Is Question-driven Fieldwork Vital or not? An Archaeological Heritage Manager's Perspective

Agnieszka Oniszczuk

Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa, National Heritage Board of Poland, ul. Kopernika 36/40, 00-924 Warszawa, Poland. Email:

Cite this as: Oniszczuk, A. 2018 Is Question-driven Fieldwork Vital or not? An Archaeological Heritage Manager's Perspective, Internet Archaeology 49.


Plan of the national roads construction for the period2014-2023; all archaeological sites located on the routes marked in black and red have already been excavated, by B. Białecka, Generalna Dyrekcja Dróg Krajowych i Autostrad. Source/© GDDKIA.

This article is a follow-up to discussions held in the EAC Heritage Symposiums, and aims to answer one of the basic questions regarding the reasons for commencing any archaeological fieldwork. The subject is approached from the archaeological heritage manager's viewpoint, and question-driven fieldwork is understood here as scientific, as opposed to preventive and development-led archaeology. Basing my arguments mainly on the experiences of Polish archaeology, I argue in favour of the development-led research. It has been shaping European archaeology to the highest degree for several decades, and therefore should not be considered inferior or secondary. Considering the quality gap between purely scientific and development-led fieldwork, there is still a lot to be improved regarding the scope of research and its standards. Nevertheless, it still seems to have the highest potential for systemic heritage management consistent with the rules set out by the Valletta Convention and the Lausanne Charter (PDF), and for the development of archaeology as a science. Development-led archaeology is also the closest to the public and forces archaeologists to cooperate with various stakeholders.

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