Humanities

The Day of Archeology in Ellinniitty, Finland

Muuritutkimus Ltd. and Rauma Museum are co-operating on an excavation project at the area of Ellinniitty in Rauma. Last year approximately 40 different type of cairn-like stone settings were found in survey at the site. The intention is to excavate and learn the nature of these cairns during this and the following year. At the Day of Archaeology an open day was held at the excavation site. Visitors had a chance to visit the site and explore the cairns and the work of archaeologists. Excavation team gave visitors guided tours around the site and showed different states of excavation on cairns and some finds from the site. Visitors could also see different types of documentation happening; 3D modelling, photographing and using of total station. Some trowels and buckets were provided for the younger visitors who got to try digging themselves. Oh the joy when piece of ceramic was found! Some of the visitors were visiting excavations for the first time ever and eventhough there were no Indiana Jones presumptions people were happy to learn new things about the everyday work of archaeologists. For us, archaeology students hired for the summer, the open day was exciting. None of us had hardly any experience of being guides on excavations, so we were quite anxious about the job, but the joy of teaching soon took over and after few tours everyone was quite routined and able to enjoy the occasion. To us it seemed that the visitors had as much fun as we did. Guides got suprisingly many questions and most of them even got answered. We didn’t know what to expect from the open day but the team was happy to have 80 visitors (20 of them children and teens) and couple of reporters. Judging by the number of visitors, there seems to be lots of intrest in history in the town of Rauma. Since the history belongs to all of us, we think it’s important to share our knowledge with the locals about the prehistory of their home region. Keep on digging and see you next year! – Oona Jalonen & Arttu Liimatainenand the rest of the excavation teamV__7986V__9F44

Charlemagne & Rome: Discovering a Lost Renaissance

It’s really hot today. It is one of those days of May in which summer seems to have pushed spring away. We are waiting for a key. After a few minutes, a keeper arrives and opens a little gate: we walk down a few steps and, slowly, we pass through thousands of years of history. You will never be able to say that you know everything about Rome: it will always surprise you, there will be everytime something to discover, that you didn’t know before. While over our heads the traffic is flowing, we attend to a little miracle of urban archaeology: the early medieval houses in the Forum of Nerva are waiting for us, even if they are neglected every day by the rest of the world. But we must be very quick, because this area is not open to the public, we are not allowed much time, and it is very hot… Only twenty minutes, maybe less, then we must leave the archaeological site. Prof. Hodges and Prof. Mitchell are trying to use every single moment, in order to understand the importance of those buildings, but the keeper is waiting for them at the top of the stairs. He gently tells them off with his eyes: they should be a little bit faster. Some hours before, at S. Maria Antiqua, the charm of the place was also ruined by the same problem: we had to complete our visit in only fifteen minutes.

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An early-medieval house in the Forum of Nerva

This is just a brief summary of what happened during the second day of a Masterclass organised by The American University of Rome, in partnership with the “Istituto Italiano di Studi Germanici” and “Zètema”, and with the financial support of “Fondazione Roma”Turning Charlemagne into an Asset for Rome”. The purpose of this course was to show to a group of professionals and students how to define, conceptualize and market a “cultural” asset. The Masterclass program had been well designed: during the first and the second day there were lectures, led by some important professors and introduced by Prof. Richard Hodges, in order to discuss which relationship there was between Charlemagne and Rome and which were the most important events and places of the Carolingian Rome (we were able to see some of them: S. Maria Antiqua, SS. Quattro Coronati, the Forum of Nerva, Crypta Balbi Museum); the main subject of the remaining days was “marketing”, with lectures, introduced by Prof. Peter Gould, useful to understand what a “cultural asset” is, and how to define and conceptualize it. Then, we were ready to achieve the real aim of the Masterclass: making a touristic project to value the Carolingian Rome. We suggested creating some urban itineraries, in order to help tourists to discover and visit the most important carolingian monuments and places around the city. What is really fascinating about this project it’s the fact that we already have these itineraries, made in the VIII and IX Century: the Einsiedeln Itinerary. We could suggest to the modern tourists to follow the itineraries of the medieval pilgrims. Through modern technologies (the internet, web sites, an App, etc.) we could easily reach a wide number of people, and they could discover some beautiful places to visit, in addition to St. Peter’s or the Colosseum. But are tourists really interested in Medieval Rome? On the last day of the course, we interviewed around a hundred tourists in the centre of Rome, and the result was astonishing: 85% of them wanted to know more about Medieval Rome and the Charlemagne’s Renaissance. The outcome of our work was presented to the audience during the conference “Lost renaissance? The legacy of Charlemagne in Rome and its future”, held at the “Istituto di Studi Germanici” on the last day of the Masterclass.

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The Masterclass work group

I graduated in Italy, and this international Masterclass showed to me how we can think at Archaeology in a more modern and engaging way, compared to that I am used to. But for all of us, the participants, there was another important aspect, which didn’t leave us indifferent. We were witnesses of a clash between two different worlds: on one side Prof. Richard Hodges, who can’t understand the reason why, in Italy, we aren’t able to value our incredible cultural heritage; on the other, the bureaucracy of the “Soprintendenze”, unable to open up to the contemporary world. Why can’t Italy value his cultural heritage? All the answers are in the anecdote I recounted at the beginning of the post:  it isn’t understood yet that it’s a useless effort “protecting” monuments or archaeological sites without “sharing” them. If I can’t discover a monument, if I can’t visit and “touch” it, I will struggle to consider it something of mine, something I should preserve and defend. “Communicating” and “sharing”. These are characteristics which give value to every story, and should be important for disciplines like Archaeology and History: otherwise, monuments will remain just a cultural and moral ruin.

Turning Charlemagne into an Asset for Rome Masterclass (Conference Video)


A day with Macedonian archaeology – HOARD OF BILLON TRACHEA FROM THE SKOPJE FORTRESS

The copper hoard from the XIII century was discovered as a whole X.9.5.1, in a pit from Block: XXI, in the course of archeological excavations at the Skopje Fortress in 2009. It contained 50 copper coins, including 5 items of Bulgarian imitations (no. 1-5) and items presenting rulers, namely 2 items presenting Ivan Asen II (no. 6-7), 2 items presenting Theodore Comnenus-Ducas (no. 8-9), 2 items presenting  John Comnenus-Ducas (no. 10-11), 9 items presenting John III Ducas-Vatatzes with (no. 12-20), 4 items presenting Theodor II Ducas-Lascaris (no. 21-24), as well as the most numerous, 24 Latin imitations (no. 25-47). (more…)

Curator Takes Vacation Only to Visit More Museums: How Taking My Work With Me Changed Everything

Mixing business with pleasure is not uncommon practice in the field of archaeology, as most archaeologists will tell you that they love their jobs. Sometimes, however, an opportunity will present itself so serendipitously that it can hardly be called “work” at all. Such was the case for me on a recent family vacation to Europe, where I came face to face with an important archaeological collection at the British Museum in London.

In June 2013, I accepted my first “real” job out of graduate school as Curator of Collections for the Marco Island Historical Society (MIHS) in Marco Island, Florida. I had finished my M.A. in Museum Studies at the University of Florida (UF) just six months prior, and in the meantime had been teaching an undergraduate anthropology course at UF while working as a Curatorial Assistant in the Anthropology Division at the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). My first assignment for the MIHS would be to develop a permanent exhibit on the prehistory of Marco Island for installation in the Marco Island Historical Museum. Needless to say, I had a lot to learn about Marco Island, not to mention life as a museum curator.

For those who are unfamiliar with Marco Island, it’s as picturesque as it sounds. The largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, Marco’s natural crescent beach and fertile waters make it a hotspot for retirees, vacationers, and fisher folk alike. However, many visitors don’t realize that Marco is also home to one of the most famous archaeological sites ever discovered in North America.

 

Just another day on Marco Island, Florida. Photo by Austin Bell.

 

In 1895, a retired British military officer named Charles Durnford was tarpon fishing in the area when he was informed of an unusual find in the muck of Key Marco (now Marco Island). Not wanting to miss out on the action, he quickly set sail for Marco to perform his own excavation. It was not long before he too uncovered incredibly well-preserved artifacts made of wood, gourd, and cordage, materials that often do not survive in archaeological sites. Knowing the potential significance of these rare items, Durnford took them all the way to Philadelphia in hopes of conferring with his friend at the University of Pennsylvania, where by chance he encountered Frank Hamilton Cushing. Cushing, a famous anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution, confirmed the importance of the finds and was duly inspired to make his own visit to Marco. What Cushing found in his subsequent visits (1895 and 1896) is the stuff of legend, an archaeological site so spectacular that it has yet to be replicated in more than 115 years of archaeology in Southwest Florida. Among the finds were painted wooden masks, finely woven nets, fishing floats made of wood and gourd, and beautifully carved wooden figureheads, some of the finest examples of prehistoric Native American art ever discovered. The most famous of these is the “Key Marco cat,” now housed in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The cat is so well-known that it’s been featured on a United States postage stamp (see picture)! For archaeologists and archaeology enthusiasts, the Key Marco site serves as one of best known examples of a “wet site,” where biological materials not ordinarily preserved can add greater context to our understanding of prehistoric cultures.

 

The “Key Marco cat” on a 1989 U.S. postage stamp. Image courtesy of the Marco Island Historical Society.

 

While Durnford’s cavalier removal of artifacts from Key Marco would be frowned upon today (i.e., illegal), he had the foresight to not only write up his findings in The American Naturalist (1895), but also to donate the objects to the esteemed British Museum in his home country. The fifteen objects remain there to this day, one of which (a wooden tray) has been on permanent exhibit since 1999 as a representative piece of “the Americas.”

 

The Southeastern United States section of the British Museum’s “North America” exhibit. Note the Seminole patchwork shirt at the top. The wooden artifact on the floor in the back is from Marco Island. Photo by Austin Bell (July 4, 2013). © Trustees of the British Museum.

 

The “wooden tray” discovered by Durnford at Key Marco in 1895, as seen on public exhibition at the British Museum in London. Photo by Austin Bell (July 4, 2013). © Trustees of the British Museum.

 

As fate would have it, my family had organized a trip to Europe months in advance of my hiring at Marco Island. Not wanting to miss out on a rare opportunity to spend “quality time” with my parents and two sisters (not to mention our first ever family vacation overseas), I informed the MIHS of our plans and they generously allowed me to go ahead with them. The British Museum was already on our itinerary, but with my new interest in the Durnford Collection, I put in a last-minute request to see the objects themselves. Given the short notice and my relative inexperience in the field, I was doubtful that such a request could be honored, but I figured “why not ask?” Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised when the good folks at the British Museum quickly replied with an enthusiastic “yes,” as I’ve come to realize that people in the museum field often bend over backwards to help a colleague. So it came to pass that on July 4th, a date on which I normally would be celebrating my home country’s independence from Great Britain, I stood inside the British Museum’s Ethnographic Collection Storage building by the grace of several wonderful and accommodating staff members, thanking my lucky stars (and stripes) to be in Great Britain. It was there that I came face to face with the Durnford Collection, an experience I am unlikely to forget.

 

Excitement builds as we pass through the gate to the British Museum in London, England. Photo by Austin Bell (July 4, 2013).

 

Formulating a strategy for exploring the world-renowned British Museum in London, England. Photo by Austin Bell (July 4, 2013).

 

The objects themselves are relatively unremarkable, at least when compared to Cushing’s finds of 1896. The collection consists of several shell tools, some potsherds, a few wooden float pegs, some highly deteriorated netting and cordage, and several other fragmented wooden artifacts. What struck me almost immediately, however, was that these were the very artifacts that Cushing looked at in 1895, probably in a setting similar to this one (with these same artifacts strewn across a table in a non-descript room), and inspired him to take his now famous expedition to Marco Island. Not only were these fifteen objects an inspiration to Cushing, they basically set off the more than 100 years of stellar archaeology conducted in Southwest Florida since him. As a student and practitioner of both museology and archaeology, everything finally made sense in a way that sitting in a classroom never could. I had gone from the person who preserved artifacts to the person artifacts were preserved for, if only for a few fleeting hours. All those years of wondering “who will ever look at all this stuff?” seemed to wash away and my confidence in my career choice reinvigorated. Given the age of the objects (ca. 500-1500 A.D.), the fact that they had been in collections storage for nearly 117 years, and the understanding that conservation techniques were not what they are now, their condition was remarkably good. For someone who had worked with archaeological materials from Southwest Florida for the better part of five years, the thought that someday, long after I’m gone, someone will be looking at an object or collection of objects that I helped curate and be equally excited and inspired seemed to make it all worth it.

 

The Durnford Collection as it appears 117 years after its excavation. Photo by Austin Bell (July 4, 2013). © Trustees of the British Museum.

 

The point of this article, however, is not to boast about my travels or associate myself with a renowned institution like the British Museum; people visit their collections all the time. The point, rather, is to share the inspiration I felt as a professional who can sometimes take for granted the amazing things I get to work with on a daily basis. At this point in my career I am more “museum professional” than “archaeologist,” so I’m obliged to advocate for the role that museums play in preserving artifacts that archaeologists uncover. Without museums, objects like those in the Durnford Collection wouldn’t be around for new generations of hungry eyes to feast upon. What’s more, there will almost certainly be new technologies and methods of analysis for museum collections in the future, much the way that radiocarbon dating didn’t exist in 1895. This makes the role of the museum all the more important in archaeology, allowing professionals and amateurs alike the opportunity to interpret and re-interpret the meaning of material culture for centuries to come. As I now try to incorporate what I’ve learned from the British Museum into the exhibit on Marco Island, I encourage you to think about what artifact or collection of artifacts has inspired you. While it’s all just “stuff,” so often it’s the inspiration for anything from a simple idea or personal revelation to a life’s work. Little did the makers of the artifacts discovered by Durnford know that hundreds of years later, their creations would be written about in books and inspiring people from a new locale halfway around the world. So, if you find yourself lacking that personal connection to an artifact (or archaeology in general), I implore you to visit your local museum. Heck, don’t just visit it, ask for a tour of the collections. After all, museum people get excited when other people get excited about museums, so as I said before, “why not ask?”; the worst they’ll do is say “no,” but the best they’ll do is change your life!

How do you like your walls, Your Majesty?

My name is Helen and I am an archaeologist. Some people would call me an amateur, non-professional or volunteer… Whatever, the truth is, I don’t get paid to do this.

I am involved with the Thames Discovery Programme (the TDP) – we monitor and record the archaeology of the tidal Thames in London. I actually had a weekend of archaeology, which is why I’m writing this on Monday evening!  This year’s Day of Archaeology coincided with one of our main events of the year, the Open Foreshore at the Tower of London, and it’s left me a bit spoilt for choice for what to write about. But as it was the Tower of London, and I have got a little bit of annual leave to use up, I decided to escape the office on Friday and do some archaeology instead.

So here’s what I did on the Day of Archaeology…

The TDP had spent the whole week working on the foreshore in front of the Tower. The whole of the river foreshore is very vulnerable to erosion, and the section at the Tower has had some of the worst damage, in places it has dropped 30cm in a year.

Not a bad way to spend your day off

It’s reached crisis point, as the medieval foundations of the river wall are now visible and being undercut, which really doesn’t bode well for long term future of the wall. There are plans to cover the whole area with rock reinforcements to stop it falling into the river, but this means that the archaeological features that we’ve been recording and monitoring will be covered up, so Friday was one of the last chances we’d got to record and take samples of what we’ve found.

Recording the riverwall. The exposed foundations are at thigh height here.

Cracks are starting to appear in the wall.

As well as recording the wall, we also finished recording and sampling several different timber structures that are on the site, including the remains of a medieval jetty and what possibly, might be an Anglo-Saxon fish trap. Maybe.

And the rest of the weekend? As well as our week long summer fieldwork sessions, Foreshore Recording and Observation Groups (known as the FROGs) also visit various key sites along the river to monitor the archaeology and how it is changing. I coordinate the Greenwich FROG and on Saturday a small group of us met up to visit the foreshore in front of the Old Royal Naval College. Like the Tower, this section is being heavily eroded, and there are a lot of interesting features, including the remains of two large jetties, one 12th century and a later Tudor one, as well as everything from preserved prehistoric peat to the remains of 19th century barge building structures.

The Greenwich FROG recording a mediaeval jetty at Greenwich last month

Then Sunday I was back at the Tower to help steward the Open Foreshore event, the only time in the year the foreshore is open to the public. You can see lots of pictures from the event on the Thames Discovery Programme’s Flickr feed.

I don’t normally do so much at one time. One of the great things about being a part of the TDP is that you don’t have to give up weeks of your annual leave and spend time away from your family to get involved. But the Tower is such an interesting site, and I really like helping in the public outreach work, because it reminds me how much fun there is in what we do!

Walking over the foreshore at Greenwich, a site that I’ve come to know and love over the years, it can be dispiriting to see the damage that is being caused by the erosion. However, the group have been thinking about our future plans and one thing we want to do more of is raising awareness of the amazing archaeology, and creating a record to share what we’ve found, and I’ve spent a lot of time over the weekend talking to people about how we can make this happen. So all in all it’s been a really positive few days, even if going back into the office on Monday felt like a nice relaxing break ;)

Writing on archaeological findings of battlefields in Montana

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Images of Nez Perce National Historical Park- Big Hole National Battlefield (left) and Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (right) during the summer of 2012.

 Today is like any other day for me these past few weeks:  trying to stay cool during the extremely hot summer days while writing follow-up reports and future articles.  Although I recently completed my doctoral research on four archaeological sites in Montana, I have a lifetime of exciting explorations on the varied ways people of the past, and present, interpret and commemorate history.

Archaeology is not just about surveying, excavating, cataloging, and preserving artifacts and features, but also exploring profound questions about humanity.  To quote Carl Sagan, “We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers.”

We humans like narratives.  Archaeology is a type of story that uses tangible objects and landscapes to tell a tale.  Archaeology is a discipline rooted in the sciences and humanities.  Archaeologists must balance both fields of inquiry to interpret their discoveries with reliability and validity.

My discoveries concern the varied ways contemporary visitors and personnel of Bear Paw, Big Hole, Little Bighorn, and Rosebud battlefields use these landscapes for their own place-based cultural heritages and historical understandings.  Overall, these places are still socially relevant and significant after nearly fourteen decades since the battles.  And, whether these battlefields are of cultural, geographical, historical, personal, military, national, spiritual, and/or other heritage value for visitors and personnel, archaeological data, historical research, and oral traditions continue to contribute to these individuals’ values and understandings of the battles.  These contributions lead to not only more answers, but also more questions as to how and why humans have used cultural landscapes to maintain or change their heritages.  The relationship between a space and people’s beliefs and interactions within that environment is intriguingly complicated.

Well, back to writing while enduring the hot temperatures!

 

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Images of Rosebud Battlefield State Park (left) and Nez Perce National Historical Park- Bear Paw Battlefield (right) during the summer of 2012.


The Archaeology Data Service, keeping the Grey Literature Library going

Welcome to another post to the Archaeology Data Service (ADS)  Day of Archaeology blog 2012

If you want a quick introduction to the ADS and what we do see last year’s post.

We have contributions from two members of staff from the ADS this year, one from Stuart Jeffrey ADS deputy Director (Access) and this one from Ray Moore one of the ADS Digital Archivists.

ADS logoRay Moore

As a digital archivist at the Archaeology Data Service, my day to day activities involve the accessioning the digital data and other outcomes of archaeological research that individuals and institutions deposit with us, developing a preservation programme for that data, but also curating existing ADS collections.

Today, and indeed for the past week, I have spent much of my time working on the Grey Literature Library (or GLL).  The GLL is an important resource for those amateur and professional archaeologists working in archaeology today providing access to the many thousands of unpublished fieldwork reports, or grey literature, produced during the various assessments, surveys and fieldwork carried out throughout the country. These activities are recorded using OASIS (or Online AccesS to the Index of archaeological investigationS) and after passing through a process of validation and checking the reports produced in these projects arrive at the ADS. On first impressions then the digital archive may seem like an ‘end point’, a place where archaeological grey literature goes to die, but the ADS, through the GLL, makes these reports available to other archaeologists and the wider community allowing the grey literature to inform future research. At the same time as a digital archive we take steps to preserve these reports so that future generations can continue to use the information that they contain; an important job as many of these reports do not exist in a printed form.

Grey Literature Reports

Reports from the Grey Literature Library.

So what does digitally archiving a grey literature report entail? Initially all the grey literature reports must be transferred from OASIS to the ADS archive; the easiest part of the process. More often than not the report comes in a Portable Document Format (or PDF) form, and while this is useful for sharing documents electronically it is pretty useless as preservation format for archiving. One of my jobs is to convert these files into a special archival form of PDF, called PDF/A (the A standing for Archive). Sound’s easy, but often it can take some work to get from PDF to PDF/A (my all time record is 2 hours producing a 900mb PDF/A file). These conversions must also be documented in the ADS’ Collection Management System so that other archivists can see what I did to the file to preserve the file and its content. While OASIS collects metadata associated with project, the ADS uses a series of tools to generate file level metadata specific to the creation of the file, so that we can understand what and how the file was created. Only once these processes are complete can the file be transferred to the archive, with a version also added to the GLL so that people can download and read the report. With a through flow of some 5 to 600 reports per month the difficulties of the task should become apparent; and all this alongside my other duties as a digital archivist. This month’s release includes an interesting report on The Olympic Park Waterways and Associated Built Heritage Structures which stood on the site now occupied by the Olympic Park. Anyway I’d better get back to it!

Lights, Camera, Action!

My Day of Archaeology 2012 has been an exciting one, as my volunteers arrived on site for the first time, not to dig, but to make a movie.

I am the lucky archaeologist leading Project Florence, a community project aiming to get local residents involved in spreading the word about an exciting army excavation taking place on Salisbury Plain. This excavation is part of Operation Nightingale, a rehabilitation programme for wounded soldiers.

One of our key aims for the project is for volunteers to produce a DVD about the excavation as a record of the dig and to provide a legacy for Operation Nightingale. The volunteers, aged between 14 and 25, are being trained by professional film-makers to plan, film and edit the movie, which will be premiered at the Salisbury Arts Centre (SAC) in November.

Today was the first day of filming on site, following training sessions at SAC last week, and we were all eager to start catching the action. As I have no experience of movie-production, I am making the most of the chance to learn some new skills along with my volunteers. We are all working towards an Arts Award certificate.

We started our after-school training session with the basics, running over the things we learnt last week like how to frame the shot and how to find the best angle. Our ever-patient instructors, Jamie and Simon, explained that we need to take a mixture of interviews and ‘pretty pictures’ to stick together in the edit. So, we set about filming wide shots of trench activity, interviews with the archaeologists and soldiers, and close ups of interesting finds, so far including an Anglo-Saxon brooch and some amber beads. Our highlight of the day was getting to film one of the soldiers, Al, and his son Ben, lifting the most complete skeleton on site so far.

At the end of a busy two hours, I asked the group what they thought of the session:

“I found the archaeology interesting and liked learning about excavation and watching the skeleton being lifted.” Matt, 17

“I really enjoyed learning to use the sound equipment today, especially the boom. I can’t wait to put all our shots together to make the DVD!” Jess, 15

To find out more about both Project Florence and Operation Nightingale check out our blog – click here

Laura Joyner

Project Florence Officer

Wessex Archaeology

 

The Archaeology Data Service, Working to Keep Your Bits in Good Order

Welcome to the Archaeology Data Service (ADS)  Day of Archaeology blog 2012

If you want a quick introduction to the ADS and what we do see last year’s post.

We have contributions from two members of staff from the ADS this year, one from Stuart Jeffrey ADS deputy Director (Access) and one from Ray Moore one of the ADS Digital Archivists.

Stuart Jeffrey

Stuart Jeffrey

Another busy day at the ADS today, lots of looming deadlines and lots of work to be done.  Since the last Day of  Archaeology the ADS has continued to expand its collections and participate in more and more national and international projects, which is great news and it certainly keeps us out of mischief. In terms of recognition for ADS’s work, it’s actually been a very good year too, the ADS was a major part of the submission that got the University of York’s Department of Archaeology a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education and we are also short listed for a BAA award for innovation (to be announced on 9th July, so fingers crossed!).

The project that is occupying most of my time today is the Economic Impact of the ADS project. The ADS is a free to access digital archive, but it’s really important to us, and funders, that we have a good idea of what the actual economic value to the whole sector of the ADS actually is, so we have embarked on a JISC funded project to try and find out, it’s no easy task to try and put numbers on this kind of ‘value perception’.  I’m preparing for a meeting with John Houghton the Professor of Economics (from CSES in Australia) who is carrying out the analysis for the project in Oxford on Monday. This will be our first meeting since the on-line survey of users and depositors will have closed and I’m really looking forward to seeing the responses. (BTW is closes tonight so if you want to participate there is probably a bit of time left, follow the project link above).

Copyright Clive Ruggles from ImageBank

A nice image from the ADS archive, Cloonsharragh, Ireland, Copyright Clive Ruggles, image taken from ADS ImageBank

Also today, I’m also putting the finishing touches to a joint application, with Internet Archaeology, for an IfA HLF work place learning bursary. We have hosted a couple of these in the past and have always enjoyed the experience of giving someone the opportunity to bring on their skills in a work place environment. We also think there is still a skills gap in the archaeological work force when it comes to digital data management, especially the complexities of digital archiving, and managing data and understanding archiving should really be core skills for archaeologists.

I’d also like to mention the fact that the ADS are proud to support the Day of Archaeology. We’ve been really impressed with the response to the Day of Archaeology project in general and the way a ‘snapshot’ of archaeological activity has been built up covering all sectors including academic, commercial, fieldworkers, specialists, students and curators. As well as fulfilling its role of information sharing and community building amongst the profession, it is also clear that the snapshot created on this one day in 2012 could well become a valuable document for the historians of the archaeological discipline in the future. With this in mind, the ADS are keen to help archive these contributions for the long term. Everyone’s contributions today could well be part of a future research project in 2112!

Finally, as we near the end of the month it’s time for me to change the ‘featured collection’ section of the ADS front page. Ray has been busy archiving and validating a lot of Grey Literature reports, our total is now over 17,000 I think, and some of these relate to archaeological work done in advance of the construction work at the Olympic sites in London. Given that the Olympics are nearly upon us it seems a good idea to make the major MoLAS report (533 pages!) on this work the featured collection for July, very topical. Topicality is not always something that easy to manage when dealing with archaeological archives, but we like to give it a try.

Details of Ray’s Day to follow…….

 

 

Decisions decisions …

This morning my first point of call is my presentation for the Digital Humanities 2012 conference in Hamburg in 3 weeks time. I am really looking forward to this conference as it will be my first after Bess was born. She and the husband are coming along (not to the conference itself ;-) ) too so we might be doing a bit of sight seeing while we are there.

The title of my paper is: ‘ Aiding the interpretation of ancient documents’ (its on the Thursday at 11am if anyone is there and interested) and its all about decisions/interpretations in Humanities,  how we remember our interpretation (or get a computer program to do it) and how we can store these interpretations/decisions and retrieve them when we need them again. It is a round-up of my PhD research in Ancient History at University of Oxford (also part of the now concluded eSAD project).

The stick-(wo)man (I clearly can’t draw and I don’t care) is a documentary scholar but could just as easily be an archaeologist asking: ‘why did I think this context was a part of house A last week when it is so clearly a part of house B today?’. My research took place in the field of Ancient History so is aimed at documentary scholars mainly. However, the conclusions draw in a much wider audience from all over Humanities as decisions in Humanities are usually interpretation-based and:

  • Subjective
  • Have very little supported material
  • Are near impossible to quantify
  • Are difficult to map

If you would like to know more – let me know! Now I better get back to actually making the presentation.