Chair | Benno RIDDERHOF, The Netherlands
City archaeology and excavation is one of the oldest, most difficult and ever changing archaeological disciplines. From the beginning of professional archaeology in the 19th century to the present day city excavations have had their own specific challenges. These included, space, politics, culture and of course money, all part of a changing unit called the city. These challenges in city excavations made the implementation of new techniques in city excavations necessary. During the first decades of the 20th century when cities were growing and expanding fast large excavation machines like the early JCB’s were first used for clearing and excavating large areas within the old and new city limits. Alongside the large-scale excavations small-scale excavations within the city presented their own challanges. Whether it was a cellar, a house, a pond or a tunnel, new techniques had to be implemented to ensure good excavations. At the end of the 20th century the story repeated itself. Due to the technological and cultural changes the city of the 21st century is reinventing itself. And with it new excavations are carried out using the latest techniques; GPS, photogrammetry, computerized digging, etc. Today within the city limits subterranean large scale excavations are possible and being carried out all over the world. Old buildings are being moved temporarily for conducting archaeological research, georadar reveals the hidden history of the city.
Yet all these excavations also present a problem. Most of them stay isolated and are never fully disclosed. It leaves us with al giant jigsaw puzzle in which the individual pieces (i.e. excavation) are difficult to place. And so we have only scraps of the story of the city.
Now in the 21st century we have an opportunity to correct this problem. New techniques have made it possible to fit all the pieces of the jigsaw together and extend it with each new excavation. It will give us for the first time a glimpse of the full story of city development.
We invite people to tell their story of city excavation, the problems they faced combining the old and the new excavations, the use and development of new of techniques, the results, the challenges that face the city archaeologist of the 21st century.