BAJR Federation Archaeology

Full Version: Discard policies
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I agree with HB and CK - only really practicle on larger sites etc. but it is so much cheaper! Still too many examples of material thrown away because there is 'too much of it' and its 'too expensive to work on' and 'gets in the way of the archaeology' though...

hmm a brief guide to CBM - only 50 pages CK, hmm unacceptable cutting down on my part!!

Could possibly put something together I'll add it to my in tray....

the ACBMG' guidance can be found here
and some refs can be found here
Huge topic. The striking issue is one that has been asserted by most and is the simplest.Specialist resources that have been consulted at the outset of any project design make for a coherent and managed archive.All too often, specialists are involved at the opposite end of the process in post-ex or, are infrequently called out when needed.The clue is in the term "specialist"Big Grin. Early consultation has to be a must.Discard policies (in my humble opinion) can be an open door to disaster if not written in explicit terms. If we all knew what to discard and what were intrinsically important fragmentary remains-we would all be specialists.In an ideal world, on-site specialists would manage discard, conservation and packaging of the recovered material archive.Sadly, it is a rare thing in commercial endeavours to ever meet with a specialist on site.At least long enough for them to talk to us. On one occasion, we were digging some deep strat/complex urban med and asked for some pottery markers. A specialist came out and some time later, produced and circulated a "local med pot for idiots" guide.This turned out to be a winner all round and the interpretation of the site processes became sharper. Involve your local specialists I say! Perhaps we could start thinking about the potential that large quantities of (academically un-wanted [:0])finds could have for the local community.Local schools could have their own archaeology display cabinets....plenty of undergrads in museum studies need to pass a display practical!! Build some finds into new-build facades-whatever it takes. At the minute, we do as we please with the archaeology in this country, including taking it upon ourselves to make decisions that either destroy (unwarrented) or discard material culture. Giving to the public in constructive ways would have an enourmous effect on the public perception of what we do.Recently, we`ve noticed a downturn in archaeology courses at schools and colleges and an upturn in Citizenship studies.This incorporates historical/archaeological themes alongside other complex issues.Wer`e a complex society and schools have to teach with a broad brush.We could make archaeology visible to the community and local institutions and I would argue that its about time we gave something back.Don`t throw it away.Big GrinStorage...The SETI directors have shared the incoming data with anyone with a pc, the public are actively storing and analysing incoming data on SETIs behalf-share the load! Material discarded now could become key to interpretation later so fill library display cases/schools.I remember someone talking about a French underground station that had preserved/reconstructed strat in the new build? Anyone?

..knowledge without action is insanity and action without knowledge is vanity..(imam ghazali,ayyuhal-walad)
I completely agree Troll.

I have been working with a local community group on various projects which have generated an important assemblage of local prehistoric and early Roman wares. The community group now sees this assemblage as a useful reference collection for their own use, and is actively acquiring other assemblages from commercial projects done on their patch. (Which the commercial organizations are all too happy to give up-when they can find themBig Grin) I personally have learnt more about the typology with reference to the accompanying specialist reports, than I ever was able in the past.
I agree with much of what you say, Troll. Outreach and community involvement/educational initiatives are sadly far too rare in the world of archaeology, and rarely come about in relation to PPG16-type work.

Although highly desirable, such efforts are handicapped by one basic obstacle - funding. There is no mechanism (that I am aware of) for requiring such activities to be funded by developers, and rarely any public funds available. A few enlightened clients will be willing to fund outreach activities, particularly if they see PR advantages, but they are very much in the minority.


to let, fully furnished
It does`nt have to be about money 1man.There are always people out there in the community who would rally round in projects like this-and do.Community groups would thrive on something involving their local heritage.Everyone knows someone who can do stuff! How much would it cost to plaster a reconstructed bit of deep strat with real finds on a school wall? I would wager that if such a scheme were tried as a pilot project, the local community would find a way of doing it (with local councils chipping in to do their bit too of course!).Doesnt cost much for a glass fronted display cabinet really.Librarys/schools would really appreciate one? C, mon 1man, one developer-client lunch budget would clear a couple of cabinets easy!Big GrinBig GrinBig Grin

..knowledge without action is insanity and action without knowledge is vanity..(imam ghazali,ayyuhal-walad)
Unfortunately it all does cost money Troll. Cabinets are several hundrerd pounds for the cheap ones - I don't how often musuems chuck away old ones, but at that price not often I imagine. Volunteer labour i.e. people's time, is indeed a resource, albeit a limited one, but there is always something to pay for, including guiding professional input, materials, hire of premises etc. For example, if you want to open up a school in the evening or at a weekend to glue bits of pot to a wall or whatever, someone has to pay the caretaker (sorry, premises manager) to open up and lock up.

Business lunches may be relatively expensive in comparison to your lunchbox (cream egg bars no doubt) but they are, ostensibly at least, done for a purpose: they are part of the wheels of commerce and are basically an investment, not money thrown away.

This is not to say it can't, or shouldn't, be done I hasten to add. Local societies and YAC groups are maybe good starting points.

We owe the dead nothing but the truth.

I agree with the principles of what you say entirely, and to some extent with what you say about the practicalities and costs. The real difficulty is not that it is very expensive (it needn't be), but in getting people who don't have to spend the money to spend any at all.

On the other hand, when you get an enlightened developer or other client, you might get them approaching you to propose some outreach work. We recently had an experience of this sort with Skanska on a highway construction project; they were dead keen, and rather than us persuading them they came up with the idea themselves. In that case, it involved a public/schools open day, a mini-exhibition and an educational leaflet.


to let, fully furnished
Thats the one!!!

Go on Go on Go on Go on.... write it !!!!!!!!!!

Another day another WSI?
Thanks for all comments. Will be having further chats with curators as to a discard policy. Museum currntly having huge prob with taking material and our store is filling fast!

Will just add that I have been the onsite specialist on large urban site and about to do so again. Makes a difference, not only on the artefacts recovered but also allowed for onsite feature spot dates.
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