The Department of Archaeology at the University of Gothenburg recently published a nice little book written in Swedish by the seasoned contract archaeologist Marianne Lönn: Uppdragsarkeologi och forskning, “contract archaeology and research”. Lönn’s main theses are:

  1. Archaeologists look at old things to find out what it was like to live a long time ago.
  2. Contract archaeology is research.
  3. This research has its own agenda and needn’t pay any attention to what university scholars are doing unless their work is clearly relevant to contract archaeology.
  4. Contract archaeologists should be proud of their work and accept no shit from anyone who sees themself as superior.

All very good & decent, in my opinion: I had arrived at the same views before I had even seen the book. By the way, Lönn takes an explicit stand against the abstruse theorising going on at the department that has published it!

I only really disagree with Lönn on one issue. In her view, all archaeological sites are equally interesting and valuable. My opinion is that, due to the field-archaeological paradox, many of contract archaeology’s sites are in fact painfully dull.

Lönn, Marianne. 2006. Uppdragsarkeologi och forskning. Tankar från ett västsvenskt perspektiv. GOTARC C63. Department of Archaeology. University of Gothenburg. 118 pp. ISBN 91-85245-25-9.

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  1. #1 KevinC
    February 23, 2007

    Just like my field of environmental science. Most of the jobs result from government requirements. Our shopping center is not or has the right to going to impact some aspect of the environment. Get paid well to fill out the paperwork. The best sites are already off limits (National and State Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, etc.)and there are not as many jobs there and they don’t pay as well.

    I had some friends who interned with an environmental services company and got paid pretty good money to stand guard on work site where fiber optic cabal was being pulled and make sure Flat tailed horned lizards were not run over. They did not see one the entire month or so, and it was summer so it was getting up to 45 C every day. Flat tails don’t run away when people approach, they burrow into the sand and very hard to see. Then the vehicle comes along and crunches the poor thing. Really good to get away from birds maybe but not the border patrol dragging tires to make it easy to spot tracks.

  2. #2 Martin R
    February 23, 2007

    Yep, that’s us, standing in the way of Progress! (-;

  3. #3 Lina
    February 28, 2007

    That very book is one of our must-read’s at the B-course of Gotheburg’s Department of Archaeology. Interesting summary…

  4. #4 Martin R
    February 28, 2007

    They not only published it, but they put it on the syllabus for second-term undergrad archaeology? Impressive!

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