Archaeological Legislation and Organization (ALO)

About the Community

Survey and analysis of archaeological legislation in Europe; discussion of problems related to the implementation of the Malta and Faro Conventions and, in general, to regulations on safeguarding and managing the archaeological heritage as well as the organization of archaeologists within the various national or local realities.

Established: 2000
Recreated: 2020
Maria Pia Guermandi (
Jean-Paul Demoule (co-administrator;

From the legislative point of view, the Malta Convention still represents the hegemonic paradigm for what concerns the archaeological heritage production, protection and management in Europe. The Convention has produced an undeniable progress on many aspects in terms of the professionalization of the discipline, as well as a decisive improvement in field survey and documentation methods. The Convention allowed a development of archaeological activities until then unthinkable: today preventive archaeology represents more than 90% of all archaeological field research.

At the same time, the implementation of the Convention has highlighted, for over a quarter of a century, many critical issues that have been widely discussed in past conferences and publications (M.P. Guermandi, K. Salas Rossenbach (eds.), Twenty years after Malta: preventive archaeology in Europe and in Italy, Bologna 2013; V. M. van der Haas, P. A.C. Schut (eds.), The Valletta Convention. Twenty Years After - Benefits, Problems, Challenges, Budapest 2014; P. Florjanowicz (ed.), When Valletta meets Faro. The reality of European archaeology in the 21st century, Budapest 2016; P. Novaković et al. (eds.), Recent Developments in Preventive Archaeology in Europe.Proceedings of the 22nd EAA Meeting in Vilnius, 2016, Ljubljana 2016; A. Stefánsdóttir (ed.), Development-led Archaeology in Europe. Meeting the needs of archaeologists, developers and the public, Budapest 2019). In general, archeology following the Malta Convention has been criticized for concentrating much more on the aspects of heritage protection and management than on the production and public sharing of knowledge.

The criticism of the Faro Convention goes in the same direction. It is linked to an ever stronger pressure towards public archeology. Inspite of a growing demand for a greater degree of involvement in the definition and management of heritage (from the more limited levels of openness and participation to those of the real co-construction of knowledge), the legislative framework at European level has not been adapted as many EU countries have not even signed the Faro Convention yet.

During the last 25 years, these criticism has merged with changes on the political and social level, especially after the 2008 economic crisis. In the last 10 years the relevance of archaeology seems to have greatly diminished on the political level and legal positions have been eroded in some countries: in many cases the protection and planning requirements have been made more flexible and favorable responding to the interests of investors. The result is that the practices of preventive archaeology have become fragmentary and "bureaucratised" in many European countries.

In this era that is defined as Anthropocene, the dangers to the archaeological heritage derive not only from interventions on the ground, but from climate change as well as from overtourism and in general from the process of commodification of cultural heritage.

In the face of these problems and changes, ALO intends to discuss the evolution of the legislative frameworks within Europe and to propose to the Executive Board and to all members of the EAA community a possible path to regulations and guidelines that come closer to the contemporary situation and are able to offer better protection and management of the archaeological heritage as a whole, as well as its use more suited to the changed needs of “heritage communities” and users in general.

Read more, interact and follow

Archaeological Legislation and Organization Committee (ALO)
(content available to current EAA members).