Consultation invitation: archaeological archives from sterile projects


Definition and guidelines on the creation/ deposition requirements for archaeological archives from sterile projects

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and the Archaeological Archives Forum (AAF) invite you to take part in a consultation focused on the production of a sector-wide agreed definition and creation/deposition requirements for archaeological archives from sterile projects. This is associated with a project funded by Historic England.

Consultation background
The terms ‘negative site’, ‘blank site’ ‘sterile project’ and ‘negative archive’ are being used across the sector with a significant variation in how the terms are understood and applied in practice. While some museums and institutions detail their requirements for ‘negative sites’ or ‘blank sites’ in their deposition standards, anecdotal evidence suggests that other museums and local authorities are also using terms such as ‘negative archives’ and ‘insignificant remains’ when discussing deposition requirements, leading to variation in how the terms are applied and the resultant archaeological archives produced. Therefore, the definition and use of one term requires cross-sector agreement and supporting guidelines on its application.

Consultation information
The AAF believe that creating a definition for ‘negative archives’ or ‘negative sites’ is nonsensical as the project itself positively did occur and the archive does exist in some form. A sector-wide agreed term for Archaeological Archives already exists (Perrin et al. 2014, 20) and therefore it is the type of project (not the archive) that requires definition.

The AAF therefore propose the these guidelines for the creation and deposition of Archaeological Archives from Sterile Projects that will be produced as a digital resource, forming part of the current suite of CIfA Toolkits. Please review the document and information and let us know your feedback.

A full stakeholder consultation is now open, and we welcome feedback from across the sector whether you write the project brief, collect the data, compile or curate archives or use them for research purposes.

Please send your feedback and comments to by Friday 26 November 2021.