Industrial archaeology is an interdisciplinary method of studying all the evidence, material and immaterial, of documents, artefacts, stratigraphy and structures, human settlements and natural and urban landscapes, created for or by industrial processes (The Nizhny Tagil Charter for The Industrial Heritage, 2003).
Although the term "industrial archaeology" is detected by the late 19th century, it was popularised in the mid-1950s in Great Britain. The appearance and evolution of industrial archaeology is linked to the de-industrialization process of former industrial areas, which created a multitude of industrial ruins in the last decades in the 20th century.
With the contribution of industrial archaeology, the modern world realises that materials and intangible remnants of the past production processes (buildings, tools, machines, know-how, work memory, etc.) are history carriers and need protection.
Today, the perspective of industrial archaeology has been expanded and it has now being understood that industrial remnants should be interpreted in the frames of history, of society, of economy and of technology.
“The industrial heritage consists of sites, structures, complexes, areas and landscapes as well as the related machinery, objects or documents that provide evidence of past or ongoing industrial processes of production, the extraction of raw materials, their transformation into goods, and the related energy and transport infrastructures. Industrial heritage reflects the profound connection between the cultural and natural environment, as industrial processes – whether ancient or modern – depend on natural sources of raw materials, energy and transportation networks to produce and distribute products to broader markets. It includes both material assets – immovable and movable –, and intangible dimensions such as technical know‐how, the organisation of work and workers, and the complex social and cultural legacy that shaped the life of communities and brought major organizational changes to entire societies and the world in general.” (ICOMOS - TICCIH: Principles for the Conservation of Industrial Heritage Sites, Structures, Areas and Landscapes - «The Dublin Principles», Paris 2011)