European Archaeological Heritage Award, Pilsen Che
Professor Vincent Gaffney received the European Archaeological Heritage Award tonight (4 September 2013) at Pilsen, Czech Republic. The award was jointly with a member of the Council of Europe. Previous holders of the award can be found on the European Association of Archaeologists website (e-a-a.org). It was instituted in 1999 and is the only award for personal achievement made in the archaeology world.
"This award recognises the contribution of Vincent Gaffney through the North Sea Palaeolandscapes Project to European and world heritage. Prior to this project the Late Pleistocene and Holocene landscapes of the majority of the coastal shelves of Europe were largely terra incognita. The results of research at Birmingham have demonstrated that the vast landscapes that lie hidden beneath the sea can be explored using available commercial data acquired for mineral prospection. However, at the moment of their rediscovery these unique landscapes are increasingly at risk from offshore development, including the rush for renewable energy sources. Despite this, this unique project demonstrates that the coastal shelves can now be appreciated as unique historic landscapes that are preserved at a supranational scale. For the first time they can now be explored and managed as cultural and heritage assets.
The implications of this research are significant at a global level. Appreciation of the scale and nature of the North Sea landscapes will undoubtedly result in significant changes in our understanding of the settlement archaeology of Northwest Europe. However, the results also demonstrate, dramatically, that European archaeology is able to add significantly to the international debate on climate change and sea level rise. The project is a timely reminder that modern man has endured catastrophic change in the past that implicated the permanent loss of immense areas of habitable land. Finally, the work in the North Sea supports the development of similar projects elsewhere in the world where comparable, unexplored, landscapes also exist. Examples include the Bering and Sunda Straits, and mapping in these areas will add to the important debates on colonisation of the Americas and early settlement in south East Asia and Australia.
The contribution of the North Sea Palaeolandscape Project with its disseminations and with its related projects elsewhere is truly unique. No comparable project exists and the results of the project are of global importance. The contribution of Vincent Gaffney and the project to world archaeology is therefore recognised with the award of the European Archaeological Heritage Prize."
Vince giving his speech
Carsten Paludan-Mueller presenting Vince with the award.
Vince with Prof. Dr. Friedrich Luetz, President of EAA.
The Highest Archaeological Award
VISTA Open Day Summer 2011