Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Transitional archaeology in a Transitional Country (3)

1996-2006 Looting Macedonian Archaeology

Archaeological licenses vs. Tomb raiders

The period between 1996 and 2006 in Macedonian archaeology is distinguished by two occurrences. On one hand the great increase in the number of illegal diggers at archaeological sites, and on the other the limiting of archaeologists by the requirement of special licences.

According to the current law on archaeological excavations, the excavation can be lead only by a person with a status of a high custodian or a person that has obtained a so-called archaeological licence. This is an improper application of the current law and until it is changed, a large number of young archaeologists, including myself, cannot go out in the field as leaders of an archaeological excavation because although we have university degrees and titles, the bearer of a licence to run an archaeological excavation can only be a person with the title of a high custodian or a person with adequate education that has taken an exam in front of a commission determined by the Ministry of Culture, by its own choice.

This allows room for control through a form which shows the power over archaeologists that have the adequate degrees, are qualified and thus have the right to work in their own field. The restraint on the archaeologists leaves space for illegal diggers to reign freely and their target is mainly the archaeological sites - necropolises, where the archaeological material has emerged. It is widely known that they dig in places where there are confirmed artifacts and in places they know would not be visited by archaeologists. Generally speaking, the new law on protection of the cultural heritage of Republic of Macedonia that was passed on 19th March 2004, is too liberal. It allows malefactors the freedom of movement without any consequences, and on the other hand, it is oppressive in its limiting of the rights of archaeologists.

Changes to this law are in procedure which should actually reduce or eliminate all provisions that hinder the work of archaeologists because they are the only prevention for protection of archaeological localities from illegal diggers. If there are unrestricted conditions for the archaeologists to work, then the illegal diggers could not work on the field. Or their work would be reduced to a great extent.

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Anonymous said...

Let's hope for a good future for archaeologist in Macedonia and that the new legislation turns out to be good.

Best wishes

Magnus Reuterdahl

Arheoblog said...

Thank you very much for your support. I will keep inform the public about all news in macedonian archaeology.


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