Below-ground planning in local communities: Case studies of five United States archaeological preservation programs

Lauren Carey Archibald, University of Pennsylvania


In the last forty years, both environmental preservation advocates and supporters of historic preservation have mobilized groups and helped to shaped legislation that would effect the use of land. Although the archaeological preservation movement has been weaker, a number of communities around the country have found ways to embed their concerns into institutionalized planning practices. This is a study of that movement and its role in planning in Philadelphia, Alexandria, Virginia, Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and Metro-Dade County and St. Augustine, Florida. Archaeological preservation nearly always poses a constraint in the development process, and unlike the rehabilitation of historic buildings, it almost never results in economic gain and thus poses a greater challenge for the archaeological preservation planner. When possible, local archaeologists have used endowments of the community, particularly rehabilitated and reconstructed historic downtowns to help market archaeology as a tourist attraction. In jurisdictions with highly articulated historic images such as Alexandria and St. Augustine, archaeological preservation is promoted into residents' and tourists' world views through public excavations and presentations. This is transpired to local government officials, which helps to formalize and further institutionalize the cause. Where this is not the case, institutionalizing archaeology into local practice and city life is less likely. Some archaeological practitioners, such as those in Metro-Dade and Anne Arundel County, have gained credence as individual specialists, creating minor legacies around themselves and thus legitimizing their authority. Archaeological preservation in local settings is advanced by a few dedicated individuals, planning legislation, and community volunteers. In local government settings, archaeologists have expanded their roles to planner and community relations specialist. By bringing preservation concerns to the attention of local governments, archaeologists have begun to articulate an archaeological planning and preservation ethic. In this study, extensive interviews examine the attitudes of developers, planners, and archaeologists toward archaeological preservation. Archaeological preservation in planning settings is still relatively new in archaeological practice, and this study examines a variety of ordinances and other protective planning instruments used therein.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development|Archaeology

Recommended Citation

Archibald, Lauren Carey, "Below-ground planning in local communities: Case studies of five United States archaeological preservation programs" (1995). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9543044.