(Maastricht, The Netherlands)

Outline: In the city of Maastricht (NL) a tunnel is to be constructed. In this project archaeology is in a difficult position. On the one hand it is almost impossible to attain data from traditional prospection methods due to the fact that the project is lying in an urban environment and on the other hand it will be impossible to stop the caterpillar train of the constructors of the tunnel due to the expensive consequences. How to tackle this as an archaeologist?

Abstract: On the route from Amsterdam to Milano (Italy) on the national motorway A2/E25, drivers are confronted with 6 traffic lights. 4 of them are in Maastricht! Time to dig a tunnel to secure an improvement of the traffic flow. The tunnel covers approximately two kilometres.  After decennia of negotiations the works will start in 2012. Archaeology was and is a main condition of this gigantic infrastuctural project, right from the start. The problem is however that this project is lying in a former alluvial plain and that the most part of it is in an urban environment, full of buildings and infrastructure.

The main part of the project is in and on the border of a former late Dryas Maas river channel. This itself is difficult enough to predict where archaeology can be found considering the possibilities of erosion and sedimentation. Archaeological research in similiar settings revealed a broad and rich spectrum of sites from different periods in different stratigraphies.

How do you tackle this as an archaeologist without frustrating the very expensive building of a tunnel and with hardly the possibility of using traditional prospection methods as archaeological drillings? Which information sources are available and do they give enough information to come to a deliberate strategy for excavations?

A research framework on landscape archaeology and the use of different geophysical methods such as seismic research, geotechnical drillings and gis applications will hopefully reveal the expected archeological results. In 2012 we know if we were right!

Keywords: prospection, tunnel, urban environment, alluvial floodplain