Definition of the archaeological observation zone with regard to preventive archaeology

A chance discovery of archaeological remains during the course of development works necessarily entails an immediate halt to the works pending the carrying-out of archaeological investigations on the site concerned. For that reason, the Ministry of Culture and the National Institute of Archaeological Research (Institut national des recherches archéologiques - INRA) have established the principle of preventive archaeology.

That principle pursues a twofold objective:

  • protecting archaeological remains against the impact of humankind, resulting in particular from undocumented destruction caused by works of construction, demolition or backfill and excavation, and/or natural risks;
  • offering land owners, project owners and/or developers greater planning certainty in the context of the works envisaged.

The principle of preventive archaeology replaces the practices previously followed, whereby, in the event of a chance discovery, the State shut down the construction site, giving rise to additional, unforeseen delays and costs.

The archaeological observation zone

In accordance with the legal provisions relating to cultural heritage, the INRA has drawn up a map of the archaeological observation zone (zone d'observation archéologique - ZOA) based on:

  • first, the inventory of the archaeological heritage; and;
  • second, further information and data emanating from the competent State or municipal administrative authorities responsible for the use, occupation, study or protection of the soil or subsoil or in charge of excavation and development works.

The archaeological observation zone (ZOA) and its sub-zone are delimited and fixed by Grand Ducal regulation. As a superimposed zone, they form an integral part of all national, municipal or urban development plans or projects (PAG, POS, PS, etc.).

As a result of the establishment of the ZOA, works of construction, demolition or backfill and excavation planned in such a zone must be submitted to the Minister of Culture so that the impact of those works on the nation’s archaeological heritage can be assessed.

Such an application for assessment of works in an archaeological observation zone must be made by no later than at the time when the application for the building or demolition permit is lodged.

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