Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe 2012–14

In October 2012 the IAI became the Irish project partner for Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe 2012–14 (DISCO II), a project supported by the European Commission’s Life Long Learning Programme with national co-funding generously provided by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The project is coordinated by York Archaeological Trust and has 21 participating countries, as well as the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA). The remaining partners represent Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom. These participants are represented by a variety of national organisations from universities and museums to trade unions and professional associations.

This transnational project aims to examine archaeological employment and barriers to transnational mobility within archaeology across the 21 European countries, particularly in light of the economic downturn since the previous Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe 2006–08 (DISCO I) project. The results will therefore not only improve our understanding of the needs and current state of employment for the archaeological profession nationally, but also transnationally. The project will also explore the close links between Vocational Education and Training (VET) and working life in archaeology in order to make VET more responsive to the labour market needs of both individuals and employers. This supports the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training, “ET 2020”, specifically contributing to the objectives of improving the quality and efficiency of education and training and of making lifelong learning and mobility a reality.

The Irish project consists of a digital questionnaire aimed at both employers and employees/individuals. This data will generate a profile of the archaeological workforce in Ireland in 2013 and feed into the transnational report. In addition, the IAI have taken this opportunity to also generate a profile of those that are no longer employed in archaeology on the Island of Ireland or have emigrated but are still working in archaeology. Although for statistical accuracy the latter two categories cannot contribute to the transnational report they do represent an important contribution to the national report and our understanding of the archaeological sector in Ireland post-economic downturn. As with the DISCO I survey, data gathering in Northern Ireland has been undertaken by the UK partner (Landward Research Ltd.), but as the IAI is an all-island representative body and many archaeologists work in both jurisdictions, additional data about archaeologists in Northern Ireland has also be collected by the Irish partner.

The project is managed on behalf of the IAI by Board Director, Dr Kerri Cleary, with Niamh McCullagh subsequently appointed as researcher to assist in completing the project. The questionnaire was designed in consultation with an Advisory Panel that consisted of 21 individuals deemed representative of a cross-section of the archaeological profession in Ireland and included Conor McDermott and Patrizia La Piscopia who undertook the DISCO I survey on behalf of the IAI.

Results from this project will be disseminated online through the project website ( with updates also posted on the IAI website and twitter feed and the Irish DISCO projects Facebook page.

This project acted as the Irish component of the transnational Discovering the Archaeologists of Europe 2012–14 project, which was administered by York Archaeological Trust with financial support from the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Commission. The report reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.