Ivory Tower

Punk Archaeologist without Borders

I was called a “punk archaeologist without borders”, the first time by Ph.D. candidate Aaron Barth in his blog, The Edge of the Village. It’s a title I share with Bill Caraher, fellow punk archaeologist, and one who helped out me as same. And while I hope Dr. Caraher does blog today for the Day of Archaeology on all things archaeological and punk, I wanted to focus on how things have changed for me as an academic archaeologist into one who really would like to free your data, apply archaeological concepts/methods to non-traditional venues, exploring places on the planet other than Greece, and integrating a punk DIY attitude towards the publication of archaeology in both traditional and new media for both traditional and new subjects.


(Andrew Reinhard, Punk Archaeologist without Borders. Photo by the author.)

Yesterday I cheered as we went to press for Ronald S. Stroud’s volume on the inscriptions from Corinth’s Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, published by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA) where I am the Director of Publications. Today I’ll create the PDF eBook for it, adding bookmarks, but more importantly, adding outward-facing links to people and place authorities that are both online and open access, thereby adding extra context to an already rich publication. I’ve been called out twice in the past week by two different archaeologists to define the ASCSA’s position on publishing non-2D material (e.g., 3D scans, images, models, reconstructions, etc.), and while I craft my positive responses to these challenges, I’ll say now that I want every author publishing on any site to do his or her best to provide not only 3D manifestations of what’s been excavated and interpreted, and to at least experiment with 3D scanning an mapping to support their publications. Sebastian Heath, another punk archaeologist (although he might not yet know it), has been experimenting with 3D and archaeology. Have a look. Ideally I’d like to have excavations submit schema for 3D printing of what’s traditionally been the plates section of their monographs so that readers can hold scale models of what was recovered on excavation. And I’d like to publish complete data sets online to support the text in a book or article.

My work at the ASCSA has also led me to rethink the archaeological guidebook. We’re currently working on the Athenian Agora Museum Guide and the Corinth Site and Museum Guide. Both will be traditionally published, but there will also be an eBook available. Most importantly though will be the apps that I’ve been developing on the Inkling Habitat platform initially for the Athenian Agora Site Guide, but ultimately for any guidebook the ASCSA cares to produce. I’m building the apps myself, creating a heavily linked system of intra-document jumps, along with other links out to places like Pleiades and to ascsa.net to provide readers with added value of additional, deep content managed elsewhere on the Web. The guides now read less like a book, and behave more like the Web, allowing meandering visitors to use the guide in a non-linear, more organic way. The bugbear has been adding real-time “where-am-I” functionality, but I am close to solving that final puzzle.


The ASCSA’s journal, Hesperia, has had its backfile on the ASCSA website as Open Access content for about a year. We’ve seen no drop in revenue, and an uptick of usage especially by those people who do not have access to JSTOR while in the field. The journal is at a crossroads, too, and the only thing keeping it from going e-only (with an option for readers who want print to order copies as print-on-demand) is the fact that most of our international exchange partners still require print copies for their libraries and cannot handle (or do not want) PDF issues and/or access to JSTOR for whatever reason. To continue these exchange partnerships, we have to continue producing short print-runs (under 500 copies), which is expensive in such small numbers. Printing more copies does not cost appreciably more because of economies of scale. I am left wondering when many of our international exchange partners will turn the corner and begin to accept the digital edition of our journal as opposed to requiring print. How can I best serve their readers until that happens, and is there a more efficient way to deliver print to those universities who still need/want it?

Outside of the ASCSA, I continue to be involved with a number of archaeological projects. This is where the “without borders” moniker kicks in. I’m currently wrapping up the editing of the Punk Archaeology book created from the Punk Archaeology unconference held in a bar in Fargo on Feb. 2, 2013, where there was spoken word (listen here), and punk rock (listen here) on topics ranging from what Punk Archaeology is to the archaeology of punk in the Red River Valley. The brainchild of Bill Caraher with Kostis Kourelis, Aaron Barth, Richard Rothaus, and others, this one-night stand of public archaeology resonated with both academics and locals, getting our science out of the Ivory Tower and into a drinking establishment (where many of us know the best discussions happen). The Punk Archaeology book will be published later in 2013 by the University of North Dakota, and it will be awesome.

I also launched a blog that explores the archaeology in (and of) video games. Read Archaeogaming here (and contribute!), and follow along on Twitter @archaeogaming.



(World of Warcraft screenshot from Archaeogaming)

Lastly, I had the good fortune to be a member of the Adventure Science team that explored and documented the state of the wilderness as part of the North Dakota Badlands Transect, aka “100 Miles of Wild“. We’re pulling together the white paper now, and will follow up with a website and at least two books about what we found out there, including archaeology, ecology, geology, and more.

I’m proud to be a punk archaeologist without borders. If you’re looking for a (largely free) hired gun to help liberate data, to put boots on the ground in areas of conflict, or to put your data on the path of progressive publication, I’m your man. Email me at areinhard@ascsa.org, and let’s explore, build, and publish.

Andrew Reinhard