Exploring preferences and non-use values for hidden archaeological artefacts: a case from Denmark

This paper presents a choice experiment study of a proposed wetland restoration project which aims to preserve archaeological artefacts from Stone Age villages which are presently buried within the topsoil. Wetland restoration can avoid destruction of the artefacts due to agricultural cultivation and drainage, and in addition improve biological diversity and recreational opportunities. The results indicate that even though the artefacts are not visible or usable for the population of today, but may contain information and potential value for future generations, the strongest preferences displayed is for ensuring permanent protection of archaeological artefacts, rather than biological diversity and recreational opportunities. The results are discussed in relation to the Prospect Theory: people value a loss of cultural heritage higher than a gain of new cultural goods or services. This insight is of general interest to cultural economics and cultural policy, especially with respect to heritage protection.