Read all about it: reporting, publication and engagement

Posted on October 4, 2017


It’s Wednesday, so time for some conference videos. These come from the CIfA conference and an interesting look at dissemination:

Session Details

Organisers: Victoria Donnelly and Tori Park, Amec Foster Wheeler

As archaeologists, we have an obligation to communicate the results of our work, both to professionals and the wider public. In an ever-increasingly digital world the potential mechanisms for communication are vast.
This training session and broader discussion will explore the mechanisms of reporting, archiving and the ultimate output of archaeological investigation in a global context. This session will consider what systems are currently in place for pooling and sharing information, both with other archaeologists and the wider public. How effective are these systems in achieving the aims of the Valletta Convention? Case studies that provide examples of both the highs and lows of dissemination and archiving of projects, highlighting opportunities for sharing and working collaboratively, and discussing hurdles and how they were overcome, form the basis for discussion and training. The session will round up with a broader discussion exploring what can be learnt, the potential for greater collaboration or even a European-wide database, and mechanisms for facilitating this.

The Archaeological Recording Kit (ARK) – 10 years of learning lessons by reporting, publishing and engaging with archaeological data Stu Eve, L – P: Archaeology

Ten years ago at the Computer Applications in Archaeology conference in Berlin we introduced the Archaeological Recording Kit (ARK – Eve & Hunt 2008). In the hazy times before Twitter and Facebook, we had big revolutionary ideas for our new archaeological database system, we envisioned an open, transparent and free system that would adapt to archaeologists needs and be a platform around which we could build a community. Since then ARK has been used on a large number of projects both commercial and academic around the world, including the award-winning Fasti Online and Prescot Street projects and it is the main back-end of the highly successful Digital Dig Team from DigVentures. ARK is currently being used in the field to record primary data, in the lab to catalogue and analyse data and in the office to create post-excavation assessments and online data publications. In 2016 we began work on ARK v2 – our attempt to completely re-factor the ARK database onto a modern framework with the aim of drastically improving database performance, ease of maintenance, and to allow the development of a suite of tools external to ARK on multiple platforms. This paper will discuss the lessons we have learned from 10 years of at-the-coal-face experience of working with numerous different archaeological projects, what the needs have been from both our clients
and our own projects and how we and the profession can move forward with regard to archaeological data recording.

Archaeological output in the museum setting: a case study – The Mary Rose Chris Dobbs, Mary Rose Trust

The original objectives of the Mary Rose Trust back in 1979 included: To find, record, excavate, raise, preserve, publish and display the Mary Rose for all time in Portsmouth. But how has this been achieved, particularly in relation to the objectives: to publish and display for all time? What is the ultimate output of this archaeological excavation? How are the results of the work communicated to a wider public in a way that is engaging for a 21st-century audience? What opportunities have there been for sharing our work internationally and what are the challenges ahead?
This paper will present the case study of the Mary Rose from the lows of a publication backlog to the highs of HLF funding and eventually the opening of the Museum in 2016. A high profile is allowing us to present as far afield as China, Cambodia and Taiwan, thus contributing to our global profession.

Engaging the public with archaeology: Birmingham Museums Ellen McAdam, Birmingham Museums Trust

Birmingham Museums Trust manages the city’s collection of 800,000 objects and nine museum venues on behalf of Birmingham City Council. The city’s museums attract over 1.2 million visits a year. Apart from the Staffordshire Hoard, however, there is very little archaeology on display. This is weird, because
1. The collection contains a huge amount of archaeology
2. Local history, including archaeology, is the single most popular topic with audiences, including the BAME audiences who
make up 46% of the city’s population
3. The museum service had strong historical links with the local archaeological society, and supported excavations in the
Near East.

1. Curatorial hierarchies are dominated by flat art
2. Professional archaeology doesn’t get the marketing, funding, PR and political angles of museum partnerships
3. Archaeological archives – dead duck or sacred cow?

And the future?

Views across the pond: different systems of reporting and engagement from North America and Europe Victoria Donnelly and Tori Park , Amec Foster Wheeler

Using examples and experiences from two geographic regions within the same multinational company, this case study explores the mechanisms for sharing information between the regions, the benefits and drawbacks to the different systems of reporting and engagement and what we can learn from each other.

Conflict and Resolution: a case study of the Highway 55 and the Camp Coldwater conflict (1990–early 2000s) and the roles of archaeological practitioners, stakeholding indigenous communities and the public Michael Tomiak, Environmental Resource Management (ERM)

Camp Coldwater located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, falls under Federal ownership. Due to the planned construction of Federal Highway 55 that was to traverse this land in the early 2000s, an archaeological investigation was carried out. Considered a sacred site by native American tribes and being located near to Historic Fort Snelling the area is arguably a sacred place worthy of protection. The investigation however concluded that a reroute was not necessary. This was met with strong opposition. The resulting protests, negative media attention, and controversy severely damaged not only the reputation of local archaeology, but raised questions about the methods and processes archaeologists use, and the legal framework in which modern archaeology exists. This paper looks at the why the conflict arose and attempts to locate and highlight where the issues derived from. It is concluded that much of the conflict could have been avoided through better communication and proactivity on both the archaeologists’ and government agency’s part. Future generations can therefore hopefully approach similar incidents with more diplomacy, preparedness, sensitivity, and tact. This research was undertaken at the University of Minnesota.

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