BLOG POST RESPONSE 3: DIGITAL ARCHAEOLOGY

BLOG POST  RESPONSE 3: TO JOHN McCALLISTER’S BLOG POST

I think your blog is very good, John! I unreservedly agree with the majority of your arguments.  The points that you make about traditional/digital archaeology are valid and are extremely difficult to argue against.  I have no doubt that Augustus Pitt Rivers would have scoffed at the idea of a device or fully functional computer that could calculate binary mathematic equations.  This was realised in 1943/46 when the ENIAC computer was invented by J. P. Eckert and J. Mauchly at the University of Pennsylvania.  Archaeologists such as Stuart Struever, a North American Archaeologist, pioneered the use of computers to record and categorize data from archaeological sites in the USA (Archaeologists: explorers of the human past by Brian Fagan).

In my own opinion, digital technology has made archaeological research, analysis, recording and curation much more accurate, and faster, as you emphasised, John.  There are academics, such as Andre Costopoulos, who have thrown scorn on aspects of virtual archaeology. Costopoulos stated that the computer gaming community had taken the lead on the debate about online reconstruction of the past instead of professional archaeologists.  Whilst this may be true to some extent, it is also a hypocritical attempt by Costopoulos to criticise a technological development that will eventually become entrenched in archaeological methodology.

I think the only part I disagree with you on, John, is that the transitional process from traditional archaeology to digital archaeology will not take a generation.  My opinion is that Digital Humanities is a new field, and you can even see that this field has one foot stuck in computer science which uses computational theory, methodology and many other aspects which are alien to archaeologists.  I, myself, studied archaeology for four years and I rarely, if ever, came across augmented and virtual reality, for example.  I think traditional archaeology and digital humanities should be amalgamated into one degree, or TSM.  In addition to merging the two disciplines, there is also the huge issue of universal standardisation, intellectual property, funding and ethics which Costopoulos mentioned in his article, with Huggett also agreeing. In conclusion, I think that this may never happen in my life time, and if it does, I will be happily surprised because I feel it would be beneficial to archaeology in general.