Archaeological Heritage Management in Austria
Submitting InstitutionBangor University
Unit of AssessmentHistory
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Built Environment and Design: Architecture
History and Archaeology: Archaeology
Summary of the impact
Bangor's research into Austrian archaeology has since 2008 resulted in
significant impacts on Austrian archaeological heritage management, the
archaeology labour market, and relationships between archaeologists and
metal detectorists. Specifically, the National Heritage Agency
(Bundesdenkmalamt; `NHA') has made significant changes to its policies,
especially putting contracts to tender and introducing the first minimal
standards for archaeological excavation, following a ministerial edict to
change contract awarding practices. Recommendations on minimum salary
levels for specific responsibilities in archaeological fieldwork have
largely been adopted. The issue of how best to regulate metal detecting is
being discussed on a national scale and attitudes towards detectorists are
undergoing substantial change.
Underpinning the impact is a systematic review of Austrian archaeology
undertaken by Professor Raimund Karl (at Bangor University since 2003) and
research carried out between 2003 and the present at Bangor: initially
into the Austrian archaeology labour market (2003-present) [3.1, 3.2];
later (developing out of this initial work) into archaeological heritage
management practices (2007-present) [3.3, 3.5] and the relationship
between archaeology (and archaeologists) and the public, especially metal
detectorists (2010-present) [3.4, 3.6]. Most heritage legislation and
archaeological practices across much of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire
are similar in many regards because they have the same roots or at least
have been developed by professionals rooted in the `Viennese' school of
archaeology. This research and the impact generated by it are therefore
relevant for vast areas of contemporary Europe.
All aspects of this research were the first of their kind in and on
Austria. The most significant research findings were in the contexts of:
the Austrian archaeology labour market (numbers of employees,
working conditions, salary levels, training needs and knowledge gaps)
Austrian archaeological heritage management (underpinning
legislation, awarding of contracts for archaeological works, issuing of
excavation permits, minimum standards for archaeological excavation,
workload of archaeology staff in NHA
public perception of heritage management, especially amongst
the metal detectorist community of around 2,000 individuals in Austria
(lack of communication, lack of finds reporting due to legislation,
negative public perception of professional archaeology)
1. The Austrian archaeology labour market
Assessment of the structure and size of the archaeology labour market
in Austria identified problems in the workplace such as: the lack of
career structure and pathways, no minimum pay scales, the lack of
advertising of posts and the skills required in terms of those employed
in site excavations were not considered in appointments [3.2]. Karl
proposed specific career pathways for those involved in archaeological
work, based on principles including experience, responsibilities
associated with roles, and the level of training achieved. He also
proposed minimum pay scales, and highlighted [3.3] that archaeological
contracts were not being put out to tender but should be, for a market
worth an estimated €10 million annually (see [3.2]: c. 400-600
archaeologists were employed in this market in 2008 at an average salary
of c. € 20.000 including employer contributions).
2. Austrian archaeological heritage management
Significant irregularities were identified that negatively impacted on
heritage management, some of which overlap with findings related to the
labour market. Findings here included:
- grants and contracts were awarded without tender, mainly to a single
private contractor run by civil servants in the Austrian NHA; Karl
proposed that a rigorous tendering process be initiated [3.3]
- excavation permits were not always required for excavations
conducted by some contractors, while others were always required to
apply for a permits, and when granted there were inconsistencies
across permits for similar types of work [3.3].
- problems were identified resulting directly from heritage
legislation or its implementation [3.4-3.6]. Specifically, the issuing
of permits to excavate archaeological finds, restricted to persons
with a higher education qualification in archaeology, prevents
ordinary members of the public from reporting finds made during field
walking and metal detecting [3.4, 3.6]. Karl argued that this was
anachronistic, and that means must be developed to enable and
encourage public finds reporting.
3. Poor public perception of the NHA
The perception of the Austrian NHA was identified as being poor amongst
the archaeological community [3.3], and the general public [4,6], most
notably the metal detectorists community . This was due, most
notably, to the following:
- the process of awarding contracts by the NHA, which was perceived by
Austrian archaeologists to not be transparent [3.3], and
- the incongruity between the way in which permits for excavations
were awarded, the self-contradictory nature of Austrian heritage
legislation regarding finds reporting, and the lack of adequate
communication between the NHA, archaeologists, and the public. Karl
argued that resolving structural problems in the labour market and
heritage management would resolve these negative perceptions
References to the research
1. R. Karl & K.R. Krierer* 2004. `Habe Hunger — Suche
Arbeit — Mache Alles!" Jobaussichten in der Archäologie und das Internet.
Archäologisches Nachrichtenblatt 9/4, 287-96.
Article in peer-reviewed journal; first article of its kind in
German-speaking archaeology discussing the archaeology labour market. A
copy of this output is available on request.
2. R. Karl 2008. Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe: Austria.
Profiling the Profession 2007-08. Vienna: ÖAB-Verlag. A copy of
this output is available on request.
c.40,000-word monograph; first systematic study of Austrian archaeology
labour market; the main Austrian output of the EU grant-funded `Discovering
the Archaeologists of Europe' project UK/06/B/F/NT-162_583; and
foundation for second phase `Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe
2012-2014' project also EU grant-funded
3. R. Karl 2011a. Archäologischer Denkmalschutz in Österreich —
Praxis, Probleme, Lösungsvorschläge. Wien: Jan Sramek Verlag. Submitted
to REF2014 (REF Identifier 3018).
c.130,000-word monograph; first systematic study of Austrian
archaeological heritage management, including legislation, policies and
practices; makes significant recommendations to transform Austrian
archaeological heritage management practices; see 3.2.
4. R. Karl 2011b. On the highway to hell. Thoughts on the unintended
consequences for Portable antiquities of § 11 (1) Austrian
Denkmalschutzgesetz. The Historic Environment — Policy and Practice
2/2, 111-33. DOI: 10.1179/175675011X13122044136479
Article in international peer-reviewed journal; widely discussed in
Portable Antiquities blogs (see below in Section 5.); see 3.2.
5. R. Karl 2011c. Bekanntes Wissen oder unbekannte Information? Gedanken
zum eigentlichen Ziel und zur bestmöglichen Umsetzung des Schutzes
archäologischer Funde. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Kunst und
Denkmalpflege LXV/3, 252-75. Article in the leading peer-reviewed
international Austrian journal for heritage studies identifying structural
problems in Austrian archaeological heritage management. A copy of
this output is available on request.
6. R. Karl 2012. Do as we say, not as we do! Archaeological heritage
protection and the excluded Austrian public. In A. Lagerlöf (ed.), Who
cares? Perspectives on Public Awareness, Participation and Protection in
Archaeological Heritage Management, 115-22. EAC Occasional Paper No.
8, Jambes: Europae Archaeologiae Consilium. Article in the proceedings of
the Europae Archaeologiae Consilium (European Association of
National Archaeological Heritage Agencies) conference in Paris 2012. A
copy of this output is available on request.
* PD Dr. Karl R. Krierer is a researcher at the Department of Ancient
History and Antiquities at the University of Vienna, Austria.
Details of the impact
The underpinning research (which was not commissioned or in any other way
instigated or facilitated by the Austrian Government) made a distinct,
significant and material contribution to archaeological and heritage
management, policy and practitioners in Austria. It has led to a
transformation of Austrian government policy by informing and influencing
policy and practice within the Austrian archaeological heritage domain and
by providing expert advice. As a result, professionals and organizations
have introduced minimum professional standards of investigation within
archaeological fieldwork; opening up contracts through changes to the
labour market and thus contributing to preserving and conserving cultural
heritage. Consequentially, the research contributed to wider public access
to archaeology and the heritage management process, thereby leading to
improved finds reporting and the consequential positive contribution to
1) Changes to the Austrian archaeology labour market
- Recommendations were distributed by Prof. Karl to, and accepted by,
several archaeological employers in Austria [5.4].
- Tendering process: A draft manuscript by Karl of output 3.3 (above)
presented to the Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture (April
2008) revealed that grants by, and contracts with, the NHA were mostly
awarded without tender to a single contractor managed by civil servants
in the archaeology department of the Agency. This led to a ministerial
edict (2009) prohibiting the practice of awarding grants and contracts
without tender [5.1]. The resultant change is that a market that is
worth an estimated €10 Million per annum, previously closed, was opened
up to all private archaeological contractors in Austria and neighbouring
countries [5.1, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6]. Already, over 30 contractors have been
competing for archaeological contracts, previously inaccessible to them.
2) Changes to Austrian archaeological heritage management and policy
- Minimum standards of excavation further implementing Karl's proposals
were introduced in 2010 and revised in 2012, to the benefit of Austrian
archaeologists and archaeology students [5.1, 5.4].
- Unwarranted restriction on metal detectorists: one aspect of the
underpinning research was to highlighting the heavy-handed
implementation of heritage protection laws. Karl identified problematic
issues with finds-reporting legislation, which led to a dialogue between
the metal detectorist community in Austria and the NHA [5.1-5.3], the
founding of Netzwerk Geschichte Österreich [5.2], the first Austrian
association for metal detectorists, and the first code of practice for
responsible metal detecting (in 2011) [5.2].
- Inconsistencies in awarding of excavation permits were addressed, and
a more transparent system was introduced during the census period [5.1,
5.6]. Consequently, there has been a transformation in heritage
management that has impacted the entire Austrian archaeology domain.
3 Changes to public perception of archaeological heritage management
- The impacts detailed in 1) and 2) have led to a transformation in
attitudes by Austrian archaeologists towards the NHA, and heritage
management practices more generally: Prior to these changes, the Agency
was perceived as unapproachable [5.1, 5.3, 5.4]. Following
recommendations by Karl, the changes made in 1) and 2) led to more
positive attitudes, especially amongst archaeologists.
- Public relations and awareness initiatives: In an explicit move by the
Agency to improve its image, an annual national discussion day with the
archaeological community was established (2010); academic and public
debates were initiated on the theory of heritage management (2010) on
the relationship with metal detectorists (2011), and on heritage values
(2013) [5.1, 5.3]. A broader dialogue between archaeologists and metal
detectorists began informally in 2010, collaborative projects started in
2011 in a bid to highlight responsible heritage management, and to
better engage with the wider public [5.1-5.3]. A special advisory group
regarding metal detecting was convened for the first time, under the
aegis of the NHA, and took place on 5/4/13 [5.1, 5.3]. One change to
public policy resulting from this was to start a series of information
and discussion events with the wider public with Prof. Karl as one of
the invited speakers [5.1-5.3]. He has meanwhile become an official
member of this advisory group.
- Beyond Austria: In an international context, specifically Britain,
Poland and USA, the Austrian debate and resultant changes, initiated by
Karl's research, have been widely read and are being used to inform
views on benefits and disadvantages of restrictive legislation on metal
detecting of metal detectorists, heritage managers, the public with an
interest in archaeology and archaeological heritage management [5.2,
This research has affected the Austrian archaeological heritage domain as
a whole, but specifically, the entire archaeological and heritage
profession in Austria: metal detectorists, archaeology students and
contractors (both in Austria and neighbouring countries) and heritage
managers and metal-detecting and collecting lobbyists in Austria, Britain,
Poland, and the USA.
This research highlighted that a heavy-handed implementation of heritage
protection laws mainly serves to exclude the public from participation in
archaeology and results in more negative than positive effects, and is
used in the debate on archaeological heritage protection by heritage
managers and metal-detecting and collecting lobbyists in Britain, Poland,
and the USA [5.7-5.10]. This research has transformed policy and
activities of the NHA and for the first time opened up an entire a
contractor's market worth an estimated € 10 million per annum (in Austria
and neighbouring countries) [5.1, 5.4, 5.6]; and directly led to dialogue
between metal detectorists and archaeologists with better heritage
protection as a result [5.1-5.3]. The prohibition of public participation
has also been discussed by the Board of Europae Archaeologiae
Consilium, in its recent Vienna meeting [5.1]. Discussion of the
research outcomes at this international level of policy, further
illustrates the significance of Karl's findings for archaeological and
heritage management policy across Europe.
Sources to corroborate the impact
External documents demonstrating the impact of labour market
1) Head of Archaeological Heritage, Austrian National Heritage Agency
(Bundesdenkmalamt) Corroborates all main claims of this impact case study,
in particular claims related to the changes in archaeological heritage
2) Chairman, Austrian Metal Detectorist and Amateur Archaeologist
Association (Netzwerk Geschichte Österreich). Confirms claims of
impacts on the Austrian metal detecting community.
3) Keeper of the Prehistoric Collections, Upper Austrian Museum.
Corroborate impact on changes in archaeological heritage management.
4) ArcheoProspections, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik.
Corroborate impact on changes in archaeological heritage management and
Specific reference to the research [3.2] is made at: http://discovering-archaeologists.eu/austria.html.
Austrian parliamentary questions and ministerial responses
relating to archaeological heritage management issues in Austria
uncovered by this research:
External documents showing impact of metal detecting research:
King's Cultural Heritage Management blog
8) Derek Fincham's
Illicit Cultural Property blog, read mostly by a different
audience than 3) and with a readership of on average 200 clicks per day
9) Peter Tompa's
Cultural Property Observer blog, average readership of ~100
clicks per day
10) Paul Barford's Portable Antiquities Collecting blog (various entries: