By: Colleen Morgan
CLEAN * PHOTOGRAPH * DRAW * LEVEL * RECORD * SAMPLE * DIG * SORT ARTIFACTS * REPEAT
In archaeological field work it is easy to become entranced. We have a cyclical mode of work, and it is this work that field archaeologists like the best, the kind that happens when the sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze at your back, and the archaeology is making sense.
We clean the context, we take a photograph of it, we draw it, take levels, start a record of the context, take a sample of the context, excavate it, sort the artifacts, finish the record, then start all over again. While there have been accusations of this mechanizing the archaeological process, single context excavation is more akin to a refrain, a rhythm of work that you must fully understand and internalize before extemporaneous invention. Against this background beat, work can become “fluid and flexible,” emancipatory, or just another day toward a beer and a paycheck.
Digital archaeology is an interruption to the continuity of our process; digital photography, soft photogrammetry, tablet recording, laser scanning, not to mention digital video, live tweeting, and podcasting are all edging into our workflow with varying levels of integration. Indeed, the main body of writing about digital archaeology is the explanation of these attempts at integration and technical issues regarding digital data in archaeology, with relatively little consideration of the large body of theory that attends digital media. (more…)