6. Towards a Better Future

The CNRA's report (2011, 10) concludes, among other things, that it is necessary to recognise that 'leisure detection does not exist [because] the whole of France is an archaeological site' . From our point of view, this reality extends far beyond the French borders. Under these conditions, would it be the fate of metal-detector users to be forced to sell their now-unusable devices? This is, of course, out of the question because it would be an admission of failure, showing incapacity to respond both to expectations and to scientific needs. Why go without the services of voluntary archaeologists and UMDs who could become voluntary archaeologists?

As has been seen, archaeological research has evolved in its object of study. It should no longer limit itself to being a discipline centred on one of its tools, excavation, but should consider material human cultural remains in all their dimensions, be they temporal (from the Palaeolithic to today) or geographic (underground, above ground, underwater) in order to focus on the study of objects made by man. In the long term, such a position would imply bringing archaeology, art history, ethnology and also sciences and technical subjects closer together. This evolution should not only concern universities and professionals, who are not yet on board, but also authorities who have to apply the law, as well as the wider public.

The CNRA's experts recommend establishing an ethical charter for professionals. Within ArkéoTopia, we recommend that such a charter be put in place for students at Masters level, and be accompanied by an oath. As for doctors, the oath would require a minimum knowledge of data relating to the rights and obligations of a future professional, while the charter would give more detail. This is the aim of the ArkéoTopia's 'Arkéthique' project. Its objective is not only to increase awareness about safeguarding archaeological heritage, but also about the implications of the day-to-day work of heritage professionals and the respect professionals should pay to volunteers and ordinary citizens. For each group, there are advantages, which are not detailed in this article. The issues at stake in the Arkéthique project involve restoring the respect that professionals should have in the public's opinion while making them conscious of their responsibilities and the consequences of their acts.

As has been seen, professionals are not the only ones to have to update their practices. Just as there is a political desire to increase awareness about science and the scientific approach among young people, on the initiative of the Main à la pâte project, it would be good to integrate archaeology in the same way as physics, chemistry, biology or mathematics. Like the decree concerning the organisation of art history teaching in primary and secondary schools (Ministère de l'éducation nationale, de la jeunesse et de la vie associative 2008), it would be good if archaeology and its corresponding legislation were not forgotten. Also, no activity that uses prospection and/or excavation should take place without the children taking a 'licence to dig', as I have done for the Scientific and Technical Resource Centre of Paris. This would make them aware not only of the issue of regulations, but also of the difference between pillage and science. The same should apply to excavation sites using volunteers, as well as associations of voluntary archaeologists, for archaeological activities at scientific events, both national (Fête de la Science—a national science week) and European (Researcher's Night), from which archaeology is often absent. Even if not future archaeologists, they will become ambassadors, not only for heritage protection, but also for a true scientific approach.

Although the CNRA's report focuses on metal detectors, damage to heritage is not limited to the UMD community and that much damage, notably involving building and civil engineering, is often a consequence of fear of lengthy delays or even blocking of construction sites. Owing to the lack of resources put into establishing a French archaeological map with a view to protection that also takes into account volunteers, professions linked to the land and the construction trade, this fear of delay is currently justified. Despite the name 'preventative' archaeology, French archaeology still remains today mainly rescue archaeology.

Finally, since leisure detection does not exist, the numbering and registration of metal detectors is the logical consequence of the CNRA's proposals. It would even be interesting to envisage, for those professions that currently do not impart knowledge about regulations, the introduction of a licence with minimum training about conditions of use, and above all the consequences of both bad and good practice. If this proposal were to be carried out, it should also take into account the possibility of hiring equipment. Such a measure would have the advantage of facilitating future statistical work about usage of this equipment and consequently providing information to a judge, if necessary, as well as making adjustments to the legislation easier. However, it is highly regrettable that the CNRA's experts did not more explicitly suggest an association between UMDs and professionals in a win-win relationship, as clearly highlighted by Bruno Bréart's initiative. This former regional curator of archaeology at the DRAC in Franche-Comté brought together UMDs and archaeological work in an official manner to cover the area of Franche-Comté. It should be noted that Article 3 of the Valetta Convention, in particular its point 3.ii, specifies that: 'watch that excavations and other potentially destructive techniques are only carried out by qualified and specially authorised persons' (Council of Europe 1992). In other words, a voluntary archaeologist with a degree in archaeology or with sufficient field experience or even with specific training given by a competent professional or voluntary archaeologist has the right to ask for authorisation.

As discussed above, the integration of new voluntary archaeologists from UMD communities would be made even easier if professionals were capable of explaining the legislation, and in particular, why such legislation exists. Such an exchange would emphasise the country's political choices, and, much more profoundly, the day-to-day consequences of archaeological research. As it is, French professionals are not able to educate but only to repress, which in the long term will only drive underground a section of the public who were initially open and well-disposed. These measures would certainly also drive another part of the public underground, those who are not ready to change their practices and to understand that the world is evolving. For this section of the public, sanctions are the only cure. As for the others, archaeology has never needed volunteers more, because the development of digital tools has given rise to a quantity of data to handle that exceeds funding levels in all domains, from literature reviews to data analysis, as well as survey, excavation, cleaning, classification, drawing, digitising and dissemination.


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