2014 Blogging Archaeology eBook (Click to Download)

Blogging Archaeology
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Published by Landward Research Ltd in Association with Succinct Research and
DIGTECH LLC
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ISBN 978-0-9572452-1-1
Edited by Doug Rocks-Macqueen and Chris Webster
Copyediting and Front Cover Design: Quonya Huff
Authors (Alphabetical):
Matt Armstrong
Doug Rocks-Macqueen
Matthew Austin
Jessica Rymer
David Gill
Jaime Almansa-Sánchez
Maria Beierlein de Gutierrez
Lucy Shipley
Sam Hardy
Chris Webster
Emily Johnson
Katy Whitaker
Kristina Killgrove
William White
Bernard Means
Howard Williams
Katy Meyers
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0
International License. To view a copy of this license, visit:
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/
Blogging Archaeology
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Limit of Liability and Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher, editors and
authors has used their best efforts in preparing this book, and the
information provided herein is provided "as is." The publisher, editors and
authors makes no representation or warranties with respect to the
accuracy or completeness of the contents of this book and specifically
disclaims any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for any
particular purpose and shall in no event be liable for any loss of profit or
any other commercial damage, including but not limited to special,
incidental, consequential, or other damages.
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Table of Contents
Introduction- It is like no other archaeology book before it. ____________ 6
Archived Links _______________________________________________________ 8
Archaeological Blogging and Engagement ___________________________ 9
Matthew Austin
Professionals, Not Adventurers: Personal Reflections on the Value, Ethics,
and Practicalities of CRM Blogging ___________________________________ 20
Matt Armstrong
Teaching Public Engagement in Anthropology _______________________ 36
Kristina Killgrove
Looting Matters: Blogging in a Research Context ______________________ 44
David W. J. Gill
Calling All Archaeology Careerists: Discussing Archaeology Careers
Online ______________________________________________________________ 60
William A. White, III
Why archaeological blogging matters: Personal experiences from
Central Europe and South America. __________________________________ 77
Maria Beierlein de Gutierrez
‘A masterpiece in political propaganda’ and a futile exercise in
archaeological blogging ____________________________________________ 93
Sam Hardy
Virtual Curation and Virtual Collaboration __________________________ 122
Bernard K. Means
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#freearchaeology: blog post turned international debate ___________ 146
Emily Johnson
Blog Bodies: Mortuary Archaeology and Blogging __________________ 153
Katy Meyers
Howard Williams
Perceptions of Archaeology and The Words We Use ________________ 180
Jessica Rymer
The end of a cycle. Blogging about public archaeology in Spain. El fin de
un ciclo. Blogueando sobre arqueología pública en España ________ 188
Jaime Almansa- Sanchez
Etruscans Online __________________________________________________ 197
Lucy Shipley
The Edgcumbe cannibal fork – blogging a creative response to the
meanings of things ________________________________________________ 214
Katy Whitaker
Fired Twice for Blogging and Social Media: Why CRM Firms are Afraid of
Social Media _____________________________________________________ 223
Chris Webster
Running An Archaeology Blogging Carnival - A Post-mortem________ 233
Doug Rocks-Macqueen
Appendix ________________________________________________________ 247
Archived Links ____________________________________________________ 269
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Introduction- It is like no other
archaeology book before it.
On April 26th, 2014 a session was run at the Society of American
Archaeologists Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, on Archaeology, Social
Media and blogging. Or we should more correctly say, will be run at the
SAA conference; at the time of writing this book, it has yet to take place.
This book is like many other contribution-based books or special journal
issues that are based on a session at a conference. However, it differs in
that it has not taken years, after the fact, to be published. In fact, it will
be published at the beginning of the session, Saturday morning April 26th,
2014. Some of the papers will be online before they are even presented
in the session.
In an attempt to reach a wider audience, the editors and organiser
of the SAA session, envisioned putting together a book of the papers
given at the session and contributions from others interested in the
subject. The idea was that everyone, public and archaeologists alike,
would have instantaneous access to many of the same thoughts and
insights as those who could attend the session in Austin. Thus, several
months before the blogging archaeology session would take place in
Austin, a call for papers was announced. After several rounds of editing,
this book is finally complete.
The general theme of this book can best be described by the
abstract from the session it was born out of:
Blogging Archaeology, Again
Blogging and social media have become indispensable tools for
archaeologists in recent years. Academic and cultural resource
management projects are utilizing blogging and social media for
outreach and in classroom settings. The sharing of archaeology
news and information by archaeologists and journals is a primary
source of up to the minute information for many. A number of
blogs are aimed at providing the public with information on either
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a single topic or a range of related topics. With all the benefits to
blogging and the use of social media in archaeology there are still
issues to overcome. The problem of relating site and project
information to the public while maintaining anonymity of the
parties involved and keeping site locations confidential is
something that every archaeologist struggles with. In this session
we will examine the ways archaeologists use social media and
blogging and how problems related to the use of social media
can be overcome.
You will find that almost no two papers are alike, both in content and
presentation. As bloggers ourselves, we have noticed the great diversity
in the archaeology blogging community and we wanted a book that
reflected that. The authors were given instructions to write whatever sort
of paper they wanted to, and they did. Some of the papers are heavily
referenced research presentations while others are personal narratives.
We did not specify what type of English to use, British or American, and
both are found throughout this book. For referencing, we only asked for
Harvard style but, there was no house style. First person or third person
voice, it did not matter to us. Word limits: we had none. We asked
authors to write the papers they wanted to present to the world, not the
papers we, the editors wanted to present.
What resulted is one of the most unique pieces of writing the field of
archaeology has seen in a long time, and we would argue has ever seen
in such a formal publication as a book. When have you seen an author
alternate the language a section is written in? Each author presents a
style of writing that is uniquely their own. You will find some papers used
footnotes to express additional ideas in sentences, (while others used
brackets) -- or dashes --. Each of the author’s voices comes out in unique
and very discernable ways, like what one would find on archaeology
blogs. Essentially, all of the authors were given the subject of blogging
and social media and asked to present to us how they wanted to.
We hope you enjoy the book.
Doug Rocks-Macqueen & Chris Webster
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Archived Links
Because this book deals with blogs and social media, many the
resources cited are digital in nature. This means that we run the risk of
“link rot”. To avoid this problem, most of the webpages cited throughout
this book have been registered with the Internet Archive (IA). Each
unique link has an end note with a link to the archived version of the
webpage on the Internet Archive. We believe that the Internet Archive
will most likely be around longer than many of these Internet resources.
The Internet Archive cannot archive every page, for various reasons
including those pages blocking IA, and while the majority of linked
resources have been archived, some have not. If you find that the
orgional hyperlink no longer works please see the archived links for a
snap shot of the resource being cited. You can find them by following
the end notes behind each hyperlink.
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Archaeological Blogging and
Engagement
Matthew Austin
Blog: http://darkageology.wordpress.com i
Introduction
Creating a website in the early days of the World Wide Web was
difficult. Not only did such an endeavour require access to a computer
with an internet connection, which was expensive and uncommon, it
also required a good understanding of HTML. Nowadays the price of
computing is relatively low and record numbers of people have access
to the internet. The level of technical knowledge required to create a
website has also been greatly reduced by the development of online
publishing tools. As a consequence, blogging has become an important
aspect of the World Wide Web. Particularly in the last decade or so, the
number of blogs has increased substantially due to the emergence of
popular blogging platforms. For example, there are currently over 175
million ii Tumblr blogs and over 75 million iii WordPress blogs (Tumblr 2014;
WordPress 2014). In a sense, the very existence of this volume can be
seen as a testament to the growth of blogging.
Definitions
In order to present a case for archaeological blogging as an
important form of public engagement, it is appropriate to first define our
terms. For the purposes of this paper, I will define a blog, or ‘web log’, as
an interactive, regularly updated website, composed of posts and
pages, which is published on the World Wide Web. A broad definition
such as this allows us to consider the variable character of blogs.
Archaeological blogs range from personalised, single-author accounts to
multi-authored professional news websites with thousands of hits a day.
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Most blogs about the past have a single author, but this is by no means
the rule. Peter Konieczny and Sandra Alvarez’s ‘Medievalists.net’ iv is a
very good example of a highly popular multi-authored news blog about
the medieval period (Konieczny and Alvarez 2008-2014).
The term ‘public engagement’, on the other hand, is more difficult to
define. Despite this, it is an incredibly significant term, and one which
plays an important role in the funding of academic research. In the UK,
annual events like the National Science and Engineering Week v and the
Festival of Archaeology vi are designed to engage the general public
(i.e. the non-specialist) with disciplinary knowledge and academic
research (British Science Association 2014; Council for British Archaeology
2014). The UK-based National Co-ordinating Centre for Public
Engagement vii defines public engagement as:
‘…the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher
education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement
is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening,
with the goal of generating mutual benefit.’- (National Co-ordinating
Centre for Public Engagement 2014)
An alternative if similar definition has also been put forward by the
Higher Education Funding Council for England viii :
‘…public engagement should involve specialists in higher education
listening to, developing their understanding of, and interacting with
non-specialists.’ - (Higher Education Funding Council for England
2006, 2)
Whilst these are suitable definitions, they fail to fully appreciate the
multiplicity of quantitative and qualitative factors at play, and do not
allude to how one might measure such impact. Regardless of this, a
broad and nonspecific definition is useful for our current purposes, and
allows a range of archaeological blogs to be considered.
Archaeological blogs differ in terms of purpose, audience and content,
but can be grouped into loose categories. Some of these will now be
considered.
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The Archaeological Blog
Many established academics maintain a professional blog as a
means to communicate new ideas and engage a wider audience with
their research. Good examples of scholarly blogs include Martin
Rundkvist’s ‘Aardvarchaeology’ ix, Frands Herschend’s ‘On the Reading
Rest’ x and Howard Williams’s ‘Archaeodeath’ xi (Rundkvist 2006-2014;
Herschend 2011-2014; Williams 2013-2014). Beyond the obvious benefits
of offering accessible content to their students and colleagues, these
blogs also serve to raise awareness of their research more broadly. Due
to their professional authorship, posts that report on new discoveries, like
Martin Rundkvist’s ‘And Yet Another Gold Foil Figure Die from Zealand’ xii,
serve not only as useful resources for academics but also offer a
specialist account to the interested reader (Rundkvist 2014).
Within this category of academic blogs we can also consider the
works of postgraduate students and early career researchers. My own
blog, ‘Darkage-ology’ xiii, was created as both a diary of my research as
it develops and as a mechanism to engage as wide a readership as
possible (Austin 2013-2014). It is fortuitous that I am not alone in this
endeavour and several blogs, including Katy Meyers’s ‘Bones Don't Lie’
xiv, Mark McKerracher’s ‘Farming Unearthed’ xv, Emily Johnson’s
‘Archaeology, Academia and Access’ xvi and Lisa-Marie Shillito’s ‘Castles
and Coprolites’ xvii, can be considered in this same category (Meyers
2010-2014; McKerracher 2012-2014; Johnson 2012-2014; Shillito 20122014). The fact that so many choose to make their ongoing research
accessible to an interested, or even non-interested, readership is
encouraging. Looking beyond public engagement, the existence of
such blogs boosts the online visibility of the researchers in question,
increasing their position in online search engines and therefore making it
more likely that people will read their research. The obvious benefits of
this for an early career researcher do not need stating.
Other important types of blogs are those which are attached to
academic research projects. Cardiff University’s community excavation,
‘Cosmeston Archaeology’ xviii, was a good example of this (Forward and
Nicholas 2011-2013). As well as offering updates on the excavations and
their wider context, the blog also published guest posts by the student
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excavators, many of which offered humorous takes on excavation life xix
(e.g. Madge 2011). The excavations were well received by the public,
and the blog gave them a way to pursue further information and keep
up to date with the project. Two enterprising students even created a
film about the excavations xx, which was fully integrated into the blog
(Durbin and Barrett 2011).
Additional examples of research project blogs include the Thames
Discovery Project’s ‘FROG blog’ xxi, which was awarded the Best Community
Archaeology Project 2012 xxii prize at the British Archaeological Awards, and
the University of Reading’s ‘Lyminge Archaeology’ xxiii blog (Foreshore
Recording & Observation Group 2008-2014; British Archaeological Awards 2012;
Knox 2012-2014). By allowing interested individuals the chance to follow the
progress of projects, such blogs can be seen as gateways between academic
research and the general public. In addition to this, posts can go beyond the
reporting of new finds to the personal and social aspects of archaeological
activity. This point is emphasised by a comparison of The Guardian’s ‘Saxon
find in Lyminge has historians partying like it's 599’ xxiv and Lyminge
Archaeology’s ‘The end of a wonderful season of digging, discoveries and
many new friends’ xxv (Kennedy 2012; Knox 2012). The former provides a useful
and accessible summary of the discovery, but the latter provides an altogether
more detailed and coherent account, as well as a reflection on the rich
experience of the excavation itself.
Some blogs are even designed with public engagement as an
explicit purpose. Guerilla Archaeology xxvi, a Cardiff-based outreach
collective, has a popular blog with a fitting tagline; ‘creative
engagement with changing times’ (Guerilla Archaeology 2012-2014).
The blog chronicles the efforts of the team to engage people who might
otherwise have no connection with archaeology. One such way they do
this is to take the past to the people, as it were, through street
demonstrations and music festivals. These events are then written up as
blog posts xxvii which allow those involved to revisit the experience and
follow up on their learning (Austin 2013a).
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Engagement
Whilst the preceding section has highlighted the degree of diversity
observable in the archaeological blogosphere, the desire to make
information, news, analysis and interpretation available online for free
can be seen as a universal factor. Raising awareness of the discipline is
also a common theme, whether through formal discussion on the pay
and conditions of professional archaeologists xxviii or by using a popular
videogame series to facilitate and inspire education about the past xxix
(Rocks-Macqueen 2013a; McGuire 2013-2014). Some authors even feel
as though it is something of a public duty xxx to effect a greater public
engagement with the past and increase awareness of the work of
archaeologists:
‘I am increasingly reassured by a number of us PhD/ECRs [EarlyCareer Researchers] who see this as a sort of public duty… as
opposed to REF [Research Excellence Framework]/institutional
promotion. True PE [Public Engagement].’- (O’Hagan 2014)
It is argued here that blogging represents the perfect medium for
such endeavours. This is due to two principle reasons; accessibility and
interactivity. Blogs are free to access by anyone with an internet
connection. Unlike the more traditional forms of media, such as
newspapers, magazines and books, there is no associated paywall with
blogging and readers need never purchase or donate anything in
return. In addition to this, readers can engage directly with the content
of a blog, and its author, through various mechanisms such as
commenting, liking and reblogging. For some bloggers, this two-way
process of engagement is explicitly mentioned xxxi:
‘I openly encourage people to contact me with resources and
alternative viewpoints... In fact- this is one of the most important parts
of blogging. Blogs are a way of opening the dialogue to the greater
world.’- (Meyers 2013)
For reasons of accessibility and interactivity, then, it is argued that
archaeological blogging should be seen as an effective medium in
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which to engage a wider audience. It is also posited that the relevant
academic and blogging communities should, wherever possible, support
and encourage such endeavours. Volumes such as this one are strong
evidence for the growing importance of archaeological blogging and
the benefits it can bring to specialists and non-specialists alike.
Papers, Posts and Impact
Our final consideration is the relationship between blogging and the
traditional means of scholarly publication. The case put forward here is
that blogging can serve as an effective way in which to increase
awareness of archaeological literature and ongoing research. Whilst the
importance of printed publication is still significant, there has been a
trend in recent years towards online access. In the context of the UK,
most of the major archaeological journals are now available online,
including the Archaeological Journal xxxii, Antiquaries Journal xxxiii and
Antiquity xxxiv, although a subscription is often required (Royal
Archaeological Institute 2014; Cambridge Journals Online 2014; Antiquity
2014).
There has also been a move towards journals that are exclusively
online – so-called e-journals – such as Internet Archaeology xxxv and the
Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology xxxvi (Internet Archaeology 2014;
Bulgarian e-Journal of Archaeology 2014). When we consider this trend
towards digital publication, and take into account how some blog posts
actually receive more views than published journal articles xxxvii, it stands
to reason that blogging can play an important role in complementing
published academic research (Rocks-Macqueen 2013b).
We can illustrate this point with an example from my own area of
research. When I was researching the early Anglo-Saxon cremation rite
of post-Roman England for my MA dissertation last summer (Austin
2013b), a post on Howard Williams’s blog called ‘Why Decorate Early
Anglo-Saxon Pots?’ xxxviii was particularly valuable (Williams 2013). It was
important for two reasons; not only did it serve as a concise and
accessible overview of the topic in question, but it also alerted me to
newly published research xxxix in the area (Nugent and Williams 2012).
Blogging Archaeology
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Because it increases awareness of published academic research, and is
presented in an accessible way, this case study can be viewed as a
good example of how blogging can increase awareness of research
and increase its impact.
Conclusion
This paper has discussed archaeological blogging in terms of
engagement. The argument that blogging represents the perfect
medium in which to increase levels of engagement with the past has
been supported by references to a plethora of successful blogs. An
important final consideration, though, is how one can assess the impact
of archaeological blogging. Quantitatively speaking, this can be
gauged using readership statistics xl and traffic analysis xli (RocksMacqueen 2014; Rothwell 2014). Statistics such as these are essential in
evaluating the effectiveness of a blog and offer useful supporting
evidence to universities, funding bodies and employers. However, there
is no point trying to quantify the deeply personal experience of
connecting with the past itself. Encouraging engagement should always
be seen as more important than measuring it.
At the core of archaeological blogging is a belief that studying the
past is worthwhile and relevant. Connecting with the past can be a
journey of almost spiritual proportions and having even a basic
understanding can enrich all aspects of one's life. Consequently,
archaeological blogs should be seen as having the potential to affect
people in an immeasurably important way. When such engagement
becomes the focus of our collective efforts, then, our capacity to
change lives becomes incredibly exciting.
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Professionals, Not Adventurers:
Personal Reflections on the
Value, Ethics, and Practicalities
of CRM Blogging
Matt Armstrong
Blog: http://anthroslug.blogspot.co.uk/ lxxx
Introduction
I began keeping a blog in 2007 for a few reasons, but key amongst
them was that I wanted to tell stories and share my experiences. I was
writing about my work as an archaeologist, but I was telling it in the form
of stories that one might tell at a cocktail party. These stories, the funny
ones, the scary ones, the just plain odd ones, were, in essence,
adventure stories told to pass the time. Over the next five years, as I
continued blogging, I had time to think about what I was writing and
why I was writing it. Certainly, archaeology was not the only topic that I
covered, but when I did write about archaeology, I began to be less
interested in telling the adventure stories and more interested in
discussing my work and my role as a CRM professional. At the same time,
events in my workplace and in my personal life led to me consider, more
carefully, how I wrote what I wrote.
In 2012 I became a father, and as a result, many of my leisure-time
activities, including blogging, were put on the back burner. However, I
have continued to think about the role of social media, including blogs,
in my life and my profession. When I return to blogging (which I wholly
intend to do), my subjects and approach will be different than it was in
2007, or even in 2012.
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This essay is a reflection on what I have learned about the role of
blogging as a Cultural Resource Management (CRM) professional, as a
blogger, and as a reader of other blogs. It should also be noted that, as I
work in the United States, and the relationship between CRM (whether it
is called “heritage management”, “public archaeology”, “contract
archaeology” or any other name in your locale) and academic
archaeology varies from country to country. So, what I write here is
specific to the United States, and is informed by my own experiences in
the western United States. In other words, your mileage may vary. Other
perspectives are available from CRM bloggers, and I recommend
Doug’s Archaeology (http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/ lxxxi) and
the DIGTECH blogs (http://www.digtech-llc.com/blog/ lxxxii) as being
especially worthwhile.
The Value
It will come as no surprise to anybody that archaeology is
misrepresented in the general media. What is, perhaps, less well
understood is that archaeologists do as much to misrepresent our field as
do television and radio producers or print media writers and editors. If
one focuses on mass-media outlets where archaeologists discuss their
work, one walks away with the impression that: all archaeologists work in
universities or museums; that we teach classes most of the year and
perform fieldwork only during summers or while on sabbatical; that we
dedicate our time to “digs”; and focus on individual archaeological sites
(usually ones with huge temples and impressive statuary) for years or
decades at a time. This is true whether the archaeology is being
discussed on a respected radio news show (All Things Considered 2008;
Talk of the Nation 2008), larger news papers and networks (Germaine
2008), on an internet comedy site (Evans and Levine 2014), or even the
National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation n.d.)
(though this makes sense for the NSF, as it primarily funds academic
research). And, while archaeologists who are interviewed by, or write for,
media outlets stress that archaeology is not the action-packed field
depicted in adventure films, the association of archaeology with “far
away” and exotic locales is nonetheless typically played up.
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Academic archaeology is the nucleus of the archaeological
community, and without research being performed at universities and
museums, there would be nothing guiding the methods employed by
CRM archaeologists. Ideally, CRM work would provide data that feeds
and informs academic research. There is no mystery as to why
academic archaeologists have the lion’s share of media attention –
many work for institutions that encourage their staff to engage in public
outreach. Moreover, they often have flexible work schedules that allow
them to engage with reporters and producers on the media outlet’s
schedule, and, importantly, it makes for better radio/television/print to
talk about someone doing exciting research in a far-flung and
picturesque place than to talk with the fellow who just completed a
negative survey in downtown Fresno.
However, in the United States, academic archaeologists are a
distinct minority. It is difficult to ascertain the exact proportion of
archaeologists who work in CRM. Neumann and Sanford (2009:2)
estimated that approximately 7,400 archaeologists work in CRM either for
private companies or for government agencies (at the federal, state,
and local levels), comprising approximately 85% of the total number of
archaeologists working in the United States. Altschul and Patterson (2010)
estimate that at least 9,850 work for private CRM companies, with
several thousand more working for government agencies. While
Neumann and Sanford (2009: 2) dispute similarly large numbers from
Doelle and Altschul (2009), the fact remains that CRM archaeologists,
including both private and public employees, constitute the vast
majority of archaeologists working in the United States.
For the time being, (and likely into the foreseeable future), most
people will continue to get their information about archaeology from
television, radio, print, or the internet outlets of these traditional media.
They will, therefore, likely continue to see archaeology as a largely
academic pursuit. However, there is a segment of the public that is
curious and that wish to dig deeper, no pun intended, into the nature of
modern archaeology. This includes students considering careers in
archaeology, people entering avocational archaeology, and people
who simply have the time to spend casually studying a subject that
interests them. As people “in the trenches” (seriously, I am not trying to
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make puns), CRM archaeologists are in a unique position to provide
valuable information regarding how archaeology is really done.
The blog is a media form uniquely suited to CRM archaeologists. The
ever-expanding availability of Wi-Fi means that we are able to access
our blogging platform from most hotels and coffee shops. The fact that
blog platforms are inexpensive, and many are completely free to use,
means that we do not have any significant cost barriers. The ability to
structure a blog entry however we like and to write on whatever subject
we please means that blogging is a delightful break from the
regimented report formats that we must follow at work.
Moreover, CRM archaeologists can provide a valuable perspective
and important information to each of these audiences. To the student,
we can provide insight into the day-to-day realities of the
archaeological workplace. Entries describing such mundane things as
lodging conditions during fieldwork, variations in expense report and
reimbursement policies, types of personalities encountered during
fieldwork, and confrontations common in CRM (conflicts with land
owners, clients, and members of the general public, for example)
provide an understanding of this career path that cannot be gained
through studying archaeology and regulations. No doubt the
bureaucratic matters sound dull as dishwater and half as deep, but
there exists a long history of tackling tales of bureaucracy with humor to
turn them into entertaining stories. In fact, my own experience has been
that the best way to deal with the frustration caused by dealing with red
tape is to write about it and lay it all bare (and when possible to do so
without violating my professional ethics, to mock it). Similarly, sometimes
the best way of dealing with a conflict is to write about it, and to try to
understand where the other party is coming from. Importantly, these are
aspects of CRM archaeology of which anyone entering the field must be
aware.
Avocational archaeologists benefit from discussions of projects and
organizations that are seeking volunteers, resources available through
CRM companies, academic institutions, and community organizations. If
identified as stakeholders, avocational archaeological organizations
may find themselves pulled into conflicts and troubles surrounding
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archaeological sites, and as such, they may benefit from the same types
of insights and information as prospective students.
Curious members of the general public may benefit from the same
discussions as students and avocational archaeologists, though I suspect
that (unless the entries are spectacularly well written) such interest will be
limited. However, CRM blogs do provide a number of benefits for the
curious public:
•
These blogs allow people to learn about archaeology
occurring around them, rather than on the other side of the
world (a point also made by blogger Chris Webster on his
December 29, 2013 entry on Random Acts of Science [Webster
2013]). While working on field projects, I often find myself
talking to locals who are surprised (and more often than not,
excited) to learn that archaeologists might be interested in
their home town.
•
When CRM blogs discuss regulations concerning
archaeological and historic sites, it can help to dispel some of
the common misconceptions regarding the regulations.
Common misconceptions, such as that a construction project
will be abandoned because of the discovery of an
archaeological site, or that land can be taken from its legal
owners because a site was discovered.
•
As CRM archaeologists are often required to work more closely
with Native American individuals and organizations than our
academic colleagues, we can draw positive attention to the
descendants of the people whom we study, demonstrate that
Native American communities remain active and vibrant, and
help to dispel the still puzzlingly common notion that Native
Americans no longer exist.
By choosing to write about CRM, we can provide a service to each
of these three groups, and help to better represent archaeology in the
overall media. While blogs do not permeate the wider culture to the
same degree as traditional media, they do allow a supplemental voice
to the archaeologists that are typically represented. And, as more CRM
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archaeologists take to blogging, this will help to provide a more
accurate picture of archaeology to those who are interested.
Ethics
I believe that not only should more CRM archaeologists blog, but we
should specifically blog about CRM. However, CRM archaeologists work
within a complex web comprised of project stakeholders, clients,
regulatory agencies, and regulations. We must, therefore, consider the
ethical implications of our writing.
I, like many of my colleagues, am a member of the Register of
Professional Archaeologists (RoPA, members referred to as Registered
Professional Archaeologists or RPAs), and I have found that the RoPA
code of conduct (RPANET.org n.d.) is a useful guide for determining the
ethics of archaeology, as it reflects the realities of CRM work and
communicating information. It has been one element of my developing
code of ethics, though I have also had to rely upon others that were
developed specifically for online communication including the Bloggers
Code of Ethics at cyberjournalist.net (@Stylehatch n.d.), and Rebecca’s
Pocket weblog ethics guide (Blood 2002). Though hardly exhaustive,
these sources provide guidance to the blogger, and consideration of
RoPA’s guide is especially relevant to CRM archaeology bloggers.
What follows is the code of ethics that I have developed during my
blogging career. It should be noted that these are my own personal
guidelines and do not constitute legal advice for bloggers. Readers of
my blog will, no doubt, observe that many of my entries do not meet this
code. As this code of ethics has developed in response to feedback
from clients, colleagues, and readers, as well as my own changing views
of both CRM and public communication, I have discovered that my
more recent entries are quite different from my older ones. While I don’t
feel that anything I have posted violates the interests or rights of my
colleagues, clients, or project stakeholders, I do feel that keeping to the
following principles improves my ability to protect them:
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Don’t screw your client.
Do not air their dirty laundry, talk trash about them, or otherwise
make them look bad. Do not release confidential/proprietary
information. That is UNLESS they are up to no good and you have a legal
obligation to expose the scoundrels (please note, however, that such
exposure should be done through appropriate legal/regulatory
channels, and is likely to have a detrimental effect on your career)).
This is both a matter of ethics and a practical consideration. It has
been my experience that many CRM archaeologists, especially those
who deal more with the fieldwork than with the business side of CRM,
assume that they have a responsibility to the archaeological community
and the archaeological sites, but not their client. This is patently false.
Within the United States, CRM archaeologists typically work for the
project proponent (or, in some localities and on some projects, a
government agency that performs project environmental permitting).
CRM archaeologists occupy an odd position – we are unable to do
everything that many of our clients desire without violating our principles
as archaeologists. However, we are nonetheless also performing services
for pay, and as such, we owe our clients a professional courtesy similar to
that provided by other types of consultants.
However, we are often in the position of explaining to our clients that
they must perform, or fund, tasks on which they do not wish to spend
time and money. As a result, conflicts and frustrations with clients are a
large part of our day-to-day reality, and should be discussed.
Each blogger must find the balance on their own (though they may
be aided by non-disclosure agreements and other legal restrictions on
what they can say), but I have found an approach that seems to work.
First off, I never name my clients in blog posts. I generally avoid giving
any but the vaguest of geographic descriptions when doing so might
indicate whom my client is.
I have had clients who have been wonderful, and who have gone
out of their way to protect archaeological sites even when they weren’t
legally required to do so. I have also had clients who told me directly
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that they did not want me there and wanted to try to sue the regulatory
agencies to get us to go away. However, no reader of my blog would
know who my clients were, much less which ones were in either of these
camps.
Know what belongs to you, to the archaeological
community, and what belongs to your client or
employer.
Some of the information generated by your work belongs to the
archaeological community; some of it belongs to your client. Know the
difference and act accordingly.
A separate issue is that of ownership of information and materials. For
most projects, it should be assumed that, at the very least, the project
location, description (that is, the description of what the client wishes to
do/build), and project photographs are client property. This means that
you should not discuss them in your blog entries. This is typically simple –
most archaeology blog readers aren’t going to care overly much about
the technical specifications of an electrical peaking station, or that it
was placed in Bigol County and not Goodolboy County.
However, it is common to see CRM archaeologists post photographs
taken during fieldwork to their blogs (I have even done it in the past,
though I have stopped doing so now). Most of the time, your clients
won’t care, but you should always err on the side of caution. On
occasion, it might even get you fired (hey, if Chris Webster can get fired
for simply announcing where he is on Twitter or mentioning publicly
known information on his blog [Webster 2013], don’t assume that your
job is secure if you post things that are literally your client’s property). If
you must post photos of your project area, be sure to not describe the
type of project, and to post photos taken A) with your own personal
camera, B) outside of work hours, and C) from publicly accessible
places.
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Don’t screw your coworkers or colleagues.
Do not claim credit for the work of others. Criticism of others is fine,
but do not denigrate or misrepresent their work.
This one is generally pretty straightforward – don’t plagiarize and
don’t state that other archaeologists have made claims that they have
not. However, for the blogger, it is a bit more complicated. If you
happen to be in the field and a coworker has a good idea or makes a
sharp observation, do not claim it for your own when writing a blog entry.
Similarly, if you are not genuinely certain that an idea is yours do not
claim it (though you can write something along the lines of “we thought
that…” rather than “I thought that…”).
It is equally important to not misrepresent what another has said or
done. This can be especially difficult for the blogger, as we are often
moved to write an entry as a response to someone making claims or
arguments with which we disagree (indeed, some blogs, such as
Archaeology Fantasies [http://archyfantasies.wordpress.com/], are
entirely dedicated to this). The criticism of claims or ideas is valid, but we
must make a good faith effort to understand the nature of the position
with which we disagree so that we do not make others look
unnecessarily foolish – or make ourselves look foolish to well-informed
readers.
Again, in addition to the ethical necessity of this point, this is also a
practical matter. I learned early on that while most of my co-workers did
not read my blog, some were regular readers and others would
occasionally look it up to see what I was saying about work. This meant
that I had to tread lightly in discussing my co-workers and be cautious to
not put them in a bad light. Although my supervisors never expressed
any misgivings about my writing, I was always wary that this could occur.
Had a coworker or supervisor objected to something that I had written, I
could easily have ended up being disciplined by my employer, gaining
a soiled reputation, or both.
I will make one exception to the “try to understand where they’re
coming from” rule: if it’s people holding to clearly bizarre and outlandish
positions (like the “ancient aliens” crowd), then mockery is an
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appropriate response (I will again point you towards the excellent
Archaeology Fantasies blog). However, even then it may be valuable to
understand why people buy into that nonsense.
Do not mis-represent the Native American Community.
Do not try to speak for them or make mis-leading statements about
their position. Moreover, do not present them as a monolithic whole.
Although many academic archaeologists work with members of the
Native American community, CRM archaeologists are typically required
to do so. In our work life, we often find ourselves having to explain likely
Native American reactions or views to our clients, which can put us into a
tough situation as our own views and goals often don’t coincide with
those of the Native American community. It is, unfortunately, tempting to
do this outside of the work place and write about the Native American
community on our blogs. The problem with this is twofold. First, as noted,
our position as archaeologists means that we must often take positions
not in keeping with those of Native Americans, and we may not be able
to provide a fair accounting of the places where we disagree. Second,
the Native American community has typically been misrepresented in
the media, and in trying to speak for them we run the risk of further
misrepresenting them.
For my own part, I rarely write about the Native American
community. I do not trust my ability to articulate the views of individuals
or organizations within the community to others. Moreover, I am always
concerned that anything that I write regarding the views of Native
American individuals will be taken to represent the community as a
whole, which it cannot because the community is a collection of
individuals and not a monolithic whole. On those occasions that I do
discuss the Native American community, I am cautious to accurately
repeat what was said, and to not claim to speak for anyone but myself.
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Do not shoot your mouth off about an archaeological
subject without knowing what you are talking about.
When you are talking about a subject about which you are not
particularly knowledgeable, own up to the fact upfront, and make it
clear just how sizeable a serving of salt should be taken with your
opinion. And don’t exaggerate – that’s the news media’s job.
This one is generally easy to follow, as most of us are inclined to
discuss areas in which we are experts and/or have a special interest
(and therefore generally have developed a special knowledge), and as
such we will typically either discuss our areas of expertise, or else put in
qualifiers explaining when we are outside of our area of specialization
(e.g., “I’m a Californian archaeologist, so take my views regarding 3rd
Century Israeli archaeology with a tablespoon of salt, but…”).
However, there is one area of concern: regulations. The laws,
regulations, and guidelines under which we work vary by country, and
often by region within the country. In the United States, they tend to be
somewhat confusing, and we often deal with multiple, overlapping
layers of regulations at the federal, state, and county levels. As a result,
one must have a degree of expertise in order to understand what a
project proponent is required to do in a given situation as regards
archaeological sites. This expertise is typically earned by performing
consulting work at the project management level. As a result, I have
known many field technicians and field supervisors who were wholly
mistaken in their views regarding cultural resource laws and regulations
(for example, many times I have heard a field tech inform someone that
land containing an archaeological site cannot be farmed, which is
completely false). The regulations are very much a part of the context of
modern archaeology, and if you are not extremely knowledgeable
about them, you run the risk of propagating false beliefs which can be
damaging to archaeology as a profession.
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Show your sources.
If there is an online source, link to it. If there is not, cite your sources in
whichever manner seems most appropriate (I tend to use the American
Antiquity citation standard).
This one is important, and easy to forget. We are only as good as the
information that we provide, and if we do not share our sources we both
under-inform our readers and make it more difficult for them to discover
whether they agree or disagree with our views and conclusions. What’s
more, as professionals who wish to educate our readers, we have an
obligation to help hone critical thinking skills, and helping people to
distinguish between good and bad sources of information is an
important part of this.
I rarely include a bibliography, instead opting for hyperlinks in the text
(thus helping readers to find the information quickly). Archaeology
Fantasies does an excellent job of keeping a more traditional
bibliographic reference at the end of her posts, and also includes
hyperlinks (in truth, I should follow her example, but I am a lazy, lazy
man).
Admit when you have been wrong.
Whether in a follow-up post or in an edit to your existing entry, correct
errors that you have made.
Because of the nature of our jobs, CRM archaeologists often run up
against controversial issues surrounding land rights, intellectual property,
Native American rights, and local traditions. We may also feel inclined to
comment on public controversies surrounding these or other issues
related to historic preservation and archaeology. When we discuss these
issues, we often do so with only partial information, and it is common for
further information to come to light as situations progress.
As a result, we must be ready to either edit our old posts or create
follow-ups (preferably with links to the follow-up edited into the original
piece) explaining how we got it wrong. This helps to show that we are
honest in our dealings.
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Screw looters.
Do not write anything that can reasonably be interpreted as
supporting or furthering activities that may destroy the archaeological
record. And if you are able to actively discourage the destruction of the
archaeological record, then do so.
Many members of the general public do not understand the
difference between archaeologists and looters. Through discussing
looting and making the problems that it causes well known, we can help
to discourage otherwise honest people from engaging in looting. I have
written about looting as it pertains to television shows that promote and
glorify it, about how looting has impacted the sites on which I have
worked, and about the effects that looting has on the archaeological
record. It is, in my opinion, not sufficient to simply note the problems with
looting, or to discuss the lack of paperwork done as part of looting. We
must also discuss the fact that it is, as often performed, a crime, and can
have heavy penalties.
In addition, many antiquities dealers do business, whether knowingly
or not, with looters. As a result, I have chosen to avoid saying or doing
anything that promotes the antiquities market. I do not make false claims
about the dealers, nor do I typically call them out for dealing with looters
(I suspect many of them are unaware that they are). However, I have
been asked to write posts promoting antiquities sales or to respond
positively on my blog or other social media in support of antiquities
dealers, and I refuse to do so.
Protect Privacy.
However one feels about another person, that person still has a right
to privacy, and this should be respected.
When we are in the field, we get to know some of the more
annoying (or dangerous, or unsanitary) habits of our fellow
archaeologists. While these entries can make for entertaining reading
and writing, we must tread with caution when producing them. If the
person is identifiable through the description in the blog, then what is
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written could, conceivably, prevent them from finding further work.
Alternatively, depending on what was written, it is possible that you may
find yourself in violation of your employer’s anti-harassment policies.
Conclusion
CRM bloggers make important contributions to the public
understanding of archaeology, and CRM specialists should be
encouraged to engage in public outreach activities, including blogging.
However, because of the nature of our work, we must proceed
cautiously. We must portray ourselves as the professionals that we are,
and we must make certain that we do not violate our ethical obligations
to our clients. To that end, we must develop codes of ethics that reflect
the realities of CRM and allow us to provide information to the public
without endangering our careers or harming our clients.
The code offered here is essentially my own guide that I have
developed both through a consideration of the various existing codes of
ethics for blogging and archaeology, and through my experience as a
CRM professional. Some of this discussion is widely applicable, while
some of it is applicable primarily to the United States. However it is my
wish that this spurs other CRM archaeologists to publicly state their own
ethical codes, and that consideration of these points might encourage
more CRM archaeologists to write about our profession. I am aware that
my own code has deficiencies of which I am unaware, and I hope that
the publication of other’s codes can help guide bloggers as we
continue our writing.
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References
@Stylehatch, S. n.d. CyberJournalist.net. [online] Available at:
http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/000215.php lxxxiii - it is geared
towards journalists and is only partially applicable [Accessed: 5 Apr
2014].
All Things Considered. 2008. [TV programme] National Public Radio,
April 21, 2008.
Altschul, J. H., and T. C. Patterson. 2010. Trends and Employment in
American Archaeology. In Voices in American Archaeology, edited
by Wendy Ashmore, Dorothy Lippert, and Barbara J. Mills, pp. 291–
316. SAA Press, Washington, D.C.
Blood, R. 2002. The weblog handbook. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Pub.
Doelle, W. H. and J. H. Altschul. 2009. Career Development: Preparing
for Work in the Billion-Dollar CRM Industry. Anthropology News 4 (27): pg.
27.
Evans, R. and Levine, H. 2014. 6 Things Movies Don't Show You About
Being an Archaeologist. [online] Available at:
http://www.cracked.com/article_20795_6-things-movies-dont-show-youabout-being-archeologist.html lxxxiv [Accessed: 5 Apr 2014].
Germaine, D. 2008. Dig 'Indiana Jones'? Real archaeologists don't
use whips - USATODAY.com. [online] Available at:
http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/2008-05-14-indianajones-archaeology_N.htm lxxxv [Accessed: 5 Apr 2014].
National Science Foundation. n.d. nsf.gov - Archaeology from Reel
to Real - A Special Report. [online] Available at:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/archaeology/index.jsp lxxxvi
[Accessed: 5 Apr 2014].
Neumann, T. W. and Sanford, R. M. 2009. Practicing archaeology.
Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
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Rpanet.org. n.d. Register of Professional Archaeologists Code of
Conduct. [online] Available at:
http://www.rpanet.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=3 lxxxvii
[Accessed: 5 Apr 2014].
Talk of the Nation. 2008. [TV programme] National Public Radio, May
26, 2008.
Webster, C. 2013. #208 Blogging Carnival: The Good, the Bad, and
the Ugly. Random Acts of Science, [blog] December 29, 2013, Available
at: http://www.digtech-llc.com/blog/208-blogging-carnival-the-goodthe-bad-and-the-ugly lxxxviii [Accessed: 5 Apr 2014].
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Teaching Public Engagement
in Anthropology
Kristina Killgrove
Blog: PoweredbyOsteons.org lxxxix
Introduction
In the spring of 2013, I offered a proseminar entitled Presenting
Anthropology for the master’s students in anthropology at my institution,
the University of West Florida xc. Proseminars in our department serve two
purposes: to help the graduate students practice being anthropological
professionals and to allow the faculty to teach a course directly relevant
to their interests and research. This course was actually one I had pitched
during my job interview, and the grad students had been very receptive
to learning more about how to engage the public in anthropology, both
online and through social media. The public engagement aspect of the
course fit in nicely with the aims of the Florida Public Archaeology
Network xci (FPAN), the headquarters of which are also located in
Pensacola, Florida. I decided that combining my success in
bioarchaeological outreach (which I accomplish primarily through
blogging at Powered by Osteons xcii, being active on Twitter and G+,
and giving public talks) with the interests and ideas of grad students, on
the cusp of becoming professional anthropologists, would make for a
timely and useful seminar.
My course set-up was fairly simple and based on the TV show Project
Runway xciii [Syllabus xciv]. Each unit was two weeks long. The first week
was like a traditional seminar devoted to discussing readings, but our
“readings” included webpages, video, and other media, in addition to
journal articles and book chapters. The second week in each unit was
devoted to presenting a project that tied in with the unit themes of
Social Media, Print, Audio, Video, Kids, and Avant-Garde. At the end of
the semester, each student revised his or her three best projects for
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inclusion in a digital portfolio. The goals for the course were for students
to: 1) speak knowledgeably about traditional and social media use in
anthropology; 2) discuss problems with presentation in anthropology; 3)
explore new techniques and technology applicable to anthropological
research and practice; 4) produce innovative, high-quality
presentations; and 5) understand how to make anthropology more
visible to the public and how to become one of the public faces of
anthropology. Links to readings, questions from the discussion leaders,
and projects were put up each week on a closed wiki, but throughout
the semester, I blogged about the discussion and projects produced
[See all posts here]. Since I never wrote an overview blog post for the
course as a whole, I thought I would take the opportunity provided by
this forum to reflect on what worked and did not work in the course, and
give some suggestions for best-practices in teaching about public
engagement in anthropology.
Reflections on Unit Themes, Readings, and Discussion
Attempting to find relevant articles and book chapters for teaching
this course was more difficult than I had anticipated. Anthropology,
unlike many other fields, does not have a strong culture of researching
how to teach the subject. In the universities at which I have taught, I
have had free reign to choose whichever texts I want for Introduction to
Anthropology, and the curriculum has not been standardized, even
among sections of the same course at the same university. For all the ink
spilled over STEM education and outcomes at the university level, and for
all the discussions at multiple institutions about how anthropology should
be considered part of or at least relevant to the STEM disciplines, there is
an astonishing lack of research into how to promote anthropology and
engage the public with the information anthropologists generate. While I
think it is important that anthropology be taught a multitude of ways with
a multitude of voices, the lack of research into how to teach
anthropological concepts seems to discourage publication of bestpractice articles. Still, there are some bright spots on the web, like the
“Syllabus as Essay” xcv mini-series at Ethnography Matters. In that vein, my
thoughts on the readings and discussions for each unit follow.
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Anthropology, Digital Humanities, and Web 2.0. [Reading list xcvi] I
started the semester with a basic introduction to the conversations
happening online and in print about digital humanities, social media,
and open access. There is a growing body of literature on these topics,
but the most relevant and accessible book chapters and articles I found
were primarily focused on digital approaches to archaeological data
production and dissemination. These were useful for starting a discussion
among the archaeology students, but the cultural and biological
students did not see them as very relevant. Each anthropological
subdiscipline has different data and therefore different ethical
considerations for publication and outreach, and the readings I chose
did not run the gamut of anthropological perspectives. The death of
Aaron Swartz xcvii just days prior proved to be the most striking catalyst to
our discussion. However, our conversation about this unit would have
worked better towards the end of the semester, after the students had
engaged in their course-long social media project.
Social Media. [Reading list xcviii] The majority of the readings I assigned
for this unit were navel-gazing blog posts (including my own) on the
relevance of blogging to anthropological outreach, but there are plenty
of examples of this genre of writing within peer-reviewed journals like
American Anthropologist (e.g., Price 2010, Sabloff 1998, 2011)1. My
choice of readings reflected my attempt to convince students that
blogging or otherwise engaging in public outreach through social media
was an important facet of their future anthropology careers. Although I
required each student to maintain a social media presence xcix for the
1
Price, D.H. 2010. Blogging anthropology: Savage Minds, Zero Anthropology, and AAA blogs.
American Anthropologist 112(1):140-8.
Sabloff, J.A. 1998. Communication and the future of American archaeology. American Anthropologist
100(4):869-875. Sabloff Intellectuals. American Anthropologist 113(3):408-416. [2010 AAA
Distinguished Lecture Video ],
J.A. 2011. Where have you gone, Margaret Mead? Anthropology and Public Intellectuals. American
Anthropologist 113(3):408-416. [2010 AAA Distinguished Lecture Video]
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entire semester, most of them quickly dropped blogging as a routine
activity because they were not seeing immediate returns in audience
engagement. I empathize with being disheartened at the lack of interest
a post generates, since blogging, especially at the beginning before you
build an audience, can feel like tilting at windmills. While we circled back
to the topic later in the semester to discuss the results of the semesterlong project, there was little enthusiasm for adding yet another voice to
the anthropological blogosphere, and students seemed to feel that their
other projects, which had more tangible and demonstrable outcomes,
were more worthy of their time and efforts. One student, Tristan
Harrenstein, created a website c after the course was over, specifically to
showcase some of the projects he produced during the semester.
Print Media. [Reading list ci] This unit was a bit of a mixed bag,
covering everything from research posters to news articles, but it
generated a good discussion about audiences. I have seen increasing
media presence at research conferences over the past decade of
doing anthropology professionally, which means that the line between
presentations for one’s colleagues and presentations for the public is
starting to blur. In particular, we focused on Elizabeth Bird’s Anthropology
News piece on engagement with news media cii and discussed the
problems that can occur when journalists report on anthropological
finds. An especially interesting idea to come out of this conversation with
students was a suggestion for teaching anthropologists how to write
more journalistic and PR-friendly pieces. I would like to organize a
workshop to help students do this, either at my home institution or at a
professional conference. As several of the students in this class were
affiliated with FPAN, some already had experience writing short materials
for the general public. But every student could benefit from this, as being
able to encapsulate research in an attention-getting way for the general
public would help them write everything from blog posts to grant
proposals. In future iterations of this class, I plan to have students read a
dozen or so news stories and attempt to write one themselves based on
their own research.
Audio. [Reading list ciii] Although the tape recorder is a staple of
ethnography and linguistic anthropology, there are few recurring
outreach programs that use audio to communicate anthropological
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topics to the public. One exception is “Unearthing Florida,” which started
as a weekly two-minute radio spot in the local Pensacola market, hosted
by our university president, archaeologist Judy Bense. However, this
medium has a lot of potential, as DIY programming such as podcasting
and embedded audio in blogging is easy to accomplish. Most of our
discussion focused on the kinds of audio students are most interested in,
namely short, scientifically-focused segments that relate in some way to
our lives (e.g., food, relationships, local history), and most of the projects
took this form. One of the best examples of interesting audio came from
the group of Linda Hoang, Stella Simpsiridis, and Tina Estep Ebenal, who
created a series of short clips called Anthropology: Did you know?
featuring key moments in the lives of Margaret Mead, Claude LeviStrauss, Lewis Binford, Franz Boas, Clyde Snow, and Jane Goodall [Listen
here civ].
Video. [Reading list cv] With the ubiquity of smartphones, it is
incredibly easy to make and post short videos, animated GIFs, and Vines
cvi. In this unit, we looked at short anthropological videos and discussed
longer-form visual media, from documentaries to TV shows like American
Digger cvii that present anthropology in a bad light. Although I was
interested in the phenomenon of research-by-documentary (e.g.,
Armelagos et al. 2012)2 and what this means for the future of the less
telegenic aspects of anthropological research, the students had strong
opinions about how anthropology was presented on television. We
discussed the concept of “edutainment” cviii at length, and the students’
end products, made primarily in iMovie, were slick and informative.
2
Armelagos, G.J., M.K. Zuckerman, and K.N. Harper. 2012. The science behind pre-Columbian evidence
of syphilis in Europe: research by documentary. Evolutionary Anthropology 21:50-57.
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Kids. [Reading list cix] Talking about how and why to tell children
about anthropology allowed me to bust out my all-time favorite Kurt
Vonnegut quote, from his 1973 Playboy interview cx:
"I didn't learn until I was in college about all the other cultures, and I
should have learned that in the first grade. A first grader should
understand that his or her culture isn't a rational invention; that there
are thousands of other cultures and they all work pretty well; that all
cultures function on faith rather than truth; that there are lots of
alternatives to our own society. Cultural relativity is defensible and
attractive. It's also a source of hope. It means we don't have to
continue this way if we don't like it."
Science museums in particular tend to teach archaeological and
palaeontological concepts to kids, but instruction in ethnography and
linguistics is generally lacking. Jumping off from Matt Thompson’s
“Illustrated Man cxi” post on Savage Minds and my post on “Teaching
Preschoolers about Anthropology,” we read a variety of kids’ books and
critiqued their presentation of anthropological concepts. While my
experience focuses almost solely on the preschool set, since I have two
daughters under five, many of the graduate students had worked with
FPAN on developing activities for the Grades K-8 set in Florida through
the “Beyond Artifacts” cxii guide. One example is the detailed, three-day
introduction to archaeology lesson plan that Tristan Harrenstein created,
tested, and refined for his project [download here cxiii]. The consensus
was that teaching basic concepts in anthropology was best done at
Grades 3 and above, since children at this age can read on their own,
use a computer, and self-educate by following up on information
through the library or internet. The resulting kid-focused projects cxiv
included books, a felt board, videos, and classroom activities. Teaching
anthropology to kids is still a largely untapped market, which is odd
considering how interested they tend to be in archaeology and in
learning about other cultures and customs. Video games and
augmented reality may be the new frontier in kids’ education, so finding
ways to combine anthropological topics with advances in computing
will be worthwhile.
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Avant-Garde. [Reading list cxv] As anyone who watches Project
Runway knows, one of the most interesting events is the avant-garde
challenge, where contestants have to draw on all their creative ideas to
make an outfit that pushes the boundaries of fashion. Similarly, I asked
the students at the end of the semester to push the boundary of
presenting anthropology, to try to find a new, different, and unique way
of communicating a topic. This unit theme was the most difficult to find
readings for, and although I did assign things to read, they were not
particularly useful, with the exception of Amber Case’s work on cyborg
anthropology cxvi. Rather, discussing innovative uses of media was most
fruitful in identifying avant-garde approaches to communication – things
like Dance Your PhD cxvii and physicist Leon Lederman’s cxviii penchant for
setting up a stand on a street corner and answering science questions.
The students’ projects were on the whole quite creative: Drunk
Archaeology (a take on Drunk History cxix), a brochure for a fictitious
anthropology travel agency, human stratigraphy (gutsy performance art
on campus), a prototype for an anthropological sculpture, various lesson
plans and activities, mixed drinks inspired by a student’s thesis, cxx and a
collectible pin set cxxi. Some of the projects did indeed push
anthropological communication in a new direction, and I was happy
with the discussion of innovation in presenting anthropology.
Reflections on Projects and Ongoing Outcomes
I structured the syllabus from most traditional to least traditional
approach, with familiar methods (like research posters) early in the
semester, in order to establish a baseline of communication methods
that we could diverge from as the semester progressed. At the end of
the course, I still liked the six main themes and was happy with the twoweek units of discussion and project presentations. There were definite
drawbacks to some of them, though, particularly the Social Media
Challenge and the Print Challenge. Printed material was simply boring;
there was really nothing innovative or exciting about printed
communication in anthropology. Social media outlets have a lot of
potential to reach multiple audiences, but creating and maintaining a
blog or Tumblr throughout the semester was too much work for most
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students. Particularly problematic is that, in blogging, the author takes a
while to develop his or her voice, and the blog takes a while to develop
an audience, especially if the author is not synchronously involved on
other social media platforms. The Audio Challenge week held the most
surprises for me. I am not a regular radio listener, but the short segments
the students created were interesting and well produced, leading me to
believe that audio programming in anthropology, such as a podcast or
regular feature on the radio, holds great potential.
As anthropology is not generally taught in grade school, it has the
reputation of being solely an ivory tower subject, when that couldn’t be
further from the truth. I am not sure if the course convinced students who
were not already using social media of the utility of it. A few students
continue to blog and to do public anthropology on an occasional basis,
nearly a year after the end of the course, but the most engaged
students were those already interested in public outreach. As these
students earn their M.A. degrees and look for jobs or PhD programs, it will
be interesting to see whether they use the projects they created or the
new skills they developed in this course to aid in their applications.
Regardless, presenting anthropology is an important concept for
graduate students to learn, particularly since there are myriad ways of
communicating anthropological topics and being a public
anthropologist. Bringing anthropological concepts to the public is
increasingly important in an age of slashed funding for social sciences,
and my hope is that all graduate students and practicing
anthropologists find ways to communicate their research and interests to
a general audience.
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Looting Matters: Blogging in a
Research Context
David W. J. Gill
Blog: http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/ cxxii
“Looting Matters” was launched as a blog on 17 July 2007 with its first
post, “Does looting matter?”. The blog emerged from a long-standing
research interest in archaeological ethics with Christopher Chippindale
of Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. In
the late 1980s we were working as museum curators in Cambridge and
had become increasingly concerned about the growing examples of
looted antiquities that were emerging on the market (see Butcher and
Gill 1990). One of the prompts was the display of Gandharan sculptures
for publicity photographs in St James Park in London. We recognised that
the looting of archaeological sites not only had material consequences
but also intellectual consequences. Artefacts were being removed from
contexts and were thus deprived of contextual information that would
help with the interpretation.
The Research Background: Cycladic Sculptures and
Private Collections
In one of our first studies we considered a clearly defined corpus of
archaeological material. This consisted of marble figures (mostly female)
from the Cycladic islands of the southern Aegean and dating to the third
millennium BC (Gill and Chippindale 1993; see also Chippindale and Gill
1993). The study identified that some 85 per cent of the corpus of figures
had no known, or even vague, archaeological context. This was
followed by two further studies. The first was a quantification study that
created two sets of base data, the first for the London market, and the
second for a major university collection, Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum
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(Chippindale et al. 2001). The second study was prompted by a New
York based dealer who had suggested that the Cycladic study was
atypical and unrepresentative (Eisenberg 1995). We therefore focussed
on a series of European and North American private collections of
antiquities (e.g. Shelby White and Leon Levy; Barbara and Lawrence
Fleischman; George Ortiz) and their display in public exhibitions
(Chippindale and Gill 2000).
The Medici Conspiracy
In 1997 our research took on a new emphasis. Journalist Peter Watson
published a revealing study of the way that antiquities had been
handled by Sotheby’s in London (Watson 1997; see also Gill 1997). The
resulting investigation led to the raid on premises at the Geneva Freeport
owned by the Italian dealer Giacomo Medici. This resulted in the seizure
of a large dossier of Polaroid photographs showing objects that had
passed through the Swiss market. Further investigations by the Italian
authorities revealed the cordata or network of diggers, middlemen,
dealers, collectors, auction houses and museums. Watson and Cecilia
Todeschini published a dossier of the evidence in The Medici Conspiracy
(Watson and Todeschini 2006). Further revelations from these
investigations have appeared (Silver 2009; Felch and Frammolino 2011).
The Polaroid photographs had allowed the identification of large
numbers of antiquities that had been acquired by public and private
collections in Europe, Japan and North America (for an overview Gill
2010e). In the autumn of 2006 Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts announced
that it would be returning 13 antiquities to Italy. The museum published a
list of the objects along with the full collecting histories showing how the
items had passed through the market. We made a study of this first
return, exploring the different routes and individuals (Gill and
Chippindale 2006). Supporting material was posted on static websites.
However things started to move more quickly. The J. Paul Getty Museum
announced that it would be returning a first batch of material, including
items that had been acquired (by gift and by purchase) from New York
collectors Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, two of the subjects of our
earlier study (Gill and Chippindale 2007; see also Exhibition catalogue
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1994). Newspapers started to report and comment on the
developments, and we realised that it was important to “capture” these
non-academic sources for information. A blog was the obvious platform
to do this. At the time I was chairing Swansea University’s e-learning
Committee, and one of the technology support team, Christopher M.
Hall, suggested setting up a blog to support our research.
Creating a Research Blog
The first few months of ‘Looting Matters’ was a time to explore this
more relaxed style of blog writing. Topics included the expected
additional returns from the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Brussels Oriental Art
Fair III, the scale of the market for Egyptian antiquities, ‘radical
archaeologists’, looting in Bulgaria, the UK Illicit Trade Advisory Panel, the
‘licit’ trade of antiquities, coins from Cyprus, and a response to Shelby
White. In the first 18 months of “Looting Matters” there were just under
500 posts, peaking in 2008 and 2010 with 345 posts per annum.
Research-led Teaching and Blogging
In the autumn of 2007 I was teaching a postgraduate course on
collecting and archaeological ethics (see also Gill 2010a). The students
were expected to analyse sale catalogues and to understand the
recording of collecting histories. This coincided with a sale of antiquities
at a London auction house, and among the lots was a Lydian silver
kyathos. I had a long-standing interest in ancient silver through research
with Michael Vickers (Vickers and Gill 1994), and it was obvious that the
item on offer was closely related to the silver plate acquired by New
York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and subsequently returned to Turkey
(as the Lydian Hoard). Indeed the lot entry made reference to the New
York catalogue prepared by curator Dietrich von Bothmer (Bothmer
1984), but the writer seemed to be unaware of the subsequent
publication after the objects had been returned to Turkey (Özgen and
Öztürk 1996). I used “Looting Matters” to point out the association with
the Lydian Hoard, and to discuss the looting of archaeological sites in
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Lydia (Roosevelt and Luke 2006). The kyathos was removed prior to the
sale.
The Geddes Sale of Antiquities
In 2008 the London auction house Bonhams attracted publicity for
one of its upcoming sales by suggesting that a head from a fragmentary
Roman sarcophagus looked like Elvis (Bonhams 2008b). The sale was for
the antiquities collection of the Australian dealer and collector Graham
Geddes. The name Geddes was familiar as it appeared on an
annotated copy of a Sotheby’s sale catalogue reproduced in Peter
Watson’s Sotheby’s: Inside Story (Watson 1997; see also Gill 2009e, 83-84).
A study of the lots revealed that a large number of items, especially
Athenian and South Italian pots, had passed through Sotheby’s in
London at exactly the period when Watson had revealed materials
passing through the hands of Medici. The sale itself became more
significant as it contained an Apulian krater that had passed through the
hands of London dealer Robin Symes (see also Watson 2006). The
relevant lots were discussed on “Looting Matters” and on the eve of the
auction a number of lots were withdrawn, including the cover piece for
the Bonhams magazine that celebrated the sale. Bonhams were
interviewed for the press, but they did not appear to acknowledge that
their due diligence process had failed to identify the link between the
Geddes material and the Medici Dossier (Alberge 2008; Bonhams 2008a;
Gill 2009e; Gill 2010b).
The Impact of Blogging
As objects started to be identified in North American collections it
became clear that there needed to be consolidated discussions in
academic journals. Christopher Chippindale and I published two
detailed analyses for the objects returned from Boston’s Museum of Fine
Arts and the J. Paul Getty Museum (Gill and Chippindale 2006; Gill and
Chippindale 2007). One of the pieces that had not been returned to Italy
was an Attic red-figured volute-krater in the Minneapolis Institute of Art
(Padgett 1983-86 [1991]). By this point I was working closely with Christos
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Tsirogiannis who was researching his doctoral project on Ribin Symes
(Tsirogiannis 2012). Images of the krater were identified from the Medici
Dossier and the Schinoussa archive. The Medici Dossier images were
particularly telling as they showed the krater still covered with mud and,
as they must have been taken in the 1970s or later (due to the
introduction of Polaroid technology), it was clear that the krater was
derived from a recently disturbed grave (indicated by the near intact
state of the krater). It soon became clear that the anonymous Swiss and
London private collections referred to in the krater’s collection history (socalled “provenance”) were in fact allusions to Medici and Symes. A
breakthrough came when the Director of the Minneapolis Institute of Art,
Kaywin Feldman commented (in a letter to The New York Times,
December 7, 2010) on Egyptian claims over an Egyptian mummy mask in
the St Louis Museum of Art. Feldman suggested that if a museum
became aware of information then it would want to respond to claims.
“Looting Matters” discussed the logic of applying Feldman’s statement
to the krater in her own museum and Lee Rosenbaum of the Arts Journal
managed to press Feldman on her position. Shortly afterwards
Minneapolis announced that it would be returning the krater to Italy (Gill
2011b).
Commenting on the Antiquities Market
Access to the Medici, Becchina and Symes photographic archives
meant that the appearance of material on the market could be
discussed. A series of identifications were made for objects that were
being offered by Christie’s in New York City (Gill and Tsirogiannis 2011;
see also Tsirogiannis 2013a; Tsirogiannis 2013b). An interesting twist was
that in 2009 Christie’s had to hand over some items to the Italian
Government after they had been identified from the photographic
archive (Gill 2010b). Although Christie’s were unwilling to discuss the
detail, their press officer noted that the appearance in the photographic
archives indicated that the objects had been “stolen”. This way of
viewing objects shown in the various photographic dossiers could then
be used when further identifications were made. In fact, Christie’s was
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reluctant to withdraw lots, even when information was passed to the
Italian authorities and formal government requests were made.
Bonhams also continued to offer objects that could be identified
from the archives. One of the items was a Roman sculpture of a youth,
apparently offered by a Spanish collector (or at least a vendor who
came under Spanish legal jurisdiction) in the April 2010 auction. It soon
became clear that there was a wider debate about whether or not
objects had been identified by the Art Loss Register and whether the
auction-house had acted on that information. In the case of the statue it
was claimed that the Italian government had no continuing claim; the
Italians felt that this was not completely true (Gill and Tsirogiannis 2011).
The case served to raise fundamental questions about the due diligence
process conducted prior to sales and the ability of the Art Loss Register to
advise appropriately in the case of potentially recently looted antiquities.
The appearance of objects from the Polaroids on the market
became clear when Tsirogiannis identified 16 objects that were being
offered by a New York dealer in early 2011. Some of the objects were
discussed on “Looting Matters” and the dossier of information with details
of the collecting histories was passed to the Italian authorities. The dealer
continued to offer the objects, although it was unclear how potential
purchasers reacted.
Much of the focus has been on the Medici Dossier. However items
from the archive of Gianfranco Becchina (and seized in Basel,
Switzerland) allowed the identification of key objects acquired by the
Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. The report was broken by
Greek journalist Nikolas Zirganos and a request for their return made by
the Hellenic authorities. Pertinent questions about the objects were
asked through “Looting Matters” although at the time of writing the
pieces remain in Georgia (Gill 2009e).
Pot Fragments and Museum Curators
One of the most controversial announcements was the return to Italy
of a number of fragmentary pots from a New York private collector (Gill
2012a). The fragments were reported to be linked to pots that had
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already been returned to Italy from other North American collections.
The implication was that the pots had been removed from their
archaeological contexts, possibly broken up, removed from their country
of origin, and parts were sold or given to museums or private individuals.
The significance of the return was clear when the private collector was
identified in the Italian press as Dietrich von Bothmer the long-standing
keeper of Greek and Roman Art and New York’s Metropolitan Museum
of Art (MMA). This immediately raised questions about how the fragments
had been acquired and under what circumstances. The MMA did not
comment and did not issue a press release. “Looting Matters” was able
to explore and discuss other fragments that formed part of Bothmer’s
collection and that had been given to other museums. An interesting
twist was that a very limited number of images from the collection were
posted on the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) Object
Registry. Some of the fragments came from an Athenian cup where the
central tondo was in the Villa Giulia in Rome (Tsirogiannis and Gill, in
press). It remains unclear how Bothmer acquired the fragments, and why
he had failed to make the connection between his fragments and the
documented piece in Rome.
The Princeton University Art Museum
The collection, formed by Princeton University Art Museum, has
featured regularly on “Looting Matters” (since the initial announcement
of returning material in October 2007). There was an initial story linked to
the identification of a series of pieces from the Medici Dossier. However it
became clear that Princeton had to return further objects apparently
derived from the dealer, Edoardo Almagià. This dealer was particularly
interesting as his name was linked to Etruscan objects already returned
from the Cleveland Museum of Art (Gill 2010e). Princeton did not make
any statement but the Italian Ministry of culture issued a limited press
release. Research on the collection made it possible to relate the outline
descriptions to specific pieces mentioned in formal publications. It
became clear that the return included a series of Etruscan architectural
fragments (Gill 2012b). Princeton’s silence about the affair was all the
more surprising given that it appears to be contrary to the transparency
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expected from an internationally recognised institution that should be
setting the highest ethical standards for its acquisition policies.
The Cleveland Apollo
Another line of research has been the authenticity of information
that is provided by museums. This was explored through the acquisition
of a bronze Apollo by the Cleveland Museum of Art (Bennett 2013).
Details of the collecting history could be analysed and questioned, not
least the reported discovery of the statue in a house in Saxony where it is
said to have once been displayed in a garden gazebo. The statue was
acquired from a Swiss-based gallery that had separately sold the
mummy mask to the St Louis Art Museum and where there are strongly
conflicting accounts of its collecting history from the dealer and the
Egyptian authorities who had a record of the mask in an inventory at a
time when it was allegedly already circulating in Europe (Gill 2009e).
Comments and observations about the scientific analysis were brought
together in an extended review article when the glossy publication of
the Apollo was published by Cleveland (Gill 2013b).
From Blog to News Media
One interesting development was the invitation from the news
agency, PR Newswire, to write a weekly 400 word press release linked to
a more detailed blog post. This gave free news exposure to stories
breaking on “Looting Matters” and provided an opportunity for journalists
to be provided with key facts about the issues related to the looting of
archaeological sites. The project ran some 45 releases from May 2009 to
January 2011 (see Appendix). Topics included discussions of the
proposed Memorandum of Understanding between Italy and the US
Government to cover the restriction of movement on antiquities (see Gill
2009e) as well as the so-called Crosby Garrett helmet. “Looting Matters”
continues to be cited in major international newspapers and journals. It is
also a source of information for journalists wanting to gain accurate
information on specific topics.
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From Blog to Print Media
In contrast to the blog, Noah Charney (The Association for Research
into Crimes Against Art, ARCA) invited me to write a regular column for
his newly established Journal of Art Crime. It was agreed that the issues
covered by “Looting Matters” would be summarised in a regular column,
“Context Matters”. This would be linked to a longer essay relating to
antiquities (see also Gill 2009d). Topics covered have included the return
of material from Princeton University Art Museum. The column also
provided that ideas explored on the blog could be consolidated in a
published print journal and then cited for academic purposes (Gill 2009a;
Gill 2009b; Gill 2010c, d; Gill 2011a; Gill 2011b; Gill 2012a; Gill 2012b; Gill
2013a; Gill 2013b).
Blogging and the Cultural Property Debate
“Looting Matters” covered the developing story over the
negotiations for the return of the Attic red-figured Sarpedon krater that
was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972 for $1 million.
This archaeological object, perhaps more than any other, had been a
focus of the debate about recently surfaced antiquities for more than 30
years. As the debate became so crucial for North American museums,
James Cuno, then of the Chicago Institute of Art, used it as part of his
provocative study, Who Owns Antiquity? (Cuno 2008; see also Gill 2009c)
and followed with the edited volume, Whose Culture? (Cuno 2009; see
also Gill 2009f). The MMA’s Director, Philippe de Montebello, was also
outspoken about Italian claims (de Montebello 2007; de Montebello
2009). There were claims that the loss of knowledge caused by the
looting was minimal when compared with the knowledge that could be
obtained from an art historical approach. As the debate continued,
culminating with the announcement that the Sarpedon krater would
indeed be returned to Italy after an initial period of loan to the MMA, I
prepared a longer study on the material and intellectual consequences
of acquiring the krater (Gill 2012c). This in some ways developed the
ideas first explored for Cycladic figures some 20 years before and
applied to one of the iconic figure-decorated pots in a major museum.
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There is a tendency in some academic circles to ignore new media.
However in a recent overview of recent archaeological developments
on Sicily for Archaeological Reports, published by the UK-based Society
for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, “Looting Matters” was specifically
cited as a source for developments on recent looting and returns (De
Angelis 2012). This is in one sense unsurprising given that the returns to
Italy have included a number of objects clearly derived from
archaeological contexts in Sicily and the region of Tuscany. In 2012 I was
awarded the Outstanding Public Service Award from the Archaeological
Institute of America for my research on archaeological ethics. “Looting
Matters” received a specific mention (Archaeological Institute of
America 2012, 366).
The topic of archaeological ethics is not one solely restricted to
archaeological circles. There needs to be a solid and rigorous
archaeological debate that appears in the mainstream journals. Part of
this means engaging in formal dialogue with those who hold opposite
positions. Thus the concerted effort by James Cuno to defend the
museum establishment has received formal academic responses
through review and review articles (Cuno 2009; Cuno 2011; Gill 2009c;
Gill 2009f; Gill 2012d). Academic journals tend to be restricted to
academic communities and to subscribers. The archiving of print journals
through repositories such as JSTOR is still restricted to those who have
paid access. A blog such as “Looting Matters” is free to users from
anywhere in the world. At the time of writing approximately two-thirds of
the readers on any given day are from North America. Readers are
invited to leave comments or to respond, and there have been times
when important statements to clarify the situation have had to be issued.
Blogging and Research
The time investment to keep posting to a blog is substantial. A
change of job and role meant that time slots that could be used for
reflecting and writing on posts were substantially reduced. There is also a
sense that the need to comment on stories has diminished as so many
identifications have been made, although it is worth reflecting that
perhaps only 1 per cent of the objects from the Medici Dossier have
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been identified. And with the continuing importance placed on
internationally recognised research for the UK “Research Excellence
Framework” (REF), can limited time be justified in writing blog entries
rather than articles for peer-reviewed journals? Yet, the other major issue
relates to how “Looting Matters” became a window on the debates
about the looting of Italy (and to a lesser extent Greece and Egypt)
during the first two decades of the second millennium. And this in turn
raises the issue of how the blog should be archived.
Conclusion
“Looting Matters” emerged from an established research project
looking at specific case studies that explored the material and
intellectual consequences of collecting. The blog has been useful to
respond to immediate issues and to capture the “grey literature” so
often left uncited in academic publications. It has fed stories to the press
through the partnership with PR Newswire, tried out ideas for formal
academic publications, and provided the basis for a regular column in
the Journal of Art Crime. Empirical research on issues relating to the
looting of archaeological sites and the collecting of cultural property by
public museums and private collectors helps to inform public debate
and to feed into the creation of international and national policies
relating to heritage. Blogs and other Web 2.0 platforms place this
research in the wider public domain.
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Bennett, M. 2013. Praxiteles: the Cleveland Apollo. Cleveland
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—. 2008b. “Urning respect.” Bonhams Magazine: 40-43.
Bothmer, D. v. 1984. A Greek and Roman Treasury. New York:
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krater.” Journal of Art Crime 5: 57-61.
—. 2012a. “Context matters: Fragmented pots, attributions and the
role of the academic.” Journal of Art Crime 8: 79-84.
—. 2012b. “Context matters: Princeton and recently surfaced
antiquities.” Journal of Art Crime 7: 59-66.
—. 2012c. “The material and intellectual consequences of acquiring
the Sarpedon krater.” In All the King’s Horses: Essays on the Impact of
Looting and the Illicit Antiquities Trade on our Knowledge of the Past,
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—. 2013a. “Context matters: Dallas Museum of Art takes the
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attributed to the Euaion painter from the Bothmer collection.”
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Calling All Archaeology
Careerists: Discussing
Archaeology Careers Online
William A. White, III
Blog: http://www.succinctresearch.com/succinct-research-blog/ cxxiii
Introduction
Me: “Honey! Guess what? I just passed 500 connections on LinkedIn!”
Clarity: “That’s great.” (Pondering what I just said.)
“Sooooooo…When are you going to ask some of them out for a drink to
talk about nerdy archaeology stuff?”
Me: “……Uuh. Well, they’re spread around the globe.”
(Condescendingly) “It’s not like I can just ask them out for drinks
anytime.”
Clarity: “So these are folks you know, right? People you’ve met at
conferences?” (Brief pause) “I mean, don’t some of these guys go to
school with you at the U of A? Some of them live in Tucson, right?”
Me: (Struggling to find a way to respond without acknowledging it’s
stupid to brag about LinkedIn connections or letting her know she’s
brought up a valid point.) “Of course, some of them live here in town.
But, I mean, they’re LinkedIn connections. I already know the phone
numbers of the guys I’d like to ask out for beers. I can just text them.
LinkedIn connections are for networking all over the world.” (Feeling
unsure that my response convinced her)
Clarity: (A sly smile perks the corners of her mouth like a cat that
knows it’s got a mouse cornered.) “Well if you can’t even ask them to
talk shop in person over a drink, what use are they?”
Me: (Thinking.)
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Clarity: “I mean, don’t you archaeos love to drink? Isn’t that where
you come up with most of your ideas?”
Me: (Still thinking about her question. I know she’s right, but can’t let
her know. Mentally maneuvering.) “Well, they’re useful because they
can help me stay ‘in-the-know’ about the job market and give career
advice. You know, help me learn about archaeology stuff before it’s
public knowledge. They help me keep a sharp edge.” (Feeling
uncomfortable because I know she’s brought up a valid point that I
never thought about before…as usual.)
Clarity: (Generously not twisting the knife.) “Okay honey. That’s
good. I’m proud of you. Really, I am.”
Me: (Don’t believe her but can’t do anything about it. She won this
round) “Thanks.”
What good is online professional networking? Do archaeologists
really “talk shop” over the internet? How useful are LinkedIn
connections? Can you really learn about practicing archaeology
through online conversations? How will any of this help me find a job?
Those are typical questions I have received whenever I told people
about the topic of my SAA 2014 presentation. They’re questions I wanted
to answer before writing this paper. “How can I use LinkedIn to further my
career?” Until 2013, I had a LinkedIn profile for years but really hadn’t
done anything with it. It wasn’t even complete. I’d been hearing about
how important online connections can be for career development and
job opportunities, but I was still doing things the old fashioned way—
through face-to-face conversations with other archaeologists and
professors. That method worked for years and it still works today.
However, during the Great Recession, the face-to-face technique
started failing me because of the dearth of cultural resource
management (CRM) work going on in the country. In an age of
shriveling opportunities and increased competition, I knew I had to find
another way to land work. Still, I did not turn to LinkedIn or other online
networking services.
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In 2012, I started blogging as a way to share knowledge and help
other archaeologists have more fruitful job searches. It was at this time
that I realized how social media outlets provided a way to reach a wider
audience and connect with other archaeologists around the world.
Initially, I was completely anti-social media. Other than LinkedIn and the
obligatory Google/Yahoo profiles that come along with their free email
accounts, I had no social media presence. Yet, slowly, I came to realize
that social media could help my career and help me share information
with other archaeologists.
I reluctantly signed up for a couple different social media accounts
and started watching the conversations that were going on. Most of it
was gossip, ads, or junk, but sometimes I learned something or
connected with a particularly knowledgeable individual that actually
helped my career. As the current largest social media platform for
professionals, I realized LinkedIn provided me an opportunity to connect
with thousands of archaeologists from around the world and, unlike most
of the other media outlets, archaeologists on LinkedIn were focused on
their careers. I started paying particular attention to conversations on
LinkedIn groups and began growing my own connections. This paper
grew from my professional networking efforts during the last year (2013).
Experiential Learning, Careerism, and the Internet
We all know that forging a path in archaeology requires a wealth of
experiential learning that is amassed throughout an individual’s career.
Therein lays the paradox: you need to have experience to get work, but
how do you get work without the experience? Our career paths as
archaeologists usually follow a similar trajectory. We go to college for a
degree in archaeology, anthropology, historic preservation, or a similar
field. During college, most of us take a field school or internship as a way
to get experience because hands-on experience is one of the things you
need most to get a job after graduation. Some of us go on to graduate
school right after getting our BA, while a larger number go on to work in
archaeology, usually in CRM, before heading back to graduate
school…or not. Some of us are even crazy enough to go for the PhD or
work as professors.
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Regardless of the path your career takes, in archaeology,
professional development is strongly dependent upon experiential
learning. Whether you aspire to be a field archaeologist, professor,
principal investigator, or government archaeologist, it is easier to land
that particular job when you already have experience in that position.
Experience trumps education when it comes to successfully landing an
archaeology job; but, who you know trumps experience. How do you
get experience when you don’t have any experience? You need to
know the right people or be very, very lucky. Building your network is a
safer bet and, today, networking includes making connections over the
Internet.
I’m not the oldest man to wield a trowel, but when I started in
archaeology your network was really limited to the archaeologists in your
community or those you had directly worked with in the past. In order to
build a robust network of connections, you needed to have decades of
experience and projects behind you. Having decades of experience is
still the best way to build a network because, in the process of
conducting projects, the connections you make come from direct,
person-to-person interactions. The Internet, specifically social media,
adds a new way for us to connect and provides each of us an
opportunity to interact without meeting in person. It also allows us to
expand our networks far beyond our local communities and share
information with individuals we’ve never actually met. This can help us
build a huge “network”, but it will never supersede face-to-face
interaction in most instances. Online connections should be considered
like a first date that may or may not lead to something bigger.
How many archaeologists are there to connect with?
Archaeology is a pretty closed field because there aren’t too many
of us in the world. While I’m not sure about the exact number of
archaeologists in other countries, various sources suggest there are
between 7,200 and 12,000 archeologists in the United States. On the low
end, the archaeology/anthropology job outlook created by the United
States Department of Labor says there are about 7,200 individuals
working in this industry in the U.S. and suggests that the number will grow
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by 19% between 2010 and 2020. This is the least accurate estimate I’ve
encountered because the Department of Labor is most likely only
counting individuals with a graduate degree (their definition of an
“archaeologist” or “anthropologist” says a Master’s Degree is the
minimum education requirement) (U.S. Department of Labor 2013).
Recent information collected by the American Cultural Resources
Association (ACRA) (2013) suggests the CRM industry employs 10,000
individuals and generates over $1 billion in revenue.
Another assessment of the number of archaeologists in the U.S.
comes from Jeffery H. Altschul and Thomas C. Patterson (2010). In their
chapter in Voices in American Archaeology, Altschul and Patterson
(2010:297–302) estimate that there are about 2,500 archaeologists
working in the public sector, that the CRM industry employs about 10,000
archaeologists, and that 1,500 archaeologists work in universities. They
also suggest that there are about 14,800 total CRM specialists, including
archaeologists and others involved in CRM, in the United States, but not
including temporary archaeological technicians, although they use a
round figure of 14,000 for their CRM industry employment statistic
(Altschul and Patterson 2010:300–302). Including archaeological
technicians in this statistic could inflate the total of CRM archaeologists
by another 2,200 (Altschul and Patterson 2010:302) to around 12,000
archaeologists and 16,000 CRM specialists.
How many archaeologists are on LinkedIn?
There are three different types of LinkedIn profiles: individual,
business, and groups. Individual pages primarily include information
about persons. Similarly, business pages summarize the same information
about businesses. Group pages are a little different in that they are
places where individuals can congregate to share information about a
specific topic. While individual and business pages are open to all other
LinkedIn users, groups can be either open or closed, meaning
membership can be controlled by the group’s organizer to only admit
select individuals—typically persons with similar career experiences or in
the same industries.
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Quantifying archaeologists using a free LinkedIn account is even
more difficult than the attempts made by the ACRA, Department of
Labor, or Altschul and Patterson. LinkedIn has two different types of
accounts, free basic accounts and paid membership accounts. There
are a variety of paid accounts designed for different clients including job
seekers, recruiters, and sales professionals. Like all search engines,
LinkedIn searches depend on keywords found on profile pages. The
amount of information you can access is dependent on the type of
account you are using. Obviously, you have access to a greater amount
and range of information if you buy a membership. Paid memberships
can get more accurate, nuanced search results.
It is difficult to quantify the number of archaeologists that use
LinkedIn because the free account search options are very basic and do
not provide for nuanced search results. For instance, when I, with a basic
account, searched for persons with the word “archaeologist” in their
profile, LinkedIn showed me all personal profile pages with that word
anywhere in the individual’s profile. This search showed me all LinkedIn
users that are, or have been, an archaeologist in the past. This goes the
same for locational data. LinkedIn showed me all persons that are or
were archaeologists that currently work or have worked in a specific
state. Thus, LinkedIn basic account searches show networks: individuals,
organizations, and companies with connections to a given trade or
location in the past and in the present.
Despite these restrictions, I found that LinkedIn can provide fairly
good information on archaeologists and archaeology groups, but it is
severely lacking in information on CRM companies and non-profit
organizations. According to the information I accessed through my free
account (March 10th – 13th, 2014), LinkedIn lists 18,253 individuals around
the world that are currently or have been archaeologists, 8,140 of which
live/worked in the United States (US), 2,719 in the United Kingdom, 1,029
in Canada, 747 in Australia, and 705 in Greece. Table 1 illustrates states in
the US with the most and least archaeologist connections. Most
importantly, we have to remember that this search yielded results for all
individuals that have career or educational connections to these states
in the past or present. For example, the search shows a person that
earned their degree at the University of Washington, worked as an
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archaeologist at some point in the past in Wyoming, but does not
currently work as an archaeologist. That person would have ties to
Washington and Wyoming even though they’re no longer an
archaeologist.
Table 1: LinkedIn Results for the Term “Archaeologist” in the United States* Top 10 States Bottom 10 States Rank State Ind. Prof. Rank State Ind. Prof. 1 California 1,847 144 1 Vermont 98 10 2 Washington 1,188 132 2 Delaware 101 12 3 New York 1,183 174 3 Maine 104 11 4 Texas 836 81 4 Nebraska 106 9 5 Florida 747 77 5 Rhode Island 113 9 6 Arizona 743 75 6 New Hampshire 125 13 7 New Mexico 732 76 7 South Dakota 139 16 8 Colorado 713 61 8 Connecticut 153 14 9 Virginia 644 72 9 North Dakota 159 17 10 Pennsylvania 583 79 10 Arkansas 165 16 *Search conducted March 10th, 2014; results yielded individual profiles with the term “archaeologist” in past or present job titles; shows past or present connection to locations Since the majority of archaeologists in the United States work in
cultural resource management, I also searched LinkedIn for that
information. There are 11,768 individual profiles that contain the term
“cultural resource management”; 7,158 profiles have connections to the
United States, 852 to Canada, 832 to the United Kingdom, and 454 to
Australia. Table 2 summarizes the results for this search that also has the
aforementioned caveats.
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Table 2: LinkedIn Results for the Term “Cultural Resource Management” in the United States* Top 10 States Rank State Bottom 10 States Ind. Rank State Ind. 1 California 1,476 1 Maine 88 2 Washington 1,296 2 New Hampshire 102 3 New York 1,019 3 Rhode Island 119 4 Texas 826 4 Vermont 131 5 Virginia 819 5 South Dakota 139 6 Arizona 664 6 Connecticut 142 7 New Mexico 649 7 Delaware 156 8 Colorado 643 8 Iowa 158 9 Pennsylvania 643 9 North Dakota 170 10 Florida 642 10 Nebraska 173 *Search conducted March 13th, 2014; results yielded individual profiles with the term “cultural resource management” in past or present job titles; shows past or present connection to locations The results of individual profile searches indicate areas where
archaeologists are concentrated, primarily the mid-Atlantic, Southwest,
and Pacific coast states. There are few archaeologists in the New
England and Midwestern states (Note: not all of the states in these
regions made it into the top or bottom 10 list). The top 10 list indicates
states where archaeologists have the most and fewest connections and
this list remains similar whether the search focuses on the term
“archaeologist” or “cultural resource management.”
I also surveyed LinkedIn for archaeology professor profiles, which are
summarized in Table 3. The search for “archaeology” and “professor”
revealed a total of 6,239 profiles with 3,552 linked to the United States,
453 to the United Kingdom, 323 to Canada, and 177 to Italy. The top five
universities noted in these profiles included the University of California,
Berkeley (23), Columbia University in New York City (23), University
College of London (21), the University of Pennsylvania (19), and the
University of Copenhagen (19). This includes individuals that are
full/tenure, assistant, and adjunct professor.
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Table 3: LinkedIn Results for “Archaeology” and “Professor” in the United States* Top 10 States Bottom 10 States Rank State Prof. Rank State Prof. 1 New York 174 1 Nebraska 9 2 California 144 2 Rhode Island 9 3 Washington 132 3 Vermont 10 4 Texas 81 4 Maine 11 5 Pennsylvania 79 5 Delaware 12 6 Florida 77 6 New Hampshire 13 7 New Mexico 76 7 Connecticut 14 8 Arizona 75 8 South Dakota 16 8 Virginia 72 9 Arkansas 16 10 Michigan 63 10 North Dakota 17 *Search conducted March 10th, 2014; results yielded individual profiles with the term “archaeology” and “professor” in past or present job titles; shows past or present connection to locations; includes adjunct, assistant, and full or tenure professors Again, these results do not indicate how many archaeology
professors are in these states. It simply reflects the number of individuals
that have been or currently are archaeologists or professors. It is an
indicator of the places where archaeology professors are connected to;
however these numbers also mirror the results in Tables 1 and 2. These
tables point toward the states that have played a larger role in
archaeology careers and where the largest numbers of archaeologists
have connections.
LinkedIn statistics for companies and organizations that do
archaeology are much less refined. It appears that a very small segment
of the CRM and contract archaeology community has a presence on
LinkedIn. Perhaps this reflects the overall dearth of online presence within
the CRM community. A total of 535 companies with LinkedIn profiles
stated archaeology is part of what they do. This includes a wide range of
organizations including CRM companies, non-profit organizations, and
tourism companies that provide tours of archaeology sites. Of the
companies with profiles, 132 have connections to the United States, 109
to the United Kingdom, 26 to the Netherlands, 25 to Canada, and 21 to
Italy. The results for the United States are summarized in Table 4.
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Table 4: LinkedIn Results for “Archaeology” Companies in the United States* State Companies California Pennsylvania 20 7 2 States (Alabama, Tennessee) 4 States (New York, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming) 6 5 7 States (Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, Nevada, Texas) 6 States (Delaware, Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, Washington) 15 States (Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia) 11 States (Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wisconsin) 4 States (Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Washington, D.C.) *Search conducted March 10th, 2014; results yielded company profiles with the term “archaeology” 4 3 2 1 0 Clearly, these results are inaccurate. The ACRA website indicates
there are 28 CRM companies that do work in the state of Arizona alone
(ACRA 2014). Another ACRA publication, written in 2013, states there are
over 1,500 CRM companies in the United States. It appears that most
companies that do archaeology do not have LinkedIn profiles. However,
these data do roughly correlate with the individual profile data in that
many of the states connected with a larger number of companies are
also states with a large number of individual archaeologist profile
connections. The same goes for the states with the fewest or no
archaeology company connections.
Are career-related conversations taking place on
LinkedIn groups?
While LinkedIn members can send private messages to each other,
most conversations about archaeology take place on archeologyrelated groups. These groups are intended to serve as a forum where
information can be shared with group members who have the
opportunity to comment. This is probably the main way archaeologists
can network because LinkedIn usually only allows individuals to connect
with each other if they have something in common, such as past work
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experience, went to the same college, or are members of the same
LinkedIn groups. My research indicates that there are 159 “archaeology”
groups on LinkedIn that vary widely in membership size as illustrated in
Table 5.
Table 5: LinkedIn Results for “Archaeology” Groups* Group Members Status** Archeology 7866 Closed Professional Anthropology/Archaeology Group 6,779 Closed Medieval and Renaissance Art, Antiques, Architecture, Archaeology, History and Music 4,987 Closed Society for American Archaeology 4,346 Open Archaeology and Heritage Jobs 3877 Open Historical Archaeology 3683 Closed The Discovery Programme 2350 Open Freelance Cultural Resources Professionals 2061 Closed Geschichte/History 2000 Open Experimental Archaeology 1898 Open 17 groups have only one member 4 closed, 13 open *Search conducted March 10th, 2014; results yielded groups with the term “archaeology” in title or group profile **Group membership status is either “closed”, meaning members are vetted by group managers, or “open” to any LinkedIn user LinkedIn archaeology groups also vary widely when it comes to
activity. LinkedIn notes group activity in the last 30 days, and for less
active groups, notes the total number of group posts. Table 6 summarizes
the most active 25 percent of LinkedIn archaeology groups (n=40)
based on the amount of activity in these groups.
Table 6: LinkedIn Results for “Archaeology” Groups* Group Members Status History Enthusiasts Group Medieval and Renaissance Art, Antiques, Architecture, Archaeology, History and Music 4987 Closed Archeology 7866 Closed Professional Anthropology/Archaeology Group Past Horizons Archaeology 6779 Closed 548 Open Blogging Archaeology
334 Open Activity Level** Very Active Very Active Very Active Very Active Active Page 70
Last Month 334 259 91 70 35 Roman Archaeology 949 Closed Active 31 Late Antiquity and Early Medieval Culture, Language, Literature, History, and Archaeology 333 Open Active 30 Archaeology News 563 Open Active 25 Society for American Archaeology 4346 Open Active 22 Archaeology 1850 Closed Active 21 Archaeology and Heritage Jobs 3877 Open Active 20 Historical Archaeology 3683 Closed Active 20 The Society for Historical Archaeology 248 Closed 11 CAA: Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology 1596 Closed 10 Tennessee Council for Professional Archaeology 33 Open 10 Maritime Archaeology 1842 Closed 8 American Cultural Resources Association 1486 Closed 8 University of Leicester School of Archaeology and Ancient History Alumni 12 Closed 8 Council for British Archaeology 1789 Open 7 Evolution of Language Research 1579 Open 7 History Jobs English Art Literature Library Political Science, Museum Liberal ArtsHistoryJobs.com 982 Closed 7 Digital Archaeology 1206 Open 6 Friends of The Archaeology Channel 314 Open 6 Forensic Archaeology 292 Closed 6 BAJR Archaeology Jobs and Resources 280 Open 6 Celtic Studies 106 Open 6 Experimental Archaeology 1898 Open 5 Sea Research Society 797 Open 5 The Discovery Programme 2350 Open 4 Freelance Cultural Resources Professionals 2061 Closed 4 Archaeologists and CRMers 494 Closed 4 Archaeology Careerist's Network 152 Closed 4 Geschichte/History 2000 Open 3 GIS and Archaeology 770 Open 3 GIS History and Archaeology 694 Open 3 Cambridge Heritage Research Group 182 Closed 3 Texas Archaeology 99 Open 3 Australian Archaeology 718 Open 2 Archaeology Scotland 290 Open 2 *Search conducted March 10th, 2014; results yielded groups with the term “archaeology” in title or group profile **Activity Level determined by LinkedIn; all “very active” and “active” groups have more than 20 posts each month Blogging Archaeology
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As indicated in Table 6, activity level varies between archaeologyrelated groups. A small number of groups (n=12) are classified by
LinkedIn as “very active” or “active” and a larger number of groups
have much lower activity levels. About 67 percent (n=107) of all
archaeology groups have had no activity in the last 30 days. It is also
interesting to note that the majority of “very active” archaeology groups
are “closed”, which means their membership is vetted by the group’s
manager(s). Closed groups are usually comprised of a very select
demographic of professionals and enthusiasts. Discussions in these
groups, generally, are more focused on topics mentioned in the group’s
profile.
In order to get a better idea of the types of people that compose
these groups and the types of conversations happening in them, I
decided to analyze five groups within the largest 25 percent range
(n=40; 7,866–297 members) and five groups within the middle 50 percent
(n=79; 292–4 members). I wanted to look at five groups in the lowest 25
percent (n=40; 4–1 members), but none of these groups had any activity
in the last month. These ten groups were chosen in a completely biased
manner and were selected based on which ones I thought had the most
interesting title/profile, or groups I thought would be more oriented
toward career-related conversations. I was also limited to open groups
or groups of which I was already a member (as of March 19th, 2014).
Archaeology Career Conversations on LinkedIn Groups
Table 7 is a summary of the last month’s activity for the 10 groups I
chose to examine (Full Disclosure: I am the group manager for the
Archaeology Careerist’s Network). In order to quantify the conversations
on these groups, I categorized the posts into five principal types: queries,
jobs, information, promotions, and spam. Queries included questions
addressed to other group members and were primarily about artifact
identification and job inquiries. The jobs category included posts about
employment opportunities. It was most difficult to differentiate between
information and promotions, but I noticed that most informational posts
focused on recent findings and current events in the field of
archaeology. Posts on upcoming conference calls and fundraising
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efforts were categorized as promotions. The spam category included
advertisements that were not related to archaeology.
Table 7: Archaeology Career Conversations on LinkedIn Groups* Post Type Group Member Status Posts** Query Jobs Info Promo Spam Top 25 Percent Archaeology 7,866 Closed 91 1 2 71 16 SAA Historical Archaeology CRM Freelance Professionals Archaeologists and CRMers 4,346 Open 22 3 1 11 5 3,683 Closed 20 1 12 7 Middle 50 Percent TN Council for Professional Archaeologists BAJR Archaeology Jobs Celtic Studies The Discovery Programme Archaeology Careerist’s Network 2,061 Closed 4 494 Closed 4 280 Open 6 106 Open 6 152 Closed TOTAL 171 10 3 3 4 4 5 2350 Open 10 2 4 33 Open 4 10 2 2 2 2 2 3 124 32 2 *Limited to Open groups and groups the author was a member of as of March 19th, 2014 **Only includes posts made in last 30 days According to my wholly unscientific, limited, and biased analysis of
select LinkedIn group conversations that took place during the last 30
days (from March 19th, 2014), most group conversations focused on
discussing recent findings and promoting conferences and fundraisers. A
smaller proportion of group posts are queries about artifact
identification, career advice, or about education. An extremely small
number of group queries appear to be job posting discussions. It is also
important to note that the bulk of the material in these groups is posted
by a small number of individuals who broadcast the same information
Blogging Archaeology
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across a wide number of LinkedIn groups. Thus, many of the
conversations are actually shared across a large number of groups.
These findings appear quite bleak, but it is important to note that I
only investigated the last 30 days of activity in these groups and was
limited in which groups I could examine. While older posts (created more
than 30 days ago) appear to have similar trends as the data for the last
30 days, it is possible that the focus of posts varied in the past.
Additionally, it is important to remember that these groups are primarily
for conversations about archaeology. LinkedIn has separate search
capabilities for job seekers. Finally, as the manager of an archaeology
career-oriented group, I know that conversations that can contribute to
career development do occur on LinkedIn. In the past, my group has
discussed several important topics such as CRM/university studies, grant
writing, CRM marketing, and professional standards. This qualitative
information would not be identified using the data collection methods I
employed for this paper.
Conclusion
It would be easy to admit that my wife was right in insinuating that
LinkedIn connections are less valuable than the ones you make face-toface. The data presented in this paper certainly suggests there are few
career-related conversations taking place in LinkedIn groups and
participating in these groups is simply a way to hear about the awesome
discoveries around the world. These data also indicate career advice is
not being conveyed via LinkedIn groups and users are not learning
much about what it is like to be a professional archaeologist through
group conversations. However, my methods would not reveal this type of
qualitative information.
While groups are currently not being used by archaeologists to their
full potential, my research indicates LinkedIn is still a great way to
connect with other archaeologists. Groups are useful because they
provide a way to connect with archaeologists you have not worked with
directly. LinkedIn does not typically allow “cold calls”. A common
reference point is necessary to reach individuals you have not worked
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with before and this commonality can include a LinkedIn group. If
Altschul and Patterson are correct in their estimations of the number of
archaeologists in the US, than over half of all archaeologists in the United
States may be on LinkedIn and this number continues to grow. LinkedIn is
a great networking tool because it allows you to connect with
archaeologists in your state or even metropolitan area, which gives you
the chance to create those powerful face-to-face interactions that are
so central to a successful career in archaeology.
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References
Altschul, Jeffery H. and Thomas C. Patterson
2010
Trends in Employment and Training in American
Archaeology. Voices in American Archaeology, Society for American
Archaeology Press, United States. Pgs. 291–316.
American Cultural Resources Association (ACRA)
2013
The Cultural Resources Management Industry. ACRA,
Baltimore. http://www.acra-crm.org/news/159051/CRM-IndustryMetrics.htm cxxiv Accessed April 19, 2014
2014
ACRA Consultants Database. http://acra.siteym.com/search/custom.asp?id=1797 cxxv Accessed April 19, 2014.
United States Department of Labor
2013
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Anthropologists and
Archaeologists. Department of Labor and Statistics, United States
Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. Accessed April 19, 2014
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-socialscience/anthropologists-and-archeologists.htm cxxvi
Blogging Archaeology
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Why archaeological blogging
matters: Personal experiences
from Central Europe and South
America.*
Maria Beierlein de Gutierrez
Blog: http://sprachederdingeblog.wordpress.com cxxvii
Introduction
I am a fully trained archaeologist, specializing in Bolivian ceramics. I
graduated in “Latin American Archaeology” and “European
Archaeology” in Berlin in 2004 and went on to my Ph.D. at the University
of Bonn, Germany. My studies were centred on values and a historical
background that came from the Anglo-American tradition of
Archaeology & Anthropology with all its history and discussions on the
communication and interaction of Archaeology to and with a broader
public (for a short overview: Beavis and Hunt 1999; Clack and Brittain
2007; Holtorf 2005, 2007). As opposed to the other more traditional
German approach of teaching archaeology mainly as an extended
version of Art History, avoiding any mingling of Archaeology with social or
political matters. This rather descriptive and only reluctantly interpretative
approach was still en vogue when I began my studies in the 1990s (for an
abbreviated history of German archaeology see Eggert 2012, p. 7ff.)
Nevertheless, communicating archaeology became a constant and
even urgent necessity in my professional life when I started investigating
in Bolivia in the late 1990s. Postcolonial countries tend to be very sensitive
to people coming to investigate certain aspects of their life and culture,
and the past is an especially sensitive issue after more than 500 years of
colonization (see also: Bruchae et al. 2010, Oyuela-Caycedo 1994 a, b;
Gnecco 2012 and the growing body of literature at Left Coast Press,
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e.g.3). Communicating archaeology can help to lower barriers between
the investigator and local people, and in the best case, creates an
intertwined relationship between both; it offers archaeological data and
information, thus presenting access to a new facet of interpretation of
the local past. It explains how we are doing Archaeology, ensuring a
broader understanding of the issues of cultural heritage in academic
terms. It is vital in this context that while we are increasingly respecting
local knowledge and attitudes to the past and its material remains, as
archaeologists, we should also present our standpoint based on
academic knowledge (see also: Holtorf 2005 arguing the same
viewpoint regarding “alternative archaeologies”).
On the contrary, during my work in Germany, communicating
Archaeology was almost no issue. German Archaeology still clings widely
to the practice of communicating exclusively between scientists and not
so much with the public, although this panorama has recently begun to
change and is still highly debated (Karl 2012, 2014). Since the mid 1990s
the courses of studies of European and non-European archaeology have
increasingly suffered major cutbacks4 - the last of those when the closure
of the studies of Classical Archaeology at the renowned University of
Leipzig in January 2014 was announced (have a look at:
http://ausgraben.wordpress.com cxxviii). In my opinion, these two facts,
insufficient communication outside our discipline and funding cutbacks,
are intertwined. Therefore, communicating archaeology as a discipline
of deep relevance for the German and Central European society is
getting even more important.
https://www.google.de/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=left+coast+press+arch
aeology+and+indigenous+issues+series&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF8&gfe_rd=cr&ei=ZF8hU-SeKMvesgaUsYBY
3
4
Have a look at the excellent analysis of this situation at Eggert 2012, p. 382. Eggert centres on the
relevance of “economic usefulness of knowledge” and the “relevance of the pecuniary” (ibid., 382, my
translation) in our current, western society, which is certainly an absolutely decisive factor in the current
developments at universities when it comes to archaeology and humanities in general.
Blogging Archaeology
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This chapter focuses on how communicating archaeology in
increasingly Internet based societies matters – in Central Europe and in
South America. The parameters may be different and the approaches
and problems as well, but the importance of blogging archaeology
remains the same. I would like to present my personal experience of the
how and why.
Archaeological blogging and outreach
As has been stated recently, the use of Web 2.0 in and for
archaeology has become a fact (Henson 2013; Huvila 2013; Scherzler
2012). There are a multitude of publications on the practical uses of Web
2.0 for archaeological research. Data storing and exchange (e.g. Kansa
et al. 2008) and digital humanities are a major subject at universities,
conferences and the like. The coverage on possibilities of Web 2.0 for the
outreach of archaeological projects and its impacts on the
communication of archaeological knowledge and thinking has been
patchy at best. The communication of archaeology via media such as
Twitter, Facebook, blogs, websites and on platforms like Pinterest has
been seen in the tradition of analogue media used by archaeology
(Clack and Brittain 2007; Henson 2013; Kulik 2007). Archaeology has even
been considered “a subject with a mass-market appeal” (Henson 2013,
p. 4).
Many authors stress the blurring of former hierarchical or academic
frontiers between the public and archaeologists, and go on to state the
creation of new boundaries and new, widened communities (Henson
2013; Huvila 2013). Hierarchies are being abolished by the rather
heterarchic use of internet spaces and media by a wider public. This
includes not only academics working in the field of archaeology, but
also a broad range of so-called amateur archaeologists or people
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simply interested in archaeology cxxixcxxx 5. This widened community calls
for a different approach to communicating archaeology on part of the
archaeologists. A need has arisen to accept and integrate different
approaches and ideas on archaeology held in high esteem by the
public but maybe not always by archaeologists. As Holton says:
“[…] The significance of archaeology may lie less in any specific
insights gained about the past than in the very process of engaging
with the material remains of the past in the present.” (2005, p. 548).
It´s still difficult to find a consensus on how to act and interact with
people in the Web 2.0 who are not academically trained archaeologists.
The widening of the community that takes an interest in archaeological
work and their interaction with archaeology and archaeologists has
changed through the direct interaction with the public on the Internet
instead of ‘displaying content to a disconnected and largely passive
audience’ (Henson 2013, p. 3) via television or radio.
What can be said is that the possibilities to interact with and
communicate to an audience outside the academic world have been
increasingly used in the last years by archaeologists, often either in blogs
about archaeological projects, covering and presenting archaeological
fieldwork itself6 cxxxi cxxxii, or on archaeology and related discussions7 cxxxiii
5
A current example of this interaction and debate in Germany is the case of the so-called “treasure of
Rülzheim” which has been recently uncovered by a so-called “amateur archaeologist” and retrieved by
German authorities. The comments on this case and its media coverage have been analyzed by Jutta
Zerres on the archaeological blog “Archaeologik” in a remarkable article
http://archaeologik.blogspot.de/2014/02/das-nennt-sich-fieldwork-ihr.html.
“Archaeologik” (http://archaeologik.blogspot.de) is being hosted by Rainer Schreg.
6
Have a look at: http://nunalleq.wordpress.com or http://reaparch.blogspot.de
7
Some rather unusual examples may be found at:
a) http://pastthinking.com
b) http://archaeopop.blogspot.de
c) http://www.visualizingneolithic.com
Blogging Archaeology
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cxxxiv cxxxv.
In that way, archaeologists are part of Web 2.0, where
interaction, constant re-modelling of information, and sharing are the
norm.
Two blogs – two continents
My first experience with blogging was a descriptive blog about my
Ph.D. project in South Bolivia. My team and I practised different kinds of
community outreach communication on a daily basis during the project,
including presentations aimed at different audiences and offering data
and interpretations to a wide range of social and political groupings.
It seemed necessary to offer our data to a wider public, especially
after the project was finished. This was due to the complete lack of
information on the subject of my investigation and the desire expressed
by local people to know more about it. The goal was to present a
systematic overview of the investigations, past and present, in the study
region and of the first results of my project that were upcoming on the
time we opened the blog. The blog was consequently aimed at the
broad public, and not at fellow scientists who can access the same
information at archaeological journals or via www.academia.edu cxxxvi 8.
We were therefore looking for the possibility to present the
information as cheap and broadly as possible. Surely, blogging seemed
the best option at this time instead of setting up a whole website, paying
for rented web space and the like. We opened http://paastarija.blogspot.de cxxxvii in 2007, offering information on the project itself,
the participants, the preliminary results, an overview of the earlier
archaeological investigation of the area and a special section named
“What is Archaeology? Towards a future replete with past”. During
fieldwork we found that archaeology was a decisive part of the local
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and regional social reality. It was, and is, used openly in political
discourses and helped different groups to back up their specific positions
on political autonomy, ancestry and the like, bending the
archaeological data at their convenience. The blog was a medium to
present our data to a wider audience, but can be read at the same
time as our basic version of the data, presenting them explicitly without
political and social interpretations for current struggles about autonomy
and politics.
In Germany, the approach to the use of archaeology is completely
different. Archaeology fascinates the broad public but is rarely used
openly to substantiate different political agendas9. Since the 1950s,
German archaeology has limited itself mostly to the presentation of data
with a minimum of interpretation, relying on a rather descriptive
approach (Strobel & Widera 2009). The dichotomy between the interarchaeological, supposedly “objective” discourse of merely describing
finds on the one hand and the fascination for sensational findings in the
wider public on the other, has resulted ultimately in an ever-growing
irrelevance of basic archaeological data and research in everyday life.
Archaeologists have retreated to their laboratories, and
‘Communicating Archaeology’ is not practised very often. Rather, we
communicate for and between ourselves, reaching out only in minor
instances to a wider public in the realm of expositions and publications
on rather sensationalist topics (see also: Benz and Liedmeier 2007). This
leads ultimately to insufficient funding of archaeological investigations
and education because we don’t communicate the relevance of our
studies to a wider public. Archaeology is about the ‘Past’ permeating
8
9
https://uni-bonn.academia.edu/MariaBeierlein
The reason for the rather anti-interpretative approach in German archaeology up to the 1990s may be
suspected in the political use of archaeology in the nationalist debates from the 1860s onwards, resulting
in the inclusion in the agenda of National Socialism (see: Focke-Museum 2013, Hardt et al. 2003,
Schachtmann et al. 2009).
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everyday life around us, about its relevance to us and about how it
shapes our current situation.
In order to raise my voice on this topic, I started an archaeological
blog called “Language of Things”
(http://sprachederdingeblog.wordpress.com), which focuses mainly on
the persistence of archaeological questions in our everyday life. It asks
questions like: How are history and archaeology permeating our lives?
Why is archaeology relevant to our everyday experiences? How do
expositions and musings on these topics influence us? Aimed at fellow
scientists as well as interested non-archaeologists, the blog is a platform
for thoughts on archaeology and the ‘Past’ as well as exhibitions and
professional training. It is also, a space to present ideas and thoughts in
an informal way, without writing a full-length article or other rather
scientific publications.
Differences and Similarities. What does Archaeological
Blogging mean in both continental contexts?
Archaeological blogging in Bolivia faces big challenges and
possibilities at the same time. There is a growing demand for
archaeological data from different societal segments: students,
archaeological colleagues, indigenous groups, political parties,
archaeologically interested persons and so on10 cxxxviii . Archaeological
projects working in Bolivia are regularly asked to leave printed
documentation of their findings with the local and regional communities
where the investigation took place. When offering archaeological
information on the internet, you can be sure that there will be a steady
10
To get an overview for the cases of Chile and Bolivia, have a look at the special issue of Chungará
35(2): http://www.chungara.cl/index.php/vol35-2
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and even growing interest visible in hit numbers for your site, an interest
that does not diminish with time.
But there are several big questions: Who has access to the Internet,
how is this access provided and at what cost? What are the technical
possibilities of Bolivian Internet cafés or access at your home? That’s a
big problem because access is available, but mainly in big cities. Rural
areas are seldom provided with Internet access or don’t have any
access at all, with people relying on sparse visits to town only once or
twice a month or even less. If access is provided, the speed of the
Internet is often limited and impedes reading and/or printing pages or
documents with high data volume or pictures11.
So, who has access to your information? It is mainly the non-rural
segments of society and this is surely a big disadvantage because rural
people often have a major interest in learning more about a different
view on their past. The Bolivian educational system has existed for several
hundred years in the obsolescence of prehispanic cultural developments
and has only recently integrated the prehispanic past into the curricula.
But still, it centres on the so-called “high civilizations”12, like Tiwanaku13 or
Inka14, and ignores regional cultural developments that may span
several thousand years. This negation of regional history has led to an
ever-growing interest about the “real” past (i.e. the past not represented
11
See the first hits with the search terms „Acceso de internet en Bolivia“ and find some of relevant
statistics:
https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=acceso+de+internet+
en+bolivia&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
12
See Swartley, 2002, for an interesting introduction regarding the use of prehispanic cultures in
Bolivian politics.
13
Tiwanaku: Archaeological entity of the South-Central Andes, spanning a time between approx. 400 –
1100 AD.
14
Inka: Archaeological entity of the Andes, spanning the time between 1000 AD – 1535 AD. The Inka
culture developed the valleys near the city of Cuzco, Peru, expanding their dominium up to Ecuador in
the North and to Chile and Argentina in the South in the last 200 years of their development which came
to a forceful halt due to the arrival of the Spaniards.
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in school books and the like) from regional, often indigenous, groups. This
was experienced by our project, as well as by many others, when doing
field work and encountering dozens of interested people on the site
during the excavations or during survey, who asked continuous questions
on how, why and when people lived there. There may be different
approaches and ideas about the past and ancestry, but still the interest
persists. Archaeological narratives may provide a counter image of
regional, local and official history.
It is these rural people who have the least access to knowledge
provided via archaeological blogging. But as rural education centres
are being increasingly provided with computers and electrification,
access to the Internet is growing. In the meantime, personal expositions,
visits to schools and other cultural or educational institutions as well as
the transfer of written accounts on the results of fieldwork have to cover
the gap between occasional online access and the direct possession of
archaeological data and information for rural areas. At the same time,
the presentation of archaeological data via a permanent Internet
source is – up to point - a guarantee for accessibility. Printed versions
may get lost or perish because space, resources and interests limit their
storage and accessibility in local communities, while the information on
the web is available even years after being published15. In this sense, a
blog persists, offering data to everyone who is able to get to an Internet
café and search for the history of his/her region.
While archaeological blogging in Bolivia has political and societal
dimensions, touching on themes like ethnicity, (post-) colonialism, the
integration of archaeology into politics and other sensible domains,
blogging about archaeology in Germany is a completely different world.
Archaeology is widely understood as an ivory tower discipline that
15
I am aware that Internet sources may be manipulated or updated, but in this context I am assuming that
the data remain unchanged on a maintained web site or blog.
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fascinates a lot of people but many of them are not even remotely
aware that there may exist a connection between Archaeology, the
discipline that studies the material remains of the past, and their own
political or social situation. Although archaeological blogs in Bolivia and
Germany are similarly sparse, the reasons for this are completely
different.
Continuous access to the Internet is available almost everywhere in
Germany and the use of the Internet has increased in the last decade16
cxxxix, but blogging is still a minor activity compared to the Englishspeaking part of the Internet. Most German blogs on archaeology offer
descriptions of new finds and try to communicate news and data to a
rather scientific public17 cxl cxli or to people looking for beautiful objects or
sites. The reasons for this situation can be suspected in the German
tradition of communicating archaeology (see above). There are only a
few blogs on archaeology that are offering something beyond scientific
news and sensational objects, presenting the impact of archaeology on
contemporary society and perceptions. It was this facet that seemed to
me the most important. Archaeology is much more than its objects, and
much more than just science. In my opinion, history permeates our lives
everywhere. But mostly we are not aware of it - not of its presence and
even less of how it shapes our decisions and us. Many publications exist
on the conscious and rather unconscious mingling of Archaeology with
political and social perceptions today and in the past (Hardt et al. 2003;
Kaeser 2008; Molineaux 1997; Smiles and Moser 2005). Archaeology, to
me, is a tool to get to know the past and to communicate the past. To
http://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/13070/umfrage/entwicklung-derinternetnutzung-in-deutschland-seit-2001/
16
17
To cite some examples:
a) http://www.praehistorische-archaeologie.de/blog/
b) http://provinzialroemer.blogspot.de
c) http://alpinearchaeologie.wordpress.com
Blogging Archaeology
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make the past relevant to all of us, sensitizing ourselves to the impact of
the past on our everyday life. Archaeology, in my opinion, has ceased to
receive the attention that it should have due to its impact on our social
and political realities. Instead, it has become something like a beautiful
hobby, a search for gold and silver, and the occasional bones of elite
people from past times. And this development is leading ultimately to
the disappearance of Archaeology in public opinion. It’s standing as a
luxury good, a science that nobody really needs unless she/he is
interested in some remote, seemingly irrelevant past.
I felt that it was time to translate this reality into written words and
opened the blog ‘Language of Things’. Instead of presenting data as a
means of equal access to the past as we did in Bolivia, where the
relevance of the past and archaeology are not at stake, the German
blog aims at the opposite side of archaeology: to claim relevance,
leaving the presentation of data outside this medium. Writing about
expositions, the Past in our contemporary lives, about the many details
where the past mingles with our current society, is the goal of this blog.
Based on the necessities that archaeology has in Germany today, this is
for me the most important action to take.
Conclusions: Why does archaeological blogging matter?
If Archaeology matters then we should communicate this fact. We
should communicate data, information and relevance. Communicating
Archaeology outside the academic realm is something we should do
continuously, with high standards and a conscience of the importance
of this communication. The relevant themes that archaeology represents
in a given society and cultural-scientific backgrounds differ from country
to country, but the fact remains the same: if we don’t speak up, then we
won´t be heard. And if there are no big budgets to give or much time to
spend, blogging can be an important opportunity to share thoughts and
data. Personally, I have a deep belief in archaeology´s relevance and
so I decided that I would present my view of the Past to the world,
putting my grain of sand into the World Wide Web. In my belief, the Past
is not just some murky, cloudy thing hovering there in the classroom or on
our bookshelves in (unfortunately often badly written and researched)
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novels. It´s not a past “Disneyland” where kings and queens leave gold
and jewels behind, It´s so much more. Archaeology matters. According
to Kulik (2007, p. 123ff.), we are approaching a time when TV,
newspapers, and radio are becoming increasingly indifferent to
archaeological coverage and he calls for the ‘strength of the bonds
among archaeologists, the media, and the public that was developed in
recent years’ to go on establishing this relationship. Blogging and Web
2.0 may be a considerable part of it.
I have had different experiences with blogging, in central Europe as
well as in South America. There were and are problems regarding the
accessibility and problems with outreach. The main points to cover are
different ones, at least in my opinion. But I still think that there is nothing
more relevant than communicating that Archaeology and History matter
to us, to our society and to our lives. If we can't communicate this overall
important message, then we shouldn't wonder why we are continually
underfinanced and neglected - or respected only for gold, jewels and
Indiana Jones. Gold, jewels and Indiana Jones are part of Archaeology but they are not its essence. The essence is something else: the shape of
our present is the impact of our past. We should get this point across in
whichever way we can. I chose blogging.
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*Minor parts of this article have been published at the blog “Sprache
der Dinge” in the context of Doug Rocks-Macqueen´s
(http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/about/) questions on
archaeological blogging, which I consider a great opportunity to reflect
on the reasons of archaeological blogging:
http://sprachederdingeblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/what-are-thegoals-of-archaeological-blogging-blogarch/cxlii .
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‘A masterpiece in political
propaganda’ and a futile
exercise in archaeological
blogging
Sam Hardy
Blog: http://unfreearchaeology.wordpress.com/ cxlv
On the 11th of April, 2010, after a 28-hour journey home from a
conference, I found an e-mail to me and my supervisors. Its author
‘protest[ed my] words and alleged findings concerning the looting of the
Cypriot Cultural heritage’; stated that it was ‘very obvious’ that I had
‘never visited [the] North part of Cyprus’ and that I was ‘heavily under
the Greek fic[ti]tious propaganda’; asserted that my findings were
‘fic[ti]tious’; and informed me that, ‘although [he] could not read [my]
thesis’, he ‘strongly believe[d]’ that it was ‘also fic[ti]tious and ha[d] no
academic value’ (Atun, 2010n). It was certainly fictitious insofar as it had
not yet been written.
Having met the e-mail’s author, Turkish Cypriot Near East University
Prof. Ata Atun, in the north part of Cyprus (in Famagusta in 2007), I
remembered that he was also a journalist, I searched for keywords from
my paper and was horrified by what I found. I went on to challenge my
accusers, reasoned with their publishers (unsuccessfully) and blogged
the research paper and multiple defences. However, they had scored
their point and moved on. On that occasion, at least, my archaeological
blogging appears to have been the equivalent of boxing someone
else’s shadow. This chapter reviews that story.
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Blogging as communication
In response to nationalist reactions in Cyprus to my earliest blogging, I
quickly developed a habit of posting irregularly and writing in a
disengaging style. It certainly reduced the nationalist reaction, but it may
have prevented my work from developing a moderate audience as
well. Even after I had augmented that blog with the texts of background
notes and conference papers, and published 24 village surveys as
associated photo blogs, I only received about twenty or thirty visitors a
day in total.
When I launched the Conflict Antiquities blog, I experimented with
blogging and micro-blogging news, but ended up focusing on deep
investigations into intriguing, public interest cases – the Olympia museum
robbery, Syrian civil war looting, the Gezi Park uprising (shared between
Conflict Antiquities and Unfree Archaeology), and the Gaza “Apollo”
case. I greatly improved the readability of my work, and the readership –
to fifty or sixty visitors a day.
Paul Barford’s (2014) blog on Portable Antiquity Collecting and
Heritage Issues has received one million site visits in five years. After five
years, Conflict Antiquities – my most popular and most successful blog –
will probably have got only one hundred thousand page views. Since
Barford’s blog offers similarly international coverage of the same subject,
it may provide an instructive comparison.
Heritage Issues is updated frequently (often, several times daily) with
brief but combative notes and analyses of news; it has a wider
geographical coverage overall, grounded in the study of metal
detecting in the UK. Conflict Antiquities is updated irregularly (but, on
average, twice weekly) with reports and investigations that are
commonly thousands of words long – far longer than the average post
length of the most popular blogs on news and politics (cf. Allsop, 2010); it
has a narrower focus on zones of conflict and crisis.
Although Heritage Issues may have a naturally larger Anglophone
core audience, based upon its retweets and site referrals, Conflict
Antiquities has a wide appeal to audiences for information on organised
crime and political violence. So, it appears that something in the
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alchemy of frequency, length and style accounts for Barford’s
achievement of a more than tenfold superiority in feeding and keeping
public interest (through increased numbers of visitors and/or visits).
Blogging as research, blogging as engagement
Blogging has enabled me to share experiences and warnings that
would have been much diluted and delayed by scholarly publishing
(e.g. Hardy, 2007). It has demonstrably increased my readership and
engagement with affected communities, and thereby improved the
accuracy and detail of my research (Hardy, 2011c: 113-115; 2013b; for
systematic analysis, see Garfield, 2000: 3; Moxley, 2001: 63). As a result of
it, I have been quoted in the Weekly Standard (Eastland, 2010, regarding
Hardy, 2010a), consulted by Bloomberg Businessweek (Silver, 2014a,
regarding Hardy, 2013d; Silver, 2014b, regarding Hardy, 2014a) and the
Daily Mail (Thornhill, Kisiel and Walters, 2014; Kisiel and Walters, 2014; cf.
Hardy, 2014b), Jadaliyya (Barry-Born, 2014, regarding Hardy, 2013a) and
other media and civil society organisations (privately).
However, the success of the community campaign against Nazi War
Diggers – in which I was a more visible member of a much larger
movement against an intrinsically problematic television programme,
and which was not actually a campaign concerning my research as
such – was exceptional in every sense. My research into state complicity
in cultural property crime and illegal undercover police activity (Hardy,
2011: 201-215; 2014c; 2014d), which I have blogged in draft and postprint
form (Hardy, 2009d; 2010a; 2010b; 2010p; 2011a; 2011b; 2012), and which
I have summarised in Greek and Turkish (e.g. Hardy, 2010k; 2010l), has
simply been ignored.
Journalists approached me about Nazi War Diggers. No-one (outside
the case) approached me about the death of Stephanos Stephanou
and, when I approached them, no-one considered it newsworthy.
Indeed, the only news coverage of my work on that case was a libellous
attack on me. So, I question whether blogging has significantly increased
the social impact of my research. And perhaps the best evidence of
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that is my futile attempt to defend myself from the attack on me for my
investigation into the death of Stephanos Stephanou.
Myths and misrepresentations
On the 9th of April 2010, I discussed Cypriot Antiquities Rescue from
the Turkish Deep State: the Rescue of Forgeries and the Death of
Stephanos Stephanou at the World Archaeological Congress’s
International Conference on Archaeology in Conflict in Vienna (Hardy,
2010a). The paper was based on a blog post on Death and Denial:
Stephanos Stephanou and the Syriac Bible (Hardy, 2009d), which was
based on information from a confidential informant, who had contacted
me regarding a previous blog post on [the] Antiquities Trade, TurkeyCyprus: [a] Syrian Orthodox Bible (Hardy, 2009a).
In the conference paper: I had described the deprivation of the
ghettoised Turkish Cypriots, who were enclaved during the Cypriot civil
war and who turned to ‘antiquities looting [as] a way of surviving’;
explained the paramilitary takeover of the illicit trade, which was a
source of personal enrichment and conflict funding; highlighted the
assassination on the 6th of July 1996 of dissident Turkish Cypriot journalist
Kutlu Adalı, who had reported on the looting of the Monastery of Saint
Barnabas by the Civil Defence Organisation (Sivil Savunma Te kilâtı
(SST)), which was an auxiliary of the Turkish Cypriot Security Forces
Command (Kıbrıslı Türk Güvenlik Kuvvetleri Komutanlı ı (GKK)), which was
the successor organisation of the civil war paramilitary Turkish (Cypriot)
Resistance Organisation (Türk Mukavemet Te kilâtı (TMT)) (Irkad, 2000;
Kanlı, 2007a; Kanlı, 2007b); and explored the death on the 1st of
November 2007 of a Greek Cypriot undercover antiquities police agent
in Turkish Cypriot police custody.
In the session discussion, an unidentified Turkish Cypriot, who lived in
Vienna, accused me of a litany of offences, including: denying Turkish
Cypriot suffering; representing Turkish Cypriots as ‘animals’ and the ‘worst
criminals in the world’; scapegoating them for looting, which they could
not have committed precisely due to their containment in the enclaves;
misrepresenting TMT as a paramilitary or deep state structure when it was
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a ‘defence’ force; perpetuating the myth of the Turkish deep state (an
ultranationalist para-state), which did not exist; and perpetuating the
myth of the deep state murder of Kutlu Adalı, whose death was the
consequence of a clash between ‘Communists and Conservatives’.
Already concerned with precise language regarding such a sensitive
case, I had written out my paper and read my text from the page, so
there was no possibility that I had spontaneously used ambiguous or
misleading words or phrases by mistake. The representation of my paper
was so unreal and so provocative that I suspected that he was not a
random member of the audience. Nonetheless, unable to expose any
vested interest to the audience, I simply refuted his claims point by point.
Outside, I had a civil conversation with Turkish Embassy Counsellor
(Botschaftsrat) Ufuk Ekici. Then I found that the Republic of Turkey’s
Embassy in Vienna (ROTEIV, 2010) had left print-outs on Protection of the
Cultural Heritage in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Since that
document regarded destruction, whereas my paper concerned theft, it
may have been a reaffirmation of their monitoring of my (other) research
activities. After all, when I had been conducting fieldwork on destruction
in northern Cyprus, plain-clothes police had: surveilled, doorstepped,
and questioned me; had (albeit inattentively) searched my computer
and documents; and had questioned my contacts and acquaintances,
until I moved back to southern Cyprus to avoid putting anyone at further
risk. Otherwise, since my research into destruction in southern Cyprus had
actually documented violence against Turkish Cypriot cultural property
that had been excluded from other scholarly studies and public
education (Hardy, 2009b; 2009c, which I developed into Hardy, 2011:
152-168; 2013c), it may have been evidence of an oblivious local
embassy’s last-minute reaction to my paper’s title or the Turkish Forum’s
activism.
At the time, I almost – almost – welcomed the trouble-making
intervention, because it made everyone forget my nervous presentation
and it certainly eased introductions.
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‘A political thriller’
Then I went home and found the e-mail that started this chapter. As
well as an academic and a journalist, Atun was (or had been) an Adviser
to the (nationalist) Democratic Party President Serdar Denkta , and a
Consultant to the (nationalist) National Unity Party government’s Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Democratic Party
leader Rauf Denkta ’s presidency. I was not optimistic. Searching online
for “Sam Hardy” and “Stephanos Stephanou” revealed that, the day
after my presentation, a technically unnamed person had posted a
purported summary of my paper and the incident (Anonymous, 2010). It
was on the Turkish Forum, an international, not-for-profit organisation,
which was established to influence public opinion by presenting ‘the
realities of the world with regards to Turks’ (Turkish Forum, 2011), which
had about 19,000 members (Akçam, 2007a). The day after that, Prof.
Atun had published an article regarding that summary in newspapers
across Europe. The day after that, the article had reached a strategic
research centre in Western Asia. Within a week, it had reached my
neighbourhood newspaper in north London (Atun, 2010a-m; 2010o2010z). I began to track the spread of the article through its online
publication (though since then, due to common practice in Turkish
newspapers, some of these articles have had their address changed,
and many have been taken offline), and to investigate the people who
had been involved in the article’s production. I also began to draft an
examination of it through blogging.
Kufi Seydali
The anonymous Turkish Forum posting revealed that the person who
had commented on my paper was Mr. Kufi Seydali, who was (or had
been) an Honorary Representative of the Turkish Republic of Northern
Cyprus (TRNC), the President of the Friends of the TRNC, a Representative
of Turkish Cypriot Associations (Overseas), the President of the European
Cyprus-Turkish Associations Congress, the President of the World TurkishCypriot Federation and the Vice-President of the World Cyprus-Turkish
Associations Congress.
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Moreover, Seydali was a Member of the Senior Advisory Board
Committee of the Turkish Forum and Chairman of its Advisory Board
Committee on Issues of Turkish Cyprus and Western Thrace. When a longpersecuted Turkish historian of the Armenian Genocide, Prof. Taner
Akçam, discussed the international Turkish nationalist campaign against
his research, he identified three of the elements of the ‘Deep State’,
‘military-bureaucratic complex’: the Assembly of Turkish American
Associations (ATAA); Tall Armenian Tale, which is ‘one of the most
popular Armenian Genocide denial sites’; and the Turkish Forum (Akçam
and Schilling, 2007).
‘A masterpiece in political propaganda’
The texts of Anonymous’s and Atun’s attack(s) were so close as to be
either simultaneously-authored articles or an English-language original
and a Turkish-language translation (cf. Hardy, 2010e; 2010f). The attacks
were not only unreal and provocative but self-contradictory – for
example, Anonymous (2010) alleged that I had ‘creat[ed]
a mythical Greek hero called Stephanos Stephanou, who was presented
as an under-cover, Greek Cypriot police officer’ (Anonymous, 2010),
while Seydali claimed that I had shown ‘signs of manipulation by Greek
Cypriot under-cover agents of the type of [the implicitly real] Stephanou’
(Seydali, 2010).
It is unnecessary, and would be even more futile, to refute these
allegations again, because they were made with a wilful disregard for
witnessed, verifiable, documented truths in the first place. Still, it may be
worthwhile to consider a few of the claims and their relationship to the
truth, in order to expose the production and intention of the authors’
arguments.
All used sarcastic and emotive language, such as Seydali’s mocking
of my work as a ‘political thriller’ (9th April 2010, paraphrased by
Anonymous, 2010), Seydali’s description of my work as ‘anything but
academic [akademik olmaktan ba ka her eye benziyordu]’ (Seydali,
9th April 2010, paraphrased by Anonymous, 2010; paraphrased by Atun,
2010a-2010m; 2010o-2010z), and Atun’s description of me as someone
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who was ‘silly, foolish or stupid [sersem]’, who ‘told lies without blushing
[yalanları yüzü kızarmadan da söyleyen]’, in an attempt to undermine
my carefully sourced investigation.
Seydali judged my work to be ‘a masterpiece [of] political
propaganda using an international scientific forum to present the TRNC
as an illegal and criminal entity [gerçekte uluslararası bilimsel bir forumu
kullanarak KKTC’yi yasadı ı ve suçlu bir varlık gibi göstermek amacını
güden politik propagandanın bir aheseri]’ (9th April 2010, paraphrased
by Anonymous, 2010; paraphrased by Atun, 2010a-2010m; 2010o-2010z).
In fact, I (2010b) had specifically avoided directly or indirectly
commenting upon the legality or status of the Turkish Republic of
Northern Cyprus (TRNC) [Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti (KKTC)]. Seydali
positioned himself on the defensive; he presented me as the ‘attack[er]’,
who had ‘unjust[ly]’ maligned TMT, ‘whose sole function was to defend
the Turkish Cypriot community against Greek-Greek Cypriot attacks’ (9th
April 2010, paraphrased by Anonymous, 2010). Yet, for instance, on the
23rd of May 1962, TMT assassinated Turkish Cypriot Cumhuriyet journalists
Ayhan Hikmet and Muzaffer Gürkan, because they had exposed TMT’s
“false flag” (staged, provocative) bombings of Bayraktar Mosque and
Ömeriye Mosque (An, 2005: 6; CyBC, 2006: 39-40); and, on the 11th of
April 1965, TMT assassinated two trade unionists, Turkish Cypriot Dervi Ali
Kavazo lu and Greek Cypriot Costas Mishaoulis, because they were
bicommunalists/pacifists (An, 2005: 6; Papadakis, 2003: 260).
Seydali accused me of ‘a veiled attack on the TMT and Turkish
Cypriot State[,] which was equated to some mythical and indefinable
entity called “The Turkish Deep State”, which was made responsible for
all ills on Cyprus [Kıbrıs’ta ya anmı tüm kötülüklerden sorumlu oldu unu
iddia etti i, tanımlanamayan ve hayali bir varlık olan “Derin Devlet”le
e le tirilmeye çalı tı ı TMT’ye ve Kıbrıs Türk Devletine üstü kapaklı bir
saldırı yapmı bu ki i]’ (9th April 2010, paraphrased by Anonymous, 2010;
paraphrased by Atun, 2010a-2010m; 2010o-2010z). In fact, I (2010b) had
explicitly categorised the ‘plunderers’ as ‘Turkish and Turkish
Cypriot nationalist gangs, which form[ed] a Turkist deep state, which
operate[d] outside and beyond Turkish state control’. Seydali asked
rhetorically: ‘How is it possible... that a small community imprisoned into
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3% of Cyprus and beleaguered by the Greek army and Greek Cypriot
armed elements, and under UN observation, could do such damage to
the cultural heritage of Cyprus?’ (9th April 2010, paraphrased by
Anonymous, 2010). ‘How is it possible that the Turkish Cypriots, who were
confined in 3% of the island, were able to loot all of the island’s historic
sites [nasıl olur da adanın yüze üçüne sıkı tırılmı Kıbrıslı Türkler adanın
tümündeki eski eserleri ya malayabilir[di]]?’ (Seydali, 9th April 2010,
paraphrased by Atun, 2010a-2010m; 2010o-2010z).
I had said that the illicit antiquities trade was ‘primarily’ structured
around poor Turkish Cypriots’ subsistence digging and rich Greek
Cypriots’ collecting (2010b). I had explained precisely how that trade
was possible. According to then Greek Cypriot antiquities director Vassos
Karageorghis, the Greek Cypriot administration had secretly allowed
Greek Cypriot collectors to purchase illicit antiquities from Turkish Cypriot
enclaves (1999: 17), and he had used a UNESCO vehicle to do so with
government money (2007: 102-103). Since then, I have blogged sample
studies of archaeological excavations and antiquities collections from
the civil war (2010p; 2011a; 2011b; 2012), which corroborate that
interpretation. (Indeed, one peer-reviewer of that data (Hardy, 2014c)
considered it to be a ‘polemical’ indictment of Greek Cypriot
archaeologists, rather than the Turkish Cypriot community.) Needless to
say, that research blogging has elicited no response.
Intriguingly, Seydali noted that ‘Stephanou was visited by UN officers
and Doctors [sic]’ (9th April 2010, paraphrased by Anonymous, 2010). I
(2010b) had not mentioned the repeated autopsies under UN supervision
and the UN has not acknowledged access to Stephanou before his
death, only ‘representations’ on his (family’s) behalf (Christou, 2007) – so,
evidently, Seydali had known the Stephanou case very well before I
presented it. Ironically, Seydali’s intervention at the conference may
have been one of the few tangible products of my research blogging.
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Atun’s (2010a-2010m; 2010o-2010z) article concluded with a rallying
call:
Now the time for us to be organised has come. We must tell our own
truths to the world, and lay out in front of them Cyprus’s realities.
Sam Hardy’s e-mail address is “[deleted]” and his thesis supervisor
Prof. [deleted]’s e-mail address is “[deleted]”. Please deliver your
protests to these addresses and state that Sam Hardy’s comments
with regard to the Turkish Cypriots did not reflect the truths.
[Artık organize olmamızın zamanı gelmi tir. Bizler de dünyaya kendi
do rularımızı anlatabilmeli ve onların önüne Kıbrıs’ın gerçeklerini
sermeliyiz.
Sam Hardy’nin e-mail adresi “[silinmi ]” ve tez hocası Prof.
[silinmi ]’un e-mail adresi “[silinmi ]” dir. Lütfen bu adreslere
protestolarınızı iletin ve Sam Hardy’in Kıbrıslı Türkler ile ilgili
söylediklerinin do ruları yansıtmadı ını belirtin.]
The only protest that my supervisor and/or I received was his own.
A futile exercise in archaeological blogging
Initially, I commented under the articles to make specific points
and/or to share links to the text of my paper on my blog (e.g. Hardy,
2010c; 2010d), so that readers could judge my work for themselves. I
blogged a string of English-language and Turkish-language defences
and demands for a retraction and an apology (Hardy, 2010e-2010j;
2010n); but it made no identifiable difference. Only my very first defence
is in my doctoral blog’s top 100 entry/exit pages. And that’s 63rd: TRNC
Representative Kufi Seydali: A ‘Masterpiece in Political Propaganda’?
Avrupa Gazete (2010) removed Atun’s article from their website. Açık
Gazete (2010) refused to expose themselves to accusations of
censorship, but offered a right of reply. However, exhausted and fearful
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that I would highlight and prolong the attack, I did not submit a reply.
None of the other publishers replied to my (2010m) appeal.
While I am not under the level of scrutiny, nor under the intensity of
harassment, nor in the kind of physical danger that Prof. Akçam (2007a)
is – thugs have ‘tried to break up [his] meeting[s]’ and have ‘physically
attacked’ him – I suspect that the intention and the mechanism of the
attacks on me are the same as the intention and the mechanism of the
attacks on him. Akçam (2007a) and his employer have been sent
‘harassing e-mails’. He has been accused of being a ‘propagandistic tool
of the Armenians’ (ibid.). And he (2007b) has been the subject of libellous
newspaper articles: ‘There [wa]s no record of a call, not one single email
from [the newspaper]. They never bothered to contact me. They didn’t
check their facts or attempt to interview me. And when I demanded a
correction, the editor-in-chief ignored my letter.’
At one point, Akçam’s (2007a) Wikipedia page was ‘persistently
vandalized’. Then, when he went to Canada to give a lecture on the
Armenian Genocide, he was detained by Canadian border police due
to the claims in one out-of-date, vandalised edit. Seemingly, one or
more members of ‘Tall Armenian Tale and[/or] the... Turkish Forum.... had
seized the opportunity to denounce [him]’ and used the published
falsehoods to trick or trap the police into detaining him (ibid.), in order to
intimidate him and to interfere with his research and teaching.
‘You will never be quite sure that I will not be listening
to you’
As Seydali (2010) publicly warned me during the spread of Atun’s
newspaper article, ‘you may continue to deliver your polit-thriller but you
will never be quite sure that I will not be listening to you’. Supposedly to
find out the source of my information concerning the assassination of
Kutlu Adalı, even though I had stated my source, and it was the police’s
Chief Investigative Officer at the time of the assassination, Tema Irkad
(2000), Atun (2010aa) privately notified me that he had it ‘in mind to
inform our Criminal Department of the TRNC Police HQ to interrogate you
upon your arrival to North Cyprus’.
Blogging Archaeology
Page 103
If he is listening, he’s one of few
This case raises questions about the social significance of unblogged
as well as blogged research. Although books are significant media for
publication, it is undeniably significant that 48% of peer-reviewed
research articles in social sciences, some majority of peer-reviewed
research articles in archaeology specifically, and 93% of peer-reviewed
research articles in humanities are never cited (Hamilton, 1991;
Pendlebury, 1991); and 80% of citations in humanities are concentrated
in 7% of the cited articles (Larivière, Gingras and Archambault, 2009).
Some argue that any reduction in citation is a sign of efficient sourcing of
key information (e.g. Evans, 2008), and that these statistics are evidence
of the advance of knowledge (e.g. Garfield, 1998). Nonetheless, it is
difficult to escape the conclusion that many scholars are publishing
many works ‘on the periphery of human interest’ (Gordon, 2014). Even
the demonstrably inconsequential archaeology blogging under
discussion has a readership hundreds of times larger than the readership
of the average archaeology article.
Still, the simple act of making archaeology visible through blogging is
not enough to describe it as knowledge mobilisation or
professional/public engagement. I “mobilised” my work, but it did not go
anywhere. I “engaged” colleagues and communities, but I did not
establish a connection, let alone a change in thought or action. I fear
that nine years’ research blogging has had negligible social impact.
Nonetheless, it has at least enabled immediate, multilingual
communication, which was not possible even for the official release of
the pre-submitted abstract of the conference paper (cf. Hardy, 2010o).
In addition, it has enabled the presentation of sources for fact-checking
with an immediacy that is not possible even through the online editions
of most academic journals. The result of the Nazi War Diggers case
suggests that, through collective public action, notably through
collective public blogging and micro-blogging, archaeologists do (or
can) have the power to drive real social change. Perhaps it would be
fairer to judge that ten years’ research has had negligible social impact,
and blogging has been unable to change that.
Blogging Archaeology
Page 104
Acknowledgements
Thanks to Prof. Shawn Graham, who thought of ways for me to
measure the comparative influence of the publications, before I realised
just how one-directional the flow of information and opinion was.
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Virtual Curation and Virtual
Collaboration
Bernard K. Means
Blogs: vcuarchaeology3D.wordpress.com cciii and
virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com cciv
Introduction
For the last two-and-half years, much of my time outside of teaching
undergraduate students has been consumed with operating the Virtual
Curation Laboratory (VCL) at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).
My time includes blogging on a regular basis about what my students
and I are doing in the VCL or our work with our partners in the heritage
and preservation communities. At first, I viewed blogging as primarily a
tool for documenting our progress as we became entangled with virtual
curation—a subject that I had only a passing acquaintance with prior to
August 2011. However, our blog
(http://vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com ccv) quickly became integral
to marshalling my thoughts as I worked through the promises and
potential of virtual curation. Blogging has also helped me establish a
dialogue with like-minded individuals and people with a passing interest
in digitally preserving the past.
Virtual Curation and the Virtual Curation Laboratory
With funding from the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Legacy
Program, I established the VCL in August 2011 in cooperation with John
Haynes, then archaeologist for Marine Corps Base Quantico. As an
alumnus of VCU, John felt that undergraduate students at VCU would be
ideally suited for carrying out DoD Legacy Project 11-334, entitled “Virtual
Artifact Curation: Three-Dimensional Digital Data Collection for Artifact
Analysis and Interpretation.” I certainly agreed that my anthropology
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students were up to the task of testing the NextEngine Desktop 3D
scanner for its suitability in virtual curating artifacts recovered from DoD
installations (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Mariana Zechini prepares a raccoon bone for scanning with the
NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner.
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Virtual curation - the creation of intangible digital models from tangible
artifacts—can extend collections from the material world into virtual
realms. This process enhances the preservation of artifacts while
significantly increasing how much and in what ways people can access
objects from the past. 3D scanning of artifacts can be seamlessly
integrated into more traditional efforts for curating archaeological
remains (Means 2014a; Means et al. 2013a, b).
Creating digital media that can be shared and manipulated in
multiple dimensions certainly expands our ability to generate new
interpretations and new insights into archaeological remains. With 3D
artifact scanning, we can display many details of an object from
multiple viewpoints—without touching or even directly seeing the object
itself. We have created digital models of artifacts that can be shared
with researchers across the globe, and used in a variety of educational
and public archaeology settings.
Virtual Curation and Education
What I did not anticipate when I established the VCL is how central it
would become to fostering professional training and research
opportunities for my undergraduate students, as well as increasingly
expanding public outreach activities. For over two-and-a-half years,
undergraduate student researchers associated with the Virtual Curation
Laboratory have focused on creating virtual avatars of unique artifacts,
including small finds from cultural heritage sites located throughout
Pennsylvania and Virginia (Figure 2). What has made all of this research
and outreach possible is the considerable and generous access
provided for my VCU students and myself by museums, archaeological
repositories, cultural heritage locations, and private individuals across
Virginia and throughout the Middle Atlantic region (Figures 3 and 4). In
2013 alone, we did research, demonstrations, or public outreach at the
Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Clover Hill High School, James
Madison’s Montpelier, the Middle Atlantic Archaeological Conference,
George Washington’s Ferry Farm, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation,
Virginia Museum of Natural History, Fairfax County Park Authority
Preservation Branch, Carter Robinson Mound site, Archaeology in the
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Community’s Day of Archaeology in Washington, D.C., The State
Museum of Pennsylvania, Jamestown Rediscovery, Alexandria
Archaeology Museum, and the Archeological Society of Virginia annual
meeting–some more than once. Because some of these repositories
curate artifacts from throughout the world, our creation of virtual models
is not limited to North America.
Figure 2: Animated smoking pipe recovered from the Consol site, a
Monongahela village located in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.Depending on the format you are reading this is in e.g. PDF, EPUB, etc. it
may not be anitmated.
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Figure 3: VCU alumnus Crystal Castleberry scans an artifact at George
Washington’s Ferry Farm.
Figure 4: VCU student Ashely McCuistion scans an artifact at Mount
Vernon as Mount Vernon archaeologist Eleanor Breen looks at the
scanning effort.
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My students are energized by their engagement with others working
to preserve and make the past come alive. This is in part because virtual
curation opens up the back rooms and deep storage of collections
repositories, as we travel around the region. We either scan on location
with a portable set up, or borrow collections to 3D scan back in the VCL.
Even those students who have not had the opportunity to physically go
and be exposed to any of the cultural heritage locations, or who never
even saw collections as they were being scanned in the lab can still
engage with the digital models that have been generated during this
process. If I cannot bring students to the collections, I can bring the
collections to the students—even if only in a virtual form. The VCL is
staffed by a highly motivated and dedicated team of undergraduate
students pursuing majors in anthropology, and they all have their own
research interests. I am certainly more than happy to accommodate
their interests as it meets our broadest goal—preserving and making the
past more accessible. I am especially pleased with the number of
students who have presented their research at local and international
conferences (Figure 5). This research has been or soon will be published
in the pages of the Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology (McCuistion
2013), Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia (Ellrich
2014; Huber 2014a; Hulvey 2014a; McCuistion 2014; Volkers 2014; Zechini
2014a), and Pennsylvania Archaeologist (Bowles 2014; Huber 2014b;
Hulvey 2014b; Zechini 2014b).
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Figure 5: At the October 2013 Archeological Society of Virginia annual
meeting. Left to right are VCU students Aaron Ellrich, Mariana Zechini,
Allen Huber, Rachael Hulvey, Ashley McCuistion, Lauren Volkers, and
VCL director Dr. Bernard K. Means.
Figure 6: Lowell Nugent examines a panel depicting animal bone from
archaeological sites. Courtesy of Mary Nugent.
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Some digital models have been used to create tangible replicas, in
plastic, of small finds artifacts—these accurately scaled objects can be
handled in ways not possible for the actual artifacts. The VCL employs
MakerBot Replicators to generate our plastic replicas of artifacts and
ecofacts scanned from archaeological sites, which we refer to as
artifictions and ecofictions, respectively. These plastic replicas are
integral to public outreach efforts, educational endeavors on the K-12
and undergraduate levels, and as part of tactile components of
temporary and transitory exhibits (Figure 6). We have found that digital
models of artifacts are very effective for educational endeavors on the
high school and undergraduate levels, and in public outreach efforts,
especially if they have been translated into tangible forms with our
MakerBot Replicator, which can create plastic replicas of our virtual
models. Archaeology in the Community recently produced an Instagram
series “The Dig” that featured objects scanned and printed in the VCL,
and, that were uploaded throughout the month of January 2014 (Figure
7; http://vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/artifacts-andartifictions-presenting-the-past-with-archaeology-in-the-community/ ccvi ).
Figure 7: Archaeology in the Community films VCU student Olivia
McCarty at the Virtual Curation Laboratory.
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Blogging and Virtual Collaboration
Shortly after we began blogging at
http://vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com ccvii, researchers began to
contact us about our 3D scanning efforts. Our first contact from
someone who read our blog was Dr. Michael Shott of the University of
Akron, who also 3D scans artifacts. He focuses his efforts on 3D scanning
of chipped stone tools to capitalize on the researcher’s ability to
measure digital models in ways not possible with analog measuring tools
(Shott and Trail 2011, 2012). Most of our contacts via our “official” blog
site have related to people who either have a parallel effort in 3D
scanning, or are seeking advice on setting up a virtual curation
laboratory along the lines that we operate with here at the VCL. Most
recently, we had a visit from Jeremy Barker, an Engineering Technology
Specialist at Mercer University in Savannah, Georgia (Figure 8). Jeremy
had been following our blog as he set up his own 3D scanning project,
using a NextEngine Desktop 3D scanner that had been purchased in the
past but was underutilized and basically neglected. Jeremy has a
background in history and uses the 3D scanning technology to get
engineering students interested in heritage. This was of interest to us in
the VCL, as we are using 3D scanning of heritage items partly to get
students in history. While our virtual collaboration here became actual,
we can maintain our collaboration via the sharing of culture heritage
items in a digital format—expanding radically the opportunities for
research that we can make available to our students.
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Figure 8: Jeremy Barker, an Engineering Technology Specialist at Mercer
University in Savannah, Georgia, visits the Virtual Curation Laboratory
and watches VCU alumnus Lauren Volkers edit a file.
Our most fruitful virtual collaboration has been with Dr. Zac Selden of
the Center for Regional Heritage Research (CRHR) at Stephen F. Austin
State University in Austin, Texas. CRHR and VCL have partnered to make
more widely available data on Caddo vessels curated at CRHR
Research Fellow Dr.Tom Middlebrook’s repository in Nacogdoches,
Texas. VCL created 3D animations and some printed replicas of the
Caddo vessels using digital models created by Selden
(http://crhrarchaeology.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/virtualcollaboration-crhr-vcl-and-the-middlebrook-collection-selden-andmeans/ ccviii ). This virtual collaboration has been mutually beneficial, from
a research perspective, and has expanded our horizons on how virtual
sharing of complex 3D digital models differs from more traditional sharing
of static images and other two-dimensional data.
Last year, I had a short piece published in a special issue of the online
Museum Practice devoted to 3D technology
(http://www.museumsassociation.org/museum-practice/3dtechnology/15082013-virginia-commonwealth-university ccix ). In this piece,
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I detailed particularly how reactions to digital models of artifacts or
printed replicas differ depending on the needs and expectations of our
audiences, as well as the needs and expectations of those who are
presenting virtual or tangible versions of the past. Ultimately, we are
talking about opening the past to a broader audience, particularly those
who might not readily have access for one reason or another. Robert
Jaquiss, who has been blind since birth, contacted me after following
our blog and shared his perspective on the importance of virtual
curation for the blind
(http://vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/access-to-theages-the-importance-of-virtual-curation-for-the-blind/ ccx ):
“It has been my experience that many people who are blind avoid
museums. Glass cases, barriers and a lack of signage make visiting
museums a boring experience. Persons who are blind cannot easily
get to sites that are not accessible by public transit. They must
instead rely on family, friends or possibly a tour operator in order to
visit a site. The practice of Virtual Curation makes it possible to share
3D images of artifacts. An artifact may be viewed by anyone with
the appropriate computer hardware and software. From the point of
view of this author, Virtual Curation has a major benefit. 3D images
can be printed with a 3D printer producing a touchable 3D model.
Such models can be touched by the blind allowing those who are
blind to more fully appreciate the subject matter.”
We have been able to share with Mr. Jaquiss some of the digital
models that we scanned from artifacts recovered from a diverse range
of locations, including George Washington’s Ferry Farm and George
Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. As Mr. Jaquiss lives on
the west coast, providing him with the ability to create 3D printed
versions of historic artifacts—what he refers to as tactile graphics—is an
effective way to make a virtual heritage tangible again, albeit at a
location far removed from an artifact’s original place of discovery and
display.
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Virtual Curation Museum
While I am certainly pleased with the virtual collaboration inspired by
our original blog site at vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com, that blog has
been less conducive to inspiring research and co-creation by outside
individuals than I had hoped. In October 2013, roughly two years after
the VCL was established, we “opened” the Virtual Curation Museum
(http://virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com ccxi) as an extension of the
VCL University to highlight research by myself, by undergraduate
students working, interning, or volunteering in the laboratory, and by our
partners in the heritage and preservation communities (Figure 9). The
basic goal of the Virtual Curation Museum is to make available a
selection of the 3D digital models that we have scanned from
archaeological sites across the world and place them in an online
format that parallels the standard conception of a museum. Unlike a
brick-and-mortar museum, we have more flexibility in changing our
“virtual space” and the Virtual Curation Museum is intended to be quite
dynamic as we add new exhibits and new exhibit halls. Erecting a
museum without walls has not been without its challenges.
Figure 9: Preparing a replica ground hog skull from George Washington’s
Ferry Farm for exhibition.
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The Virtual Curation Museum was officially “opened” on October 21,
2013 to coincide with a physical exhibit opening at VCU’s James Branch
Cabell Library in Richmond, Virginia
(http://vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/virtual-curationexhibit-and-museum-opens/ ccxii ). The exhibit opening was co-sponsored
by the VCU Libraries, the VCU School of World Studies, the Virtual
Curation Laboratory, and the VCU student-run Virtual Archaeology
Scanning Team. The exhibit was billed as a celebration of
undergraduate research into 3D scanning and archaeology, part of my
initiative to use the VCL to foster and promote research and presentation
skills by my students. Entitled “Digital Archaeology in the Virtual Curation
Laboratory: 3D Scanning and Research at VCU,” the exhibit featured
plastic replicas of artifacts scanned by Virtual Curation Laboratory team
members. One large glass case highlighted research that was presented
at the October 2013 meeting of the Archeological Society of Virginia:
Ashley McCuistion (2014) on measuring lithic artifacts, represented by a
replica of an Acheulean handaxe; Lauren Volkers (2014) on different
ways of replicating artifacts, represented by a replica of a sandstone
carving; Allen Huber (2014a), on creating a digital osteological
collection, represented by various printed human cranial elements;
Rachael Hulvey (2014a), on the historic component at James Madison’s
Montpelier, represented by various artifacts including a musket rest; and,
Aaron Ellrich (2014), on the prehistoric component at James Madison’s
Montpelier, represented by projectile points from varying periods.
The exhibit also included four panels that are portable and could be
moved throughout the library or other campus (and non-campus
locations). The four panels consisted of 2-foot by 3-foot display boards
with the usual text and illustrations, but with two unusual additions: plastic
replicas of artifacts adhered to the panels that enable viewers to touch
the past; and, QR (Quick Response) codes next to the text or artifacts,
that take the viewer equipped with a smart phone or tablet to an online
museum component (Figure 10). A free, online QR code generator was
used to create the QR codes that were located on each of the portable
exhibit panels. The use of QR codes was a low-cost way to incorporate
digital animations into the exhibit without using expensive touch screens
for each panel—something beyond our budget in the VCL. A user
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equipped with their smart phone or tablet computer becomes an
extension of the exhibit. We did not see this as a major limiting factor for
access to the digital animations, given the ubiquity of smart phones
gripped tightly in the hands of every student walking zombie-like across
campus. Viewers would be required to download a QR code reader, if
they did not have one.
Figure 10: Ashley McCuistion, Lauren Volkers, and Mariana Zechini stand
next to one of the poster exhibits in the James Branch Cabell Library.
The online Virtual Curation Museum has additional text related to the
exhibited plastic items, as well as animations of the objects themselves.
The extension of the physical exhibit onto the internet via the Virtual
Curation Museum was intended to allow visitors who could not physically
come to VCU’s Cabell Library to still have the ability to enjoy and learn
about the past. The Virtual Curation Museum and the exhibit panels were
both designed using free, or freely available, software. WordPress was
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chosen for the web component because it has free options and
because two years of blogging for the VCL made me familiar with its
quirks and limitations. The four portable exhibit panels include:
George is Waiting: Archaeology at George Washington’s
Ferry Farm
(http://virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com/george-is-waitingarchaeology-at-george-washingtons-ferry-farm/ ccxiii): Archaeologists
working at Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg, Virginia, are actively excavating
the site where George Washington spent his childhood, beginning at
age six. Since 2012, VCU students have joined with George Washington
Foundation archaeologists to uncover traces of young George, his
mother Mary, and the rest of their family, as well as that of the
Washington family’s enslaved servants. Archaeologists here have also
found evidence of the American Indians who lived on this landscape
beginning 10,000 years ago, Union encampments associated with the
American Civil War, and even the families who lived here above the
banks of the Rappahannock River into the 20th century. The Virtual
Curation Laboratory at VCU has created 3D digital models and printed
resin replicas of artifacts from all major time periods revealed through
archaeology at George Washington’s Ferry Farm.
Making No Bones About It: Why Zooarchaeologists
Study Animal Bones Found at Archaeological Sites
(http://virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com/making-no-bonesabout-it-making-no-bones-about-it-why-zoorchaeologists-study-animalbones-found-at-archaeological-sites/ ccxiv): VCL began systematically
creating 3D digital models of faunal remains in Fall 2012 using elements
of a raccoon skeleton loaned by the Virginia Museum of Natural History
(VMNH) and California University of Pennsylvania. Particularly through a
partnership with VMNH, undergraduate researchers have been working
under the direction of Digital Zooarchaeologist Mariana Zechini to
create a virtual faunal type collection. The digital comparative
collection that we are developing in the VCL will allow archaeologists,
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educators, and students the ability to study, manipulate and share virtual
models of animal remains anywhere in the world. The creation of an
accessible digital comparative collection of animal bones is part of
recently funded Department of Defense (DoD) Legacy Program project
entitled: “Virtual Mobility Archaeology Project with Further Applications
of Three Dimensional Digital Scanning of Archaeological Objects” that is
being developed jointly with the Fort Lee Regional Archaeological
Curation Facility.
Telling Time with Stone: How Archaeologists Use
Chipped Stone Tools to Find the Age of Archaeological
Sites
(http://virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com/telling-time-withstone-how-archaeologists-use-chipped-stone-tools-to-find-the-age-ofarchaeological-sites/ ccxv): In the absence of material suitable for
radiocarbon analysis or other dating technique, archaeologists rely on
temporally diagnostic chipped stone tools to date archaeological sites.
Thus, diagnostic chipped stone tools were the focus of this panel. As we
are doing for animal bones, we are also creating a digital comparative
collection of diagnostic chipped stone tools as part of our active DoD
Legacy Program project.
Digging Up the Noxious Weed: the Archaeology of
Tobacco Smoking Pipes
(http://virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com/digging-up-thenoxious-weed-the-archaeology-of-tobacco-smoking-pipes/ ccxvi).
Tobacco cultivation dominated the economies of Virginia, Maryland,
and other states almost from their initial establishment as colonies of
England and continuing well into the twentieth century. The vast acres of
land needed to grow tobacco and meet an insatiable appetite on a
global scale led to the establishment of plantations worked by enslaved
laborers first brought over from Africa. Sometimes it is difficult to envision
that the very custom of smoking tobacco dates, for much of the world,
only from the late 15th century A.D. Well before their sustained contact
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with people of European and African descent beginning in A.D. 1492,
however, American Indians had cultivated tobacco. VCL has created
3D digital models and plastic replicas of smoking pipes associated with
the largely prehistoric Monongahela Tradition of southwestern
Pennsylvania, the Susquehannock Indians of eastern Pennsylvania, and
enslaved Americans located on Virginia plantations—as well as smoking
pipes made commercially in the U.S. and Europe.
The physical exhibit was open until early December 2013, but the
Virtual Curation Museum was designed to be open indefinitely. The
Virtual Curation Museum remains very much something under
construction and is ever expanding to include more content and digital
animations. One issue we had was related to internet access in the
library. The QR codes were not always readable due to connection
issues. The placement of QR codes next to each animated object made
each poster panel look busy. One solution would be to just have one QR
code for each panel—something I considered—but this would lower the
viewer’s immediacy of getting more information about an object and
seeing its animation. We also had no way to track how many people
viewed our exhibit components. The panels were placed in high traffic
areas, but, on the other hand, they were placed in high traffic areas. My
own observations of students was that they rarely paused to look at
panels on the main floor, as their primary goal was to find a vacant
computer, or stand in line at the library’s coffee establishment. Even if we
did not establish the Virtual Curation Museum in conjunction with a
physical exhibit, we still would have found working within the confines of
a pre-existing WordPress template challenging.
Does the Virtual Curation Museum meet the basic goals
of a museum?
In the late 19th century, George Brown Goode, director of the US
National Museum, outlined three valuable functions that museums could
serve: as repositories for reference material; as places of public
education; and, as preservers of collective memory (MacArther 2011:5657). At this stage, the Virtual Curation Museum blog and the original VCL
blog, I think, meet all of these functions at a minimalist level. Fully
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addressing these functions will take a more concerted effort, and,
dialogue with others working with digital materials. I will also be working
with teachers and my own students interested in K-12 and
undergraduate education with developing lessons using our virtual
museum, and I think that the dynamic nature of these efforts will help
further refine the ability of the museum to become a true reference tool.
Whether we can do this for free, and through WordPress or other similar
online avenues remains to be seen.
The museum site is currently being used to highlight objects in our
virtual collection, usually timed to accompany major research projects,
trips to heritage locations to scan new materials, public outreach efforts,
or even important dates in history. This is done primarily by posting an
animated object of the day (Figure 11). I like the idea of regularly posting
animated objects, but I recommend not using a daily frequency. While
we have plenty of animated archaeological objects, and are adding
more each week, a daily posting—however brief—takes time. Next
calendar year (2015) we will switch to an animated object of the week,
with special posts as warranted.
Figure 11: Animation of a mummified juvenile opossum. Depending on
the format you are reading this is in e.g. PDF, EPUB, etc. it may not be
anitmated.
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The Future of Virtual Curation and Virtual Collaboration
The future of the Virtual Curation Laboratory will involve various kinds
of actual and virtual collaborations, more diverse educational and
public outreach efforts, and an expansion of our virtual curation efforts
beyond traditional archaeological objects—and this future will be
documented and dissected via our main blog site at
vcuarchaeology3D.wordpress.com. We will also continue to ensure that
the virtual collaboration efforts will have a home on our sister blog site at
virtualcurationmuseum.wordpress.com, where we plan to increase that
site’s interactivity and research content.
The remainder of 2014 will see some major student-driven initiatives.
One of my undergraduate anthropology students, who is a veteran of
the armed forces, is developing plans to involve fellow returned veterans
at VCU in a Veterans Curation Project type program using the resources
of the Virtual Curation Laboratory. An art student is working with our
digital artifact and ecofact models—and their printed replicas—to
reimagine them using traditional art media, including painting and
illustration.
As a major project, I will be working with interns in the Virtual Curation
Laboratory and students in a new Virtual Museum Anthropology course
to create a new archaeology exhibit to open in late 2015 at the Virginia
Museum of Natural History (VMNH) (Figure 12). We are also working with
the VMNH’s paleontologist to 3D scan Miocene fossil whale bones for use
in a future exhibit—a non-archaeological application, to be sure, but
one that fits in broadly with virtual curation of the past. We will go even
deeper into the past and create virtual models of dinosaur remains.
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Figure 12: Mariana Zechini and Ashley McCuistion scan an artifact at the
Virginia Museum of Natural History.
Figure 13: Lauren Volkers scans a bracket from the Space Shuttle
Discovery.
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Exactly what the future holds for the Virtual Curation Laboratory
depends on our virtual and actual interaction with other scholars and
members of the public at large. We recently had the opportunity to scan
brackets from the Space Shuttle Discovery
(http://vcuarchaeology3d.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/in-space-no-onecan-hear-you-scan/ ccxvii ) at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Figure 13). The brackets
will be used to produce replicas that can be used on the Space Shuttle
Endeavour, which is to be displayed at the California Science Center in
Los Angeles (Figure 14). This 3D scanning effort helped solve an issue of
how to obtain unique parts for the Endeavor when they are no longer
being manufactured. There are apparently no limits to where we can go
with virtual curation—and we will share our travels through digital realms
via our social media endeavors.
Figure 14: Animation of a bracket from the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Depending on the format you are reading this is in e.g. PDF, EPUB, etc. it
may not be anitmated.
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References
Bowles, Courtney
2014
Moving Between Reality as Virtual and Reality as Actual.
Pennsylvania Archaeologist 84 (1). In press.
Ellrich, Aaron
2014
Lithics and Lasers: 3D Scanning Prehistoric Projectile Points
from James Madison’s Montpelier. Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological
Society of Virginia 69(1):In press.
Huber, Allen
2014a Broken Bones: Digital Curation and Mending of Human
Remains. Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia
69(1):In press.
2014b Handing the Past to the Present: The Impact of 3D Printing
on Public Archaeology. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 84 (1). In press.
Hulvey, Rachael
2014a Manipulating Montpelier: Creating a Virtual Exhibit of Life at
Montpelier for the Madisons and their Enslaved People. Quarterly Bulletin
of the Archeological Society of Virginia 69(1):In press.
2014b New Dimensions: 3D Scanning of Iroquoian Effigy Ceramics.
Pennsylvania Archaeologist 84 (1). In press.
MacArthur, Matthew
2011
Get Real! The Role of Objects in the Digital Age. In Letting
Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill
Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, pp. 56-67. The Pew Center for
Arts and Heritage, Philadelphia.
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McCuistion, Ashley
2013
Promoting the Past: The Educational Applications of 3D
Scanning Technology in Archaeology. Journal of Middle Atlantic
Archaeology 29:35-42.
2014
One Million Years of Technology: Lithic Analysis and 3D
Scanning in the 21st Century. Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological
Society of Virginia 69(1):In press.
Means, Bernard K.
2014a Who Benefits From Virtual Curation? Pennsylvania
Archaeologist 84 (1). In press.
2014b Current Research in the Virtual Curation Laboratory @
Virginia Commonwealth University: Introduction to the Collected Papers.
Pennsylvania Archaeologist 84 (1). In press.
2014c Two Years Before the Past: Activities in the Virtual Curation
Laboratory @ VCU from August 2011 to December 2013. Quarterly
Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia 69(1):In press.
Means, Bernard K., Courtney Bowles, Ashley McCuistion, and Clinton
King
2013
Virtual Artifact Curation: Three-Dimensional Digital Data
Collection for Artifact Analysis and Interpretation. Prepared for the
Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program,
Legacy Project #11-334. Prepared by the Virtual Curation Laboratory,
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.
Means, Bernard K., Ashley McCuistion, and Courtney Bowles
2013
Virtual Artifact Curation of the Historic Past and the
NextEngine Desktop 3D Scanner. Technical Briefs in Historical
Archaeology 7:1-12. Peer reviewed article available online at:
http://www.sha.org/documents/VirtualArtifacts.pdf ccxviii .
Shott, Michael J. and Brian W. Trail
2011
Exploring New Approaches to Lithic Analysis: Laser Scanning
and Geometric Morphometrics. Lithic Technology 35 (2):195-220.
Blogging Archaeology
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2012
New Developments in Lithic Analysis: Laser Scanning and
Digital Modeling. The SAA Archaeological Record 12 (3):12-17, 38.
Volkers, Lauren
2014
The Miss Measure of Artifacts? Examining Digital Models of
Artifact Replicas to Observe Variation on Size and Form. Quarterly Bulletin
of the Archeological Society of Virginia 69(1):In press.
Zechini, Mariana
2014a Zooarchaeology in The 21st Century. Quarterly Bulletin of the
Archeological Society of Virginia 69(1):In press.
2014b
Rocky Raccoon: The Application of 3D Technology to
Zooarchaeology. Pennsylvania Archaeologist 84 (1). In press. Blogging Archaeology
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#freearchaeology: blog post
turned international debate
Emily Johnson
Blog: http://ejarchaeology.wordpress.com/ ccxix
Much like a blog post, this short chapter will take the form of a
personal narrative. Through this narrative I will explore certain aspects of
blogging that I believe bring something to academia (with regards to
archaeology in particular) that no other form of dissemination can. After
introducing my place in the archaeological blogosphere and the
realisation of the #freearchaeology hashtag, I will deal with the lessons
that I have learned from about a year and a half of blogging
archaeology. I will argue that the democratic nature of blogging
indiscriminately gives a hugely diverse group of people a voice. It allows
topics too controversial or 'unacademic' (whatever that may be) to be
approached in an environment primed and ready for equal discussion.
Most of all, it provides a platform for open conversation and debate.
#freearchaeology: blogging and twitter
The blog post on which this chapter will focus (Johnson 2013) was
initially conceived of in a Tweet (see fig. 1). My Twitter account pre-dates
my Blog by several years. If you delve back to the very first tweets
(although I wouldn't recommend it) on that account you will find
youthful obscenities, numerous swears and ridiculous observations on
undergraduate life. Only when I started my Master's programme in
Digital Heritage at the University of York did I decide that it might be
useful to have a Twitter account for networking in the arguably very
small online archaeology community.
I quickly found myself engaging with a wide range of people in the
online world of archaeology, anthropology, heritage, museums and the
wider cultural sector. I encountered fellow students, academics,
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professionals, ‘normal’ people with ‘normal’ jobs, and even - thanks to
some earlier posts about prehistory in fiction (Johnson 2012) - authors! The
first thing that struck me about the people I was encountering in the
Twitterverse and the blogosphere was how friendly they all were. The
second was how open to discussion and full of fascinating, important
opinions people were. I instantly knew I’d fit in well.
Really it was only a matter of time before I ruffled feathers. I casually
tweeted one day, contemplating discussing the problem of volunteer
culture in British archaeology (fig 1.). The idea was met with such
enthusiasm I wrote a blog post and published it on my blog (Johnson
2013). The post, which can still be found there, confronted issues that I
myself was just coming to terms with. I wrote about how, in my search for
a job related to my educational background, I was discovering that the
volunteer culture in the British heritage sector was a great hindrance to
those in a similar position to me. I suggested that there was a huge social
bias in the cultural sector. The only people getting the highly sought-after
jobs in museums and heritage/archaeology organisations were those
who could afford to spend huge amounts of time working for free and
gaining the vast amounts of experience that are expected of most
successful applicants in the cultural sector. I asked the question:
‘Could it be argued, then, that heritage practice is becoming despecialised because there are those without qualifications who are
willing to work for free?’
These were quite controversial things to say, particularly considering
that without volunteers the noble cause that is archaeological pursuit
would fall flat on its face, flounder in the mud, and then have to creep
back to the university departments that it once emerged from. I like to
think that I emphasised my appreciation for all volunteers worldwide
sufficiently, and I am sure that most volunteers would sympathise and
understand entirely rather than being utterly affronted by the notion. My
point is that despite all the good work that is done by volunteers, the
issue here is evidently a very real one. I know this because of the huge
response the post received in the form of comments on the original post,
responses on other blogs, and discussions on the Twitter hashtag,
#freearchaeology.
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I treated the post itself as a forum for discussion, promising to edit in
links to any blogs posted in response and to moderate the comments on
the post itself. I soon found that the task was rather a large one and felt
that the response was so widespread and well-circulated on Twitter that
there was no need to catalogue all of the responses on my main blog. I
chose to allow the discussion to develop organically. Now, I wish I’d
been less lazy about the whole thing and kept track of the posts
properly. I’m sure there were tens of responses elsewhere on the web
that people didn’t get to see because mine was the first thing they saw
and then the trail went cold.
Figure 1. A screenshot of the tweet that initiated the #freearchaeology
debate.
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The #freearchaeology Twitterstorm… and its aftermath
Whilst the main bulk of discussion on the topic of #freearchaeology is
now viewable in the form of its contributors’ blog posts, the original and
most exciting, immediate discussions were held on Twitter. I am unsure if
what happened with the #freearchaeology hashtag in March 2013 can
be described as a Twitterstorm in its truest sense (Greenslade 2011
defines a Twitter storm as a story that is initiated on Twitter but then gains
attention from a wide audience in traditional press), but it was certainly
a global discussion which gained a wide audience in the realm of online
archaeology.
Here is not the place to gather and review every blog post or article
ever written on the subject of #freearchaeology, there’s the internet for
that, but there is one person who absolutely must get a mention.
Archaeologist and blogger Sam Hardy took the subject under his wing,
creating a whole new blog page for his musings on the matter: (un)free
archaeology, subtitled unpaid labour, precarious lives in the cultural
heritage industry. Sam has done a truly excellent job analysing and
discussing a range of aspects to the issue and has now become the
source for #freearchaeology. This wonderful resource and forum for
discussion would not be in existence now if it weren’t for the fact that
blogging – a form of open access, immediate publication – is a popular
pursuit amongst academics and professionals in archaeology and
heritage.
Lessons learned: the failures and successes of
#freearchaeology as an example of blogging in
academia
In the interest of ending on a positive note, I will deal with the
shortcomings of #freearchaeology before I sing its praises. I believe that
the one failure of blogging archaeology as a forum for genuine
intellectual - even political - discussion in academia is that it is a difficult
thing to police. Obviously, nothing is peer reviewed (although I think peer
reviewing is quietly becoming less important, particularly in nontraditional forms of study) and opinions can be more forcefully aired
than with traditional forms of publication. However that isn’t where I
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believe the problem lies, especially in the case of the #freearchaeology
discussions. Whilst the aforementioned Sam Hardy of (un)free
archaeology has done a truly excellent job of creating and maintaining
his blog as a resource for all things #freearchaeology, there was so much
more potential for more organised discussion. I know that at one point
there was talk of a conference and subsequent publication, but the
idea never came into fruition. I think the reason that something of this sort
never happened wasn’t a lack of dedication or passion, but more the
lack of an organisational body urging the contributors to collaborate
and organise themselves. Had the discussion originated in a non-digital
setting - at University or at a conference for example - there may well
have been more action taken to move the discussions forward.
More positively, there are huge successes as far as this particular
case of blogging archaeology is concerned. The giant surge in
conversation on a topic of obvious and pressing importance must be
seen as entirely positive. This is even more significant considering the
arguably taboo nature of the discussions. When I brought up the topic
there was a very real danger that I could have sounded like some
petulant graduate, whining, ‘all these volunteers, coming in here, taking
all our jobs!’ Which, of course, is not at all what I was saying. It has taken
so long for the problem of unpaid internships, and free labour in general,
to be confronted in the world of heritage because of the generally unprofitable nature of the sector. Of course, commercial archaeology is
done for profit, but there is still the general consensus that we are doing
the archaeology for a noble cause - the preservation and understanding
of our collective past. Surely to do such a thing is a privilege and no one
has the right to complain that they aren’t paid enough to do a thing that
some people are willing to do for free, or even pay to do. The well
considered observations on the #freearchaeology conundrum, made
by people in the know and backed up by real and genuine statistics
(Rocks-Macqueen 2013), made the problem seem all the more real.
I very strongly believe that without an open, democratic and free
form of publication, like blogging, conversations similar in nature to the
#freearchaeology discussion wouldn’t find a place in academic
discourse, or it would but it would be far too late in the day.
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Conclusion and recommendations: what blogging in
archaeology has now and needs in the future
This short essay has very briefly summarised and considered the way
that international discussions similar to the #freearchaeology debate are
influenced by blogging in archaeology. It is by no means an in depth
analysis. Indeed, there is certainly room for one elsewhere. It is a
reflection on one of my own most powerful experiences of blogging in
archaeology. I have introduced the way in which a difficult topic in the
heritage sector was made possible by blogging. It is this potential for
enabling discussion and conversation, particularly where challenging or
taboo subjects are concerned that I believe is one of the best things that
blogging has to offer. I have also mentioned my positive experiences
with the nature of networking – both social and professional - in the
blogosphere.
What I feel blogging really needs now is recognition as a respectable
and valid form of publication for scholars and professionals. The fact that
blogging is both Open Access and democratic in its nature has huge
importance for the dissemination of knowledge in a newly global
society. My hope is that the new generation of researchers in
archaeology will publish and/or promote their findings in the
blogosphere, making this form of sociable knowledge-making
commonplace in future. The past is something that we are all connected
to. It belongs to each and every one of us. Therefore it is not only
something that everyone has a right to know about; it is also something
that everyone has a right to an opinion on, and blogging is the place for
those opinions and conversations to live and breathe.
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References
Greenslade, R. 2011. When is a Twitter storm a real Twitter storm? The
Guardian. Available at:
http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2011/dec/09/twitt
er-social-media ccxx [Accessed April 6, 2014].
Johnson, E. 2012. On the lack of good prehistoric fiction. Archaeology,
Academia and Access. Available at:
http://ejarchaeology.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/on-the-lack-ofgood-prehistoric-fiction/ ccxxi [Accessed April 1, 2014a].
Johnson, E. 2013. The problematic topic of the volunteer culture in
archaeology and heritage in Britain. Archaeology, Academia and
Access. Available at:
http://ejarchaeology.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/freearchaeology/
ccxxii [Accessed April 1, 2014b].
Rocks-Macqueen 2013. #freearchaeology- The greatest trick the Devil
ever pulled. Doug’s Archaeology. Available at:
http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/freearchaeolo
gy-the-greatest-trick-the-devil-ever-pulled/ ccxxiii [Accessed April 7,
2014].
Websites
Archaeology, Academia and Access Available at:
http://ejarchaeology.wordpress.com/ ccxxiv
(un)free archaeology Available at:
http://unfreearchaeology.wordpress.com/ ccxxv
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Blog Bodies: Mortuary
Archaeology and Blogging
Katy Meyers
Blog: http://bonesdontlie.wordpress.com/ ccxxvi
Howard Williams
Blog: http://howardwilliamsblog.wordpress.com/
ccxxvii
Introduction: Mortuary Archaeology Today
Mortuary archaeology - the study of past beliefs and practices
surrounding dying, death and the dead using archaeological theories,
methods and techniques - is a rich, diverse and growing field of research
that incorporates, and extends beyond, bioarchaeology
(osteoarchaeology) in its scope (Parker Pearson 1999; Tarlow and Nilsson
Stutz 2013a). This particular subfield has many dimensions, a global reach
and the scope to study human engagements with mortality from earliest
times to the present day. Mortuary archaeology is inseparable from other
kinds of archaeology - it inevitably overlaps with material culture
analyses, settlement studies and landscape archaeology. It incorporates
many specialists scientific techniques used to analyse artefacts, bones
and other materials retrieved from mortuary contexts.
The archaeology of death also extends far beyond the study of
mummified human cadavers and articulated and disarticulated skeletal
remains (burnt or unburnt). It also involves: considering artefacts and
ecofacts from mortuary contexts; the structure and arrangement of
graves; burial chambers and tombs; a wide range of art, architectures,
monuments and memorials to the dead. Mortuary archaeology
incorporates both cemeteries and other spaces designed to
commemorate the dead, the spatial relationships between mortuary
locales and the evolving landscape in which they are situated. The
archaeology of death and burial can be site-specific, or it can look
within particular localities or regions. Likewise, it can look at single periods
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or they can chart the development and shifts in mortuary practice over
many centuries and millennia.
Taking these various points into account, it is evident that today’s
mortuary archaeology not only has multiple dimensions and scales of
analysis, but also many tendrils into, and explicit dialogues with, other
disciplines. For instance, the archaeological and bioarchaeological
investigation of death, burial and commemoration can involve close
dialogue with cultural anthropologists as well as with social historians of
death. Equally, mortuary archaeology shares and exchanges ideas and
perspectives with: sociologists and theologians of death, dying and
bereavement; studies of the representation and material culture of
death; and memory by art-historians and architectural historians. Bearing
these points in mind, for both prehistoric and historic eras, mortuary
archaeology reveals increasingly new and fascinating insights into
human engagements with mortality across time and space.
Public Mortuary Archaeology
A key part of mortuary archaeology is public engagement. The
discovery of human bodies, fragmented or articulated, both fascinates
and disturbs, and simultaneously intrigues and repels. Tombs, graves,
mummies and bog bodies are widespread icons of archaeology. For
instance, mortuary archaeology embodies the romance of discovery
and the mythologies surrounding archaeologists’ fictional meddling with
supernatural powers, embodied in the stories and reception of the
excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb. To this day, excavations of graves,
cemeteries and human remains are among the most widely popularised
archaeological research.
This fascination with human remains in Western modernity might be
dismissed as ghoulish and unnatural, but it can be situated in relationship
to global media trends and shifts in a variety of senses (Asma 2012).
Deaths of individuals and of entire populations is now seen and
witnessed in the media more than ever before. Conversely, Western
society is obsessed with the mental and physical health of the self and
with the maintenance of corporeal beauty; so death disturbs and
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challenges the body-project and the vision of the healthy society (e.g.
Jupp and Walter 1999). Moreover, the focus on the body’s mortality
chimes with Western modernity’s consideration of the self as bound to
individual corporeality (Crossland 2009).
Set against this background, it is unsurprising that, from the study of
Neanderthal graves to the forensic application of archaeological
techniques in the study of recent mass-graves resulting from wartime
atrocities, mortuary archaeology is high-profile and popular. Also for this
reason, the archaeology of death is the focus of considerable political
debate and the ethical dimensions of digging up and displaying the
dead have been called into question and are subject to massive seachanges in archaeological thinking and practice (e.g. Jenkins 2010;
Sayer 2010; papers in Tarlow and Nilsson Stutz 2013a). In particular, the
climate and conditions within which mortuary archaeology operates has
seen recent and rapid shifts with the colonial tradition of digging and
curation of artefacts and human remains extracted from mortuary sites
across the world called into question and subject to calls for repatriation
and reburial. This change has had a massive impact on mortuary
archaeology across the Western world. For example, following protests
and pressure from Native American communities and a revaluation of
the role of museums themselves, the introduction of NAGPRA (Native
American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) in 1990 in the USA
witnessed a radical shift in relationships between native tribes, the US
government and the work of museums and other archaeological
institutions and groups. Human remains are now rarely on display and
increasingly rarely curated within anthropological collections (Giesen
2013). In the UK, there has been a more subtle trend over the last two
decades towards the repatriation of human remains obtained from
overseas, together with the increasing reburial of human remains
excavated from British soil following a reinterpretation of the 1857 Burial
Act in 2009 (see Parker Pearson et al. 2013). Still, in the UK and elsewhere
in Europe, digging, displaying and curating human remains have
continued to be seen as a legitimate and integral part of archaeological
research by universities, museums and other sectors if subject to correct
guidelines and due respect and dialogue with stakeholders and
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descendant communities where they exist (e.g. Swain 2006; Sayer 2010;
papers in Giesen 2013).
Archaeologists as Death-Dealers
Despite significant differences in national and regional policy and
procedure, it remains the case that archaeologists are widely
recognised across Western societies as a specific group of professionals
who work close to death and the dead and a large part of their popular
appeal comes from this relationship (Sayer 2010; Williams 2009: 201). The
climate for this perception is worth noting. Modernity is often
characterised as a time when death is distanced (Aries 1974). Medical
advances and improving lifestyles and social infrastructures have made
life expectancies soar across the world during the twentieth century. The
process of dying, death and disposal are managed by innumerable
specialists, professional and semi-professional groups. Many of us in the
Western world can go for months, years or even decades without
witnessing dying and death and few take a direct role in handling the
bodies of the dying and the dead and arranging for their disposal.
Perhaps because of this increasing distance from death, linked to the
medicalisation and secularisation of society as well as the
professionalisation of death industries, mortuary archaeology has
become a distinctive yet often overlooked group through which Western
individuals can engage with the corporeality of death and a wider sense
of mortality by engaging, in a relatively safe and sanitised fashion. Rather
than the ‘abject’ engagement with just-dead corpses, archaeology
offers the possibility of reflection upon the deaths of long-dead
individuals and communities whom can be adopted as ‘ancestors’
without the powerful and painful emotions of mourning (e.g. Williams
2009). In this regard, there remains a secular aura of sacredness around
many museum displays of human remains, and discussions persist
regarding the need to show ‘respect’ and ‘reverence’ to the remains of
long-departed humans from the sites of their excavation to museum
stores and university laboratories, giving them names and giving them
personalities that we conjure from artefacts and bones.
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Therefore, in its many dimensions, from the study of early hominin
fossils to the study of historic gravestones and cemeteries, mortuary
archaeology has become more than a subject about death – the
production of knowledge about death in the past- it has become a
prominent medium for experiencing and understanding death in
Western modernity. Mortuary archaeologists, as narrators about how
past societies mourned, disposed of, and commemorated their dead in
varying and changing ways, have become a principal Western form of
death-dealer, mediating and narrating stories about dying, death and
mortuary practice for the vast majority of the human past without written
records (see also Kirk forthcoming). As death-dealers, mortuary
archaeologists provide tangible, rich and varied sources of new
evidence on mortality in prehistoric and historic eras and inform our
sense of mortality in the present.
An Online Death Explosion
Despite the radically different environments in which mortuary
archaeology takes place in the USA and UK and the spectrum of policies
and procedures found around the globe (see papers in Clegg et al.
2013), the continuing role of mortuary archaeologists as a distinctive kind
of professional and academic death-dealer permeates widely.
Furthermore, national and regional differences in policy and procedure
are overshadowed by a far more impressive trend than repatriation and
reburial. Mortuary archaeology is increasingly taught, studied,
researched, disseminated and debated through virtual media using the
World Wide Web by archaeologists from a range of backgrounds:
professional and semi-professional; academic; governmental;
commercial; and museum-based. What is striking about this trend is how
it has been largely escaped critical reflection by mortuary archaeologists
themselves. Namely, while there has been a steady growth in academic
literature evaluating mortuary archaeology’s ethical dimensions and
public engagement, how mortuary archaeology operates online,
responding to, and even building public engagement, has largely
escaped scrutiny (but see Renshaw 2013: 41).
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We suggest that the reason for this is that mortuary archaeologists
have taken a profoundly materialist and corporeal approach to the
ethics and practicalities of studying human remains. Almost all the
debates have focused on how, when and why should archaeologists dig
up human remains and mortuary contexts? How, when and why should
museums curate and display human remains? How, when and why
should human remains and other mortuary derived artefacts be subject
to repatriation and/or reburial? (e.g. papers in Clegg et al. 2013; Giesen
2013; Tarlow and Nilsson Stutz 2013a; Giles and Williams forthcoming). To
date, no studies have taken place to explore how online media interact
with all these questions and create new strategies and audiences for
mortuary archaeological discoveries and analyses as well as to explore
and debate the processes and nature of how these audiences and
networks are created (Renshaw 2013; but see also Sayer and Walter
forthcoming). Moreover, online media are interpretive environments in
which human remains, artefacts and other materials and spaces are
assembled to construct knowledge of human mortality, akin to Moser’s
(2010) vision of museum displays
Since the intervention of the Internet and the development of the
World Wide Web, a wide range of applications and media thereon have
developed that report subjects in mortuary archaeology. Established
media of film, television, books and newspapers now have wellestablished and expanded online presences which feature mortuary
archaeology in both fact and a wide range of fiction (see Sayer and
Walter forthcoming). Furthermore, social media has facilitated the
dissemination of many news stories about the archaeology of death and
burial, as well as photographs and videos from museums and heritage
sites to be disseminated to all and sundry.
Increasingly, archaeologists themselves have grappled with the
‘archaeo-appeal’ (Holtorf 2005: 150) of mortuary projects in a variety of
ways. As well as publishers providing increasingly open access platforms
for archaeological publications including mortuary discoveries, many
online archaeology magazines feature burial archaeology stories for
public consumption. Mortuary remains also feature on the websites of
many heritage sites and museums whilst commercial archaeological
companies showcase human remains upon their websites and host
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innumerable grey literature reports listing new discoveries of graves,
cemeteries and memorials. Moreover, many archaeologists, professional
and amateur, have been writing their own online archaeology
magazine stories, creating project websites and disseminating their
discoveries and ideas through social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Together, through all these avenues and more, the ancient dead have
exploded across the World Wide Web and, on an unprecedented scale,
the worldwide population can access stories about the discovery and
study of human remains and mortuary contexts like never before.
The proliferation of archaeological death online has many
ramifications that go beyond the concerns of existing ethical, political
and procedural debates regarding the practice of mortuary
archaeology. Who are the communities that are stakeholders in the
dead? Which religious and ethnic groups should be afforded respect
and sensitivity in relation to the human remains we uncover, report and
discuss? Online communities are loose and complex, unbounded and
varied, uncensored and unparalleled. Barriers of language, nationality,
locality, physical appearance and issues of age, gender, race and other
dimensions of personal identity can be manipulated or (de)emphasised
online. In this environment, mortuary archaeologists are finding
themselves communicating with a whole range of new online groups
and individuals.
To put it baldly, it is becoming less clear whether the ‘public’ to which
mortuary archaeology is most readily engaged with is the local
community near the dig site, the museum visitor, or the consumer of
specialist print publications, but instead to a vast, varied and complex
online community. If this point is accepted as an important one for how
we write and engage the public with mortuary archaeology, then
national policies on the display and reburial of human remains, whilst
remaining important topics for debate, are joined by a new need to
debate how we utilise online media to explore and debate death in the
human past as well as the theories, methods, and ethical concerns of
mortuary archaeology. Archaeologists and heritage professionals need
to afford detailed scrutiny to what, how and when we write online and
its ethical, moral, academic, social and other ramifications. They also
need to scrutinise the potential for online blogging to create a new
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environment for disseminating mortuary archaeological research and
producing new knowledge about human mortality (see also Sayer and
Walter forthcoming).
Bones Don’t Lie and Archaeodeath
It is against this background that there is a need to consider and
discuss the rise in blogging about the archaeology of death (see also
Meyers and Killgrove 2014). Here, we see mortuary archaeology as
broader than blogging about the scientific analysis of human remains. As
we define it above, mortuary archaeology, it encapsulates many more
topics and interdisciplinary intersections than either ‘burial archaeology’
(excavating and surveying ancient burial sites) or ‘bioarchaeology’ (the
analysis of human remains in particular). Using our experiences from the
USA and UK, we critically explore the current use and future potential of
blogging as a key medium of teaching and researching mortuary
archaeology. We have both created blogs as mechanisms for exploring
and disseminating our research interests in the archaeology and
bioarchaeology of death, burial and commemoration. Let us explain our
backgrounds and how we came to be mortuary archaeology bloggers.
Katy Meyers (KM) is a PhD candidate in the Department of
Anthropology, Michigan State University, USA ccxxviii . She began blogging
through her Wordpress site Bones Don’t Lie ccxxix as a way to discipline
herself in keeping up-to-date with the latest archaeology news and
archaeology publications in her chosen field of study. It has subsequently
evolved as a widely read site for discussing new theories, methods and
discoveries in mortuary archaeology from across the globe, including
5,500 followers from over fifty different countries through Wordpress, a
Facebook community over 1,100 strong and 1,600 followers on Twitter.
KM reports on the latest news from archaeological and anthropological
magazines and news websites, the latest research published in
academic journals, and sometimes she focuses on places and sites of
particular affinity and interest to herself, particularly early historic
mortuary practices and bioarchaeological analyses. Recent blog entries
in 2014 have ranged from discussions of the antiquity of cancer ccxxx to
the study of funerary trends and photography ccxxxi . KM distributes her
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blog through Twitter, LinkedIn and Academia.edu on a weekly basis.
Since her blog began in August 2010, KM has posted over 375 entries. Her
work has been recognised in the Oxford Annotated Bibliography as top
digital resource for bioarchaeology (Killgrove 2013), and is cited in
Bioarchaeology: An Integrated Approach to Working with Human
Remains written by Debra L. Martin, Ryan P. Harrod, Ventura R. Pérez in
the chapter “The Future of Bioarchaeology” (Martin, Harrod and Ventura
2012) as a digital resource.
Howard Williams (HW) is Professor of Archaeology in the Department
of History and Archaeology, University of Chester, UK ccxxxii . He was
inspired to blog by Bones Don’t Lie but also by the long-established
archaeology blog Aardvarkaeology ccxxxiii by Swedish archaeologist Dr
Martin Rundkvist. HW is relatively new to blogging. His Wordpress site
Archaeodeath ccxxxiv is motivated in part by the frustrations experienced
in relying on his own academic institution to promote his new
publications and fieldwork as well as in part from the desire to
communicate to a wider community than those attending his
conference presentations and public talks. Archaeodeath was an
experiment that continues to evolve and currently has to date a
relatively modest 139 followers but regularly attracts a wider audience
through dissemination via Facebook and Twitter. Currently
Archaeodeath serves as an outlet for a range of topics ccxxxv . These
include discussions of medieval and modern mortuary and
commemorative practices, focused on HW’s ongoing research projects
including fieldwork at the Pillar of Eliseg, North Wales ccxxxvi : Project Eliseg.
HW posts about his latest publications, academic conference
presentations and public talks in early medieval and contemporary
archaeology. HW also uses his blog to discuss his role as Honorary Editor
for the Royal Archaeological Institute’s ccxxxvii publication: the
Archaeological Journal ccxxxviii. HW incorporates commentaries on visits to
museums, ancient monuments, heritage sites and archaeological
landscapes with a mortuary or memorial dimension. Finally, HW
occasionally writes opinion pieces (“archaeorants”) regarding directions
and debates in the archaeology of death, burial and commemoration.
Indeed, his most popular posting to date was an “archaeorant” about
the excavation of King Richard III at the site of Greyfriar’s church,
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Leicester, that has been viewed 2,250 times to date far more than his
other posts. His blogging began only recently, in June 2013 ccxxxix ,and
since then HW has subsequently posted over 130 entries.
From our joint experience, we identify some specific issues that
demand our attention in utilising blogging as a medium for
archaeological publishing. Stopping short of presenting guidelines for
good practice, we argue that blogging about ancient death is an
important part of academic engagement with the public, however
there are certain considerations regarding sensitivities, tone and use of
imagery that must be taken into consideration.
Why Should Archaeologists Blog about Death? Pros and
Cons
Stories about mortuary archaeology are online, disseminated and
discussed regardless of whether they were written by practising scholars
or not. The popular media has increasingly delved into mortuary
archaeology as a topic of discussion and sensationalist news. Blogging
as a medium allows for archaeologists to rapidly publish and openly
share new ideas, discoveries and debates without and sometimes
overtly questioning, the spin and inaccuracies of the journalists who
regularly report archaeological stories. Further, blogs are often more
approachable than journal articles due to the high cost of access and
complicated jargon utilised in the latter. Blogging is also a more liberated
medium for archaeological writing, allowing responses and hence
dialogue, unrestrained by the precise conventions of academic
publishing; in this regards, it shares a powerful position in its relationship
on a spectrum between academic and creative writing (see also Kirk
forthcoming).
Furthermore, by increasing our involvement in online discussions
about the field, we improve the overall perception and understanding of
ancient death and direct both specialists and the wider public to the
ever-evolving literature on this topic. In this regard, with a potential
worldwide audience embracing many ethnicities and faiths,
archaeologists have the responsibility to disseminate as far and wide
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their discoveries. Moreover, they have the duty to explain the value of
digging up, curating and displaying the dead where deemed
appropriate and acceptable to descendant communities, academic
research questions and other factors.
Given the rapid dissemination of information through the Internet,
mortuary archaeology news will be reported on whether or not we want
it. Due to this, archaeologists are advocated to control the story through
disseminating it, not through hiding it (Sayer 2010). Rather than
concealing death, archaeologists should be educators and enablers of
community engagement with death. Blogging about mortuary
archaeology can challenge misconceptions in the popular media
(Meyers and Killgrove 2014). Furthermore, sometimes archaeologists can
be lobbyists through their blogs, arguing for changes in the law and in
attitudes and practices, or, as with the social media campaign against
the proposed National Geographic TV show ‘Nazi War Diggers’, actively
vocalising concerns over the ethics of their actions in digging up wargraves without utilising trained archaeologists or bioarchaoelogical
methods and expertise. Examples of this are the forthright postings by
Deathsplaining ccxl on this topic.
An example of the work that can be done by mortuary
archaeologists to support research and prevent sensationalism is the rise
of ‘vampire burials’ over the past few years. On Bones Don’t Lie, the
actual journal articles and evidence that led to these accusations of
vampirism have been explored and broken down in Archaeology of
Vampires, Part I ccxli and Part II ccxlii . KM is able to coherently convey that
there is no evidence of vampires themselves, but rather there is evidence
of behaviour to prevent perceived vampire-like activity among the
deceased. While it is a small matter of perception, it is important that we
be active proponents of evidence-based research, rather than silently
critiquing popular media.
Another example comes from Archaeodeath. The sensationalist
finding of Richard III was widely publicised, but no-one had been talking
about the broader issue of what this excavation meant with regard to
the popular perception of mortuary archaeology. HW was able to
articulate that the real problem was not the organisation and focus of
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the investigation, the evidence or the way it was discussed - rather it was
the fact that this overshadowed the important process of mortuary
archaeology in exploring process, variability and change, not the graves
of named historic personages. In ‘What is truly wrong about digging up
Richard III ccxliii ’, HW argues that celebrity excavations detract attention
from the population-level study of mortuary variability and change in the
Middle Ages and other periods. It also detracts from the shameful
neglect of many skeletal populations following excavation. Finally, HW
argued that the search for celebrity burials constitutes a form of royal
necrophilia in its fetishistic focus on reconstructing the identity of a single
individual from the past.
Finally, the rise of mortuary archaeology blogging is part of a bigger
trend of bringing back conversations about death. Death used to be
part of the home, part of the average life, it was photographed,
discussed and there was ownership over it. Death as a topic for
discussion is coming back; groups like Order of the Good Deathccxliv or
Death Salonccxlv have been discussing death and related topics. As part
of this broader trend, mortuary archaeologists have an important role to
play by providing the historic and prehistoric context of how death has
changed through time. Further, mortuary archaeologists have a deeper
understanding of the variability of death and mourning behaviour. By
engaging in these broader discussions occurring online we provide an
important service of normalizing death related behaviour by situating it in
its historical context and discussing its variation.
These points lead us to a broader consideration about the potential
for blogging on death in the human past and in archaeological practice
for mortuary archaeologists – from those building careers (e.g. KM) to
those more established in the field (e.g. HW) to operate as public
intellectuals, contributing towards, challenging and driving new
directions in popular thinking about dying, death and the dead in the
past and present (see contributions to Tarlow and Nilsson Stutz 2013b).
Whilst we make no grand claims to be achieving this ourselves at this
stage in our blogging, this medium affords new voices operating in less
restricted and less hierarchical structures and thus perhaps more
democratising (or indeed subversive). Blogging offers a means of
distributing and debating mortuary topics that escapes from the
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stranglehold of the media of television documentaries and newspaper
stories that favour a small academic elite as well as only a selection of
mortuary topics focusing on the discovery of fleshed human remains in
particular (e.g. mummies and bog bodies). To put boldly, KM has
acquired during her graduate studies a far more extensive network and
platform via her blogging than many expert mortuary archaeologists
can ever hope to enjoy through their academic writing or brief
appearances as talking heads on television documentaries. Moreover,
the blog is arguably a more rich, informative and enduring medium
compared with the brevity and simplicity and singular voices that these
established media afford and with the potential of driving new views
and perspectives that might have weight outside the academy (e.g.
Larsson 2013).
Despite these many positive reasons for writing online, we can
appreciate the inertia and ambivalence of some archaeologists towards
blogging about mortuary matters. First, many groups involved in museum
and field projects may have tight restraints imposed by employers,
developers or funding bodies regarding strategies for disseminating their
finds and copyrights. For example, housing developers might not want
publicity that human remains were found during excavations to affect
the sale-price of their flats and housing. It also may infringe upon
established policies within some organizations. Second, local
communities and descendant communities might wish to avoid too
much publicity in fear of attracting disrespectful comments and
attention as well as treasure-hunting and illicit excavations at the sites of
discovery. Archaeologists might wish to avoid criticisms of, and
appropriations of, their methods and techniques by blogging, ahead of
formal publication. In such scenarios, details of their fieldwork projects
might fear a compromising of their professional perception.
Archaeologists might be reluctant to post information about mortuary
remains found during excavation until a trained physical anthropologist
has had the time to analyse the remains, and other post-excavation
analyses have been conducted. For many archaeologists, blogging
might be seen as too much ceding of authority and control over
knowledge production and dissemination, without peer-review and the
ability to verify facts and argumentation. Finally, concerns over blogging
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might be related to the archaeological finds themselves, some deemed
too disturbing to exhibit them via a blog because of perceived issues of
ethics, taste and aesthetics.
We would not attempt to refute any of these concerns as
illegitimate. in specific instances, and blogging strategies should be
adapted to avoid likely pitfalls. However, in many ways these concerns
are attempts to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Censorship of mortuary archaeology online is impossible to achieve since
so much is already uploaded. Moreover, secrecy online regarding key
mortuary archaeology stories and discoveries can breed
misunderstandings and the perceptions of elitism or even of conspiracies
of silence regarding discoveries (see Sayer 2010). Every archaeologist
must weigh the pros and cons themselves; however it is argued here that
the positive aspects of blogging far outweigh the challenges, and many
of these concerns can be avoided through mindful attention to potential
problems. Therefore, blogging in some form should be regarded as an
important and integral part of mortuary research by archaeologists.
How Should Archaeologists Blog about Death? Debating
the Tenor of Death
There are no pre-set guidelines for blogging about mortuary
archaeology, or death in general. The Internet has proven time and time
again that any topic can and will be shared. However, as scholars, we
need to be aware of broader ethical and emotional concerns that
come with talking about death and the deceased. At all times, there
must be a clear awareness of the sensitivity of death. Here, we discuss
how the use of different literary devices such as humour, metaphor and
shock can be employed in blogging to create a deeper public
connection to death in the past, but must be used carefully to avoid
diminishing or disrespecting the deceased.
Determining when to exercise sensitivity is primarily up to the author,
however there are topics where careful use of imagery and awareness
of tone is important. Over the past couple of years, there has been
debate around the Tophet of Carthage. The site contains the burials of
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hundreds of cremated infants, and since its discovery there has been
argument over whether the site represents a ritual site of human
sacrifice, or a special cemetery reserved for this age group. The debate
has led to sensationalist news reports with headlines like “Carthaginians
sacrificed their own children, archaeologists say ccxlvi ” or “Ancient Greek
stories of ritual child sacrifice in Carthage are TRUE, study claims ccxlvii ”.
News stories like these do not however share the detailed
archaeological and archival evidence, nor do they discuss the deeper
reasons for this practice and the historical context. To counteract this, KM
wrote multiple blog posts including “Ancient Baby Graveyard or Infant
Sacrifice Site ccxlviii ” and “Cemetery or Sacrifice Site in Carthage, Again
ccxlix
” discussing all the available evidence and all related journal articles.
As archaeological bloggers, it is important to challenge this type of
sensationalism, and objectively discuss the evidence so that popular
audiences might better read between the journalistic spin.
Because HW’s interests extend from the early historic period to the
present day, Archaeodeath contends with the commemorative
practices of recent centuries. This is evident in the entries about
cathedral memorials at Chester ccl and Norwich ccli as well as discussions
of memorials on public spaces such as country parks and roadside
memorials cclii. In addition to discussing sites visited about ongoing
research (without outlining the details of the research itself), HW has
attempted to outline new ways of thinking afresh about well-studied and
well-visited buildings and landscapes in our contemporary society and
from the perspective of mortuary archaeology. For example, for
roadside memorials, HW is taking a perspective usually afforded to far
more ancient remains and applying them to a very sensitive dimension
of present-day memorial practice through the medium of the blog, thus
simultaneously challenging how
Dead Funny: Using humour to discuss death
Tone is important for blogging as it can range from conversational to
academic. When dealing with topics of death, it is important to be
aware to the possibility that the reader might be sensitive to the
language utilised. Having said that, archaeologists should avoid being
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either overly maudlin or euphemistic. Archaeologists may be deathdealers, but we are not undertakers dealing with newly bereaved
families. Our writing can be upbeat, even humorous, if it serves to
communicate our message. Therefore, while no single tenor of writing
should be recommended, being too sensitive and obscure can be a
hindrance more than a help. Death and comedy have long been good
bedfellows, and the combination of the two has proven quite successful
in modern medical settings. Thorson (1985) argued that “death humor is
seen to have functions both as a defense mechanism as well as a social
lubricant”, further it gives the dying and bereaved a sense of control
over death. In clinical settings, joking has been proven to relieve anxiety,
decrease discomfort, provide coping mechanisms, as well as increase
comprehension and retention in educational settings (Johnson 1990).
Comedy can be used for archaeological blogging in a similar manner.
By infusing some jests in our work, we remove some of the unnecessary
mystery, discomfort and fear surrounding death.
Both KM and HW have used humour as a mechanism for lightening
an otherwise dark topic but are always sensitive to the challenge that
humour online is readily misinterpreted as ‘disrespect’. In general, Bones
Don’t Lie provides commentary on journal and news articles broadly
relating to mortuary archaeology, which are written with an academic
and respectful tone. However, witty posts are often intermixed into these
more serious publications in order to provide levity and prevent reader
burnout. “Waiter there’s a toe in my drink” was a blog post that
discussed an absurd example of cannibalism from a modern news
article. Another example was “The Santa Issue II” ccliii, which proposed
what the fictional burials of different incarnations of Santa Claus would
look like if they were excavated by archaeologists.
For Archaeodeath, HW attempts to mix humour into posts on
otherwise serious matters. For example, in a recent post regarding a visit
to the Neolithic site of Woodhenge, HW parodied the title of a famous
article from the Journal Antiquity as ‘Woodhenge for the ancestors: the
concrete cylinders pass on the message’ ccliv. HW reviews the latest
evidence about this monument, appraises its heritage presentation, but
then adds some lighter comments regarding the merits of the site for
exercise and child’s play, satirsing but not deriding both academic and
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popular perceptions of Neolithic monuments as sites of healing. In other
posts, HW restricts humour to the titles and occasional references to
popular culture in otherwise more dense discussions of sites, monuments
and other archaeological remains, as in the entries “Completely Stoned
in Ceredigion 1 cclv and 2” cclvi . In the former, HW likens the carving of
human figures on one early medieval stone cross to characters from
Schultz’s Peanuts cartoons. A more overtly humorous commentary is
“Talking Archaeo-heads cclvii ”, yet it is still a reflection on a serious
heritage issue for mortuary archaeology: the widespread use, almost an
obsession, with facial reconstruction in archaeological museums and
visitor centres. HW sees this as a mechanism by which new ‘ancestors’
are created and venerated by museums (see also Williams 2009) but also
muses what these heads would say if they could see us in the present
day, both their museum environment and visitors.
Other blogs on human remains utilise humour more regularly, overtly
and effectively, notably the superb Deathsplaining cclviii blog. Whether
used sparingly or frequently, humour has the ability to lighten topics that
may be difficult for readers to confront, and used sparingly can be a
good way of breaking up what have the potential to be very sombre
readings. It can also be a way of lightening critiques of mortuary displays
and practices.
The Past in the Present: Making connections to modern
phenomena
One of the challenges of blogging about ancient death is making it
relevant to the modern audience. Our selection of titles for our blogs in
itself calls out to popular audiences. Bones Don’t Lie making a rhetoric
statement about the evidential power of human remains to tell us about
past societies and dispel mythologies and speculation. Meanwhile
Archaeodeath’s title was intended as tongue-in-cheek pomposity yet
also succinct and memorable. It was also intended as an accurate
description of the blog’s focus: consciously avoiding a focus on bones
but citing the principal connections of archaeology and mortality as key
to the blog’s subject matter.
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Popular news has been quite effective at making connections to the
public by exploring the more sensational side of mortuary studies.
Examples include the supposed discovery of vampire burials across
Eastern Europe, or the search for celebrity burials like Richard III or Mona
Lisa. There are two major ways of making connections that we have
used repeatedly: drawing connections between physical spaces and
popular media.
In Archaeodeath, HW repeatedly introduces concepts and themes
from his research through the use of popular examples of particular wellknown sites and landscapes, such as critiques of museum displays of
mortuary contexts - “Stonehenge Incomplete 1 cclix and 2 cclx”, “Roman
Death at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester cclxi” or “Old Mold Gold” cclxii .
Then there are discussions of the material cultures of death at heritage
sites and country parks – “Bodnant Garden - Death in the Family
Garden” cclxiii or “Gazing through the Lens” cclxiv - or else explorations of
commemorative practice in the past and the present such as: “Moor
Memories - Dartmoor” cclxv and “The Childe of Hale” cclxvi . By exploring the
past through these physical places, readers gain a deeper appreciation
for their local heritage and are encouraged to explore these - and other
similar - spaces themselves with a new, archaeological perspective.
In Bones Don’t Lie, KM explores the concept that one of the easiest
ways to aid people in better understanding death is to create
connections to popular media. The use of metaphor can improve affinity
with, and understanding of, complex topics within mortuary
archaeology. KM has used movies such as “Weekend at Bernie’s” cclxvii as
an illustration for understanding the complexities of interpreting human
remains. Over the course of a single weekend, the corpse of Bernie
Lomax is subjected to a number of activities including attending a party,
playing monopoly, getting buried in the sand and even dragged behind
a boat. None of these activities would have been readily apparent to
the individuals excavating a grave. However, there could be important
signs of post-mortem activity if examined carefully. Similarly, Anthony
Bourdain, popular foodie, chef and television host, inspired a post cclxviii
that drew connections between modern food television shows to
funerary behaviour in the past. We often do not know what happens
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between death and burial, and using a popular movie can help illustrate
how important that information can potentially be.
Razor’s Edge of Challenging Perceptions and Shocking
In many ways, we play an important role in the broader shift to
discussions of death and dying. In the modern world where death is
medicalised and bereavement is often hidden, archaeologists can offer
insight into alternative options and discuss how this current state of death
has occurred. We provide historical context for broader debates relating
to death and human remains. Further, we have unique insight to
challenge monolithic perceptions of death by presenting the wide
range of variation that exists in the world. However, there is a thin line
between challenging the current beliefs and shocking the audience. The
goal should not be to appal an audience, but rather to push the limits of
their perception and challenge their preconceived notions regarding
death and the dead.
Last year, the web exploded in outrage over a trend known as
‘Funeral Selfies’ cclxix , whereby teens were using camera phones to take
photos of themselves whilst at a funeral. While most audiences were
disgusted, Caitlin Doughty, creator of the Order of the Good Death and
a Los Angeles-based mortician, argued that we need to be more aware
of what this behaviour actually means. She argues that instead of disgust
towards teens, we should focus more on educating them, and recognise
their behaviour as an outlet for ritual and mourning not found in Western
Society (Doughty 2013). However, this is where taking a historic
perspective can help others better understand this behaviour. In many
ways, the funeral selfie trend is just a reincarnation of post-mortem
photography from the 19th century. This was discussed by KM in a blog
post cclxx following the modern phenomenon, and it allowed for a
broader discussion about the incorporation of technology into the
mourning and grieving process, allowing death to become part of
broader rituals of life. By blogging about this broader trend, and creating
historical connections, readers are better able to interpret behaviour
despite the blog challenging their initial reaction.
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Visualising the Dead
Museums and publications utilise a wide range of methods to
visualise the dead, from artist’s impressions of funeral scenes, to
reconstructions of graves as they were once composed, to plans and
photographs of mortuary remains in their context of discovery (Williams
2009; 2010). One key area of blogging is to augment and expand textual
arguments with the use of images. This is enhanced by the ability to
select from material available with Creative Commons licenses and from
photographs taken by the blogger at a range of archaeological sites,
mortuary monuments and cemeteries.
For recent memorials, there are issues regarding whether individual,
named memorials should be reproduced. Some academic journals like
Mortality have pursued a strategy of pixelating-out personal names upon
memorials in photographs accompanying academic research (e.g.
Parker and McVeigh 2013). As guest editor for that journal (Williams
2011), HW resisted this, accepting that some anonymity of the location is
required and the depiction of full-names of the very-recently dead
should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. In many blogs, one can
find photographs of 19th- and 20th-century gravestones taken without full
permission of living relatives and HW believes that to do otherwise is a
poorly considered attempt to show ‘respect’ and thus thoughtless
censorship, self-imposed or by publishers. In Archaeodeath, memorials
situated in public places are regarded as intentionally for public viewing
and hence it is legitimate to transcribe their texts and photograph them.
This approach is taken in some archaeological publications (e.g. Corkill
and Moore 2012). HW would argue that this is not ethically problematic.
Memorials are by definition designed for audiences, often (but not
always) placed intentionally to be read in publicly accessible and
owned spaces. Indeed it is questionable to censor since it gives the
impression that the personal name is somehow ‘dirty’ or ‘tainted’ whilst
the memorial itself is less person and specific. Crucially, the name and
material become disconnected, and the latter dehumanised, through
censorship. Thus, writing about these memorials holistically - both text,
material and context - with due respect and sensitivity as well as
visualising them with care to their context of creation should not in itself
Blogging Archaeology
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cause offence or require permission from relatives of the deceased.
Indeed, depicting the memorial practices from the human past – distant
or recent – is itself a form of respectful honouring of both past lives and
past deaths. What possible ‘disrespect’ is afforded to reproduce images
of (for example) war graves or gardens of remembrance that are
already fully accessible to the public?
Still, it is recognised that perceptions of a public space can be seen
as simultaneously public by many and private by their creators. Hence,
where possible, the precise location and details of full personal names
should be omitted where not necessary. For example, the park bench
with a memorial plaque and recently scattered ashes is simultaneously a
public and private space. In order to communicate my argument
regarding commemoration in contemporary British society, in “Gazing
through the Lens cclxxi ” HW incorporated two photographs, one of the
front of a memorialised new bench in an anonymised Welsh country
park, another of the ashes of the loved one scattered behind the bench.
HW also transcribed the memorial to ‘dearest Len’ and commented on
the memorial in what HW regards as a sensitive and respectful fashion
without intruding on private property. Since a full name is not recorded,
affording anonymity in this instance is not an issue.
For older remains, and for human remains in particular, the question
comes: what is the function of the blog as a medium for visualising
death; are some images too shocking and disturbing to reproduce?
Notwithstanding the fact that blogs almost always utilise images and
materials already in the public domain, we need to justify how and why
they are being used, rather than deploy images simply to attract the eye
or to make gratuitous statements about the suffering of past individuals
from particular diseases affecting bone or the fate of particular dead
persons. An example from blogging, for Bones Don’t Lie, is the absence
of modern imagery from many posts despite its potential relevance. In
“New Morbid Terminology: Coffin Birth” cclxxii , imagery for the past is in
general lacking, while modern forensics imagery is more common.
Despite that, it was determined by KM not to include modern imagery as
it was too gratuitous and could be emotionally damaging. Conversely,
humour has been used in visual imagery to lighten death, such as the
comic-like format of the Horrible Histories by Terry Deary and Martin
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Brown (1993), which portray scenes of death and violence in a lighthearted format. As discussed previously, humour in some situations can
lessen the discomfort of discussing death, but must be used carefully.
Imagery of the deceased should be used to augment and educate,
not to shock. Moreover, if the images are publicly accessible via other
existing media, the question comes as to whether the blog is making
them more or less shocking by carefully incorporating them within a new
and considered context. There is also future potential to employ the use
of art and digital imagery in innovative ways to articulate concepts and
ideas about mortuary archaeology afresh, something advocated for
archaeological publishing but also pertinent to blogging about
archaeology and death (Perry 2009; Williams 2009; 2010; Giles
forthcoming). The use of alternative forms of imagery, such as art, drawn
comics or cartoons, could also aid in engaging alternative audiences, or
perhaps convey messages in a different way than more traditional forms
of photograph and video. Archaeological illustrator John Swogger
(2012) has argued that comics are a two-dimensional form of artwork
that have explanatory power, and can act as graphic reports of
archaeological work.
Hence, in blogging death, a range of visual imagery should be
carefully and cautiously encouraged to facilitate innovation in
communicating death past and present, not quashed by false attempts
to show ‘respect’ through censorship. Again, as Sayer (2010) argues,
concealment like this is counter to a spirit of public research in which
mortuary archaeology should embrace openness in order to drive new
perspectives and debates.
Conclusion
To our knowledge, this article is the first attempt to tackle the
complex issues affecting blogging in mortuary archaeology, although
blogs in bioarchaeology and archaeology more generally have, on rare
occasions, addressed some of the issues within their own pages (e.g.
Archaeodeath’s “Blogging Ugly Death” cclxxiii ; see also Meyers and
Killgrove 2014). Unlike blogs on archaeology generally, or more specific
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human remains-focused themes in bioarchaeology or forensic science,
mortuary archaeology deals with a wide range of evidence and
behaviour relating to the deceased and mourning community; offering
unique insight on the perceptions and approaches to death in the past.
Blogging offers an approachable and open medium for mortuary
archaeologists to communicate complex and often difficult topics to a
broad audience. However, as discussed above, because we are
dealing with a topic that has ethical and emotional concerns, there
must be a greater awareness when blogging about death as to the
purpose of the writing and the goal. Indeed, we would argue that
blogging in mortuary archaeology has the potential as a medium of
driving new levels of openness in the recording and debating of our
motives and choices regarding how to write and visualise death in
archaeological theory and practice. Thus, as mortuary archaeology
bloggers, we hope to challenge and educate our readers about death
in the human past but also about the archaeological project and the
archaeological imagination, developing new formats to disseminate
and debate research into mortuary practice and commemoration in the
human past. By using humour, creating connections with the present
and carefully selecting illustrative imagery, we create a digital arena
where death can be explored and discussed and in which mortuary
archaeologists, as public intellectuals, can challenge and shape popular
understandings of death past, present and future.
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Acknowledgements
We are extremely grateful to Doug Rocks-Macqueen, Sara Perry and
Chris Webster for valuable comments on pre-publication drafts of this
chapter.
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Perceptions of Archaeology
and The Words We Use
Jessica Rymer
Blog: http://digthisfeature.tumblr.com/ cclxxviii
In 2006, eminent archaeologist Bruce Trigger gave an interview in the
Journal of Social Archaeology; asked about the future of archaeology in
the 21st century, he replied that:
"Archaeology will continue to excite substantial public interest so
long as it continues to discover ‘wonderful things’ and provides the
mass media with ‘mysteries’ that entertain people." (Yellowhorn 2006,
p. 326)
This quote is one that I have used before, and one that I responded
to in the following way in a post about the importance of community
engagement:
“As all of us are aware, we don’t always find ‘wonderful things’.
Sometimes, you don’t find ANYTHING. But I don’t think that means
that archaeology is on its way out if it can’t remain ‘sexy’, I think that
it means that we’re entering a new period of archaeological
practice where the goal is to make the public care by getting them
engaged and invested.” (Rymer, 2013, emphasis added)
I chose the emphasis specifically to highlight a challenge that I have
both grappled with and observed in the year plus that I have been
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blogging. Coupled with the first quote it represents two ends of a
spectrum in talking about archaeology: at one end we have treasure
hunting, Indiana Jones, and Lara Croft, at the other we have realism,
tedium, and drudgery. The former is more common in the mainstream
media cclxxix; the latter usually comes from frustrated archaeologists
wishing to be taken seriously.
I saw this play out on my blog as I strove to provide an accurate
picture of fieldwork while still posting news stories that covered
archaeological finds that I found interesting. As social media becomes
more integrated into archaeological projects as a tool of community
engagement, the language that we, as archaeologists, use becomes
even more important. The words we use communicate our ideas to our
audience but they also drive page views and search results in a very
practical way that can have a powerful affect on a project’s visibility in
the community. In the following sections I want to explore the language
at each end of the spectrum, citing print sources, but also including
hyperlinks to relevant blog posts and online articles as if these sections
were actual blog posts.
Extreme # 1: Archaeologists as treasure hunters
It's no secret that archaeology has been used to perpetuate colonial
stereotypes that preserve a historical narrative sympathetic to colonizers
at the expense of the colonized. Randy McGuire perhaps said it best in
Archaeology as Political Action when he wrote that, "the products of the
archaeological ideology factory have most commonly sustained,
justified, and legitimized the dominant ideological values" (2008, p.16).
The more involved I’ve become in indigenous archaeology, the more
apparent it has become that perpetuating, even inadvertently, that
treasure-hunting myth is not only harmful but counter-productive. Phrases
like “treasure trove” and “gold mine”, even when used alongside words
like “ceramics” or “knowledge”, are problematic because they
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associate archaeology with treasure hunting in the public consciousness.
They can drag up painful memories for groups who have been victims of
this kind of archaeology in the past, and are damaging to the
relationships we are trying to build in the present. How many times have I
seen “Archaeologists unearth prehistoric treasure trove” or “Largest Iron
Age hoard yet found” and immediately hit re-blog? What does this
communicate to my followers about my priorities? How does this reflect
on my original content?
“The words we use” is a phrase that Stephen Mrozowski used at the
Conversations Between Communities event cclxxx at the University of
Massachusetts, Boston, in November. He remarked that reflecting on the
words archaeologists have used was important in how he came to
understand how the archaeological community was initially seen as the
enemy by the Nipmuc Nation. But so often these words, as problematic
as they are, can provide a quick signal boost. And they are good PR
because they garner immediate interest in our projects. Trigger, in the
opening quote, was making a purposeful reference to Howard Carter’s
words after his first look at Tutankhamen’s undisturbed tomb. Bill Kelso
and the brilliant minds behind the PR machine of the Jamestown
Rediscovery Project did something similar when they found the “Rosetta
stone of Jamestown" in 2010. Appropriating references to well known
finds like these to drum up interest (and funding) is really nothing new,
but one of the challenges of using social media is how do we get people
to care without falling into the treasure trap?
I wrote about this dilemma in a blog post from February (“The
Problem with Treasure” cclxxxi ), in which I cited a 2006 article by Palus,
Leone, and Cochran. They point out that historic preservation in the U.S.
works a lot like “treasure” logic- we tend to preserve “things, not the
connections between people and things” (Palus, Leone, and Cochran
2006, p. 93). The solution that they suggest, which I’m sure will resonate
with a lot of people, is to engage the public so that they are invested in
what is being preserved and passionate about its protection.
Archaeology and the past fascinate people all on their own. I think the
solution to the “problem with treasure” is to realize that the mention of
archaeology is interesting enough on its own to grab people’s attention.
It can be difficult at times to accept when you’re in the throes of
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sampling plowzone, but archaeology is only boring when we, the
archaeologists, make it so in our attempt to separate ourselves from
Indiana Jones and Laura Croft. Which brings me to the other end of the
spectrum.
Extreme #2: Realistically portraying a realistic
archaeology
When I was salting a mock dig for my campers one summer I joked
that we should leave three of the four units empty so the kids would
know what it’s like to be a real archaeologist. This is precisely the kind of
attitude that Colleen Morgan called out on Middle Savagery (and was
recently re-posted by Archaeology, Museums, and Outreach cclxxxii) in a
post aptly titled “Stop Saying ‘Archaeology is actually boring’”. It can be
a gut reaction sometimes; a visitor comes by the site and asks if you’ve
found any gold coins, and you dutifully respond that you’ve found
nothing but nails, and sometimes you don’t find anything! With
archaeological funding being cut by the NSF and under fire from
Congress cclxxxiii, it’s perfectly reasonable to want to throw away our
fedoras, put on our white lab coats and declare that we are serious
scientists, not fanciful adventurers. An emphasis on the less exciting, dayto-day realities of running a dig can seem to be the perfect way to do
this.
Portraying realism in a positive way is one of the challenges of being
an archaeology blogger, particularly when the blog is a personal one.
Though the content I posted to Dig This Feature from the field was always
posted with the permission of my P.I., it is ultimately a personal endeavor
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that remains unaffiliated with an institution. While this gives authors such
as myself more freedom in the content we choose to post, it also
exposes us to the danger of our blogs becoming less of a vehicle of
public outreach and more of an outlet for our own feelings. The danger
here is not that archaeology will be portrayed as dull but that
archaeology will be portrayed as terrible, as a thankless job that no one
should pursue.
Archaeology can be hard. It is a field that comes with a set of
unique challenges. There are holes in the ground that fill with water
when it rains and have to be pumped. There are days when it is below
freezing and you find yourself outside. And you will probably have to
buy a wristguard at some point. I do not think that there is anything
wrong with being honest about these things; in fact, I feel a certain
responsibility to share them because of the number of undergraduate
archaeology and anthropology students amongst my readership. I’ve
also shared links to articles about wages, funding, diversity, and being a
female archaeologist cclxxxiv for the same reason. While complaining is
definitely a bonding experience, we need to be careful with the words
we use, especially when we are speaking with our authority as
archaeologists.
Finding your voice
Finding your voice is one of the more difficult parts of blogging. If you
look at my first response to #blogarch, a Blogging Carnival, on why I
started blogging and my last response on where I hope to go with it
you’ll see that I’m still not entirely sure. And part of the reason is that with
blogging comes the freedom to change your voice as you experiment
with what kind of blogger you want to be. Do you want to be funny or
serious? Re-blog mostly news stories or create your own content? Offer
commentary or post things as they are? Is it mostly for yourself, or, is it
academic?
In experimenting with voice, one thing that has remained is that
blogging is ultimately a form of media for consumption, and as such the
“words we use” are important. As I’ve experimented with some of the
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questions I mentioned above and seen more and more how integrated
various forms of social media are, I’ve paid more attention to the words I
use. Words are powerful things. It’s not a coincidence that books like The
Death of Prehistory cclxxxv are being published on the heels of a
conversation I had with a coworker who was uncomfortable with
labeling our field historical archaeology. Regardless of whether you hold
a B.A., M.A., or Ph.D. when you introduce yourself as an archaeologist
your audience perceives you as having the authority to speak on the
past and issues related to it. So while my blog is ultimately a personal
one, because I am perceived as having the authority to speak on
certain issues because of how I describe myself in my “About” section, I
need to critically reflect on the perceptions that I am perpetuating. I
may think that because my blog is not affiliated with an institution that I
have the unbridled freedom to post as I please but, as different forms of
social media have become increasingly integrated with one another,
the Internet has become a very small place.
While social media, from my perspective at least, is no longer “new”,
it continues to offer new challenges as archaeologists integrate it into
their toolkit. I will echo some of the other responses cclxxxvi to the blogging
carnival’s final question when I express uncertainty about archaeology
blogging’s future, mostly due to the attitudes of my own peers. It may be
that something new comes along and these issues become a moot
point, however, critically evaluating ourselves is never a bad thing, and
blogging is fortunately a great venue for doing just that.
Blogging Archaeology
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References
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Page 187
The end of a cycle. Blogging
about public archaeology in
Spain. El fin de un ciclo.
Blogueando sobre
arqueología pública en
España
Jaime Almansa- Sanchez
Blog: http://publicarchaeology.blogspot.com ccxciv
*This is a bilingual text.
**Con bilingüe quiero decir que hay partes en español, and others in
English.
14 Apr 2014, 16:07
In this exact moment, I am writing the last post on the first blog I ever
created. I am correcting the proofs of this chapter, which will be the last
post of the “Public Archaeology” blog. The next lines are an overview of
the blog, how it started and how it ended. La última reflexión antes de
cambiar de ciclo.
Introduction. So you had a blog?
28 Sept 2007, 14:30
That is the exact moment I started my first blog. I cannot remember
much more. I was a bit bored in those days. My MA in London had just
started and the blog seemed to be a great idea to share public
Blogging Archaeology
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archaeology with my Spanish colleagues. I remember I checked domain
names and both “Public Archaeology” and “Arqueología Pública” were
available, so I picked them for myself. The Spanish Government had
started a campaign to make us create web pages by giving us free
domains. I had chosen “arqueologiapublica.es”, so while figuring out
what I was going to do with the domain name (and its blog), I started
using the English domain for myself. For a while I thought about doing the
blog in English, but I felt my audience should be in Spain, so I went for it
and created a Spanish blog.
When you start a blog you are a bit obsessed with statistics, for a
while. For weeks I was writing and checking my blog statistics several
times a day. I thought I was going to write about my experience in
London, but at the end it was about raw public archaeology more than
my experiences.
One day I had dozens of posts and thousands of visits. My presence
in the Internet had increased a lot, and with it my prestige. Early in 2008 I
received an email from a professor in Galicia who was starting a blog
about the use of the past in popular culture. She wanted me to
participate and, of course, I did. “Pasado Reciclado” is a successful
blog, still active, in which we analyse contemporary material culture
evoking past icons. It is the most fun you can have writing about
archaeology.
Almost seven years later I manage four blogs about archaeology
with regular content, of which “Public Archaeology” and “Pasado
Reciclado” are still the most important. In the meantime, “El futuro de la
arqueología en España” (http://elfuturodelaarqueologia.blogspot.com
ccxcv ) served its purpose as an extension of the same titled book for
almost two years, with several controversial posts that triggered debate
in different events. Today, I still try to use blogging for something different.
“El diario de Lancaster Williams”
(http://eldiariodelancasterwilliams.blogspot.com ccxcvi) is the extension of
a different book, “El Hallazgo”. Besides announcing events and offers, it is
the platform for the voices of two of the main characters, Lancaster
Williams, and Ian MacAllister (http://irlandescabreado.wordpress.com
ccxcvii), in what has been called a “blognovel”.
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Seven years ago, I would never have imagined I was going to be
such a blogger. I have over 800 blog posts and more to come.
Figure 1: Public Archaeology’s first post in 2007 (screenshot)
Toda la arqueología es pública por definición
¿Por qué empieza todo esto? En 2005 le dije por primera vez a mi
tutora lo que quería hacer en mi tesis. Arqueología Pública. «Pero toda
la arqueología en España es pública por definición» me contestó… Y
entonces se me cayó el alma a los pies y decidí ir a Londres. Puede que
allí empezara todo, en mi frustración a la hora de explicar qué es lo que
hacía. Nadie me entendía. Tenía que cambiar aquello.
Por un momento, las pocas referencias que podías encontrar en
España a la arqueología pública estaban en mi blog. Ya había algunos
equipos trabajando con comunidades, pero mi posición iba un paso
más allá. Yo quería tratar las relaciones arqueología/público en toda su
extensión, especialmente la política y la económica.
Por eso, en las entradas del blog intenté analizar la actualidad
arqueológica desde la arqueología pública, intercalando entradas más
explicativas durante los primeros años, con otras más «extrañas»
después.
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Entre los dos blogs, conseguimos que la arqueología pública llegara
a mucha gente. Sólo quedaba asentar el proceso. ¿Es posible que
internet cambiara en algo la forma de entender la arqueología? No.
Pese a la estupenda acogida de los blogs y la rápida incorporación de
otros dedicados a diferentes ámbitos de la arqueología, los blogs no
movían la actualidad española. En lo que a mi concierne, congresos y
publicaciones hicieron el trabajo, pero los blogs se convirtieron poco a
poco en una referencia alternativa a las vías oficiales.
La arqueología en España está aún lejos de ser pública por
definición, pero si me volvieran a decir eso hoy, ya podría reaccionar de
otra manera.
Ranting, ranting and ranting
I have said that “Public Archaeology” was a blog in Spanish, but,
there were certain topics I needed to write about in English. The blog
was the only platform I had to express myself in more than a couple of
lines. What happened? If I needed to express myself in English, the
reason could not be good. Actually, a boycott and a half…
The WAC controversy:
April 2012
http://publicarchaeology.blogspot.com.es/2012/04/wac7-lostillusion.html ccxcviii
November 2012
http://publicarchaeology.blogspot.com.es/2012/11/road-toperdition.html ccxcix
I never met Peter Ucko. Unfortunately, he passed before I went to
London. However, his spirit was still there, especially for public
archaeology students. UCL changed my mind in very different ways and
the World Archaeology Congress (WAC) was one of them. These kinds of
congresses are monstrous, and lately too standardized for my taste.
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Although there was something about WAC that made it different. It
really was a World Archaeology Congress. My relationship with the
organization has been turbulent, and now I just want it to change back
to what Ucko wanted it to be. For details, check the links.
The Springer controversy:
http://publicarchaeology.blogspot.com.es/2013/12/boycott.html ccc
In close relation with the WAC controversy, I just exploded last
December (2013) with the publisher Springer and decided to start a
personal boycott against them. The post did not have much
repercussion besides my own journal, which declined to review any
books from them. Funny thing was, that this same day (I saw the article
the day after, shared dozens of times in Facebook) a Nobel Laureate did
so and made a huge impact. I need a good award in order to rant
properly.
The System controversy:
http://publicarchaeology.blogspot.com.es/2014/02/what-ispoint.html ccci
With the boycott to Springer still fresh, in late winter 2014, events
came like a syzygy and I felt like ranting again about the system itself.
What was the point of participating anyway? This has not been made for
foreigners. But this same day I got an email about this book (the one you
are reading now) and just forgot about it. Crazy chapter going on in
Spanish and English…Will anyone read it?
La audiencia
La verdad es que he tenido varios finales en falso para el blog, pero
siempre que digo que lo dejo, tengo muchas cosas que contar de
repente. Estoy convencido de que el blog ha sido un éxito, pero hacía
ya unos años que la audiencia me tenía decepcionado. La interacción
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pasó de poca a nula y no me gusta escribir para que nadie lo lea, sobre
todo cuando se trata de temas controvertidos.
Hoy, con la perspectiva que da escribir sobre el tema y varias
semanas a un ritmo muy bajo, me pregunto si en el fondo el blog no
habrá sido un fracaso. Me resisto a pensarlo y la experiencia de «El
futuro de la arqueología en España» me ayuda a reafirmarme en ello. El
colectivo arqueológico español está aún poco decidido a debatir en
un blog. Mientras en las mesas redondas asociadas a los eventos de
presentación del libro nos quedábamos sin tiempo para debatir, en el
blog nada…
Pero la mayor desesperación llega cuando te comparas con otras
plataformas y ves que allí hay más movimiento. En cualquier caso, la
oferta es tal, que hoy en día es difícil encontrar lo que buscas sin el
apoyo de otras redes sociales, lo que implica tener también una
audiencia en esas redes sociales.
Gestionar un blog es mucho más que escribir. Para triunfar sin ser de
antemano una personalidad, necesitas mantener un nivel muy alto en
las entradas, con unos contenidos atractivos. ¿Y eso qué significa? Que
hay que elegir entre un blog comercial, y un blog personal (lo que creo
que era el sentido original). Pero, sobre todo, como diría Lorna
Richardson, que hay que diseñar una buena estrategia de
comunicación digital.
En cualquier caso, esa sensación que tenía al comenzar el blog ya
no existe. No tengo la necesidad de escribir que tenía antes. Pero, sobre
todo, ahora tengo muchos compañeros escribiendo blogs de gran
calidad. No siento que tenga nada más que aportar. Es el final de un
ciclo.
-Pablo Aparicio: http://pabloaparicioweb.blogspot.com cccii
-Antonio Vizcaíno: http://pi3dra.tumblr.com ccciii
-Juan I. García: http://arqueoart.blogspot.com ccciv
-Adrián Carretón: http://arqueoblog.com cccv
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De hecho, cuando hace unas semanas el autor de este último blog
me dijo que «Public Archaeology» había sido un ejemplo para él, lo tuve
claro. Si el alumno supera al maestro, quítate del medio.
Figure 2: Un pantallazo de Pasado Reciclado (captura de pantalla)
The end of a cycle
So, that was all! Seven years and a…legacy? I want to think that all
my writing was for something. It helped me clarify and share ideas.
During this time I had the opportunity to share everything that was going
on in public archaeology, set some ideas that I was about to publish in
the traditional academic media, and, more importantly, build a small
network of researchers and students willing to work under the premises of
pubic archaeology. I don’t remember if I had a goal when I started the
blog, but even if I was so pretentious to think I could indoctrinate my
colleagues, I finally managed to do it (I want to believe it was not only
through the blog). What was the point of continuing? This is the story of
an end; like the last post of a long-living blog that ran out of ideas. I am
glad I have now the opportunity to write it.
Having a look at the list of “friend blogs” I linked to in my blog, I see
that most of them are out of business now. Some of them did not even
last a couple years. People get tired, sooner or later. It has taken me
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more time, but, I am tired too. I think I’ve run out of ideas and I don’t
want the blog to become a collection of news, or a ranting platform. It
was a place for reflection and analysis, and that is over now. It is hard to
admit it, but at some point you have to stop.
What happens now? I guess I will continue collaborating with
“Pasado Reciclado”, although “Pi3dra” is offering great content in this
same line. Sharing the blog makes it easier to maintain the activity at
least. I know that I will come back at some point, with renewed strength,
so this is more like a “see you later” or an “under refurbishment” than a
“good bye”.
¿Y ahora qué?
Ahora he empezado un blog sobre series de televisión y me tomaré
un tiempo para pensar qué quiero hacer con mis redes sociales. Tengo
más blogs de los que cuidar y quiero que todos ellos mejoren en calidad
y en contenido. Mi abuela siempre me decía: «quien mucho abarca,
poco aprieta» y puede que ese haya sido el detonante de mi adiós.
Simplemente no podía más, pero cuando escribes más de 100 entradas
al año, es imposible mantener el nivel.
Voy a terminar la tesis, voy a cerrar proyectos y, mientras tanto, me
divertiré un poco…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IsVjJ0zK08
[*English speaking friends, you can find subtitles in the video]
Epilogue
I have just started a new blog about different TV Series. Quite a
change, but I cannot avoid writing about archaeology sometimes. I
really hate to give up on archaeology blogging, so I will keep doing it.
This is like a drug, or a therapy… After all this time, I can only conclude
that blogs have been one of the greatest advances in communication.
We might have a limited audience, but search engines always find you
when someone is looking for the topics you talk about. Academic
publishing is becoming more and more difficult for certain topics. The
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market is obscene and the rankings are actually killing talent in the fake
search for quality. Blogs let you write about topics that would not make
an article, or would not even need to make an article, but are interesting
for the community. They have been extremely useful for me, both as an
author and researcher, so I only have good words.
I said this was the last post of my blog…Ask me again in another
seven years.
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Etruscans Online
Lucy Shipley
Blog: http://potsplacesstonesbones.blogspot.co.uk/ cccvi
Introduction
When people ask me what I work on as an archaeologist, I know
what’s coming. I say “the Etruscans.” They look confused. I say “preRoman Italy.” They nod, smile and glaze, popping my specialism into a
neat little box, conceptualising a people by the southern rivals who
destroyed and absorbed their civilisation. No matter that Etruscan
culture transformed large areas of Italy and the wider Western
Mediterranean as they spread out from their heartland of Tuscany and
Umbria between around 800 and 300 BCE, that Etruscan objects have
been found from Egypt (Grmek 1994) to Germany (Arafat and Morgan
1997), that Etruscan influence kept the Greeks out of central Italy and
kept the forces of Rome at bay. No, the Etruscans just came before the
Romans, and that’s that. This conversation, and the ensuing
awkwardness, is one of the reasons I started blogging about this Iron Age
society, and its misrepresentation in the past and present.
So what can blogging accomplish? How can blogging be of help,
aside from making me feel better and providing an expressive outlet? In
this chapter, I will argue that blogging has the potential to transform subdisciplines like Etruscan studies, relatively closed communities from which
the general public has been systematically excluded. From busting the
myths of the Etruscan mystique, to exposing poor reporting in the paper
press, blogging could be a way forward for a discipline that is notoriously
resistant to change (Izzet 2007: 13). I suggest that current models in
public reporting of Etruscan archaeology stem from antiquated
precedents, visible from at least the early Renaissance period in Italy, if
not the ancient world itself. These have led to an evolving series of
tropes, focused on the presentation of the Etruscans as possessors of
mysterious, arcane knowledge, a people apart. These stereotypes form
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the subject of the second part of this paper, as I demonstrate their
dangerous transmutation into online media, including the primary
sources of information for non-expert Etruscology. It is only through open
access content produced by expert scholars and presented in an
accessible manner that these kinds of stereotypes can be undermined
and blogging is an ideal method for accomplishing this.
The dangers of such misrepresentations are exposed fully in the
penultimate part of this paper. I analyse the development and
dissemination of an archaeological media storm focused on the
discovery of infant remains at one of the most complex sites of the
Etruscan world, Poggio Civitate. The presentation of the findings at the
American Institute of Archaeology conference was picked up on by
non-digital media, and presented entirely inaccurately. The nuances
and subtleties of the original argument were lost, and caution was
thrown to the winds by journalistic reporting. Subsequently, bloggers
weighed in to attack the interpretation offered for the presence of the
infant remains. The episode illustrates the problematic position of
specialist disciplines in an age of 24 hour news media, both on and
offline, but also the positives and pitfalls of blogging as archaeological
critique. The incident demonstrates the need for archaeologists to take
ownership of the presentation of our work in the media, developing nonacademic writing styles that nonetheless present complex information in
an accessible way. This need is at its most desperate in those disciplines,
like Etruscology, that present startling finds to the world, then abandon
them to inappropriate and inaccurate reporting based on stereotypes
and misconception. Large scale scholarly blogging could be a way to
resolve this pressing problem.
Discovering the Etruscan World
The most lasting image of the Etruscans is that they are somehow
other, foreign and strange. When one considers their position within the
classical world, this idea is not a surprising one. Rivals of the Greeks for
power in the western Mediterranean, the earliest classical sources
present the Etruscans as malign or predatory. Hesiod (Theogony 12.1.1)
describes the Etruscans, or Tyrsenoi, as being the descendants of
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Odysseus and Circe, the product of a union hemmed about with
unnatural power. Aristotle recounts (Pol. 3.19.1280a) the Etruscan
allegiance with Carthage, and their staunch defence of trade routes
around Corsica, preventing Greek settlers from establishing their
dominance in the area. The home lives of the Etruscans are also
discussed, most famously by Theopompus of Chios (Histories 115), who
uses accusations of sexual intrigue to question the right of Etruscan
families to their land. His description of Etruscan women as emboldened
and masculine, sexually voracious and untrustworthy, is a deliberate
action, simultaneously emphasising the barbarous ‘Otherness’ of these
people and hinting at the illegitimate nature of their rule.
These models were adapted and adopted by Roman authors,
including Livy (History of Rome 5.1 and 7.2). Yet, by the 1st century AD,
the strange behaviour of the Etruscans had become an object of
fascination. Three hundred years after the fall of Veii in 396 BC, an event
which marked the end of the Etruscan period of dominance in central
Italy, Etruscan religious practices and fortune telling are recounted by
the philosopher Lucretius (6.397-82). He relates the existence of carmina,
or books of divination, which record methods of interpreting lightning
strikes to tell the future. This is just one aspect of a wider Etruscan interest
in prediction, with a raft of methods from hepatoscopy (the study of the
liver of sacrificed animals) to observing the flight of birds. These
techniques were gathered together under the term “Etrusca disciplina”
(Colonna 2005). The retained value of these forms of arcane knowledge
developed the old Roman rivalries and antipathies into a more complex
form of estrangement, establishing the major stereotype of the
mysterious Etruscan. Strange and unknowable, separate from pragmatic
Roman practices, the Etruscan behaviours described by Lucretius are the
first hint of two thousand years of speculation and alienation.
These early descriptions of Etruscan religious mysteries were
elaborated in the 1st century AD. The Emperor Claudius himself compiled
a substantial volume on the history and religion of the Etruscans, perhaps
due to his own familial connections to old Etruscan families (Holleman
1988). The figure of the Etruscan haruspex, or fortune teller, was a
particular feature of Claudius’ interest, deepening the association
between Etruscan culture and mysterious religious practices. The
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uncanny accuracy of Etruscan soothsayers is illustrated in the legend
that it was a haruspex who provided Julius Caesar with his fatal warning
prior to his assassination (Rawson 1978). The survival of Etruscan religious
practices as a quasi-underground cult is attested to by inscriptions
naming individuals as haruspices, with examples written in the Etruscan
language surviving from the 2nd century AD (Freeman 1999). Etruscan
religion was still a force to be reckoned with during late antiquity,
although it remained a shadowy mystery cult, akin to that strange new
religion, Christianity. Both religions promoted the idea of an eternal
afterlife, although Etruscan beliefs suggested that this could be obtained
through sacrifice rather than faith and good works, and both
incorporated the figure of a central prophet, Tages in the Etruscan case
(Briquel 2007: 157).
As Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire, Etruscan
religion lost its influence and appeal, Etruscan texts disappeared or were
destroyed, and even the Claudian history was lost, adding an additional
level of separation between Etruscan culture and those who
encountered or considered its workings. Yet, the earlier inferences of
unearthly knowledge and mysteriousness remained attached to the
people who had developed these beliefs, now interpreted through the
prism of Christian disgust for pagan practices. Etruscan rulers and
magicians alike appear in Dante’s Divina Commedia (Schoonhoven
2010), where they are placed firmly in Inferno, condemned for their
torture of noble Roman kings (Paradiso IV: 84) and their warped beliefs
(Inferno XX: 46). The mysterious Etruscan had become a figure of horror
for Dante’s Christian audience. Attitudes towards Etruscan ancestors did
begin to change during the 14th and early 15th centuries as a rebellion
against an alienated papacy (Shipley 2013), and chroniclers (medieval
bloggers?) such as Leonardo Bruni revived images of the Etruscans as
originators of Italian culture (Ianziti 2007:249). This idea, however,
remained closely entwined with a vision of secret knowledge, and while
Florentines in particular grew increasingly engaged with their Etruscan
past, these ancestors continued to be presented as strange and
unknowable, albeit in an idealised rather than vilified fashion.
This interest was facilitated by the discovery of Etruscan artefacts in
Italy, the recording of these discoveries by chroniclers, and the
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establishment of collections of antiquities by wealthy families, such as the
Medici of Florence. Yet, the earliest recorded excavation of Etruscan
artefacts dates from the late 13th century, and establishes a second
clear trope which continues to be used in the modern world. During the
digging of foundations for an extended city wall at Arezzo, strange
objects were uncovered, painted vases that the chronicler Ristoro
d’Arezzo described as "blue and red...light and subtle, without
heaviness" (D’Arezzo 1872: 137). He presented these discoveries as a gift
from God, a divine sign of favour for the city of Arezzo. This is the second
major trope in Etruscan archaeology the idea that discoveries are
unusual events, rare survivals or extraordinary blessings from the past or
from the heavens. Starting with d’Arezzo, this stereotype continued
throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, reinforced by the regular
discovery and eventual systematic looting of Etruscan cemeteries
(Leighton 2004: 12). Intact tombs filled with immensely valuable objects
continued to be viewed as singular incidents, with the discovery of the
Regiolini-Galassi tomb at Cerveteri a case in point. Excavated in 1836 by
an unusual pairing of a priest and an architect, the golden jewellery
enclosed within this tumulus, alongside bronze and silver pieces and
pottery, was quickly purchased by the Vatican and enfolded within the
Church. The artefacts were displayed like relics, and never incorporated
into nuanced interpretations of the individuals who were buried with
them, the two bodies instantly assigned royal status and obscured by
their glorious grave goods. For English travellers and Grand Tourists, such
finds were objects of intrigue and desire, and these individuals gladly
adopted the twin conceptions of the Etruscans as mysterious, and the
excavation of their tombs as extraordinary (Chai 2011: 182-3; Pieraccini
2009: 7; Ramage 2011: 189).
As the 19th century went on, archaeologists turned to the historical
record to fit Etruscan discoveries into the sweeping dialectics of culture
history, and in doing so inadvertently added a further layer to the
mysterious Etruscan’s stereotype. Such wonderful artefacts as those
discovered at Regiolini-Galassi, clearly influenced by contact from the
eastern Mediterranean, could not have been made by the indigenous
peoples of Italy. The account of Herodotus, describing the Etruscans as
the result of a migration from Turkey (Histories 1:94), seemed entirely
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plausible. Yet as excavations grew more rigorous, this orthodoxy began
to crumble. The young Massimo Pallottino, the greatest Etruscologist of
the last century, began to argue for cultural continuity between
indigenous Villanovan peoples and the later Etruscan cities (Pallottino
1939, 1947). He suggested that trading connections had resulted in the
new Near Eastern styles, with the rich metal resources of Etruria used to
gain influence and luxury goods across the seas. While Pallottino’s
arguments fitted the archaeological evidence, the old adherence to
classical sources refused to die (Drews 1992; van der Meer 2004).
Linguistic evidence, too, was used to support the latter idea Etruscan is a
non-Indo European language, unrelated to any other indigenous Italian
tongue (Bonfante and Bonfante 2002; Wallace 2008). The result of these
academic arguments was confusion in public perceptions of Etruscan
origins. The fact that nobody seemed to agree on who these people
were and where they came from only added to their mystique.
Away from academic archaeology, another author was busily
compiling a travelogue which would pull together the strands of these
previous stereotypes, and construct his own vision of the Etruscan world
which would prove hugely influential. D.H. Lawrence had fled from the
constraints of middle class England during the 1920s, and hidden in
Tuscany with his scandalous new wife, Frieda, whose academic exhusband had once taught Lawrence. After a summer spent exploring
archaeological sites in Tuscany in 1927, Lawrence wrote his Sketches of
Etruscan Places, a passionate protest against the political situation of
fascist Italy and the constrained nature of the England he had fled. In this
work, the Etruscans were recast as rebellious heroes, hedonistic lovers of
pleasure and beauty, contrasted against the dull, militaristic Romans
who would overcome them. Lawrence’s writing is characteristically
lyrical, and the book was unsurprisingly influential. Building on a century
of miraculous discoveries and mystical origins, Lawrence’s intimate view
of the Etruscans added a compelling further vision; the Etruscan as
tormented, artistic victim, broken on the wheel of Roman rigour. This idea
could be incorporated perfectly with the initial conception of the
Etruscans as strange and other, now that they could appeal to those
outside traditional society, providing a past people to identify with.
Conspiracy theories and crypto-archaeology began to cling to the
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Etruscan world, and would only strengthen over the 20th century, before
bursting into life on the internet.
Etruscans Online
These three stereotypes the figure of the mysterious Etruscan, the
miraculous, God-given discovery and the beautiful rebel have now all
migrated online. To investigate the Etruscans through a search engine is
to dive into a mish-mash of all three ideologies, presented by non-expert
websites. The most problematic of these is
www.mysteriousetruscans.com, whose front page is illustrated in Figure 1.
The name of the site is a very obvious reference to the most powerful of
the three Etruscan stereotypes, and is deliberately chosen to appeal to
readers fascinated by the false mystery. For it is false, after a century of
well-organised, professional archaeological research, the Etruscans are
no more mysterious than any other people of the Iron Age. Indeed, they
could be considered better understood than many other cultural groups
of the period, certainly better than the peoples inhabiting Britain and
Ireland during this period, Celts or otherwise (Collis 2003, 1996a, 1996b).
Figure 1. Home page of www.mysteriousetruscans.com
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Yet, this knowledge has not migrated outwards from the increasingly
restricted journals. The major English language journal dedicated to
Etruscan archaeology, Etruscan Studies, ceased to be open-access in
2012, while the Italian language Studi Etruschi is not available online.
Even within these journals, the sub-discipline remains locked in
remorseless patterns of presentation, focused on the preparation of
typologies, the analysis of single artefacts and entrenched arguments.
They are the opposite of accessible academia, difficult to access and
difficult to understand. The frankly dull and repetitive patterns of
interpretation that are employed in academic Etruscan studies do not
translate well to the fast moving world of the internet. The archaeology is
left to be interpreted by non-experts, who are of course free to develop
and perpetuate their own vision of the past, one influenced by
stereotypes and outside perception, rather than deep study of the data
at hand. The promotion of emotive and non-factual responses to the
Etruscan world by D.H. Lawrence finds its successor on sites such as
Mysterious Etruscans and they colour the online reporting of anything to
do with the Etruscan world.
Mysterious Etruscans itself is by no means the worst example of this
kind of online media. While it presents information in a fashion
deliberately designed to support preconceptions of Etruscan otherness,
the site nonetheless does provide factual information. Other sources of
online Etruscology are not so rigorous. YouTube is a particular arena in
which Etruscan conspiracy theories can grow and spread. A video with
over 29,000 views declares that the Etruscans were lost Israelites who
ended up in Italy and “ruled Rome”
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdRLC_N2UDM cccvii). Another
video, which argues that the key to the Etruscan language was found in
a cave in Illinois considered by the filmmakers to be the tomb of
Alexander the Great
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_XiOKoV8QM cccviii), has had
over 26,000 views. It is impossible to know whether these thousands of
people were genuinely searching for information about the Etruscan
world, and whether they were convinced or confused by the strange
arguments presented to them. Such films are an inevitable extension of
the ideology which associates Etruscan culture with occult knowledge
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and strangeness, or which chooses to identify with the Etruscans as
underdogs and misfits of the ancient world.
One particular example of the warping of Etruscan archaeology
through online media involves excavations at the city of Orvieto, an
Etruscan and medieval stronghold, in the summer of 2012. Funerary
structures of an unusual pyramidal form were uncovered during
excavations led jointly by the Orvieto Archaeological Park and St
Anselm’s College, thought to date to at least the 5th century BC.
Instantly, the online reporting of the story referenced the classic Etruscan
stereotypes. Discovery News described the Etruscans as “one of
antiquity’s great enigmas” and followed this up with a reference to them
as a “fun loving and eclectic people” (Lorenzi 2012). However, these
speculative and inappropriate comments were only the first indication of
what was to come. The story was picked up by a far wider community
interested in crypto-archaeology, and ended up appearing on
www.muldersworld.com cccix , an X-files inspired website dedicated to the
paranormal. The opinions of the excavators and the Etruscan community
were steadily swallowed up by the Internet, with anyone seeking the
views of the archaeologists online due for disappointment.
Not Playing the Game
Any discovery which violates the code of mystery and idealism with
which the non-specialist reporting of the Etruscan world is likely to
provoke a strong reaction from these quarters. This was demonstrated by
the presentation at a professional conference of material from one of
the most important Etruscan sites, that of Poggio Civitate (Murlo). The
site, located on a hilltop about 20km south of Siena, was once
dominated by a monumental complex of buildings, deliberately
destroyed around the mid-6th century BC (Phillips 1993; Tuck et al 2010).
The site had been occupied prior to this phase of construction, with three
earlier, equally large-scale buildings destroyed by an accidental fire at
the end of the 7th century BC (Tuck and Nielson 2001), and evidence
suggesting even earlier occupation dating back to the Iron Age (Tuck,
Rodriguez and Glennie 2012). Excavations at the site began in the mid-
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1960s, under the direction of Kyle Meredith Phillips, and have continued
uninterrupted to the present day18.
In the summer of 2012, a project to re-analyse and categorise the
bulk bone finds from the site began, directed by Sarah Kansa. Kansa set
to work on the endless bags of bulk animal bone, excavated alongside
potsherds, terracotta tile and other artefacts from the monumental
complex and labelled by trench and context. She painstakingly ascribed
species to each fragment, pulling together a picture of the animals
being consumed at Poggio Civitate. However, during this process, Kansa
also encountered the remains of human infants, a discovery which
surprised everyone. They were found on the floor of one of the earlier 7th
century buildings, associated with domestic refuse, and were
fragmentary, mixed with animal bones, not indicative of a formal burial.
Site director Anthony Tuck, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst,
presented the findings at the American Institute of Archaeology Annual
Meeting in January 2013. He developed a careful and sophisticated
interpretation of why the infant remains might have ended up where
they did, arguing that high rates of infant mortality may have influenced
the treatment of their remains, and that infants did not qualify for full
Etruscan personhood (cf. Fowler 2001).
This story did not fit with the established tropes of Etruscan
archaeology. First, the remains were found in the course of reexamination, part of a long series of investigations, not in a “God-given”
miraculous single find. This long history of excavation ensured that there
was little mystery surrounding the remains, which were presented initially
in a matter of fact way, accompanied by a nuanced explanation.
Second, and most importantly, modern identification with Etruscan
people as romanticised rebels was halted in its tracks. How could
anyone choose to identify with a people who didn’t treat infants with the
18
I should say at this point that I have been part of the Poggio Civitate Project for the past four years.
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same adoration they receive in the Western world of the 21st century?
Etruscan websites and blogs ignored the story entirely, the discovery
simply did not fit with the vision of the past they wished to present. The
grisly details, however, appealed directly to the more general world of
archaeological blogging. “Baby bones found scattered in ancient Italian
village” screamed LiveScience (Pappas 2013), steadfastly not using the
word “Etruscan” in its headline. The Daily Mail online went one better,
attributing the remains to Romans (Smith 2013) in a spectacular example
of poor archaeological journalism. Osteoarchaeologists who had never
visited the site then critiqued the original work based on the press
coverage, with blogs such as “Bones Don’t Lie” (Meyers 2013) and “Past
Horizons PR,” (Killgrove 2013) arguing for the misinterpretation of the
remains, unknowingly supporting utopian models of the Etruscan past.
The entire episode illustrated the constricted situation of Etruscan
archaeology online, particularly compared with the earlier discovery in
Orvieto. The two stories garnered almost equal attention, but from two
very different communities. The pyramidal funerary structures were
exactly the kind of information which supported and appealed to the
stereotypes of Etruscan archaeology in the public eye and they were
embraced without question. The infant remains from Poggio Civitate
were mislabelled, misunderstood and criticised.I would suggest that this is
because they did not fit with the idealised mythologies and narratives
that reconstruct the Etruscan world online. The full information from the
excavation was published in the autumn of 2013 in Etruscan Studies,
behind the paywall of the journal’s publisher, allowing it to be ignored by
the non-specialist communities. Although the reaction to both finds was
very different, the end result was the same: an opportunity for the
general public to find out more about the realities of Etruscan
archaeology was lost. Overcome with speculation in the first case,
drowned out with criticism and misinformation in the second, two
discoveries that should have cleared the smoke and broken the mirrors
of Etruscan archaeology passed the public by. How many more will do
the same?
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Conclusion
I may have appeared, throughout this article, to consider much of
the online media surrounding the Etruscans as deeply negative,
promoting outdated stereotypes and developing and encouraging
emotive reactions to Etruscan archaeology. Yet, as I have also argued,
this situation is entirely due to the lack of engagement with the public by
Etruscan specialists. The literature remains exclusive in terms of both
access and content, particularly in the context of online knowledge and
research. These problems are not unique to Etruscan studies. Almost any
small sub-discipline in archaeology will have similar issues in
communicating itself to the public, and many others experience
problems with unfortunate preconceptions linked to mystery and
pseudoscience like pre-Columbian archaeology and Egyptology, to
name just two examples.
The only way for Etruscan scholars to improve both our own public
image, the information available online to the public and the perception
of the Etruscans by non-specialists, is to take action. I began this article
with a reference to my own blog, which I use not only to discuss the
Etruscan world, but other issues within archaeological practice. I have
had popular (well, for me; 200+ views is nothing special by comparison
with larger blogs) posts on some of the very issues discussed in this article:
the infant remains at Poggio Civitate and the issue of the trope of
mysterious Etruscans. Yet, I am deeply aware that my blog remains
undiscovered and unread by the majority of people who might find it
interesting. Other specialists are also making an effort to reach out to the
internet Classics Confidential have uploaded two video blogs on
YouTube featuring Etruscan scholar Dr Phil Perkins on the genetic
evidence for Etruscan origins
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEt1b0Zazfocccx), as have tourist
organisations such as Orvieto Viva
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SINkEE7Z7yMcccxi ) and museums
across the world. Yet all these individual videos have, like my blog,
experienced relatively little interest. All have fewer views than the
inaccurate videos discussed in this paper. Yet all are also simple format
lecture or question and answer videos, which cannot compete with the
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sensationalist views presented in their unprofessional rivals. They do not
capture the interest of the reader in the same way, and as such are
doomed to remain under appreciated and under watched.
I remain convinced that presenting accurate, nuanced information
online is the only way forward for Etruscan archaeology, and the only
possible method of exposing the misconceptions at the heart of what, to
me, are very tired stereotypes. However, the failure of simple videos to
beat off the myths of the Etruscans is unsurprising. New approaches to
presenting our knowledge must be developed in order to succeed in
sharing the Etruscan world online. It is only by making our content more
available, more compelling, more exciting, without sacrificing depth and
accuracy, which archaeologists can compete with pseudo-science
online. This is the great challenge for archaeology in the 21st century, yet
successful promotion and enjoyment of archaeological knowledge
through online media would soon have effects elsewhere, perhaps in
television and paper news reporting. If every excavation was
accompanied by a detailed blog by the team in question, this could
form the primary source for the inevitable non-specialist articles, whether
in digital or print format. By gathering together these different accounts
in a single forum, accompanied by pages dedicated to already
established information about Etruscan culture, the work of publicising
Etruscan archaeology could be shared out among many hands. A
group blog (a glog?), worked on by a community of scholars
determined to break away from myths, break the disciplinary silence and
share Etruscan archaeology of the world could be a solution. An
Etruscanpedia would gather together experts and younger scholars,
students and interested members of the public, and would break the
two thousand year old power of the image of the mysterious Etruscan
through the newer power of the Internet. It would take a vast amount of
cooperation, promotion and most of all time, but never having to hear
the Etruscans described as “Roman” again would be more than worth it.
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Websites Cited (last accessed 3/4/14)
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Mulders World
http://muldersworld.com/photo.asp?id=4406 cccxvii
Classics Confidential- Etruscan Genetics Part 1, feat. Dr Phil Perkins
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The Edgcumbe cannibal fork –
blogging a creative response
to the meanings of things
Katy Whitaker
Blog: http://artefactual.co.uk/ cccxviii
“The practice of kidnapping persons, on purpose to be eaten, proves
that this flesh is in high repute.” (Williams 1858, 211)
This short chapter describes the rationale behind one of my blog
posts (Whitaker 2014) which was inspired by an artistic intervention to a
display of Fijian cannibal forks at the University of Cambridge’s Museum
of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA). The blog post also tried to rise
to Mike Pitts’ (2013) recently blogged call to action for specialists in
general and archaeologists in particular to find better ways to
communicate about their work.
Pitts, editor of popular monthly magazine British Archaeology,
identifies the need for “a different form of writing and thinking” in the
face of, for example, thrill-seeking television programmes, in order to
engage a public interested in archaeology; and states that, far from
‘dumbing-down’, this new communication – using vehicles such as blogs
– will succeed if it focuses on “the stimulation of thought”. Just as the
MAA’s cannibal fork display represents a different way to stimulate
thought in the museum’s visitors, I experimented with a way to prompt
questions about artefacts and archive material through blogging.
Cannibal forks
Created in the Autumn of 2010, “Tall Stories: Cannibal Forks” was an
intervention into the MAA display of Fijian cannibal forks, led by Arts and
Humanities Research Council Creative Fellow, Alana Jelinek. It comprises
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of 26 new forks carved in native British greenwood by museum staff and
their colleagues, displayed alongside the historical forks carved in Fiji in
wood from native palm tree species. Jelinek (2010) intended that the
resulting artwork would prompt consideration of “why and how we think
what we think.” As well as videoing their craft activity the participants
also exchanged and recorded their knowledge about the creation and
use of the historical forks that are curated in the museum’s anthropology
collections. Since then Jelinek has developed a series of art exhibitions
and interventions designed to explore ideas of story-telling and
knowledge; myth-making, fact-sharing, knowledge-transfer –
considerations of the facts that people choose to learn and choose to
recount.
Fijian cannibal forks are potent objects to experiment with in this
regard. They are contested objects whose histories are coloured by
accounts of barbarous behaviour by the Fijian people. So terrifying were
the observations of Fijian cannibalism made by Thomas Williams (a midnineteenth century missionary in Fiji) for example, that his editor felt it
necessary to print a caveat to Williams’ (1858, 214) descriptions,
“It is but just to state, that much detail and illustrative incident
furnished by the author on this subject, have been withheld, and
some of the more horrible features of the rest repressed or softened.”
This reassurance following such graphic reports as mutilated victims
being made to watch parts of their dismembered bodies being cooked,
candid descriptions of human butchery methods, and accounts of
cannibals made famous for the numbers of people they claimed to
have eaten (Williams 1858, 205-214)!
Cannibal fork hermeneutics are reflected in the MAA catalogue, in
which each record grows and expands as new information is made
available. The record for cannibal fork 1955.246 is a typical example of
the developing interpretive cycle. Collected by Sir Arthur Gordon
(Governor of Fiji from 1875 to 1880; Francis 2011) and given to Baron von
Hügel (who became the museum’s founding curator in 1883, and who
had also spent time in Fiji; Allot 2012), this fork and associated objects
were listed in the Faculty Board of Archaeology and Anthropology’s
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Annual Report on the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, List of
Accessions to the Museum, 1955-56. As the compiler of the Accession
Record noted, “The Duckworth Laboratory [Leverhulme Centre for
Human Evolutionary Studies, Cambridge] possesses some of the bones of
the last man to be eaten in Fiji, so the addition to the Museum's
collection of Fijian cannibal forks is considered very appropriate” (1956,
1). The implication of the 1950s record is that cannibal fork meanings
inherited from the nineteenth-century were not being questioned; these
were the objects used by those Fijians who had practiced cannibalism,
to share and feast on human flesh.
In 2011 the meaning of fork 1955.246 and others in the catalogue
started to shift – or accrete – as a more nuanced and scholarly addition
was made to the record, quoting Fergus Clunie’s interpretation of the
Fijian terminology for cannibal forks which suggests that the names
“have been more of an explanatory term applied when explaining what
they were used for to outsiders rather than terms applied amongst
themselves by people native to the areas in which the forks were used”
(MAA Catalogue). As Jelinek (2010) concluded from her research
following her first encounter with the museum’s holdings, that whilst
based on a real object used in ritual feeding, many (perhaps all?) of the
forks collected in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries were
produced to satisfy the predilections and prejudices of the missionaries,
ethnologists and tourists who brought them home to Europe (see for
example Arens 1980 and Obeyesekere 2005).
As they carved their new forks and discussed the knowledge and
stories that they held in mind, the “Tall Stories” project participants
moved the record on further when their greenwood forks were
accessioned to the museum collections. The ongoing craft activity –
literally telling stories around the camp fire or basking in the late Summer
sun whilst whittling, if photographs of the developing project are a good
representation (Jelinek 2012) – provided the reflective context in which,
whilst hands were occupied, knowledge could be collected, developed
and exchanged through conversation. The outcomes could then be
shared with a wider audience – the museum’s visitors – through the
artwork.
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Blogging a cannibal fork story
I saw in this an opportunity to explore the wider nature of the
information that we use when trying to understand objects. Drawing on
my professional career in archaeological archives, my woodworking
practice, and inspired by the MAA artwork (thus demonstrating the
achievement of Jelinek’s aim), I started to make cannibal forks and to
think about primary evidence from archival sources – in addition to
reports, travellers’ tales, antiquarian inventories – that might bear upon
fork meanings.
Whilst I concede that the museum’s new cannibal forks are intended
to be interpreted in the site-specific context of their display alongside the
historical objects, they are nevertheless too young to have accumulated
the time-deep museum paraphernalia of document, written record,
note, photograph, drawing and publication that, following their
collection, contributes to Fijian fork meanings. The new fork biographies
are shorter. There are perhaps fewer facts to interpret and dispute. Yet,
what chapters are missing from the biographies of the historical Fijian
forks? What parts of their stories cannot be told for want of testimony left
by their carvers and their various owners, for example?
In our world of online catalogues and digitised archive material, a
blogpost seemed an appropriate way to try to communicate a cannibal
fork story through not only the fork itself, but also additional elements of
gathered archive. Blogs provide a flexible way to work with multiple
digital media. This resulted in my creation of the Edgcumbe cannibal fork
blog post.
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Object type: fork
Museum number: MAEB:1987.11.622
Description: four-pronged Cannibal Fork made of wood, 290mm x 53mm
x 53mm
Materials: wood
Technique: carved
Acquisition Date: 1987
Notes: Donated by the Edgcumbe family (see correspondence file 198711-EDG), claimed to be a Fijian cannibal fork
The fork’s museum catalogue photograph and caption are
presented alongside transcribed manuscripts and scanned documents
dating from 1841, sourced from three different archives, including: a
transcribed diary entry; a transcribed letter; a digitised copy of a
General Register Office registration of death; and a digitised newspaper
article. These items give contradictory evidence about the fork,
suggesting different ways that it has been or could be interpreted and
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understood. Certain elements in the archive material can, should the
reader care to make enquiries, be established as factual by referring to
other sources that are readily accessed online.
Finally, a gallery of photographs that show stages in the object’s
manufacture confirm that the artefact is in fact recently carved; and
allow the reader who is interested in understanding manufacturing and
technical processes – common archaeological and historical interests –
to unpick at least part of the fork’s chaîne opératoire. The evidence,
presented under a lurid title, “My brother was eaten by cannibals”,
which reflects intentionally the tenor of the Victorian ethnography, is
intended to prompt questions about the information that we depend on
to make sense of things; and from those things, to make sense of the
past.
The completed post can be found at:
http://artefactual.co.uk/2014/02/26/my-brother-was-eaten-bycannibals/ cccxix
Small steps towards a big conversation
For archaeological organisations and individuals who want to
engage with an increasingly internet-literate audience, the flexibility to
present a rich mixture of text, images, web-links and other media, and
the various evaluation tools with which to assess both quantitative and
qualitative impact on readers should make blogs a very attractive and
powerful communication medium. Blogs enjoy a more immediate and
convenient means of evaluation than most museums enjoy in judging
the impacts of a display – with the added advantage that interaction
over time with any given blog post is also captured. Blogs come with
tools and techniques to make posts more searchable and “findable”. As
Pitts (2013) observes, an archaeological blog post can be just as high
quality as a more traditional journal article, yet have a far wider reach to
a potentially limitless online audience.
Nevertheless, the audience that an established museum can, to
some extent, take for granted needs to be found by the bloggers
themselves. Also, a museum can target its evaluation activities to
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guarantee a response from visitors in person, whilst with an online blog, a
visitor can remain silent. For archaeological blogs to live up to their
promise to reach out and to engage, they must be read and responded
to.
It is outside the scope of this brief article to begin to assess the
demographics of archaeologically-themed social media use or to
analyse the consumption of blogged archaeological content. Whilst
archaeologists blog for a range of different reasons, and so will expect to
communicate with a varied audience which could range from the tens
to the thousands, blogging offers an unrivalled opportunity to connect
and to communicate. We can inform our readership of archaeological
issues and questions without a dependency on traditional forms of
communication, such as a capricious mainstream broadcast media.
My blog’s digital medium gave me a way to experiment with a
creative response to object meaning, and I look forward to using the
blog platform’s tools to find out who comes across the Edgcumbe
cannibal fork, and what they think of it. It is too early, however, for me to
judge that blog post’s impact. Just as my response to Alana Jelinek’s
intervention at MAA has come some four years after the artwork’s
creation, archaeologists’ blog posts might prove to have the most
impact in the long term. I contend that we must take a long view. The
archaeological community, in its broadest sense, is already taking
advantage of the benefits that blogging can bring to building
relationships. Yet beyond the exciting immediacy of a still-young
medium, we should consider how we curate our online presence to
have the best chance, over time, to effect the stimulation of thought in
new readers around the world.
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Whitaker, K. (26 February 2014) “My brother was eaten by cannibals”
[online] Artefactual http://artefactual.co.uk/2014/02/26/my-brother-waseaten-by-cannibals/cccxxv [accessed 10 March 2014]
Williams, T. (1858) Fiji and the Fijians: The Islands and their Inhabitants
London: William Nichols
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Fired Twice for Blogging and
Social Media: Why CRM Firms
are Afraid of Social Media
Chris Webster
Blog: http://www.digtech-llc.com/blog/ cccxxvi
During the 2011 Society for American Archaeology Meeting in
Sacramento, California I attended a session called “Blogging
Archaeology”. I’d heard of blogs before but hadn’t read any regularly. I
wasn’t even on Twitter. At the start of the session the chair, Coleen
Morgan, had a slide up showing the conference hashtag for Twitter,
among other things. That pretty much changed my life.
Before the first paper started, I’d signed up to Twitter for the first time
and @ArcheoWebby was born. Instantly, I was transported to the
conference back-channel by following the #SAA2011 Twitter hashtag.
People were having conversations about papers they were seeing. There
were people not even in attendance that were interacting with people
tweeting from the conference. A new world of possibilities was opening,
but that was just the beginning.
After a very enlightening session that fateful Saturday afternoon I
went right back to my hotel room and started a blog called, “Random
Acts of Science”. I’d been thinking of starting something like that for a
while and the session was the final straw. How could I not participate in
this behind-the-scenes action? It’s the same way I felt when I found out
about geocaching. What do you mean there are little treasure boxes
hidden all over the world and all around me?
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Fired Once
When I started Random Acts of Science (RAoS) I was working for a
medium-sized cultural resource management (CRM) firm out of Reno,
Nevada. The firm was based in Colorado, but, Reno was one of the
bigger offices. I was a Crew Chief and had a mediocre level of
responsibility. I was very cautious regarding blogging about my work and
took care in not revealing anything sensitive. I’ll cover sensitivity of
archaeological information in a few pages.
It was blog post number seven that did it for me. We were on a
project in central Nevada and I’d seen an article in the local paper
about the history of the town we were in, Tonopah. I decided to write a
blog post about the history of Tonopah and the resurgence of mining in
the area. The article mentioned the mining company we were working
for, so, that was no secret. Using information available on the mining
company’s website, I created a post that talked about what they were
doing in the town and what we were doing on the survey.
The post went largely unnoticed for a couple months. Then, I sent an
email to my boss asking if he could put me in contact with some agency
officials so I could ask them some questions for a blog post I was working
on. Within a few days, after not hearing anything about the email I sent, I
received an email from my boss. The subject line was “conditions for
termination”. That’s right, they fired me by email!
I immediately called the owner of the company in Colorado. He said
I was fired because I broke confidentiality by mentioning that we were
on a survey for a client. The fact that the client was talking about the
project to the local media was beside the point. The company had a
zero tolerance policy about breaking client confidentiality, which I was
not aware of. I’m sure I signed something in the confusing mountain of
paperwork when I was hired, but that had been nearly a year prior to this
incident.
There was no going back. They wouldn’t listen and wouldn’t hire me
back even if I took the post down. In fact, I did take the post down, butI
put it back up when I realized I was never going back. Within a couple
weeks I had a new job and a new appreciation for the
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apprehensiveness companies can have against social media, or so I
thought.
Fired Twice
My next job was with another Reno company. This one was a bit
smaller and had just the one office in Reno. Years earlier this was the first
company I’d worked for in the Great Basin.
By the time I started working with company number two I was using
Twitter and Instagram, in addition to blogging, quite extensively. This
came into play when we were on a project on a mine in central
Nevada.
In CRM,when you go on a mine and it’s been a year or more since
you worked on the mine you have to do what’s called “site specific”
training. It’s part of the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
training you have to get before even stepping foot on the mine. Often,
the training from the mine is all about how they are great for the
environment,how mining is good for all, and it’s all sunshine and roses.
Well, I have a blog now, so I thought I’d write a little story about it.
I found the mine on Google Earth first. Then, I looked back in the
satellite image history and found the mine area about 10-15 years earlier.
I put both in a blog post. Keep in mind, the blog post didn’t mention that
I was working on a mine, didn’t mention what company I was working
for, and didn’t mention the name or location of the mine. So, there was
no identifying information at all. I wrote about how the site specific
training I’ve had always had a touch of arrogance from the mine
company and a little too much hyperbole. You get tired of hearing them
brag about how good they are for the environment while you’re sitting in
a hole the size of a mountain.
A few days after I posted the blog entry I got a call from the Principal
Investigator (P.I.) at the company. She was furious! She said the post was
way out of line and that I should take it down immediately. I asked her
what in particular was bad about it and she couldn’t even tell me. All she
said was to take it down. Well, I had bills to pay so I complied, but I
didn’t, and still don’t, know exactly what was wrong with the post. The
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mine company would never be able to tell that an employee of a subcontractor wrote the post and that is assuming they could even find the
post online. There was literally no defining information in it whatsoever.
That’s not what got me fired, however.
A few months went by and we were still on the same project. I hadn’t
written any more blog posts about the mine, or, about the project we
were on. I was, however, using Instagram and Twitter to send out
interesting photographs of projectile points and other artifacts. We were
finding a lot of intact points on the project and it was fun sharing them
with the world via social media.
Of course, when I took the photos I made sure that GPS and location
services were turned off on my iPhone so the meta data in the picture
would not contain any coordinates. I also made sure to not mention any
location data in the posts. Finally, I never took a photo with geographic
features in the background. I didn’t want someone to be able to find
these locations at all.
At some point, though, I connected the social networking app
Foursquare to my Instagram account. Foursquare is a check-in app and
lets people know where you are. It also connects with other applications,
like Instagram, and will insert a place name into your photos if you want
it too. When I’d connected Foursquare it automatically reconnected my
location services. Apparently, I sent out a picture on Instagram and
Twitter with the name of the mine tagged in it. The mine was autotagged by Foursquare and I missed it.
The company waited until we got back to Reno at the end of the
session to tell me about all this. I was called into the PI’s office and she
told me about the tweet. I almost didn’t believe it and had to go back
and check. Sure enough, I’d tagged the mine in the tweet. She said it
was my second infraction, which they don’t normally give, and that she
had to let me go. At least she called it a lay-off in case I wanted to go
on unemployment.
What was wrong with the tweet, really? Well, since the mine was only
tagged with a location then probably not much. If they’d searched their
own name (the name of the mine) then they might have seen it. What
would they have seen? They would have seen a projectile point, or a
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sunrise, or some meal I had for lunch; the usual stuff you see on
Instagram. Would that have broken their confidentiality agreement that I
didn’t know existed? Maybe. Would it have caused any actual harm to
me, my company, or the mine? Certainly not. If anything, it showed that
they were being attentive stewards to the land and that they were
doing the right thing by having it surveyed.
Confidentiality
Now we get to confidentiality agreements. Almost every company
has something in place that you sign that says you won’t share
information you gain while employed with the company. They also often
have a clause that says something about not talking about client
information, which includes even naming the client in public, and not
releasing any information about project specific details.
Are confidentiality agreements useful? Yes. Do we need them? Yes.
Should they be re-written for the digital age? Absolutely. Having a
blanket statement that says, “The first rule about archaeology is that you
don’t talk about archaeology” isn’t really the way to do things. Part of our
responsibility as professionals should be to relay our experiences to the
public so everyone can learn something about the land they live on.
Companies need to rethink their confidentiality and social media
policies to reflect the world we live in.
Looting
A common concern I’ve heard regarding blogging and photosharing archaeological sites and artifacts is that they’ll be more
accessible to looters. This is a valid concern and companies should make
a concerted effort to establish parameters for sharing prior to any field
project. The information could be disseminated at the same time safety
information and project information is given out.
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Some restrictions related to blogging and photo-sharing include:
•
•
•
•
•
Disable location services on your smart phone.
o Photos are often “tagged” with a latitude and longitude
and a savvy looter can obtain those meta data with the
right software.
Don’t include prominent geographic features in your
photographs.
o If you’re taking a photo of an archaeological site, angle
the camera down slightly so the mountain ranges in the
distance are not visible. It’s unlikely that the exact
location of the site could be determined by triangulating
the location based on distinct features, but it’s not
entirely implausible. Better safe than sorry.
Never include client information.
o Unless a client specifically says they want to draw
attention to their project, don’t mention them. Often, we
work on projects on land that is in the process of being
purchased, or is in dispute in one way or another. The
client my not be ready to disclose their involvement with
the land, and their wishes should be respected.
Be vague about location
o When I post a photograph, or discuss a project, I refer to
the location in extremely vague terms. I say, “central
Nevada” or “somewhere north of I-80 in northern
Nevada”. I never give detail that could locate the
project within 50-100 miles of the actual location. Never
reveal a nearby town, county, or geographic feature.
Wait until the project is over and no one cares.
o Sometimes you just have to wait. Most, if not all,
blogging platforms give you the ability to schedule a
post. Write the post while it’s fresh in your mind, then
schedule it out six months to year. When it finally posts it
will be a pleasant surprise and there is a good chance
that none of the concerned parties will care, or even
notice.
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o You can’t really do the same with photos on Instagram
or other social media sites. What you can do is schedule
a calendar appointment for six to twelve months out to
remind you to post photos of artifacts or features. This will
ensure that no one will be concerned about your posts.
More than likely, you won’t even be working for the
company that did the work anymore.
There are other concerns, of course. These, however, are some of the
most important ones that I’ve come across in my experience. If a
company you work for doesn’t have a social media policy, suggest to
them that they create one and maybe show them this chapter.
Public Outreach and Archaeological Responsibility
I always say that our job as professional archaeologists is only half
done when the fieldwork is done and the report is written. We have an
obligation to disseminate additional information about the project on
various platforms. Of course, you need to write this into your proposals
and contracts so clients are aware that you’ll be sharing data and
information collected on their land. More often than not, you’ll get the
permission. You only have to ask.
I make a policy to disclose information about a project on at least
one platform that is accessible by more than a few people. This can
include:
Blog entry
Journal article
Conference presentation
Conference poster
Photo series on a popular photo-sharing site
Article on acedemia.edu cccxxvii
Public presentation at a local event
Website
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Book
Numerous other outlets — be creative!
Blogging and Social Media Tools
As mentioned above, there are many ways you can teach the
public and colleagues about your fascinating archaeology project.
Blog. Starting a blog is probably the easiest, and most flexible, way to
disseminate information about a site or project. With a blog you can
include photographs, videos, commentary, data tables, and almost
anything else. Blogs can be distributed to a number of media and social
media outlets and can provide a potentially limitless audience.
Youtube. Making videos is simpler than you might think. A video can
be produced using camera-phone footage, a PowerPoint or Keynote
presentation, or of a series of photographs. It doesn’t have to be
complicated. If the video is titled and tagged for maximum search
engine optimization (SEO) then it could be seen by millions of people.
Monetize your videos and you just might fund the next ones.
Instagram. Instagram can be a great tool for publicizing your
company and your projects. Using hashtags, photographs can be
searchable by the millions of users of Instagram. From this platform, you
can also post your photographs and short (15 seconds) videos to Twitter
and Facebook. It’s staggering how many people can be reached by this
one simple, free, platform. The opportunity for public engagement is
astounding.
Facebook and Twitter. I’m including these two popular social media
platforms because they accomplish essentially the same goals. They
both give you the ability to reach a massive audience, but Facebook
allows you to write longer descriptions and have more meaningful
comments and dialogue with the public.
Both Facebook and Twitter utilize hashtags for searching. However,
as of this writing the Facebook hashtag has limitations. Unless the post is
public, and most are not, the hashtag will not be searchable by people
you aren’t “friends” with on Facebook. Twitter, on the other hand,
functions almost exclusively on hashtags. The #archaeology community
on Twitter is vibrant and prolific. I don’t need to follow all of the people
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that might post about archaeology as long as they include
#archaeology in their posts. Sometimes you have to be creative with a
Twitter post, since you only have 140 characters to work with. There are
some changes possible on the horizon, though. It is rumored that Twitter is
going to stop including hashtags and user names in your character
count. This will really increase the posting potential of a single tweet.
Facebook groups are where the real power lies. Two groups, the
Archaeology group and the Archaeo Field Techs group, both have
thousands of members. Not all of the members are archaeologists,
although many are. These groups give you the ability to reach a wider
audience than just your “friends list”. Observe the rules of the groups,
though. Some don’t allow certain kinds of posts and like you to stay on
topic.
New platforms. By the time this eBook comes out, or whenever you
get around to reading it, there will probably be some new, hot, platform
for posting and bragging. If you’re concerned with public archaeology
and with education you’ll stay on top of the latest trends. Just make sure
you’ve always got a 20 year old college student as an intern and put
them in charge of social media. That will ensure you’re always on top of
the next big thing and that your company will stay relevant.
Summary
Social media doesn’t have to be scary. Companies don’t have to
worry that their employees will post something that is either unethical or
will lose them a contract. What they need to do is be pro-active with
social media. Show the employees that they want to participate and
actively put in place policies that encourage the dissemination of
archaeological information in a safe and respectful manner. Acting like
the old man on the porch yelling, “get off my digital lawn!” is a sure way
to alienate not only your young employees and temporary field
technicians, but, the public as well. I firmly believe that if we, as
archaeologists, were freer with our archaeological information that
shows like “American Diggers” and “Nazi War Diggers” wouldn’t exist, or
have such a massive audience. People would see them as we do, as
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unethical looters. Instead, show the public that archaeology can be fun
and informative, without destroying sites or removing artifacts. It’s our
duty to present archaeology in a fun and interesting way. Almost
everyone I’ve ever talked to has said that they wish they could have
been an archaeologist. Let the world know what it’s like!
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Running An Archaeology
Blogging Carnival - A Postmortem
Doug Rocks-Macqueen
Blog: http://dougsarchaeology.wordpress.com/ cccxxviii
This chapter is going to be a post-mortem, of sorts, on running a
digital collaborative event. Reading the introduction to this book you will
be aware that it came out of the efforts to increase participation for a
session on blogging and social media at the 2014 Society for American
Archaeology (SAA) Conference in Austin. This book was not the only
attempt to involve a wider audience beyond those who could attend
the SAA conference. In the months leading up to the session, I created
and ran a blogging carnival whose purpose was, to quote the tag line of
the carnival, to bring the SAA blogging session to the Blogosphere. What
follows are my recollections, insights, and lessons learned from running a
Blogging Carnival of Archaeologists, known by its Twitter hashtag as
#blogarch. It is both a personal narrative of my experience with
#blogarch and a “lessons-learned” guide for others hoping to run similar
events.
What is a Blog Carnival
A blogging carnival is essentially a collaborative project amongst
bloggers. While this may sound cliché, it is not, no two blog carnivals are
alike. That means what I describe as a blogging carnival is a generic
description, not hard facts that can be used to characterize what is and
is not a blog carnival. Essentially, a blogging carnival is an event were
bloggers, using their personal blog, discuss a particular subject or
subjects. These responses or links to these responses are then correlated
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into a single location, on-line and usually on one of the participating
blogs, where everyone else can see what the participants said. It is like a
modern day salon where everyone is brought together to discuss a topic
or topics, though the meeting space is digital.
Typically, a single blogger will post the topic to be discussed on their
blog as a call to participate. They may then solicit responses from other
bloggers through email, phone calls, social media, etc. or just use the
calling post as a way to garner interest. A deadline will be set and then
after it has passed the blogger who posted the subject will make another
post of all the responses. This can take the form of just hyperlinks to the
relevant posts on other blogs, a narrative describing the points made by
others with links, or a multitude of other ways of presenting the results.
What they all have in common though, are hyperlinks back to the
participants so that others can see what they wrote and potentially learn
more about the author(s) and their blog(s). Some of these carnivals are
one off events while overs run for months or years with the responsibility
of posting a new topic and collecting responses moving between
participants, one blogger running it one week and another blogger
running it the next.
What Do We Know About Blogging Carnivals
We know almost nothing about blogging carnivals. The published
literature on the topic is non-existent. Though I have found reference to
them in some papers this is almost exclusively as a side note and as far as
my research has found there are no formal examinations of the
phenomenon. This might be the first “formal” examination of a blog
carnival outside of the Blogosphere. It also may be the last, unless an
ethnographer decides to take up the cause. While publications are
scarce on the topic, making this simply hearsay, it appears, at least from
others in the Blogosphere that blog carnivals are going extinct.
Archaeology Blog Carnivals
There have been several previous blog carnivals before this one that
have involved archaeologists. The most well-known was, Four Stone
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Hearth, cccxxix an anthropology blogging carnival that did include
archaeologists, but was not exclusive to archaeology. It was a rotating
carnival in which different blogs would pick a topic every few weeks.
According to the website it ran for several years, from October of 2006 to
June 2011, through 120 different topics (FSH 2014). Dr. Colleen Morgan
ran a similar event to #blogarch about Blogging and Archaeology
(Morgan 2011). It was undertaken in the run up to a 2011 SAA session on
blogging and it only ran for a few weeks leading up to the event. My
carnival took great inspiration from the 2011 SAA carnival, as discussed
below. Another one off carnival was one run by Matt Law about
Mistakes in Archaeology (Law 2013a, 2013b) (see call cccxxx and
responses cccxxxi ). Given the ephemeral nature of the Internet, it is quite
possible I am missing other carnivals that have since disappeared, but
essentially, archaeology blogging carnivals have been one off events or
archaeologists have joined larger ones encompassing a more diverse
range of bloggers, e.g. Four Stone Hearth.
Precedent and Support
A search of the Internet will bring up some resources and “How-To”
guides for carnivals. However, there is not much advice on the topic.
Moreover, most of the advice one finds on the Internet is so generic that
it is not helpful. Most describe what a carnival is and make
recommendations like giving your carnival a name, but beyond that
there is no depth. Most of the advice is how to use a carnival to get links
to rank higher on Google searches. Because of this lack of in-depth
guidance most of the steps I took were based on of the examples set by
those few existing archaeology blog carnivals and a “trial & error”
methodology.
Idea for a Blogging Carnival
In 2011, Colleen ran the first #blogarch carnival as a lead up to her
session on blogging at the 2011 SAA conference. Having participated, I
was exposed to the idea of a blog carnival. However, I did not think
about creating one until Chris Webster, noted author of Random Acts of
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Science cccxxxii and CRM podcast, cccxxxiii decided to run another session
on archaeology blogging at this year’s SAAs. You can read Chris’
chapter for a brief mention of how he was exposed to blogging at
Colleen’s first Blogging Archaeology SAA session. I had planned on
participating in the 2014 Blogging Archaeology session, even writing an
abstract for the session. However, living in Scotland I found it was not
financially feasible to attend on my budget.
Yet, I was very interested in contributing in some way. After the
deadline for submitting abstracts and participating in the SAAs had
passed, Chris and I had a conversation before one of the CRM podcasts
and he mentioned making an e-book out of the session papers and
asking several other people to contribute, me being one of them. That
idea is what led to this book, but beyond the book the idea of including
those outside of the SAA session led me to think about ways to include a
wider audience too. One of the ideas was to do a carnival along the
lines of the one I had participated in several years earlier, the first
#blogarch, and thus the carnival was born. I would start a blog carnival
on the subject of blogging in archaeology to get more people to
participate and join in on the conversation about the topic.
Planning a Carnival
Was there a plan? Yes, do a blog carnival. That was the basic
summary of my plans. As already mentioned, I had participated in a
carnival before and the Internet did not provide especially helpful
information on running one. This led me to be a bit over confident as I
believed that having been a participant I could run a carnival. Instead
of planning the full carnival out I decided to just jump in, feet first, and
run the carnival, except I didn’t. I had intended on starting the carnival
in October 2013 and for it to run monthly but missed the beginning of the
month, an auspicious start. In fact, I missed the first of November as well
but decided I needed to get it out there so I launched it on November
5th i.e. remember, remember the 5th of November.
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The Launch
I launched the Carnival with a blog post cccxxxiv explaining about why
I was doing it, wider participation around the topic of blogging and
archaeology, and a set of brief instructions:
Each month leading up to the SAAs I will post a question. If you
would like to answer this question, blog about it. Tell us your
thoughts and opinions. Please steal the banner above, and link
back to this post (wordpress alerts me to links).
Colleen had done her carnival as a weekly event but I wanted to have
more time than a few weeks prior to the SAA conference to build
momentum and I was not sure I could commit four or five weeks in a row
leading up to the conference, as April is a very busy month for me. I had
decided I would do mine monthly. Other instructions were:
Also, email me or post the link in the comments (either here or the
post with the questions on it). This is so I know about your post and
can link to it.
At the end of the month, I will summarize all of the post and add
links so that folks can find them all in one place. Hopefully, this will
allow us to highlight some great archaeology blogs
I then had to quickly amend those instructions, as they were not clear, to
include these additional clarifications:
EDIT- Kelly asked- ‘Is there any obligation to take part every
month?’ Absolutely not, take part as many or as few times as you
want. If there is a question you really like, blog about it. If it does
not particularly interest you, wait till the next month. It is all up to
you.
EDIT- You do not have to be interested in going to the SAAs or an
American to participate. We want everyone who blogs or who
are interested in blogging to participate, regardless of
geographic location.
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Moreover, I had never thought of creating a Twitter Hashtag for the
event. This was quickly sorted out by others on Twitter and it was decided
to use the previous hashtag used for Colleen’s Carnival, #blogarch. This
in turn became the defacto name of the carnival.
Recruitment
Over the course of the carnival several people commented on the
high number of respondents, 70+ for some questions. The past carnivals,
the ones I had mentioned earlier, had participation in the single digits or
at best less than two dozen. I wish I could say that this happened
because a lot of people read my blog or that my single post announcing
the carnival was enough to create a storm of participation. I wish I could
say archaeologists have become more interconnected and that the
blog carnival spread like wildfire, but that would be only half true. The
other half of that truth is that it took a lot of work to advertise it. I had a
list of 350+ archaeology/archaeology-related blogs, not all of them still
blogging but it was a starting point. Towards the end of November I took
out this list and started contacting the bloggers. This meant looking at
their blog, trying to find contact information, Googling names, etc. just to
get the info to contact them. While I did find some emails, many times it
was hard to find people's contact information. Sometimes this meant
leaving comments on blogs, using Twitter (because it is not creepy
having a stranger message you on twitter about a blogging carnival),
even Facebook messaging (again, not awkward). For around 180 of
these blogs I could find no contact information, at least after searching
for 10-15 minutes. However, I ended up personally contacting 135
archaeology bloggers, archaeobloggers for short. Only rarely did I leave
comments on blogs.
Out of the 72 blogs that participated in the first month a total of 28
(39%) were unsolicited, at least personally by me. That means that there
is some interconnection among Archaeobloggers/Facebook/Twitter
where these bloggers saw others posting and decided to participate.
However, that means 44 (61%) of the participants were ones I personally
messaged about participating. I am not sure if the number of unsolicited
responses would have been so high if they had not seen the
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posts/tweets/mentions from the others. It creates a bit of a feedback
effect. If I had not done personal solicitations the first month, which had
the greatest participation, there would have been around two dozen
participants. It took a lot of work to get this carnival to the level that it
reached. Also, that meant that there were 91 bloggers that I contacted
who did not participate in the first month, though several did later on.
Questions Asked
Here is a brief look at the questions asked and why. For the first month
I asked a series of questions:
Why blogging?
Why are you still blogging?
In the interest of trying to expand the potential users and to add another
perspective to the responses I also asked:
Why have you stopped blogging?
This last question was aimed at some blogs that had gone dormant. I
specifically approach several blogs that had not blogged in a long
while, several months to several years, to see if they would participate.
The following questions were asked for the other months:
December- The good, the bad, and the ugly of blogging. Participants
could blog about any of these themes.
January- What are your best (or if you want, your worst) post(s) and why?
February- Was an open question. Participants could blog about any
subject they wanted to that related to archaeology blogging.
March- The future of blogging. Participants were encourage to blog
about the future of their blog or the future of archaeology blogging in
general.
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Reasons for Choosing Questions
The reason I choose the “why blog” question as the first question was
because I thought it would be a good start to the carnival. Overall, most
of the questions for each month were thought up at the last moment.
This is not to say that a lot of thought did not go into them, it did. After
posting a question I would then spend the next month thinking about
what the next question would be. Sometimes this work out to be great,
other times the question was a bit sub-par.
The Good, the bad and the ugly was a play on the movie of the
same name. I thought it would be good to see what people liked or
disliked about blogging. January’s question was meant to be a way for
people to showcase some of their best work. Blogs tend to be followed in
a linear fashion. Once someone starts following a blog they will read
each new post. However, older posts are not always read. I thought this
would provide an opportunity for people’s older work to be brought into
the light. The last question, looking towards the future seemed like a
positive way to end the carnival, at least to me. It would be a way for us
to think about the future instead of the past.
Killing the Carnival
In February we announced a call for papers for this book. I had
thought of using that month’s question as a possible way for people to
create practice runs, review ideas, or even start first drafts of papers to
go into the book as part of #blogarch. Because this book had only the
most general of themes, nothing that could be converted to a single set
of questions for #blogarch, I made February’s question an open call to
post about anything on blogging. It was a complete failure. That month
only received 12 responses compared to:
November - 73
December - 59
January - 42
March - 49
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Several of the respondents commented that they were not going to
participate for that month. The question just did not inspire them. Others
appear to have missed the call for questions in the call for papers for this
book. While the responses we did get were excellent, there were far
fewer than in the previous months.
Bring it Back from the Dead and Further Soliciting
After contacting each person personally in November I set up a
listserv using MailChimp. MailChimp allows some customization of emails,
like using individual names, but for the most part I began to send out
template emails to participants. This was at the end of the month to let
people know about the most recent summation of posts and to inform
them of next month’s question. However, I felt I got better response and
participation when I hand typed each email. After almost killing the
carnival in February I went back to individually emailing participants. At
the end of March I started to contact all of those people who had not
answered March’s question yet to ask them if they would participate in
the last month. This resulted in a significant increase in participation over
the previous month.
The Carnival by the Numbers
On a personal level I greatly enjoyed the carnival. In terms of
numbers over 200 posts were made over five months. A total of 87
different bloggers participated in the Carnival. Going into the carnival I
was hoping to get around two dozen participants and far exceeded
that goal. How did the participants feel about it? I am currently
collecting those data. The Carnival ended on April 5th 2014 which was
the same day that papers for this book were due. I am in the process of
creating a survey to gage opinions but the time between this book
being published and the carnival ending was too short to collect them
and publish them here. Ideally, I will have results out soon about what the
participants thought.
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If you are interested in reading the responses to each month of
#blogarch the responses can be found here:
November cccxxxv
December cccxxxvi
January cccxxxvii
February cccxxxviii
March cccxxxix
Insights and Lessons Learned
The rest of this chapter is going to be spent dissecting the six main
lessons I learned from this experience in hopes of providing insights or
best practises for people who want to run similar events.
Deadlines
Given that I started #blogarch on November 5th I figured I would
keep doing the round-ups on the 5th of every month. That way everyone
had a full month to answer each question. This had mixed results. Around
the first of each month I would get a flurry of people apologizing for
being late even though the deadline was the 5th of the month. Placing
the deadline a few days after the first of the month allowed the
beginning of the month to act as a reminder for some, which was a
good thing. Though, I cannot help but worry that some people were put
off from posting because they thought the deadline had passed.
I also accepted and added posts after the deadlines. I would just
edit the summation blog posts to include links to their posts. Some people
joined the carnival part of the way through and so choose to answer
previous month’s questions, which I added. Others were a few hours, or
days, late and they just need a little more time to finish their posts. I
would recommend including late posts but still keep a deadline. Without
a deadline writing posts gets pushed further and further down the to-do
list.
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Advertisement and Soliciting
As mentioned, I used both a mailing list and individual emails to solicit
responses and remind people about posting. Each has its advantages
and disadvantages. Personal emails get more responses, both in terms of
people emailing back and ultimately participating in the carnival. When
I first asked people through personal emails, I made specific suggestions
in the email about a first post they could do that was relevant to their
blog. I felt this helped those who had never participated in a carnival
before by giving them a little extra help in writing their first post. However,
this takes up a lot of time, as I will discuss next. If you are short on time I
would recommend an email list or mass generic emails. A Twitter
hashtag allows those people with twitter accounts to follow along and
read posts as them come out.
Time
#blogarch took up much more time than I had anticipated.
Collecting the responses and writing the summary took, on average,
about a day and half of work for each month. I spent an additional
week collecting emails and soliciting participants in November. Creating
and managing the email list through MailChimp took several hours of
time. The final personal push took about a day and a half of my time
emailing and fielding responses. Answering questions and responding to
emails took many hours of my time as well. In total, I estimated that
running #blogarch took about two and half weeks of eight hour working
days. It was much more time than I had initially anticipated. Assume
several hours of work for each question posed and summation made.
Collecting Responses
In my directions to participants I asked them to either post a
comment to the previous months question or email me to let me know
about their posts. However, some people also posted to Twitter and
some participants never actually alerted me to their posts. I found them
because I followed their blog’s RSS feed or because I saw traffic coming
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from them in my blog’s statistics and investigated. While I did use a
spread sheet to track posts, it took extended periods of time trying to sort
through Tweets, Comments, Emails, and blog traffic sources to find posts.
In hindsight, I should have created a simple form where people
could have posted a link to their contributions. Too many choices
caused confusion among participants and more work for myself. I would
recommend keeping routes of submission limited to one, with a possible
maximum of two. Giving so many choices in my instructions was
counterproductive.
Single or Multiple Hosts
While I had made a call asking if anyone wanted to host one of the
months, no one took me up on this offer. That meant that this carnival
did not turn into a moving carnival. In terms of ease of finding questions
and having a central location this worked out well. Yet, I felt that this
hampered building an archaeology blogging community. Several
people referred to the #blogarch as Doug’s Blogging Carnival. While
great for name recognition and possible career devolvement for myself,
it meant that some, if not most, of the participants did not see this as
communal property. One of my goals was to try and use #blogarch to
build up the community of archaeology bloggers. Given the success in
asking people personally to participate, in the future I would most likely
approach or ask certain bloggers in they would like to host a specific
month. I recommend approaching others to host certain questions to
build more of a sense of community with your carnivals.
Planning
Reading through my recap of the carnival you will be aware that
there was no extensive pre-planning that went into the carnival.
Obviously, more planning improves events and projects but I am not sure
how much I could have planned for with #blogarch. Given the lack of
advice available or personal narratives like this one to learn from the trial
and error method was most likely the best option available. This is not to
advocate a rigid schedule. For example, questions may need to be
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altered to take into account who participates or issues raised in previous
posts. Most of the planning should come in the setup of the carnival e.g.
deciding on methods of collecting responses, setting time tables, etc. A
well thought out set of instructions can alleviate many of the problems I
experienced.
Final Thoughts
Blogging carnivals are a way to widen participation and build
communities. It is certainly not the only way to achieve these ends, nor
should it be. However, as more and more of our work as archaeologists
moves into the digital world we may need to consider running more of
these events. It is my hope that the narrative of how #blogarch was
started and ran gives insight to those who participated or are interested
in how it developed the way it did. More importantly, I hope the
discussion and my experiences of running a blogging carnival can be of
use to others who are interested in running one or something similar.
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References
Four Stone Hearth (FSH) 2014
Four Stone Hearth. http://fourstonehearth.weebly.com/index.html cccxl
Last Accessed 4/18/2014
Law, Matthew 2013a
Let’s talk about failure (a public engagement/ digital engagement blog
carnival). http://matthewlaw.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/lets-talk-aboutfailure-a-public-engagement-digital-engagement-blog-carnival/ cccxli
Last Accessed 4/18/2014
Law, Matthew 2013b
Let’s Talk About Failure – The Shared Experiences.
http://matthewlaw.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/lets-talk-about-failurethe-shared-experiences/ cccxlii
Last Accessed 4/18/2014
Morgon, Colleen 2011
Tag Archives: blogarch.
http://middlesavagery.wordpress.com/tag/blogarch/ cccxliii
Last Accessed 4/18/2014
Blogging Archaeology
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Appendix
Posts on Looting Matters mentioned in that Chapter.
Post are in chronological order.
2007
Does Looting Matter? (July 17, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/does-looting-matter.html
cccxliv
'Meaningless numbers'? (July 18, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/meaningless-numbers.html
cccxlv
Who are the radical archaeologists? (July 19, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/who-are-radicalarchaeologists.html cccxlvi
The scale of the market for Egyptian antiquities (July 26, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/scale-of-market-foregyptian.html cccxlvii
Brussels Oriental Art Fair III (July 30, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/brussels-oriental-art-fairiii.html cccxlviii
Many Getty Returns? (July 31, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/07/many-getty-returns.html
cccxlix
Due diligence at the St Louis Art Museum (August 18, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/due-diligence-at-st-louisart-museum.html cccl
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Can there be a "licit" trade in antiquities? (August 20, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/can-there-be-licit-trade-inantiquities.html cccli
Coins and Cyprus (August 23, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/coins-and-cyprus.html ccclii
Apulian pots and the missing memorandum (August 28, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/apulian-pots-and-missingmemorandum.html cccliii
Looting in Bulgaria (August 29, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/08/looting-in-bulgaria.html
cccliv
Minneapolis and Robin Symes (October 1, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/minneapolis-and-robinsymes.html ccclv
"Old Collections" at Bonham's (October 15, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/old-collections-atbonhams.html ccclvi
"The Lydian Hoard" revisited (October 19, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/lydian-hoard-revisited.html
ccclvii
"Lydian" silver at Bonham's (October 22, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/lydian-silver-atbonhams.html ccclviii
Bonham's, Lydian silver and due diligence (October 24, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/bonhams-lydian-silver-anddue-diligence.html ccclix
Bonham's, Lydian Silver and a Code of Ethics (October 24, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/bonhams-lydian-silver-andcode-of.html ccclx
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Bonham's and the Lydian silver kyathos: some unanswered questions
(October 26, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/bonhams-and-lydian-silverkyathos-some.html ccclxi
Lydian silver update (October 26, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/lydian-silver-update.html
ccclxii
Princeton antiquities and Italy: acquisition details (October 27, 2007)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2007/10/princeton-antiquities-anditaly.html ccclxiii
2008
"An era of scrupulous acquisition policies" (January 7, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/01/era-of-scrupulousacquisition-policies.html ccclxiv
"Elvis" up for auction (July 23, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/elvis-up-for-auction.html
ccclxv
A Big Hunk O'Antiquity: Headlines (July 23, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/big-hunk-oantiquityheadlines.html ccclxvi
The Graham Geddes Collection at Bonhams (August 8, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/graham-geddescollection-at-bonhams.html ccclxvii
"Elvis" and the Graham Geddes Collection (August 21, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/elvis-and-graham-geddescollection.html ccclxviii
Blogging Archaeology
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From Atlanta to Athens: Press Statement (September 25, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/from-atlanta-to-athenspress-statement.html ccclxix
From Atlanta to Athens: Press Statement (September 25, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/from-atlanta-to-athenspress-statement.html ccclxx
From Atlanta to Athens: The Start of the Trail (September 26, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/from-atlanta-to-athensstart-of-trail.html ccclxxi
The Geddes Collection at Bonham's: Publicity (September 26, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/geddes-collection-atbonhams-publicity.html ccclxxii
The Graham Geddes Collection at Auction (September 29, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/graham-geddescollection-at-auction.html ccclxxiii
The Robin Symes Collection at Auction (September 30, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/09/robin-symes-collection-atauction.html ccclxxiv
The Geddes Collection at Bonham's: A Puzzle (October 1, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/geddes-collection-atbonhams-puzzle.html ccclxxv
Homecomings: Lucanian Pottery (October 6, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/homecomings-lucanianpottery.html ccclxxvi
Francesco Rutelli on Robin Symes (October 9, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/francesco-rutelli-on-robinsymes.html ccclxxvii
Bonhams and Robin Symes (October 10, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-and-robinsymes.html ccclxxviii
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Bonhams Responds to Rutelli (October 10, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-responds-torutelli.html ccclxxix
Press Exposure and Bonhams (October 11, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/press-exposure-andbonhams.html ccclxxx
Apulian Pottery at Bonhams (October 11, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/apulian-pottery-atbonhams.html ccclxxxi
The Graham Geddes Collection and Apulian Pottery (October 11,
2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/graham-geddescollection-and-apulian.html ccclxxxii
Bonhams Withdraws Further Lots (October 14, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-withdrawsfurther-lots.html ccclxxxiii
The Geddes Collection at Bonham's: Withdrawn Lots (October 14,
2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/geddes-collection-atbonhams-withdrawn.html ccclxxxiv
Bonhams Withdraws Further Lots: Update (October 15, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-withdrawsfurther-lots-update.html ccclxxxv
Bonhams: "The most important item in the Geddes collection"
(October 15, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-most-importantitem-in-geddes.html ccclxxxvi
Elvis and Bonhams: "You'll Be (Going, Going) Gone" (October 16,
2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/elvis-and-bonhams-youllbe-going-going.html ccclxxxvii
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Bonhams Withdraws Further Lots: Press Comment (October 16, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-withdrawsfurther-lots-press.html ccclxxxviii
The Geddes Collection at Bonhams: Forecast and Results (October
17, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/geddes-collection-atbonhams-forecast.html ccclxxxix
Bonhams: "The session went as well it could ever have" (October 17,
2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-session-went-aswell-it-could.html cccxc
Bonhams: Don't Be Miffed With The Italians (October 18, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/bonhams-dont-be-miffedwith-italians.html cccxci
The Graham Geddes Collection: Previous Loans (October 20, 2008)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2008/10/graham-geddescollection-previous-loans.html cccxcii
2009
Corinthian krater recovered from Christie's (June 3, 2009)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2009/06/corinthian-kraterrecovered-from.html cccxciii
Pots seized in NYC: update (October 30, 2009)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/pots-seized-in-nycupdate.html cccxciv
Pots seized in NYC: comment from Christie's (November 4, 2009)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/pots-seized-in-nyccomment-from.html cccxcv
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Is the "Bulldog" on the Minneapolis case? (November 17, 2009)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2009/11/is-bulldog-on-minneapoliscase.html cccxcvi
2010
Bonhams and the Medici Statue (April 22, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/bonhams-and-medicistatue.html cccxcvii
Bonhams and the Medici Statue: Lot Withdrawn (April 22, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/bonhams-and-medicistatue-lot-withdrawn.html cccxcviii
Due Diligence at Bonhams (April 27, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/due-diligence-atbonhams.html cccxcix
Bonhams and the Medici Statue: Additional Information (April 27,
2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/bonhams-and-medicistatue-additional.html cd
An Apulian rhyton from an American private collection (May 8, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/apulian-rhyton-fromamerican-private.html cdi
Medici Archive: Roman Marble Youth (May 12, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/medici-archive-romanmarble-youth.html cdii
Christie's and the Medici Dossier: Correction (May 18, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/christies-and-medicidossier-correction.html cdiii
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Medusa and the Medici Dossier (May 18, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/medusa-and-medicidossier.html cdiv
Apulian rhyton from the Medici Dossier (May 19, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/apulian-rhyton-frommedici-dossier.html cdv
The Medici Dossier and the Identification of "Stolen Artifacts" (May 20,
2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/medici-dossier-andidentification-of.html cdvi
"The transparency of the public auction system led to the
identification of stolen artifacts" (May 20, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/transparency-of-publicauction-system.html cdvii
"A part of Italy's national heritage and identity" (May 26, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/part-of-italys-nationalheritage-and.html cdviii
A Dilemma for Christie's (May 27, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/dilemma-for-christies.html
cdix
Italian Prosecutor: "We want to repatriate those objects" (June 3,
2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/italian-prosecutor-wewant-to.html cdx
Looting Matters: Italian Prosecutor Calls for Return of Antiquities (June
4, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/looting-matters-italianprosecutor.html cdxi
Christie's, the Medici Dossier and William G. Pearlstein (June 7, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/christies-medici-dossierand-william-g.html cdxii
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Youth with Cockerel: Collecting History (June 7, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/youth-with-cockerelcollecting-history.html cdxiii
Cleveland and Edoardo Almagià (June 7, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/cleveland-and-edoardoalmagia.html cdxiv
Apulian pottery and loss of knowledge (June 8, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/apulian-pottery-and-lossof-knowledge.html cdxv
The Medici Dossier: Unresolved Issues (June 10, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/medici-dossier-unresolvedissues.html cdxvi
Youth with Cockerel: Lost Value? (June 11, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/youth-with-cockerel-lostvalue.html cdxvii
The Michael C. Carlos Museum: Unresolved issue with Greece?
(August 12, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/michael-c-carlos-museumunresolved.html cdxviii
From Crete to Atlanta (August 13, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/from-crete-to-atlanta.html
cdxix
The Atlanta Pithos and its journey through Switzerland (August 20,
2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/atlanta-pithos-and-itsjourney-through.html cdxx
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An Attic Red-figured Krater from the Medici Dossier (September 1,
2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/attic-red-figured-kraterfrom-medici.html cdxxi
Looting Matters: An Attic Krater in Minneapolis (September 3, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/looting-matters-attickrater-in.html cdxxii
The Medici Dossier and Corinthian Pottery (September 4, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/medici-dossier-andcorinthian-pottery.html cdxxiii
Looting Matters on PR Newswire 5 (September 13, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/looting-matters-on-prnewswire-5.html cdxxiv
Princeton: further information on the returns (September 22, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/princeton-furtherinformation-on.html cdxxv
AAMD President "taken aback" on cultural property debate
(December 9, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/aamd-president-takenaback-on-cultural.html cdxxvi
The Medici Dossier and the Minneapolis krater (December 21, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/medici-dossier-andminneapolis-krater.html cdxxvii
Culture Monster and Minneapolis (December 22, 2010)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/culture-monster-andminneapolis.html cdxxviii
Blogging Archaeology
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2011
The "open wound" of surfacing antiquities (January 13, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/open-wound-of-surfacingantiquities.html cdxxix
Dealing in recently-surfaced antiquities? (January 15, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/dealing-in-recentlysurfaced.html cdxxx
A Corinthian olpe from a (recent) Swiss "collection" (April 15, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/corinthian-olpe-fromrecent-swiss.html cdxxxi
Polaroids and unresolved issues (April 30, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/polaroids-and-unresolvedissues.html cdxxxii
Minneapolis to return krater (September 17, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/minneapolis-to-returnkrater.html cdxxxiii
An Etruscan head on the market (September 24, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/etruscan-head-onmarket.html cdxxxiv
The Schinoussa Archive and Italian Antiquities (October 1, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/schinoussa-archive-anditalian.html cdxxxv
Christie's on cultural property (October 3, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/christies-on-culturalproperty.html cdxxxvi
Collecting histories and Christie's (November 15, 2011)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/collecting-histories-andchristies.html cdxxxvii
Blogging Archaeology
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2012
Items from deceased New York collector returned to Italy (January
23, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/items-from-deceasednew-york-collector.html cdxxxviii
Princeton: more on the return (January 23, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/princeton-more-onreturn.html cdxxxix
Princeton Issues Statement (January 25, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/princeton-issuesstatement.html cdxl
What has Princeton returned? (January 26, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/what-has-princetonreturned.html cdxli
Planet Princeton Comments (January 27, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/planet-princetoncomments.html cdxlii
Princeton: collecting histories needed for further antiquities (January
30, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/princeton-collectinghistories-needed.html cdxliii
Princeton and Almagià (February 8, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/princeton-andalmagia.html cdxliv
Princeton and transparency (February 23, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/princeton-andtransparency.html cdxlv
Blogging Archaeology
Page 258
Silence from the Met over those fragments (March 27,2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/silence-from-met-overthose-fragments.html cdxlvi
Antiquities returned to Italy from New York auction-house (April 26,
2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/antiquities-returned-toitaly-from-new.html cdxlvii
Aegisthus painter pelike returned to Italy (April 27, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/aegisthus-painter-pelikereturned-to.html cdxlviii
Met with silence (May 3, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/met-with-silence.html cdxlix
The Sarpedon krater: intellectual consequences (May 23, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/sarpedon-kraterintellectual.html cdl
Medici Dossier and Christie's (May 31, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/medici-dossier-andchristies.html cdli
Christie's Ignores Italy? (June 7, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/christies-ignores-italy.html
cdlii
Tom Campbell and transparency (June 8, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/tom-campbell-andtransparency.html cdliii
Christie's and the unsold Canosan kraters (June 12, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/christies-and-unsoldcanosan-kraters.html cdliv
Blogging Archaeology
Page 259
Princeton Returns: a discussion (June 25, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/princeton-returnsdiscussion.html cdlv
Silent Met: where did the fragments surface? (July 23, 2012)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/silent-met-where-didfragments-surface.html cdlvi
2013
Princeton update (January 14, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/princeton-update.html cdlvii
From Greece to Atlanta: overview (January 19, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/from-greece-to-atlantaoverview.html cdlviii
Villanovan bronze hut from an undisclosed source? (January 25,
2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/villanovan-bronze-hutfrom-undisclosed.html cdlix
Bothmer fragments on the AAMD Object Register (February 23, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/bothmer-fragments-onaamd-object.html cdlx
Bothmer fragments raising questions about transparency (February
28, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/bothmer-fragments-raisingquestions.html cdlxi
Bothmer Fragments Linked to Rome (March 8, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/bothmer-fragments-linkedto-rome.html cdlxii
Blogging Archaeology
Page 260
Two Canosan kraters returned to Italy (May 22, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/two-canosan-kratersreturned-to-italy.html cdlxiii
A Gnathian Krater from the Swiss Art Market (May 24, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/a-gnathian-krater-fromswiss-art-market.html cdlxiv
An East Greek Bronze Warrior from the Medici Dossier (June 1, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/an-east-greek-bronzewarrior-from.html cdlxv
Recently surfaced antiquities on the market (June 7, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/recently-surfacedantiquities-on-market.html cdlxvi
The Art Loss Register and Antiquities (June 8, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/the-art-loss-register-andantiquities.html cdlxvii
Images of the Bothmer fragments (June 19, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/images-of-bothmerfragments.html cdlxviii
Christie's and recently surfaced antiquities (July 6, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/christies-and-recentlysurfaced.html cdlxix
New York to return further Bothmer cup fragments (July 31, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/new-york-to-return-furtherbothmer-cup.html cdlxx
Pot Fragments Matter (August 30, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/pot-fragments-matter.html
cdlxxi
The Symes Pan (December 9, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-symes-pan.html cdlxxii
Blogging Archaeology
Page 261
The Cleveland Apollo (September 28, 2013)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-cleveland-apollo.html
cdlxxiii
2014
The Medici Archive and a London sale (March 28, 2014)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/the-medici-archive-andlondon-sale.html cdlxxiv
Becchina, Medici and the London market (April 2, 2014)
http://lootingmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/becchina-medici-andlondon-market.html cdlxxv
Blogging Archaeology
Page 262
PR Newswire Press Releases
1. Looting Matters: Why Does the Return of the Euphronios Krater to its
Original Home Awaken Debate?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-whydoes-the-return-of-the-euphronios-krater-to-its-original-home-awakendebate-61883767.html cdlxxvi
2. Looting Matters: Is UK Cultural Property for Sale to the Highest
Bidder?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-is-ukcultural-property-for-sale-to-the-highest-bidder-61953352.html cdlxxvii
3. Looting Matters: Why Is Switzerland Featured so Frequently in the
Return of Antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-why-isswitzerland-featured-so-frequently-in-the-return-of-antiquities61658057.html cdlxxviii
4. Looting Matters: Is the Archaeology of the Balkans Under Threat?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-is-thearchaeology-of-the-balkans-under-threat-62018402.html cdlxxix
5. Looting Matters: Why is Greece Reclaiming so Much Cultural
Property?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-why-isgreece-reclaiming-so-much-cultural-property-62106927.html cdlxxx
6. Looting Matters: The New Acropolis Museum Opens in Athens,
Greece
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-the-newacropolis-museum-opens-in-athens-greece-61816977.html cdlxxxi
Blogging Archaeology
Page 263
7. Looting Matters: Why are Ancient Coins From Cyprus Featured in a
Suit Against the US Department of State?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-why-areancient-coins-from-cyprus-featured-in-a-suit-against-the-us-departmentof-state-61896222.html cdlxxxii
8. Looting Matters: Why Do Antiquities From Iraq Continue to Surface
on the Market?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-why-doantiquities-from-iraq-continue-to-surface-on-the-market-62222392.html
cdlxxxiii
9. Looting Matters: Will Those Involved in the Medici Conspiracy Face
Trial?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-willthose-involved-in-the-medici-conspiracy-face-trial-62278717.html cdlxxxiv
10. Looting Matters: Are New Museums Acquisition Policies Having an
Impact on Private Collectors?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-are-newmuseums-acquisition-policies-having-an-impact-on-private-collectors62183697.html cdlxxxv
11. Looting Matters: Where are the Sculptures Stolen from Albania?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-whereare-the-sculptures-stolen-from-albania-62280142.html cdlxxxvi
12. Looting Matters: Are Toxic Antiquities From India Surfacing on the
Market?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-aretoxic-antiquities-from-india-surfacing-on-the-market-62081272.html cdlxxxvii
13. Looting Matters: Italy continues to celebrate the return of
antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-italycontinues-to-celebrate-the-return-of-antiquities-63275462.html cdlxxxviii
Blogging Archaeology
Page 264
14. Looting Matters: Egypt Puts Pressure on French Museum
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-egyptputs-pressure-on-french-museum-63856292.html cdlxxxix
15. Looting Matters: Why Did the Met Purchase an Object to Return It
to Egypt?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-why-didthe-met-purchase-an-object-to-return-it-to-egypt-67616377.html cdxc
16. Looting Matters: Should Auction-Houses Be More Careful Over
Antiquities?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-shouldauction-houses-be-more-careful-over-antiquities-69380567.html cdxci
17. Looting Matters: Are Import Restrictions on Italian Antiquities
Working?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-areimport-restrictions-on-italian-antiquities-working-70627327.html cdxcii
18. Looting Matters: Coin Dealers and Collectors Lose Case Against
the US State Department
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-coindealers-and-collectors-lose-case-against-the-us-state-department76177687.html cdxciii
19. Looting Matters: Antiquities Returned to Italy
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersantiquities-returned-to-italy-78525457.html cdxciv
20. Looting Matters: Archaeological Institute Offers Views on Italian
Antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersarchaeological-institute-offers-views-on-italian-antiquities-79065482.html
cdxcv
21. Looting Matters: Sale of Antiquities on a Downturn
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-sale-ofantiquities-on-a-downturn-81006217.html cdxcvi
Blogging Archaeology
Page 265
22. Looting Matters: The Fano Athlete and Its Acquisition by the Getty
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-thefano-athlete-and-its-acquisition-by-the-getty-81725167.html cdxcvii
23. Looting Matters: The Return of Antiquities to Italy and the Swiss
Connection
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-thereturn-of-antiquities-to-italy-and-the-swiss-connection-82391612.html
cdxcviii
24. Looting Matters: The Corrupting Influence of Forged Antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-thecorrupting-influence-of-forged-antiquities-83646522.html cdxcix
25. Looting Matters: Do Coin Collectors Care About the Archaeology
of Cyprus?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-do-coincollectors-care-about-the-archaeology-of-cyprus-84779592.html d
26. Looting Matters: Why Are Antiquities From Iraq Continuing to
Appear on the Market?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-why-areantiquities-from-iraq-continuing-to-appear-on-the-market-86613262.html
di
27. Looting Matters: Why Has a Coffin Been Returned to Egypt?
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-why-hasa-coffin-been-returned-to-egypt-88563512.html dii
28. Looting Matters: Returning Sicilian Antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersreturning-sicilian-antiquities-89270837.html diii
29. Looting Matters: The Miho Museum and Italy
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-themiho-museum-and-italy-89776462.html div
Blogging Archaeology
Page 266
30. Looting Matters: Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Italy
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersprotecting-the-cultural-heritage-of-italy-91036994.html dv
31. Looting Matters: Bonhams Withdraws Roman Statue From Auction
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersbonhams-withdraws-roman-statue-from-auction-91914934.html dvi
32. Looting Matters: Toxic Antiquities and Photographic Evidence
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-toxicantiquities-and-photographic-evidence-92510214.html dvii
33. Looting Matters: Toxic Antiquities in the Market Place
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-toxicantiquities-in-the-market-place-94588439.html dviii
34. Looting Matters: Italian Prosecutor Calls for Return of Antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-italianprosecutor-calls-for-return-of-antiquities-95620419.html dix
35. Looting Matters: Antiquities Sales Increase
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersantiquities-sales-increase-96658089.html dx
36. Looting Matters: Greek Pots, Madrid and the Medici Dossier
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-greekpots-madrid-and-the-medici-dossier-98608484.html dxi
37. Looting Matters: Colosseum Setting for Return of Antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matterscolosseum-setting-for-return-of-antiquities-99109824.html dxii
38. Looting Matters: Antiquities and the Invasion of Kuwait
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersantiquities-and-the-invasion-of-kuwait-100626689.html dxiii
39. Looting Matters: An Attic Krater in Minneapolis
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-an-attickrater-in-minneapolis-102155889.html dxiv
Blogging Archaeology
Page 267
40. Looting Matters: Protecting the Archaeological Heritage of
Greece
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-mattersprotecting-the-archaeological-heritage-of-greece-102628664.html dxv
41. Looting Matters: Rome Trial of Marion True Dropped
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-rometrial-of-marion-true-dropped-105033799.html dxvi
42. Looting Matters: The Treasure Act and the Crosby Garrett Helmet
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-thetreasure-act-and-the-crosby-garrett-helmet-109229319.html dxvii
43. Looting Matters: Zeus Returns to Italy
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-zeusreturns-to-italy-110848314.html dxviii
44. Looting Matters: Looting in Spain
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-lootingin-spain-112077849.html dxix
45. Looting Matters: US Extends Agreement With Italy over Antiquities
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/looting-matters-usextends-agreement-with-italy-over-antiquities-114366669.html dxx
Blogging Archaeology
Page 268
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news-releases/looting-matters-the-treasure-act-and-the-crosby-garrett-helmet109229319.html
dxviiihttps://web.archive.org/web/20140423230016/http://www.prnewswire.com/
news-releases/looting-matters-zeus-returns-to-italy-110848314.html
dxixhttps://web.archive.org/web/20101220061816/http://www.prnewswire.com/
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dxxhttps://web.archive.org/web/20140423230050/http://www.prnewswire.com/
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