Preventive archaeology (aka development-led archaeology) originated in 1960s to address the destruction of archaeological features stemming from urban development. After difficult beginnings, preventive archaeology has become the fastest growing area of the discipline of archaeology in the last 50 years. Its two main principles have been to render excavation a condition prior to construction and oblige developers to assume the costs.
This article thus offers a critical review of the main topics of preventive archaeology subsequent to its inception 50 years ago. Society is changing and awareness of the ecological emergency may force it to rethink capitalism’s perspective of land consumption. New preventive archaeology must therefore adapt itself to a framework of degrowth and a greater awareness of the finiteness of resources, including that of the archaeological record.
Keywords: urban archaeology, degrowth, urban planning, professional archaeology