Following and adapting the project design (Rules 11 and 12)

© Centre for International Heritage Activities / MUCH
Briefing on the deck of a ship during the MUCH training that took place in 2010 in Zanzibar, Tanzania. . In a project including field survey, every discovery – expected or not – will influence the project’s progress and proceedings. A good project design should accommodate for unexpected discoveries, without being open-ended. Some discoveries may lead to the reconsideration of the next steps of a project. Following unexpected discoveries, the project design needs to be adapted in order to comprehensively deal with the newly discovered finds, or alternatively to explicitely exclude them from the project in order to retain the focus on the project’s original aims.

Rule 11.       Activities directed at underwater cultural heritage shall be carried out in accordance with the project design approved by the competent authorities.

Once approved by the competent authority, a project design becomes a contract between the proponent and that authority. It is a commitment to conduct the project according to all aspects of the project design. Failure to comply with the project design should be regarded as a breach of contract. It is the role of the competent authority to establish a system of penalties appropriate to the nature and extent of such a breach. It is for this reason, among others, that the project design should contain contingency plans that identify alternative courses of action when facing certain unexpected situations.

Rule 12.       Where unexpected discoveries are made or circumstances change, the project design shall be reviewed and amended with the approval of the competent authorities.

Thorough research and planning during the development of the project design will minimize the occurrence of unanticipated circumstances and unexpected discoveries. This is true for interventions of limited scope, but it is likewise true for research projects where there are many unknown factors. It is part of the nature of archaeological research that the specific contents of archaeological deposits are not known before they are uncovered. However, that does not prevent good overall planning.

There may be circumstances or unexpected discoveries that suggest a need to depart from the original project design. Where such circumstances or discoveries do occur, it is the obligation of the project director to develop options for amending the project design, advise the competent authority, and to obtain approval for an amendment. In extreme cases, an option could be to cancel or postpone the project until conditions can be met to face the challenges determined by the unexpected discoveries.




Back to top