Archives and Archaeology – Sources from the Past, Tools for the Future

Posted on March 22, 2017


Twice a week I publish videos of presentations from conferences I help film. This week I have another session the EAA conference, this one on archives:

Session Abstract:

In this session we are exploring theoretical and methodological approaches to archive-based studies as well as the conceptualization and use(s) of archives. The importance of archives for archaeological research and field practice is undisputed in present-day archaeology. Nevertheless archival sources are often neglected and/or underused. Archives are essential for historians of archaeology, but at the same time they are also invaluable for the everyday practice of archaeologists. The process of archiving is one of the most important features of archaeology and it has had a great influence on the professionalization of the discipline. However, various archival aspects are often overlooked. For example, it has been common practice to separate documents and artifact collections when archiving when they should in fact be included in the archives together as equally important archaeological data. This greatly impacts anyone who studies the past of a particular site, biography of an archaeologist or the history of archaeology in general. In addition, the archive can work as a resource connecting the past, present and future of our discipline. Archives can also provide a starting point for research projects.
The starting point for this session is the broad definition of an archive: archaeological records including documents, finds and museum collections. We welcome papers from scholars working with historic as well as contemporary archival sources and we also encourage broad-based humanistic views and interdisciplinary perspectives on archives. By exploring the archive as a concept and by combining various types of archival materials, we can redefine the archive as a resource and gain a new perspective on archive-based research studies.

Author – Gustavsson, Anna, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden (Presenting author)
Co-author(s) – Mihajlović, Vladimir, Institute for Balkan Studies of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, Serbia
Co-author(s) – de Tomasi, Francesca, Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici, Naples, Italy
Keywords: archives, collections, history of archaeology

Renovating practices in the history of archaeology

Author – Prof. D az-Andreu, Margarita, ICREA, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain (Presenting author)
Keywords: archives, history of archaeology, methodology, archives and archaeology

In the last two decades the history of archaeology has changed beyond recognition. Long gone are the days when a look at the past of the discipline was only undertaken on the basis of publications and anecdotal memories and limited to building an account of the main discoveries and events. The much wider variability of perspectives that historians of archaeology are employing today is also related to – and indeed in many cases requires – a change in the methods once used. Taking advantage of archives as a source of information is one of the main ways in which historians of archaeology have renovated their practice. However, their work is usually hindered by the fact that archaeologists are rarely trained for this. This may well, at least partially, explain the huge differences among those of us who search archives for information.
In this paper I will analyse my own experience of working in archives. I have been researching in archives on and off since 1995 and the experience gathered over the years has allowed me to refine several data compilation techniques. I have found that checking and cross-referencing the information I have gathered from archives over the years is one of the most challenging tasks I have faced. Interestingly, however, I soon realised that looking at archives was not only a question of new methods, but also of how questions were posed. Initial questions had to be revised to be able to use the considerable potential of the newly found documentation. In my own research on how politics influences archaeology I found that most of the time the answers were much more complex than expected. Working with correspondence, for example, allows researchers to get a much more intimate knowledge of the individuals under study than with any other method (with the exception of oral history, which is only possible for most recent events). However, this privileged position makes us aware that overarching ideologies are put into practice in banal ways that are sometimes not easy to detect. I will illustrate my talk with examples from my own work in the archives of correspondence relating to archaeologists such as Gordon Childe, Christopher Hawkes and Llu s Pericot.

Archaeological archives – A deconstruction Author – Frydenberg, Hilde Sofie, Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway (Presenting author)
Keywords: archaeological archives, archaeological processes, theory of science and methodology

In this paper, I propose a critical examination of the archaeological archive. Using my personal experience as an archaeologist working in the archives at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo as a point of departure and a case study, I intend to explore the concept of the archaeological archive from two different angles:
1. In archaeological research, archaeological contexts are always being interpreted with a conscious and reflective view on past research paradigms and history of science. Archaeological practice however, is very rarely subject to the same meta-archaeological scrutiny. Nevertheless, archaeological archives are historical artefacts with complex conditions of production, which, in the same way that archaeological artefacts can be read and interpreted as remnants from prehistory, can be read and interpreted, both as a historical source for the context and provenience of archaeological artefacts, as well as remnants of the theoretical and societal circumstances and conditions that have, in different ways, influenced the archaeological processes.
2. What has and has not been documented and kept in the archaeological archives is a product of changing paradigms and selective memory, whether conscious or unconscious. Even so, because of the destruction and displacement caused by an archaeological excavation, the original documentation is the closest we will ever get to the original situation, and archaeological archives, in general, will offer a description of how and why it came into being. From the point of view of research, an archaeological archive will also be the least biased source of information, as every re-interpretation from previous research adds a new layer of preconceptions.

Ontology of archaeological sources and the possibilities of archive – based research of Greek pottery

Author – MA Miścicki, Wawrzyniec, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Kraków, Poland (Presenting author)
Keywords: archives, pottery of ancient Greece, theory of archaeology

In this paper I want to develop a very simple linear line of thought about the significance of the archives and archaeological documentation. In one of his papers James Deetz proposed that archaeological documentation, field reports and similar works should be treated as archaeography seeing that they stand in a similar relation to archaeology as ethnography does to ethnology. One could push this idea even further and claim that archaeography, description of the artifacts, and not the artifact itself is the source of archaeological research. During fieldworks artifacts are collected, measured, described and interpreted, and only the result of this process and not the excavated object could be called an archaeological source. Site and artifact documentation published in various reports and papers is then applied to other papers and the process is repeated indefinitely. Adopting this notion should switch scientific attention to the archives as they hold not only the aforementioned sources, but also artifacts-objects, and thus they provide the only context for reconstructing excavation process and reference point for the discourse. The nature of archaeological site allows full contact with the artifacts in its context, but as a price of being confined to the excavated area, so that the view upon explored culture or community is restricted only to the actual size of the site. Any additional information is obtained via archaeographical sources, which makes properly maintained archives one of the most important factors for conducting studies. In my paper I will explore this inductive nature of the research by presenting the possibilities enabled by the introduction of joined archives for Greek painted pottery. Focusing on their main features like standardization of documentation, accessibility and others I will discuss benefits and drawbacks of archive-based research.

Archives – Can You Dig It? Time, Materiality, and the Archaeology of Archives

Author – De Armond, Thea, Oakland, CA, United States of America (Presenting author)
Co-author(s) – Duray, Anne, Stanford University, Stanford, United States of America
Keywords: archives, history of archaeology, materiality

Archaeology and the archive occupy similar metaphorical space. Both are regularly invoked as specific modes of historical thinking (consider, e.g., Foucault 1969, Derrida 1995, Olivier 2008), not only for their cultural resonance but also for the particular practices that underlie both archaeological and archival work – preservation, organization, and so on. And recently, both have been portrayed as (more or less intentional) materializations of memory, as palimpsestic accretions, as memory practices (see, e.g., Lucas 2012, Shanks 2012). That archaeological practice quite literally entails the creation of an archive – that the archaeological process involves collecting, selecting, organizing, and preserving materials – will not be surprising to any of its practitioners. But, despite archaeologists’ familiarity with the archiving of archaeology – as well the acknowledged conceptual overlap between archaeology and the archive – practical considerations of what archaeology might bring to the archive have been relatively rare (Baird 2012). What is archaeology of the archive?
Following historians of science, Nathan Schlanger has argued that, “To reach the science in the making as much as the applauded result, to grasp the quotidian as much as the extraordinary, historians of archaeology need to turn to … the archives of the discipline” (2004: 166). Archives, more than published results contain the traces of scientific practices – of course, they are, at the same time, the traces of another set of practices. And so, historians of archaeology are in an exceedingly advantageous position to consider the conceptual overlap of archaeology and the archive.
In this paper, we ask what – beyond metaphor – archaeological practice might bring to archival work. We consider this question via two very different archives, the archive of the Nichoria excavations, housed at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (ASCSA), and the personal archive of the Czech philologist and archaeologist Antonín Salač (1885–1960), housed at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (AVČR). The former compiles materials produced during the Nichoria excavations – field notebooks, end of season reports, photographs – in an “organized” typology; the latter contains a great mass of textual ephemera, essentially unprocessed – the residue of Salač’s life. What does it mean to approach these archives, archaeologically? What do considerations of materiality – concomitantly, of context, of temporality – bring to these archives? Recent conceptualizations of archives and archaeology as assemblages, as memory practices, are often attended by the idea that archaeology’s approach to the past is necessarily different from that of history – that history is sequential, perhaps, and that archaeology, because it is material, is multitemporal. But archives – the sources of “historical” work – are, themselves, material – and, so, they are also multitemporal. Ultimately, then, approaching our archives with specific reference to their materiality – their “archaeology” – we create histories of archaeology that destabilize boundaries between the “historical” and the “archaeological”.

Archive and Archaeological Economy

Author – Gomes, Sérgio, Porto, Portugal (Presenting author)
Keywords: archaeological economy, archive

The concept of the archive came to me at different moments whilst I was investigating archaeology under the Estado Novo dictatorship in Portugal (1933–1974). In this research, I experienced archives “as a source” and “as a subject”. They were “a source” in the sense that archives were the “places” where I could find the raw materials to develop my work. They were “a subject” because, in picking up and ordering documents, I was constructing a “landscape” through which I was setting a research path; a “landscape” offering me clues and suggesting directions I hadn’t envisaged at the outset. This experience, the way archives were questioning me, led me to read Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever (1998) to try to understand this experience. Derrida shows us the archive as a place of two principles: the principle of commencement, since the archive is the place of physical, historical or ontological origin; and the principle of commandment, because the archive is also the place from which laws are exercised. This made sense to me because I was experiencing archives both as a source and as a subject, a place of “origins” (of documents) and “laws” (to re-organize my research). But, more importantly, with Derrida’s notion of the archive, I realized how this experience of using archives in doing “history of archaeology” was so close to the experience of doing archaeology itself, and how Derrida’s work could be read while thinking about the conditions under which we do archaeology. This perspective on Derrida’s work became clearer after reading Gavin Lucas’ Understanding the Archaeological Record (2012) where Lucas argues archives can be discussed as a translation process based on the interaction between “the site” and “the copy” (ibid.: 237–239). In this paper, I aim to look in detail at the intertwining of Derrida and Lucas’ ideas, with a view to discussing the limits and possibilities of the ways we shape our “archaeological economy” (ibid.: 231).

Searching the archives in pursuit of ancient Cyrenaica

Author – Dr. Hab. Rekowska, Monika, Institute of Archaeology University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland (Presenting author)
Keywords: Cyrenaica, history of archaeology, socio-politics of archive records

Albeit Cyrenaica, being one of the prominent regions of the Greco-Roman civilization, attracted the attention of scholars from the medieval period onwards, its political isolation after the Arab and later, Ottoman conquest, gave reason to the visible delay in archaeological recognition of this area. Europeans could not visit it before the 18th century and, even in the 19th century, travels were still not numerous. Nevertheless, the travelers’ accounts, only partially published, constitute an invaluable source for the research on history of archaeology. They reflect the increasing knowledge of the region and, at the same time, they illustrate the archaeology in transition from its pre-scientific to the scientific stage. The first topographical identifications were successively complemented by descriptions of the undertaken excavations and considerations about the ancient art. The history of discovering Cyrenaica enables us to capture and follow significant stages in the evolution of archaeological interests, pursued by scholars active both on the sites and behind their desks. However, this story could not be fully understood if deprived of the broader, political and social perspectives. From the beginning of the 19th century, when archaeological activities ceased to be purely private ventures, public authorities used archaeological travels to achieve their own purposes, including non-scientific ones. On one hand, archaeology was served as a political tool to justify an expansion in North Africa and the Middle East, on the other hand – the results of archaeological exploration: artefacts enriching museum collections, testified the prestige of the state. This political context can be reconstructed thanks to the archive queries of unpublished documents kept in various state institutions, mainly in England and France. Since those documents reveal various undercover activities, their studies create an excellent starting point for further sociopolitical reflections not only on archaeology. The aim of this paper is to show several advantages of adopting different approaches to studying archive records in the British Museum and Musée du Louvre. Analysis of letters, notes about monuments, reports, minutes of the committee and other original papers allows making several observations concerning the development of archaeological methodologies. Apart from their obvious archaeological value, those documents allow also to reconstruct wider, political and social background of the journeys to Cyrenaica in the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the travellers, a special role was reserved for diplomats, for whom official activities created an opportunity to undertake their own research (e.g. Joseph Vattier de Bourville, George Dennis), and agents of the state institutions (e.g. Beechey brothers, Porcher and Smith). The support of the Admiralty or museums helped those travellers to fulfil both, scientific, as well as any other significant goals.

Archives Vs Archaeology: the case study of the building beneath Via di San Nicola de’ Cesarini, Rome

Author – Vladimir Mihajlovic
Keywords: Archaeology, Classical Archaeology, Ancient Topography, Topography of Ancient Rome, Ancient Rome, History of
Archaeology, Archives Data, Historical Archives, Roman Architecture, Campus Martius

In this paper, I will try to shed new light on the discovery of a building excavated during the 1920s and 1930s beneath Via di San Nicola de’ Cesarini, Rome, by means of both archival data and archaeological evidence. Surveying the historical archives of Rome (i.e., unpublished notes, drawings, tracings of brick stamps, and period photographs) allows for both a reconstruction of the appearance of the building at the moment of its discovery, as well as the dating of its phases. The old cadaster of the city, the Catasto Pio Gregoriano, and the Cabreo delle fognature della citt di Roma, a limitless collection of plans and drawings of the ancient and modern drainage system of the city, are also invaluable tools for the completion of this task. Thanks to this work, it will be possible to reconstruct the building in all its phases and to attempt an identification of it, drawing a new and up-to-date archaeological map in order to facilitate future work on the surrounding area.

Digging in Archives: Writing the Scientific Biography of Archaeologist Zsófia Torma

Author – PhD Candidate Coltofean, Laura, Brukenthal National Museum, “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, Sibiu, Romania (Presenting author)
Keywords: archival materials, scientific biography, Zsófia Torma

Zsófia Torma (1832–1899) was a pioneering Hungarian archaeologist who had a significant contribution to the development of prehistoric archaeology in nineteenth-century Transylvania, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She is most notably known for her research conducted at the prehistoric settlement of Turda-Lunc (Hunedoara County, Romania) which is one of the most important archaeological sites in today’s Romania, as well as for the international academic network that she developed through her vast scientific correspondence with well-known scholars of the time, such as Archibald Henry Sayce, Francis Haverfield, Johannes Ranke, and Albert Voss. After Zsófia Torma’s death, her activity was underestimated and ignored by most Romanian and Hungarian archaeologists for almost a century. However, the systematic excavations conducted at the site of Turda-Lunc between 1992 and 1998, as well as the preventive ones in 2011, have revealed the necessity of re-evaluating her archaeological activity and writing her scientific biography.
This paper is a case study about the experience of working with archival sources in the process of writing Zsófia Torma’s scientific biography, within a complex research that has been undertaken during the past three years, in seven Central and Eastern European institutions. These institutions are as follows: The National Széchényi Library (Budapest, Hungary), The Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Budapest, Hungary), The Hungarian National Museum (Budapest, Hungary), The National Archives of Hunedoara County (Deva, Romania), The National History Museum of Transylvania (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), The Brukenthal National Museum (Sibiu, Romania) and The Szekler National Museum (Sfântu Gheorghe, Romania). Overall, these institutions are the richest in archival materials concerning Zsófia Torma’s personal and scientific life. The first part of this paper aims to trace the differences and similarities between the archival materials from Romania and Hungary, by taking into consideration various aspects ranging from the content and relevance of the documents to their accessibility, way of preservation and even state of conservation. In addition to this, the second part of the paper focuses on the methodology employed in this research, as well as its main results and conclusions. Finally, the paper emphasizes the importance of archival materials in establishing Zsófia Torma’s place and role in the history of Hungarian, Romanian and European archaeology.

Archives and shipwrecks in the Baltic

Author – PhD Student Alvik, Riikka, The National Board of Antiquities, Helsinki, Finland (Presenting author)
Keywords: archives, maritime accidents, shipwrecks

The brackish waters of the Baltic hide thousands of shipwrecks from different eras. Most known wrecks of sailing vessels are from historical times and later than medieval. How can we compare and combine the sources from archives and archaeological data from shipwrecks to make their story complete and also scientifically valid?
Shipwrecked sailing vessels are often far away from their home harbor. Before becoming a shipwreck, a ship’s “life” can have several phases from building to re-building, re-use, abandonment or destruction by an accident or conflict. With shipwrecks, multidisciplinary research is needed to collect the data. When there is an idea of the port of origin of the find, there is a chance to start the research in archives. Sometimes an archival source – a document like an accident report or an announcement in the newspaper – leads to a systematic search for a possible place of wreckage. As archaeologists, we must learn to read both the material culture and archival sources, which possibly relate to each other. In this paper, two cases from Finnish waters will be presented, which have both archaeological findings and written sources associated with them.
The first case is that of a remarkable medieval maritime accident with quite a lot of written documents telling its story. The possible site of the accident is in the brackish waters of the Gulf of Finland. How might we interpret the scattered pieces of a wreck in the area, and how might we reconstruct the accident from the late 15th century? The other case is related to two shipwrecks of 18th-century merchant ships. Would it be possible to combine written documents, like toll and salvage records, to find a shipwreck? Is it possible to identify a shipwreck, and what methods should beused in the archaeological research process?

The relationship between archive documents and archaeological material of a naval conflict

Author – Mäkinen, Johanna, University of Helsinki, Sipoo, Finland (Presenting author)
Keywords: naval conflict, wreck sites, written documents

This research questions the role of archive documents in conflict archaeology. The second naval battle of Svensksund took place on 9 July 1790 on the south coast of Finland, outside the modern city of Kotka. The battle was part of the Russo-Swedish War (1788–1790), and it is the largest naval battle ever fought in Northern Europe. The focus of this research is the apparent contradiction between archival documents about the battle, and existing archaeological material. The general view, based on written sources, is that a large number of the vessels of Russia’s rowing fleet shipwrecked near Lehmäsaari Island, on the east side of the naval battle area, after being disadvantaged, partly due to weather conditions. However, only eight wreck sites have been located so far in the vicinity of Lehmäsaari Island. The small number of the wrecks has been explained by site formation – especially non- cultural – processes, but no comprehensive research has been published about this subject. The aim of this paper is to study this imbalanced relationship between archival documents and underwater archaeological material. The body of material interrogated consists of the archive – both primary and secondary sources – as well as archaeological material.

Analysing Archived Material to Unravel Wheelhouse Chronologies in the Western Isles, Scotland

Author – Dr. Krus, Anthony, University of Glasgow, East Kilbride, United Kingdom (Presenting author)
Co-author(s) – Brown, Lisa, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Co-author(s) – Goldberg, Martin, National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Keywords: Archival Analysis, Bayesian Chronological Modelling, Scottish Iron Age

The site of Bruthach a’Tuath on the Isle of Benbecula was investigated as part of rescue excavation which was undertaken in 1956 and 1957 in advance of the building of a Rocket Range in the Uists; the results of which were never published. In the 60 years since, the finds material and paper archive has found its way into the collections of a number of different institutions, including the National Museums Scotland, Kelvingrove Museum, Historic Environment Scotland, and the National Archives. Collation and analysis of this fragmented record has brought to light previously unrealised information about the excavated features, showing the presence of at least two wheelhouses and numerous related features.
Details for the excavated deposits were lacking, although the location of the artefacts and the date they were found was recorded on the finds boxes; consequently, a finds matrix formed the basis for interpreting the stratigraphy on site. A radiocarbon dating program was undertaken to identify the timing and sequence of activity related to the wheelhouses. Twenty-six radiocarbon measurements were taken from single-entities of wood charcoal, animal bone, human bone, and pottery residue. A Bayesian approach that considered stratigraphic contexts and feature formation processes was used to estimate the site chronology and sequence. Results demonstrate that activity occurred primarily in the 2nd–1st centuries BC. The chronological analyses have also helped identify ancient curation and provide evidence addressing if Iron Age activity may have been more extensive than the two dwellings. Further, this demonstrates the potential that artefacts in older archives have for producing new chronologies and for refining archaeological interpretations. Similar approaches could be taken to help maximise the potential of old archives that may be incomplete or not recorded according to modern standards.

The Aerofototeca Nazionale of Rome: a photographic archive for the study of Italian heritage

Author – Foa, Lisa, Roma, Italy (Presenting author)
Keywords: archive, aerial archaeology, Adamesteanu

Today, with the use of commercial drones, aerial pictures of archaeological sites and landscapes can be easily obtained and, thanks to more or less user-friendly software, easily processed – as it was recently discussed at the 2nd International Aerial Archaeology Conference that took place in Rome in February 2016 – and present-day records can be compared with “preeconomic boom” images to better understand what has changed in our landscapes and single sites.
Since its creation, the Aerofototeca Nazionale, based in Rome, has acquired several different collections of aerial photographs. Today it houses aerophotographic materials that date from the very end of the 19th century (e.g., the images taken by G. Boni during his excavations in the Roman Forum) to recent years. The core of the collections are the thousands of images taken by the Allied air forces while surveying war zones during WWII; despite their often precarious preservation state, those images depict several areas of the Italian Peninsula that look totally different today, due to the growth of urban areas and the development of infrastructures.
The Aerofototeca, founded in 1958, is a historical photographic archive of the ICCD – Istituto Centrale del Catalogo e Documentazione – part of the Italian Ministry of Culture (MiBACT). The archaeologist Dinu Adamesteanu was the first director of the Aerofototeca. He organized the first body of archival materials and designed the archive as an instrument for the collection, preservation, cataloguing and study of aerial photographic records. The Aerofototeca is an essential source for archaeological research and the safeguarding of our heritage. The author of this paper, during an 18-month internship at the Aerofototeca, followed by field research, worked on the rearrangement of a group of more than 4,000 slides, the so called “fondo Adamesteanu” (a focus on a selection of those slides was published on the periodical Archeologia Aerea VI, 2012). The aim of this paper is to show a few examples of the potential of this archive as a fundamental source for understanding the development of our fast-changing landscapes and as a tool for the safeguarding of Italian archaeological sites.
In particular, starting from the pioneering 1908 aerophotographic survey of a stretch of the Tiber River, some areas along the river will be analyzed on the basis of the materials available at the Aerofototeca, retracing phases of ancient and recent history of the landscape.

Endangered Archaeology in the Archives: utilizing historical aerial photography to assess heritage

Author – Banks, Rebecca, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom (Presenting author)
Keywords: aerial photography, databases, heritage under threat

The Endangered Archaeology of the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project aims to locate, document and monitor archaeological sites and any damage to those sites in an online platform for the Middle East and North Africa region utilising remote sensing and networks of professionals. The threat to archaeological sites due to political and social upheaval in the MENA region has drawn much attention and is being effectively monitored remotely by a number of projects, but the more gradual threats to sites from development and agriculture over the last century are less well documented. Historical aerial imagery collections from the first half of the 20th century are a fantastic resource that has captured landscapes and sites before modern development, population increase and conflict drastically changed the region and accelerated heritage loss. The collections however are scattered between institutions and many are poorly documented. The paper will present how EAMENA with the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME) has begun working with these collections to not only utilise a fantastic resource for the documentation of heritage, but to digitise and facilitate knowledge sharing of what these collections hold.

Another kind of archive: on the preservation of publications and born-digital material

Author – O’Riordan, Emma Jane, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (Presenting author)
Co-author(s) – Osborne-Martin, Erin, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Keywords: archaeology, digital, publications

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland has been publishing since 1792 and has produced the journal Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (PSAS) annually since 1851. These volumes provide a record of research excavations, rescue excavations, archaeological surveys, studies of objects, overviews of historical records, publication reviews and more. Physical copies of the Proceedings are sent every year to Fellows of the Society as well as to libraries and institutions across the world. In 2001, the Society began scanning our PSAS archive and since 2003, PDFs of papers more than a year old have been available to view freely online via the Archaeology Data Service (; since 2011, users have downloaded PSAS articles more than 386,000 times. We also host the full text of our out-of-print monographs and Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports (SAIR) with the ADS. The sheer amount of archaeological knowledge that our publications represents makes it an indispensable resource for anyone studying the history of antiquarianism and archaeology in Scotland, as well as a treasure trove of detailed information on archaeological sites and artefacts. As these publications cover hundreds of years of research, thousands of different objects and sites and hundreds of authors, their single common link is often the Society itself. How can the Society best use its own heritage and archives to inform future work? One of the research projects of the Society is the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF). This free-to – use online resource ( summarises what the acknowledged experts in their fields – not only archaeologists but also those in related disciplines such as geosciences, environmental sciences, history and museums – thought about Scottish archaeological knowledge at the time of the first reports in 2012. The work is divided by time period and each period ‘panel’ made a series of recommendations for future research. Now, in 2016, the panels are beginning work on the next version of these reports. This will mean that the 2012 reports become, in effect, an archive themselves. One of the challenges moving forward will be to ensure that as the first set of questions posed are answered, that the archaeological information that led to them are not forgotten but archived so that in the future, contemporary trends and lines of thinking can be studied. It is planned that the new reports will contain links to more of the raw data and archives used in their creation and it is possible that many of these data and archives will be available online. However, the ability to view these will only be a useful addition if they are openly accessible. The Society has a privileged position from which to think about the long-term survival of our archaeological heritage as it has been around since 1780 and, as long as there Fellows with an interest in Scottish archaeology and history, will remain for the decades and centuries to come. How can we ensure that our rich history and archives will remain visible and relevant for as long as they are needed?

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