the Speaker of the House (Paul BELFORD )
Second speaker for the motion (Sarah MAY )
Debate from the floor Second speaker against the motion (Harald FREDHEIM )
Rebuttal by the first speaker for the motion (Cornelius HOLTORF )
The house will divide

Session organiser: Sarah MAY ( UCL Institute of Archaeology )

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