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Open letter to un-invited and unwanted site visitors

I know I am not the only professional archaeologist that deals with members of the public that are curious about archaeology. I encourage questions and interest from people that are genuinely so. Tons of non-professional archaeologists contribute to our understanding of the past through advocacy, volunteer work, fundraising, and good ol’ moral support. Avocational and amateur archaeology groups across the country work side by side with professional archaeologists and organizations. These are great relationships and interactions I enjoy.

One part of my job that I would rather not have to deal with is illegal digging and collecting. I know wishing it away won’t make it go away. I know that education and outreach is the right path to understanding and appreciation. However, there are those individuals that test my patience. We have all met them. These are what I call professional looters. They are not interested in learning about the people that lived in the past. They are not interested in preserving the archaeological record and the knowledge of it for future generations. They are not interested in sharing knowledge. These individuals are interested in “my point is older/bigger/more complete/more rare (fill in the blank) than yours” and “how much is it worth.” These individuals steal from our shared history for the benefit of themselves. I do not like this group of individuals.

I was fortunate this field season to not be inundated with these types of people at our field site. My luck ran out on the afternoon of the last day of actual fieldwork. The encounter was typical as far as talking with looters, yet also very strange. What follows is my “open letter” to the individual I met that day.

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Archaeological Publication and Linked Data

Earlier this month I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the first Linked Ancient World Data Institute (LAWDI or #lawdi on Twitter) at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) in New York City, the brainchild of Sebastian Heath, Tom Elliott, and John Muccigrosso. I presented on the current state of archaeological publishing of my organization, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA). The best part about the conference, though, was listening to new friends and colleagues speak about the many aspects of linked data, open source, and open access the archaeology of the Ancient World. As the ASCSA’s Director of Publications, I am beginning to put into practice what was discussed at LAWDI, and look forward to continuing to contribute.

Here’s what’s been done so far:

1. Open Access Hesperia. Our journal, Hesperia, is currently housed on JSTOR. We have a Content Sharing Agreement with JSTOR, however, which allows us to share our content from beyond the 3-year moving wall. This means that in July 2012 individual readers who need to search for and download any/all Hesperia articles published from 1932-2009 will be able to do so from the ASCSA’s website for free. The PDF articles can be read on any device that can open PDFs, and they can be used without Internet access post-download. There is no DRM. I alpha-tested the behind-the-scenes upload utility yesterday with reasonable success. I need to do a batch name-change on the PDFs and then load those onto our webserver (the test links currently point to JSTOR, but this will change in July). It is my hope that I can find just over $1M with which I can endow the journal at which point I can make open access to it complete and eternal.

2. Open Bibliography on Zotero. After the LAWDI meetings, I returned to Princeton to map out what I could begin to do with the concept of linking content for the ancient world. I had briefly used Zotero to read articles posted by Tom Elliott on Twitter, but I’d never gotten into the platform as a contributor of content. Since then, I have created a Zotero group for the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in which I have now shared publicly the enter bibliography of 1,500+ Hesperia articles and about 150 (or 230+) monographs. I need to go through (and encourage others to help with this) and edit the book entries and add abstracts to earlier Hesperia articles. This will take time, but it’s a good start.

3. Linking in eBooks. June saw the publication of our latest printed monograph, Isthmia: The Roman and Byzantine Graves and Human Remains (Isthmia IX), by Joseph L. Rife. I spent yesterday and will spend today creating links in the PDF eBook. My previous attempts at linking were restricted to links between text, note, table, and image. I have done this in Isthmia IX, tedium made bearable through listening to hardcore punk, gangsta rap, and the Euro 2012 match between Germany and Italy. This is only the first step. The next is to attempt to create dynamic, outward-looking links from every bibliographic citation and every footnote to actual articles and books on the Internet. This could be insane and/or impossible, but I’m going to try. I am also going to attempt to link each inventoried object as presented on the ASCSA’s open access website for archaeological data, ascsa.net. Lastly, I’m going to try to link from places mentioned in Rife’s book to records in Pleiades. Wish me luck.

The above is what I’m doing now and in July, and I’m looking forward to sharing/linking with other archaeologists worldwide on these and future projects.

Andrew Reinhard, Director of Publications, ASCSA

A Second Student has Arrived in the Lab

Andrew arrived at 10:45am.  I have him conducting the next step in the process–rebagging the artifacts that were washed on Weds. and were left to dry for 48 hours.  We have purchased 4 mil ziplock bags of all sizes from 2×3 inches on up to 12 x15 inches.  Just yesterday $300 worth of bags shipped overnight to Columbia, SC. These bags fit the standards for permanent curation established by the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina.  Each artifact type gets its own bag. Eventually the Kolb Site artifacts will be curated in perpetuity at the Institute… for $200 per bankers box.  Remember in an earlier post I said we had 600 plus boxes.  If you do the math don’t tell me just send me some money!

Raising Funds for the Kolb Site archaeology and Education

The Kolb site has been funded in large measure by private doantions. One of the biggest challenges we face as archaeologists, particularly in the current economic climate, is funding our endeavors.  So one of the things on my plate and in my head today is a grant proposal to a private foundation near where our site is located.  In a perfect world we would need $250,000 a year to run our project, but we scraped by with much less.  Some years $25,000 some years $2,500.  Many of our volunteers have contributed their time, cash, hit our Paypal button at 38DA75.com, or provide talents ranging from culinary skill, GPS work, Geomorphology work and some have even, of all things, ….donated beer.