Thursday, 15 December 2011

Reaction has been mixed amongst veterans but most objections seem to focus on the fact that TV crews will be there and that the archaeologists will be looking to uncover hidden secrets to make for exciting programmes rather than being there for serious study.

As I read it there is no hidden agenda, no looking for dirty secrets, but something a lot more simple. The Falklands are one of the few places on the planet where a fairly large-scale conventional conflict took place and in fairly recent history. It was fought over ground where there hadn't been a war before, and hasn't been one since. Dr Tony Pollard has made the Battlefield Archaeology Centre’s case in the Scotland-on-Sunday article mentioned above which I'll quote here:  

“I believe the Falklands have the potential to be an important laboratory for the practice of battlefield archaeology.

“It was fought in the late 20th century, but with mid 20th century technology and will possibly be the last conventional war that the British army will ever fight. 

“If done properly, a project there could tell us a whole lot about how the archaeological record compares with the many accounts we have. 

“Because of its isolated location the remains on the Falkland Islands are incredibly well preserved. That, in conjunction with the fact that the combatants, in many cases, are still with us gives an ideal opportunity to complete a project looking at the archaeology, the history and the anthropology.”

Other objections point to it only being thirty years since the war. However, people are happy to excavate Second World War battlefields and air-crash sites and that is only seventy years ago. Many of the reasons for not excavating the Falklands are valid for WW2 too but where are the objections in those cases? Just when does it become acceptable? Is 1968 Vietnam too soon or how about 1950's Malaya or Korea?  

Personally I don't see there being a problem. If the excavations can help with our understanding of the Falklands Conflict, where many Scots served and several died; and also help improve future fieldwork undertaken by the Centre for Battlefield Archaeology on other less contentious battlefields, then it should surely be seen as a good thing.  

(Text by Adam Brown)

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