This chapter focuses on the archaeology of European strategic autonomy. This approach allows us to track the essential macro-political processes in the evolution of the idea. The chapter suggests that the origins of European strategic autonomy can be traced back to the first initiatives of Western European countries to cooperate on defence policies after the Second World War. Since then, the concept has deepened and expanded with varying success rates as it was affected by two main variables: systemic pressures and the interests of European powers. The extended analysis period allows us to draw inferences from historical patterns and to suggest the potential for future development of the idea.