Archaeology is the study of the past and its remains in the present. It is relevant to the long-term preservation of records, knowledge and memory, e.g. regarding final repositories of nuclear waste, in two ways. Firstly, future archaeology may promise the recovery of lost information, knowledge and meaning of remains of the past. Secondly, present-day archaeology can offer lessons about how future societies will make sense of remains of the past.
Archaeology is always situated in a larger social and cultural context and the information, knowledge and meaning it generates is necessarily of its own present. Archaeological knowledge reflects contemporary perceptions of past and future; these perceptions change over time. Indeed, we cannot assume that in the future there will be any archaeology at all. We think, therefore, that future societies will want, and need, to make their own decisions about sites associated with nuclear waste, based on their own perceptions of past and future. To facilitate this process in the long term we need to engage each present, keeping safe options open.
In this text we elaborate on these issues from our perspective as archaeologists.
OECD Publishing, 2015. 97-101 p.