Interdisciplinary approaches towards protecting in situ wetland archaeology

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Although wetland archaeological sites preserve a unique repository of organic artefactual evidence, they also present a particular challenge for preservation in situ. Loss of waterlogging, caused by factors such changes in land use and climate, disrupts the delicate balance of chemical and biological conditions, resulting in the rapid deterioration of materials such as bone and wood. Recent research has demonstrated that this deterioration can proceed within a matter of years, demanding that the decision between preserving in situ or excavating needs to be made quickly.

Whilst the need for rapid decision making is clear, it is also vital that these decisions are based on the maximum evidence available, incorporating an appropriate assessment of both the condition of the material present and any potential threats to the site. Each decision must also build upon the wealth of knowledge already gained from the 25 years of research into preservation in situ conducted since the advent of the Valletta Treaty, as well as data acquired from case study sites.

As methods of assessing both the geochemical environment and the condition of in situ archaeological material improve, the quality of this understanding is also continually improving. However, the translation of this understanding can prove difficult; researchers need to adapt to the time and financial limitations imposed upon decision makers, and the heritage community needs to identify and communicate gaps in the knowledge base.

Overcoming these communication barriers are critical to addressing the need for faster and better standardised decision processes required as wetland archaeological sites become increasingly threatened by environmental changes. Here, we discuss how bringing together research scientists, archaeological practitioners and heritage management professionals can lead to the development of evaluation procedures that imbed the latest scientific knowledge into working practises.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
EventEuropean Association of Archaeologists annual meeting 2017 - MECC, Maastricht, Netherlands
Duration: 30 Aug 20173 Sept 2017


ConferenceEuropean Association of Archaeologists annual meeting 2017

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