If you are carrying out development works on a piece of land, whether these involve demolition, construction or other transformation works in the soil or subsoil, it may happen that you unearth archaeological items.
For this reason, all planned construction, demolition or backfill and excavation works which are subject to a building or demolition permit on land located in an archaeological observation zone (zone d’observation archéologique - ZOA) must be submitted by the project owner to the Minister of Culture for an impact assessment of these works on the archaeological heritage, at the latest when the application for the building or demolition permit is lodged.
Following such assessment of works located in the ZOA, a preventive archaeology operation may be ordered by the Minister of Culture, depending on how probable it is that items of archaeological heritage (archaeological potential) are present on a parcel of land. That preventive archaeology operation is to be carried out before the development works take place.
Who is concerned
The application for archaeological assessment is to be submitted:
- by the project owner in respect of the projected works; or
- by the owner of the land on which the projected works are to be carried out; or
- by an engineering consultancy, urban planning firm or firm of architects in charge of the project in question; or
- by the municipality or the State as the owner of the land concerned.
Types of works exempt from assessment
Situated in the archaeological observation zone (ZOA) or in its sub-zone
In accordance with the legal provisions in force concerning the cultural heritage, the following works are exempt from assessment:
- any works located in the archaeological observation zone (ZOA) and implementing an 'existing development' (Quartier existant - QE) PAP, having a surface area of less than 100 m2 and a depth of less than 0.25 m;
- any urgent infrastructure works located in the ZOA;
- any works located in the sub-zone of the ZOA and implementing an existing PAP, having a ground coverage of less than 0.3 hectares and a depth of less than 0.25 m;
- any works located in the sub-zone of the ZOA and implementing a new development PAP, having a surface area of less than 1 hectare;
- any renovation works to the existing roadway located in the sub-zone of the ZOA.
Situated outside the archaeological observation zone (ZOA)
All projected works of construction, demolition or backfill and excavation located outside the ZOA are exempt from assessment.
Given that archaeological sites classified in accordance with Article 19 of the Law of 25 February 2022 on the cultural heritage do not form part of the ZOA, works planned to be carried out on archaeological sites classified as constituting national cultural heritage in accordance with Article 19 are likewise exempt from the archaeological assessment provided for by Article 4 of the aforesaid Law. However, such works are subject to an application for ministerial approval in accordance with Article 30 of that Law.
Application for assessment of works
The application for archaeological assessment must be submitted by no later than at the time when the application for the building or demolition permit is lodged.
In order to avoid potential delays in the progress of the development works, it is recommended that the dossier in respect of the application for archaeological assessment be submitted prior to lodging the application for the building or demolition permit.
Where other approval procedures have to be carried out (for example: one-off modification of the PAG, EIA screening, etc.), the development project or draft development project may also be sent for assessment upstream or in parallel with the scrutiny of the project by the other administrative bodies.
You will receive a ministerial order within 30 working days from receipt of the complete dossier in respect of the application for assessment.
Where no such order is sent within 30 working days from receipt of the complete dossier in respect of the application for assessment, the projected works submitted for assessment will automatically be deemed to be exempt from any archaeological constraint.
The expenses incurred by reason of archaeological diagnosis operations are to be borne in their entirety by the project owner.
Expenses connected with preventive archaeology excavation prescribed under the Law of 25 February 2022 are to be borne as to one half by the project owner and as to one half by the State. The expenses are paid in advance by the project owner who may then submit an application to the State for reimbursement of one half thereof.
How to proceed
Submitting the application for assessment of works
The dossier in respect of your application for archaeological assessment of the works planned to be carried out in the archaeological observation zone, or in its sub-zone, may be sent:
- to the Ministry of Culture by post; or
- to the INRA by post; or
- to the INRA by email, OTX or WeTransfer at the address email@example.com.
It must contain:
- the form for requesting an archaeological assessment, duly filled out and dated (see 'Forms / Online services');
- any attachments requested in that form.
Following receipt of the dossier in respect of the application for archaeological assessment, the INRA’s Department for archaeological monitoring of land development checks whether the dossier is complete.
If the dossier is complete, an acknowledgement of receipt is sent to the applicant for archaeological assessment. The acknowledgement of receipt contains, inter alia, an indication of the waiting period and thus of the time that it will take to respond to the application that has been submitted.
The ministerial order
A preventive archaeology operation may be ordered the Minister of Culture, depending on how probable it is that items of archaeological heritage (archaeological potential) are present on a parcel of land.
Depending on the archaeological potential and the impact of the development project on the archaeological heritage, those operations may take the form of:
- an archaeological diagnosis operation; or
- a preventive archaeology excavation.
Where the impact on the archaeological heritage of a construction, demolition or backfill and excavation project is assessed as being small, no archaeological intervention will be required.
The diagnosis operation serves to verify the existence of archaeological sites, and to evaluate their nature, their dating, their scope and their degree of conservation. It frequently takes the form of archaeological diagnosis soundings using a mechanical digger, but other methods, such as geophysical surveys or field surveys, may be recommended.
The archaeological excavations consist in unearthing, in situ, any items which may cast light on the history of humankind and its environment, and in carrying out a scientific examination of those items in a laboratory, with a view to advancing knowledge concerning the national archaeological heritage.
The ministerial order is sent to the applicant. A copy of the order is sent to the municipality in which the land of the projected works is situated.
In the event of any modification of the development project, an application for a re-assessment of the project must be submitted. Thus, a new ministerial order will be drawn up following the re-assessment of the project submitted.
Scientific and technical specifications
Upon receipt of the ministerial order for the carrying-out of an archaeological operation, the project owner is requested to contact the relevant INRA officer responsible for the scientific monitoring (responsable du suivi scientifique - RSS) of the operation in question, whose name and contact details are set out in the order.
The RSS then sends to the project owner the scientific and technical specifications (cahier des charges scientifiques et techniques - CCST) for the prescribed operation.
In order to obtain a suitable tender, the project owner is required to send the ministerial order and the scientific and technical specifications to the approved archaeological operators. The specifications are accompanied by a list of approved archaeological operators.
Good to know
All archaeology operations must have prior ministerial approval. For further information in this regard, please consult the 'Guide d’évaluation archéologique des projets d’aménagement' (Guide to the archaeological assessment of development projects).
Forms / Online services
Who to contact
National Institute of Archaeological Research241, rue de Luxembourg
Phone : +352 26 02 81 1
Ministry of Culture4, boulevard Roosevelt
Postal address :
B.P L-2912 Luxembourg
Phone : (+352) 247-86600Fax : (+352) 29 21 86 / 40 24 27For measures put in place during the state of crisis, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org