Managing the Archaeology of the Modern City

01st June 2009

Nadia Iacono

PhD, School of Historical and European Studies, La Trobe University, 2005

Archaeological management studies were first produced in England in the early 1970s to assess what remains survived within city centres where archaeology was being destroyed by new developments, and to devise better ways to investigate these. Since the late 1980s, Australian historical archaeology has produced approximately 20 (and counting) similar studies for urban centres in New South Wales and Victoria, referred to as archaeological zoning and/or management plans. These plans are the only specifically archaeological mechanism used to create meaningful broad-scale perspectives about the significance of urban archaeological resources in Australia. Notwithstanding their importance to date, there has been little discussion about their effectiveness as management tools.

Ways of managing archaeological sites from their initial identification to their ultimate interpretation continue to change and evolve. Despite the sustained production of urban archaeological management plans (AMPs), important questions about their capacity and modus operandi remain unanswered. For example, how effective are they in assisting the planning process, or protecting the archaeological resource? Which ones (if any) work and why? Where do these plans best fit within broader urban planning strategies?

This dissertation comprises the first rigorous assessment of the approach, structure, and application of AMP studies to determine how these can better assist the different needs of stakeholder groups, facilitate the management of urban archaeological resources and enable archaeology to play a more active role than that of reactive mitigation. Discussion focuses on review of the existing plans for the city centres of Melbourne and Sydney, six other Australian plans, and five comparable British archaeological studies to provide the basis for a new model AMP that can be applied to urban centres in Australia.

The thesis also addresses issues that affect the quality of broader management procedures and practices in urban archaeology. It identifies particular funding and strategic initiatives, each of which has the potential to support progressive administration and planning frameworks, and to assist the development of professional performance standards and data management systems. My research thus encourages more responsive and meaningful ways of managing and protecting the urban archaeological heritage of modern cities to ensure that the outcomes — what is gained or lost from the archaeological process, whether through excavation, interpretation or preservation – is information and experience shared.

Nadia Iacono
Managing the Archaeology of the Modern City
June 2009
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Thesis Abstracts
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