Digital Archaeology – Where are we and how do we fit in?

reilly-beale-ia-fig-2I was delighted to learn the multi-thread, multi-format session proposed by myself and my colleagues John Pouncett and Steve Stead to CAA Atlanta (March 14-16, 2017) has been accepted (http://caaconference.org/program/sessions/#title14). It seems to be a natural response to one of the main obstacles to making progress on the disciplinary “Grand Challenges” in digital archaeology that we have been discussing these last three years; namely, getting one’s arms around the challenge. This is an attempt to break the elephant-sized obstacle down into bite-sized pieces!

CAA 2017 Session Proposal: Digital Archaeology – Where are we and how do we fit in?

Abstract: Digital technologies are integral to many facets of current practice in archaeology (universities, field units, museums, archives, CRM etc). However, we see little evidence of disciplinary-wide coordinated programmes but clear indications of fractures and silos. For example, spatial data collected in the field is typically held separate from what we might call the rest of the archive. The result is a kludge of technologies and applications with no clear overview of what is available (let alone best of breed or best value) and, equally important, what is needed.

The premise of this multi-format/session thread is that we need to bring clarity to the CAA membership and the wider archaeological community regarding where, how and what archaeological computing and digital technologies are available to benefit the discipline, and where there are gaps or opportunities to add most value. As far as we are aware there is no high-level enterprise, business, process or functional model of the discipline of archaeology showing how it fits together together and functions. Consequently, there are no maps elucidating where archaeological computing or digital archaeology plays a significant role.

The aim of this thread is to catalyse a dialogue which will produce a high level model of our discipline, allowing us to start the process of identifying and mapping our assets and resources. To this end we are proposing a three-stage community effort at CAA Atlanta with three session formats to start the dialogue between practitioners:

  • Stage/Session 1. We invite individuals and groups to send a single page diagrammatic description of the discipline (block diagram, flow chart, Value chain etc) to p.reilly@soton.ac.uk. Each model will be displayed as part of a “poster” session, and CAA members are encouraged to leave comments/questions using post-its;
  • Stage/Session 2. A moderated forum where, following a position paper, each poster contributor briefly presents their model (max 5 mins each) leading to a moderated, minuted discussion;
  • Stage/Session 3. A facilitated ‘birds of a feather’ session in which small groups each develop selected parts of a consensus model and begin mapping assets and resources, and document issues.

Hope to discuss this with you in Atlanta! Thanks for your interest.

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