Undercutting the Excavators

Scott Goodfellow on the row over archaeology by tender.

Archaeologists are not as other academics: they alone get their hands dirty. Latterly, with the rise of rescue archaeology and developer-funded excavations, this has been happening on building sites (not in the more romantic locations beloved of Indiana Jones or Howard Carter) and now, mostly involuntarily, they are to take a final leap from the dreaming spires into the murky world of commerce. Like refuse collection services and British Rail catering before them, archaeological units are being confronted with the rigours of free market competitive tendering – bidding against each other for developers' contracts.

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