The protection of archaeological finds in Austria currently focuses, mainly for epistemological and ideological reasons, on the physical object itself rather than on the protection of the historical information stored within them. As a consequence, no distinction is made in Austrian heritage law and administration between archaeological finds as monuments – symbols that ought to remind the public of some significant past event or condition – and archaeological finds as cultural resources – historical sources that can (and must) be examined to better understand the human condition. This paper argues that this lack of distinction between the former, who need to be physically preserved, visible and explained to the public, and the latter, who need to be analysed even if this leads to their destruction, has worked to the detriment of the protection of both. Instead of focussing on physical preservation, it is proposed that for most archaeological finds – those not classed as monuments – the emphasis should be put on the preservation of the historical information they contain, which may in many cases be much better preserved by record. Instead of writing increasingly restrictive but inefficient laws which exclude the public from the (destructive) recording of archaeological finds, it is argued based on a comparison of finds recording in Austria and England and Wales that the public should be fully involved in archaeological cultural resource management.