Reporter Qiao Xianjia attended the 2012 Shandong Provincial Field Archaeology Conference, which was held in Jinan (济南) on the 21st and 22nd February 2013, and learned that the province is suffering from a shortage of qualified archaeologists and conservators as a result of the rising demand for their services.
Xie Zhixiu (谢治秀), Director of the Shandong Provincial Administration of Cultural Relics and Director of the Shandong Provincial Institute of Archaeology, told the assembly that there are currently around two million cultural artefacts in storage in museums across the province and a substantial number of these are in desperate need of restoration. He added that there is a severe shortage of conservators in Shandong and that under the current circumstances it would take at least 200 years to restore and preserve that many artefacts, and that is without taking into account any new artefacts that might be excavated in future.
As one renowned archaeologist pointed out, Shandong has seen one major archaeological discovery after another in recent years. Field projects conducted in Shandong have made it onto the short list of “China’s Six Greatest Archaeological Discoveries of the Year” for four years running and archaeologists were awarded second prize in the national Field Archaeology Awards for their excavations of the Western Zhou city ruins in Chenzhuang Village (陈庄 ) in Gaoqing County (高青县) and the salt-production sites at the Shuangwangcheng (双王城) reservoir in Shouguang (寿光). In spite of all this, Shandong still lacks adequate archaeological resources. A total area of nearly 6 million square metres of land was surveyed by the Shandong Provincial Institute of Archaeology in 2012, of which some 50,000 square metres were actually excavated. With only 30 or so qualified archaeologists at the institute’s disposal, this meant that each archaeologist was having to cope with an extremely demanding workload.
According to Sun Shiqin (孙世勤), Deputy Director of the Shandong Provincial Administration of Cultural Relics, ”the greatest challenge facing heritage conservation in Shandong is the lack of qualified personnel”. He called on retired heritage and conservation specialists and skilled workers to return to work and devote their remaining energies to training the next generation of professional archaeologists as quickly as possible.
Author’s Note: This is a summary translation of the original article, which can be found here. Please note that I am not a professional translator or archaeologist so there may be errors in my translation.