EUROPEAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL HERITAGE PRIZE 2008
The 10th European Archaeological Heritage Prize has been awarded to Dr Jean-Paul Demoule from France, in recognition of his many contributions to shaping modern archaeological heritage management in France and his contributions to its development at the European level.
Jean-Paul Demoule's contribution to European archaeology is twofold. First, in scientific terms, his long-lasting research programmes have considerably increased our knowledge of the origins and development of European proto-historic societies from the Atlantic seaboard to the eastern Balkans. Secondly, with regard to the modern challenges of archaeological heritage management, he has successfully championed a distinctive conception of 'preventive archaeology' as a developer-funded but research-driven public service. This he worked tirelessly to implement and consolidate within France itself, and also to promote across Europe and beyond.
Since the beginning of his career at the University of Paris in 1970, Jean-Paul Demoule dedicated his research activities to the field of European Protohistory. In addition to their international and interdisciplinary dimensions, these research activities unfolded at a time when archaeology, no longer an isolated or self-sufficient academic pursuit, was becoming more evidently and inexorably related to the social, economic and political contexts in which it was practised. Jean-Paul Demoule played a crucial role in this transformation, both in France and in Europe. On the one hand, he tracked down and analysed the political implications and usages of the past in modern Europe, in both totalitarian and democratic systems. On the other hand, in the light of the economic boom of the last decades, he repeatedly promoted the idea that the archaeological heritage (including those less appealing postholes, pollen grains and such-like evidence of daily life) was a fragile non-renewable resource that required strong measures of protection and valorisation for the benefit of current and future generations.
Jean-Paul Demoule has held various advisory functions in French scientific, cultural and administrative bodies. With a thorough ministerial report (rapport Demoule-Pêcheur-Poignant, 1998), he contributed decisively to the new French legislation on archaeology from 2001 and to the subsequent establishment of the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP). Appointed its president, he successfully integrated into the institute the staff and capacities of the pre-existing national association for excavations, and steered it through its formative years. INRAP thus embodies the letter and the spirit of the 1992 Malta Convention. It has shifted emphasis from a largely reactive 'rescue' archaeology to a proactive 'preventive' archaeology, and in economic terms, it builds on the 'polluter pay' principle in a particular way through what is effectively an archaeology tax applicable to all developers.
The implementation of these principles has not gone without misunderstandings and opposition, and here Jean-Paul Demoule took from the onset a leading frontline role to defend, with diplomacy and determination, the scientific, cultural and economic values of preventive archaeology. In particular, he notably to counter attempts, largely motivated by political and ideological considerations, to cast archaeology as a straightforward commercial activity in which land-owners and developers were 'clients', employing archaeological 'service providers' to remove archaeological remains from the soil. On the contrary, the European Commission, when it was appealed to, recognised that archaeology was not necessarily a commercial undertaking, and encouraged all European countries to manage their archaeological heritage as they saw best.
In sum, Jean-Paul Demoule has held, shared, helped articulate and defend the deep-seated conviction that the study and preservation of the archaeological heritage is first and foremost a public service and a scientific undertaking, carried out on behalf of the community and for the common interest. Moreover, he knew how to present and promote these ideas to broader audiences, at continental and indeed global levels. He personally contributed to numerous conferences and sessions, including at the Annual Meetings of the European Association of Archaeologists. He also strongly encouraged institutional collaborations, including training, exchanges of skills, awareness seminars etc., notably in Eastern European and Mediterranean countries, and also through various collaborative and EU-funded networks. The ideas he championed are not shared throughout Europe and they never will be, because of fundamental political, legal, and other differences. But they are increasingly recognised and appreciated by all those concerned with the challenging future of European archaeology.
It was for these achievements and efforts that the Heritage Prize Committee of the EAA came to the unanimous decision to award the 2008 European Archaeological Heritage Prize to Jean-Paul Demoule.