Crowdfunded archaeology
July 14, 2018 4:45 AM   Subscribe

'Dig Hill 80' explores the WWI Ypres Salient battlefield Raising over €200,000 from the public, volunteer archaeologists have explored a German World War I trench fortress that was about to be bulldozed for a housing development. They found more than 100 fallen soldiers. Recently
posted by infini (9 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

for the soldiers.
posted by jb at 6:29 AM on July 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


posted by slater at 7:05 AM on July 14, 2018

This is really cool - I do hope the bodies can ultimately be identified though.
posted by corb at 8:01 AM on July 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised they didn't run into unexploded ordnance.
posted by praemunire at 10:49 AM on July 14, 2018

That's a great project. Good for them.

Man, Ypres... what a terrible, chronic horror. Bloody Wipers some of the Brits called it, with reason.
posted by doctornemo at 11:26 AM on July 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm somewhat suspicious of volunteer archaeology: I'd like to hear from a professional that this is OK, and they aren't destroying things while trying to be helpful.
posted by Canageek at 1:49 PM on July 14, 2018

I think it’s more that a housing development is being built with bulldozers after they finish - so it’s volunteer archaeology or no archaeology at this point.
posted by corb at 2:11 PM on July 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

Did a field trip to Ypres when in school. Utterly sobering.

posted by arcticseal at 11:42 PM on July 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a professional archaeologist in the UK, who works with volunteers.

I don't know the in's and out's of this site and I don't know planning regulations in Belgium. In the UK, any archaeological site that will be damaged by redevelopment should be recorded through archaeological investigation first, carried out by professional archaeologists, and paid for by the developer (the Polluter Pays Principle). There may also be planning requirements that the redevelopment should happen in away that avoids damaging the archaeology, as the best way to protect archaeology is to leave it in the ground; excavation is destruction. I suspect there's similar legislation in Belgium, because the UK regulations are based on EU environmental protections.

I've had a hunt around in the article and on their website, but I can't see any direct information about why the developer hasn't paid for the whole excavation. What I suspect has happened is the redevelopment is only impacting on part of the battlefield, which the developer is funding - the professional archaeologists discovered the extent of the site initially during trial trenching (which you do in the UK to assess the extent of the site for the planning conditions). The community excavation then looked at the rest of the battlefield site, which isn't effected by redevelopment, the Kickstarter mentions investigating fields and gardens locally. But I'm not entirely sure.
posted by Helga-woo at 11:41 AM on July 20, 2018

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