Archaeologists oppose Leghist amendment to Milleproroghe limiting preventive archaeology

A League amendment to the Milleproroghe, limiting preventive archaeology, could plunge the country back into the old 'construction stoppage' due to finds. Archaeology acronyms are calling for its withdrawal.

The Coordination Table of the acronyms of the Archaeology sector, a group that represents public administration, professions and businesses and is composed of nine professional associations (ANA - National Association of Archaeologists; API - Archaeologists Public Employment; ARCHEOIMPRESE - Association of Archaeological Enterprises; ASSOTECNICI - National Association of Cultural Heritage Technicians; CIA - Italian Confederation of Archaeologists; CNA - National Confederation of Craftsmen and p.m.i.; FAP - Federation of Professional Archaeologists; LEGACOOP Production & Services; Mi Riconosci) express deep alarm over an amendment to the “Milleproroghe decree” (D.L. no. 183 of Dec. 31, 2020) signed by a group of parliamentarians from the Lega - Salvini Premier group (Silvana Andreina Comaroli, Massimo Garavaglia, Giuseppe Ercole Bellachioma, Claudio Borghi, Vanessa Cattoi, Emanuele Cestari, Rebecca Frassini, Vannia Gava, and Paolo Paternoster).

The amendment concerns preventive archaeology interventions for construction sites, and requests that “for the implementation of contracts governed by Legislative Decree No. 50 of April 18, 2016, whose works have not been started at the date of entry into force of this provision and until the date of December 31, 2025, the preventive verification of archaeological interest, referred to in Article 25 paragraph 1 of, Legislative Decree No. 50 of April 18, 2016, is required only for areas subject to specific protection in urban interventions. For cases not included in the previous period, self-certification signed by a qualified designer is sufficient.” The article cited in the amendment, Article 25 of Decree Law No. 50 of 2016, derives from Article 28 of Decree Law No. 42 of 2004, which states in Paragraph 4 that “In the case of the execution of public works falling in areas of archaeological interest, even when the verification referred to in Article 12, Paragraph 2, or the declaration referred to in Article 13 have not taken place for them, the superintendent may require the execution of preventive archaeological tests on the same areas at the expense of the client.”

In fact, the Leghist amendment limits preventive archaeology to only those areas subject to specific protection as part of urban planning interventions. According to the Coordination Table, the rationale of the amendment (which, the acronyms say, stems from “erroneous positions that consider preventive archaeology an obstacle to the speedy execution of public works”) is to streamline works and make construction sites faster, but paradoxically it could actually slow them down severely. In fact, the purpose of preventive archaeology is to intervene before work begins, at the feasibility design stage, thus giving the possibility of possibly modifying designs without an additional cost burden for the client resulting from the need to revise designs during construction. The Leghist amendment, the Table argues, would, on the contrary, plunge the protection discipline back into the old “work stoppage,” that would be detrimental to the expeditiousness of the works and with a related increase in the costs of carrying out the works (without preventive archaeology interventions that verify the feasibility and modify the projects, one would in fact risk seeing a work site halted when the first archaeological emergencies emerge).

The Table notes the need and urgency to develop and spread the culture of preventive archaeology, which was born with the purpose of defending the archaeological heritage, but making protection compatible with the times and needs of modern development: not by chance, the Anglo-Saxon term for preventive and emergency archaeology is development-led archaeology. “We defend this vision and would like, if anything, amendments to improve the law,” the acronyms say.

“To close,” the Table concludes, “we would like to make one point: these amendments are proposed with the aim of helping the country’s economic recovery, leaving no one behind. Well, preventive archaeology interventions are fully part of the economic activities of the country, which have been put to the hardest test first by the economic crisis, which began in 2008 and today by the one triggered by the Covid-19 emergency, denying or scaling back these practices would have nefarious consequences: not only for the protection and feasibility of the works themselves, but, as a direct consequence, it would only aggravate the economic situation of the dense network of specialized companies and the thousands of professionals in the field (archaeologists, architects, engineers, restorers and laborers), who work in it every day. It seems clear from the content of the amendment that the proposal put forward takes into account neither the function of preventive archaeology nor the negative repercussions of suspending it not only on the protection of cultural heritage, but on the same contracting stations and contractors who would see an incalculable increase in costs and time for carrying out works. Indeed, it should be remembered that the legislation on preventive archaeology was passed at the time precisely to seek remedy for these problematic aspects.”

For these reasons, the acronyms that make up the Table “appeal to Ministers De Micheli and Franceschini and to the competent Parliamentary Committees, so that they clarify in the appropriate fora the enormous risks of this amendment not only in relation to the cultural heritage, but also in the realization of the works that would only apparently see a speeding up and a reduction in costs, with a return to a condition already sadly known of blocking of the works in the executive phase with very heavy consequences in economic terms and timing of execution and delivery. For all the above, we call for the rejection of the above amendment, through which it is not possible to implement the guarantees provided by the Constitution and the Law to protect the national archaeological heritage.”

Pictured: archaeologist performs archaeological essay in Spilamberto di Modena (2015)

Archaeologists oppose Leghist amendment to Milleproroghe limiting preventive archaeology
Archaeologists oppose Leghist amendment to Milleproroghe limiting preventive archaeology

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