Speculative approaches to contract archaeology

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentationForedrag og mundtlige bidrag


Contract archaeology can be characterized as one of the most concrete and set types of knowledge production in archaeology. With a framework defined by international and national legislation, the aim is rather inflexible; the investigation methods are often standardized; and the end product is mostly given by bounded formats as the excavation report, scientific reports and entries into central databases. Furthermore, the expenses of the archaeological investigations within contract archaeology are in many countries funded by the individual developer, not by the state. With a critical view, my claim would be that there is a risk that the structure of contract archaeology as it is constituted today creates a sort of ‘obligation’ to produce tangible and manifest results. Therefore, excavation results within contract archaeology are often presented to the public as hard data, actual finds and interpreted in relation to wellknown culture-historical narratives but at the same time leaving out elements of wonder, doubt and ambiguities. The question is what would happen to the perception of the ‘excavation result’ if speculative and creative approaches were more explicitly included into the process of contract archaeology than they are today. With inspiration from speculative design and a background in studies of knowledge production in Danish contract archaeology, I will discuss an alternative contract archaeology where speculation plays a central role; a contract archaeology which produce results that is challenging existing knowledge and which engage with both possible, plausible, probable and preferred past as well as futures (Dunne & Raby 2013). In other words, a contract archaeology which – rather than producing new answers – aims at producing new questions.
Periode28 aug. 2020
BegivenhedstitelEAA 2020 Virtual: European Association of Archaeologists Annual Meeting
ArrangørEuropean Association of Archaeologists
Grad af anerkendelseInternational


  • arkæologisk teori
  • spekulation
  • kontraktarkæologi
  • udgravning
  • reflektion
  • vidensproduktion