Introduction 2001

The Valletta Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage was promulgated at Valletta in Malta in 1992. This is a deeply worrying document, as Article 3 appears to set out to outlaw independent archaeology. However in Britain the then Conservative government failed to ratify it and it was only with the advent of the Labour government that in 2000 it was finally ratified. This set the alarm bells ringing, particularly over Article 3 which appears to outlaw amateur archaeology, saying that the ‘excavation should only be undertaken by qualified specially authorised persons’.

The Council for Independent Archaeology therefore sent out an Open Letter to the Government in Defence of Archaeology, and rapidly achieved over 1,600 signatures. The Government replied that the wording did not mean what it appeared to mean, and that the Government did not believe that further legislation is needed. The CIA remains deeply unhappy with this statement and is pressing the government to make a formal Reservation with the Council of Europe as to this article. The Council believes that the whole convention is deeply flawed and in these pages seeks to analyse the convention to demonstrate its weaknesses; we also provide the basic texts about the Convention and the British Government’s replies.

 

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