Archaeologist: Cultural Heritage Agency ‘Playing Indiana Jones’

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Archaeologist: Cultural Heritage Agency ‘Playing Indiana Jones’

An archaeological excavation site by Hólakirkja church in Hólar, North Iceland.

An archaeological site at Hólar, North Iceland. Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

A group of eight archaeologists led by Dr. Bjarni F. Einarsson, manager of the Archaeological Office, has criticized the conduct and practices of the Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland. In an interview with visir.is, Bjarni said that the agency’s representatives are “playing Indiana Jones” at archaeological locations around the country.

The group claims that the Cultural Heritage Agency is taking on archaeological projects that they are only meant to supervise and issue permits for. These projects should not be executed by the agency but rather by privately-practicing archaeologists.  

“This, in our opinion, has the effect of putting archaeological preservation back several decades. The Cultural Heritage Agency cannot place any demands on itself, there is no report-making, there is no follow-up work, and the agency is supervising itself, which is bad for everyone,” stated Bjarni.

In an article published by the group on visir.is yesterday, the agency is also criticized for providing free services to some developers, while others have to pay market price out of their pockets for an independent contractor. The agency, as a public office, is therefore not abiding by laws regarding equal treatment, the archaeologists reason.

Kristín Huld Sigurðardóttir, superintendent of the Cultural Heritage Agency declined to comment on the matter.

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