Hungarian Parliament Considers Restricting Phase 1 Surveys

Posted on October 31, 2011

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Archaeologists are incensed over a law proposed to the Hungarian Parliament that would restrict the amount of time and money allotted for archaeological surveys.  The law would cap Phase 1 surveys for large scale developments, such as highway construction, at 30 days.

Phase 1 surveys typically consist of pedestrian surveys, topographic mapping, shovel testing, and the excavation of test pits throughout a potential development site.  Some Phase 1 surveys take months or years to complete.

In the US, for instance, the USDA Forest Service conducts surveys of proposed timber harvest areas to ensure that archaeological sites are not destroyed in the process.  When I worked in the Ouachita National Forest, we routinely found Civil War and Native American artifacts in proposed harvest zones.  The goal was not necessarily to prevent use of the land, but instead to ensure that artifacts be recovered and information properly documented before disturbing the sites.

According to current regulations in Hungary, the costs for excavations should be at least .9% of a total development investment.  The new law, by contract, would cap expenditures at 1%.  Archaeologists fear this may cause major funding deficits, and prevent proper Phase 1 surveys from being completed.  This would result in the loss of valuable scientific and cultural data.  If the new legislation passes, it will affect not only future excavations but also ongoing projects.

Read the full article: Hungarian Archaeologists Express Concern over Modification of Cultural Heritage Protection Law.

Thanks to Kristina Bauer for her assistance with this post.

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