The archaeological discipline puts effort into achieving the greatest possible scientific added value and supporting the potential values of archaeological heritage for society. However, choices have to be made at different stages and levels of the archaeological heritage management process. Several interests are at play when making these choices: science, society, financial, legal and logistical possibilities, public support. Choices are based on the weighing up of different factors such as values, interests and practical opportunity.

A call to action for Europe’s archaeology was set out in the Amersfoort Agenda. It identifies the subject of “decision-making” (theme 2, “Dare to Choose”) as one of the three key themes in meeting the current challenges facing archaeological heritage management in Europe.

The key aspects in making choices can be resumed through its three agenda items:

  • Be conscious, explicit and transparent about the choices being made and the consequences of selection in the archaeological heritage management process;
  • Develop a sound infrastructure to support the making of informed choices: identify research frameworks and criteria, and enable access to current archaeological knowledge and data;
  • Adopt a broader perspective when making choices: open up boundaries within the discipline and involve other stakeholders (and their interests) in the process.

Clear choices should indeed ultimately result in a more consistent and transparent decisionmaking, a stronger defense of funding for archaeological excavation, a more sustainable approach to archaeological heritage management and a better-informed and engaged public.

This Symposium will give EAC members and others a welcome opportunity to explore the variety of approaches in decision making mechanisms and actions and consider how they may become embedded in general archaeological policy and practice over the next few years.

The Symposium will last one and a half days (9 and 10 March) and will consist of three presentation sessions followed by discussions – including questions and comments from the floor. Each presenter will propose actions as part of their presentation/paper. The results of the Symposium will feed into the EAC “Making Choices” and “Archaeological Archiving” Working Groups and form part of the future EAC Guidelines on the basics and requisites of informed, transparent and structured choices in the archaeological process.

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