TRADITION V NEW ‘TOOLS’
’It could be considered that Archaeology from its inception embraced new technology. This included Cartesian mapping and early photography, ground based and aerial, both balloon and fixed wing. The Atomic era brought carbon14 dating, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) exploration introduced LiDar, geophysical survey using proton magnometry or Ground Penetrating Radar. Jeremy Huggett suggested “the idea that objects contain embedded within them representations of aspects of their socio-technical and economic circumstances of creation is not unfamiliar to archaeologists”, could this be an ‘aura’. It could be considered that the dig and abstraction of artefacts by human hand are still applicable, the rest, Digital or otherwise simply speeds the process along. A prime example in the use of Digital Archaeological sub-set disciplines would be the discovery of Richard III’s body. A mechanical digger remove the first 30cm of surface material, not a mattock in site. From GPR to dig team, carbon 14 to Osteoarchaeology, CT scans to Archaeogenetics led to his identity being discovered. While the use digital tools and approaches are available to all archaeologists and should when possible be integrated into all aspects their work, many avenues of digital archaeology need a specialist’s knowledge. The introduction of many new tools comes from far outside traditional fields of archaeology, the IMS and GPS used in aerial LiDar is originally from missile technology. Archaeologists implement digital databases in comparative studies, this shared work and experience can be available through open access, linking all data, and optimising the link through new technology can aid in creating more refined interpretations of archaeology. There is a need for the next generation of archaeologists to engage with digital technology. Even to be given a basic knowledge of the many aspects of analytical or research systems irrespective of how often it is used; simply to know that tools are available to speed up complicated processes. There is no doubt that many archaeology projects presently involve the use of computers, it is not necessary that their project leaders know how to use them but they should have people in their department who do, Andre Costopoulos makes this point clear. In Ireland, the availability of dig information provided by the NRA online in incredible. There is an ongoing process to get archaeologists to realize the potential of digital archaeology using it as a new tool or sub-field and to eventually incorporate it into their research. Archaeology has come far since academics dismissed the first radiocarbon dating in the nineteen forties as archaeologically inacceptable. As computer technology becomes more compact and computers became more powerful and human-readable computing languages became more prominent.
The time is here to embrace the technology for what it is, a way of speeding up ancillary processes, overlaying tracing paper on google earth photos of the site to get a sketch map, GPS for distances and scale or identifying dig pits with GPR, reducing the use of test pits. In a generation, Archaeology, will be just be one of many disciplines revolving round Digital platforms. ‘Who commands the future conquers the past’ (Orwell 1949)
Costopoulos A Digital Archaeology Is Here (and Has Been for a While). Front. Digit. Humanit. 3:4. doi: 10.3389/fdigh.2016.00004http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fdigh.2016.00004/full
Huggett J.A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology
Wenger R. Visual Art, Archaeology, and Gestalt
Leonardo Vol. 30, No. 1 (1997), pp. 35-46, The MIT Press
TRADITION V NEW ‘TOOLS’