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Response from the IAI regarding recent meeja coverage on Tara, Lismullan etc.
history and heritage |
Monday May 14, 2007 20:31 by anarchyvist - IAI (ML)
For what it's worth...
Information and Misinformation: a challenge for the Irish Archaeological Profession
The recent media coverage about the prehistoric hengifrom enclosure and other sites revealed on the M3 Dushaughlin – Navan motorway route, illustrates an alarming degree of public misunderstanding about the nature of buried archaeological sites and remains, and how these sites are identified and revealed.
The current media scrum does not recognise the professionalism with which Ireland’s archaeologists conduct their work; our members do so with great skill, technical sophistication and unrivalled professional commitment.. The output of the Irish profession is recognised internationally as being of the highest standard.
The current scale of archaeological fieldwork, discovery and excavation activity is a response to the great scale of Ireland’s very dynamic construction industry which was valued at €36billion (23% of GDP) and with over 260,000 employed in 2006 (Construction Industry Federation Annual Report 2006). This is completely ignored.
In the urgent need to respond to development pressure and resource the demand created over the past 20 years, and particularly in the past 10 years, archaeology has had to move and develop from the intellectual endeavour of academic research to far greater levels of diverse professional activity. That professional activity now ranges from policy formulation, the development of legal definitions and protective provisions, state regulation and heritage management. It extends into development control and the provision for appropriate cultural responses to the impact on heritage of very significant economic development. All of these professional developments have, in very large measure, successfully supported the case for Irish archaeological heritage in the face of enormous development pressure.
What has been missing, with some notable exceptions, is a strong articulate voice for archaeology, which supports all this activity and explains and presents to the public and politicians alike what riches have been revealed over the past twenty years and how this been successfully achieved through the technical and professional development of archaeologists. Public presentation has not kept pace.
In recent debate the profession has accepted that without greater dissemination and presentation, the public cannot be adequately informed about the great richness of the archaeological resource, how that is studied, or how important the rcent scale of archaeological excavation activity has been for the cultural life of modern Ireland.
The discovery on the M3 route at Lismullin is important, but recent media reports have been worryingly inaccurate and misleading. That inaccuracy has unfortunately extended to ill-conceived criticism and gross misunderstanding of archaeological professional practice, its standards and the context within which it is carried out.
The Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland, on behalf of its members and colleagues, upholds the profession's standards of practice and supports the quality of the work undertaken by its practitioners. While individual archaeologists may be unhappy with due process and its outcome in some instances there is little doubt that Irish archaeology has never been so professional, adept and or successful.
While there is always room for improvement - as in any scientific discipline - Irish professional archaeologists, institutions, companies and researchers are recognized for their very high standards on an international level. It can be no accident that the European Association of Archaeologists held their annual meeting in Cork in 2006 and that World Archaeological Congress will meet in Dublin in June 2008, an event that will showcase all that is best about modern Irish archaeology. The showcasing, however, must also be extended to Irish society at large.
Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland