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The School of Jack - Printable Version

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The School of Jack - Wax - 21st July 2013

What ever the recording media it is the person doing the recording who is important. Far too many use the media whether it be paper and pencil or Total Station and GIS without understanding what it is they are doing and the limitations of the tools they are using.

I cringe at some of the things I have seen done with a total station and pull my hair out at some of the pencil drawings that have come across my desk.

Knowledge and experience, you cannot beat it. And though they might be at different ends of the pole Kevin and Unit of 1 have this


The School of Jack - Dinosaur - 21st July 2013

Wax Wrote:Where does the school of Jack stand on the use of gridded paper under the perma trace as a guide? personally I hate it, a grid printed on the perma trace is one thing a bit of very stretchy paper is another. I always use a scale rule (unless provided with grided perma trace) and demonstrate to people the variances in the grid on a bit of graph paper. And no it does not take longer using a scale rule. Use of the right materials and tools and knowing why to use them is vital.

You might want to check the grid on the permatrace, A1s are usually ok but we've had batches of A3 where the scale's off in one direction, we think it stretches slightly going through the printing machinery...

Anyone else used K-Trace? [the Herts Trust bought a load years back, only place I've seen it] Hilarious, it shrank when it got wet....


The School of Jack - Unitof1 - 22nd July 2013

sorry Kev I did read to the end and it did read like data gathering is interpretation.

This bit reads like you then change your interpretation
Quote:Totally flexible and editable allowing verification and amendment of interpretation where necessary.
And hay Kev there is nothing wrong with any of that so long as you are an archaeologist and that's how you want to do it. And yes its all about expense and your world sounds capitally expensive, digitaly always resolution restricted and future compatibility liable.....but problem is: barkingdiggers and Jacks- you must clean up your loose to look like you are an archaeologist, lets go through some motions:

Quote:We need to exert ourselves with good drawings, decent photos, and lucid context sheets precisely because we destroy the very evidence we seek. To wilfully do less would be somewhere between negligent and criminal. It doesn't exactly mean we need to draw every single stone, nor photograph every single feature, but anything we DON'T record may as well never have existed. So, more recording is always better for researchers than less.

suddenly I am criminal and negligent and presumably should be banned from ever working again because I should be recording something which I don't see and so my three hours of digging out a pit and then reducing it to a four line section (outline of cut, top, middle bottom) on the back of an envelope is negligent and criminal because I could not be bothered to take a photograph of it or measure it to within five metres xy and not even care to find and z and to cap it all call it a pit without any concern that the thing what was left would the next day be bulldozed away as if it had never existed.

Thing is if you cant get to sleep that night because of this it might as well never existed problem you are never going to be able to do any archaeology because you will be forever fighting for the most stupid curators justification of preservation in situ and you be wasting all that nice lolly that you have jimmied out of the little old ladies purse when they were looking on satisfying barkingdiggers need to fill up archives with rubbish.


The School of Jack - barkingdigger - 22nd July 2013

Sorry Unit, but I stand by my assertion that we should always try to do the best we can, rather than the least we can get away with. Sure, there are (hopefully rare) occasions where emergency action is required during a machine-watching exercise, and in thos cases we do the best we can with limited time and tools. (Who hasn't carried a cheeky soil sample home in a bucket, for want of bags/tags etc at the moment the bulldozer exposed a feature? But we only do so if we know there ain't no way we can stop the machine long enough to do it properly...) Besides, how archivally stable are your envelopes? Do you make 'em out of permatrace? And if you don't bother to measure in the location of that solitary post hole in your tiny eval trench, how can anyone else identify it later when a bigger firm gets the contract to strip the whole area and finds it covered with similar postholes making pretty buildings? I'd rather see the whole archaeological profession scrapped than see it ruined by "done shoddy and cheap" practices that milk off the cash from little old ladies while producing rubbish. Of course, I'm sure you meant that you only cut such corners in extremis...

As for Kevin, I've worked with him and understood his statement to mean he does the mental effort of "interpreting", then chooses the right codes etc on his TST to get it to do the donkey work of creating a plan and the related context records via some clever software. However, it is still up to him (the human in the equation) to discover and understand the archaeology first!


The School of Jack - Unitof1 - 22nd July 2013

barking I think that you overlook the fact that "archaeology" disappears all the time. We are in an inbetween Common agricultural policy time which farmers use to subsoil just about every field they have, another fifty per cent of what we don't know disappears. Pour on some global warming, erosion, entropy. Its not caused by shoddy recording. If we get some thing out from the field on the back of a piece of paper that's a plus and that's where we should set the standard. We should always try our best is a lot of up its self tosh. I really don't care if you trash a site or how badly you record it. I think looking by an archaeologists is the most important thing in being a archaeologist-and you have no right to say that somebody is not an archaeologist. Recording something comes a second best. You make it sound like if you don't agree to a wsi you should not be allowed out. I think that a good test of an archaeologist is them not recording something.

Quote: I'd rather see the whole archaeological profession scrapped than see it ruined by "done shoddy and cheap" practices that milk off the cash from little old ladies while producing rubbish. Of course, I'm sure you meant that you only cut such corners in extremis...
what profession. As I understand it a professional earns their money by application of their knowledge. You make out that is by application of some fail safe recording methodology which kev can do using a very expensive machine to do because it possibly uses terms and notations that some other archaeologists have used probably recording something on the back of an envalope.

Anyway just how much does a museum pay you for your wonderful record? I don't expect them to pay me anything and produce accordingly.


The School of Jack - barkingdigger - 22nd July 2013

I do indeed remember that archaeological deposits are constantly under threat, and we only see a tiny fraction. After all, the very features we study are the result of"Development" in the past. And I know sometimes that means we "smash and grab" to rescue something rather than nothing. But that doesn't mean we should make a virtue of it. After all, the history of our chosen path is littered with "big names" that are derided for trashing important sites so they could wall-chase and find shiny things! I just don't want to be added to that Hall of Shame.

I reckon that I'm only here for a fixed term, and for my work to be of any value it needs to be recorded in such a way that those who come after can still make sense of it. If not, I'm taking that knowledge to the grave with me, which is unforgivable. So even though I have to pay the museum to take my archives, I take pride in making them useful records of the sites I trashed. No point working down to the lowest value just cause it doesn't offer a paycheck! (Any fool could do that. I'm not willing to be one of them...)

If I feel it is getting all too much, this "creating decent records" lark, then there are plenty of other careers I can choose that have no such moral burdens! Remember, we can never grab it all before it goes. So there's no point breaking our necks and selling out our principles to try. Better to do a decent job on one site than crappy jobs on loads of sites, despite the harsh economics that drive us to ever-increasing bids with ever-decreasing day rates.


The School of Jack - Dinosaur - 23rd July 2013

I'm currently compiling a 'what do we already know' folder for an upcoming linear infrastructure (ok, road!) job that's going to be slicing across dozens of previous interventions - a lot of the older recording is surprisingly good (its often the newer stuff that's c**p), so will be able to send people out knowing in advance what to machine off, what to leave and what 'unexpected' archaeology they're looking for. They're gonna get a package for each field with soil-profiles, geophys, AP data, previous interventions etc etc. Wouldn't be possible if people hadn't recorded all that 'boring' detail - and proves that years of well-recorded GI monitoring with no archaeology is not, in fact, a waste of time :face-approve:


The School of Jack - Unitof1 - 23rd July 2013

Ha Dino starting to sound like a curtator are we not
Quote:---so will be able to send people out knowing in advance what to machine off, what to leave and what 'unexpected' archaeology they're looking for
and in many ways this is the very curx of the matter. Barkingdigger cant quite come to say that archaeological deposits are disappearing all the time instead
Quote:I do indeed remember that archaeological deposits are constantly under threat, and we only see a tiny fraction.
Constantly under threat is not the same as constantly disappearing for ever. Just go and ask you tame digger driver how many hours a day they have to keep their machine going to make any money and how few of those hours involve an archaeologist.

Thing is that jacks school of archaeology and barking diggers attitude evolved through public service archaeology which sees archaeology as a management resource which no matter that it is diminishing they can manage by the application of a subjective significance. This establishment has curators embedded in it who position themselves as if they are protecting the archaeology. So what we end up with is sites that are not looked at by archaeologists -most planning applications-what to leave -with the justification that what is looked at is somehow done properly because you took 3x black and white, 3x a colour film and 3x a digi picture of a post hole times 600 on some multiphase dodar archive which no other public service body will pay a penny for.- sorry I mean museums. and if they wont pay for it I don't see why they should be given the archaeology or rather why we should waste loads on unsustainable recording practises which have very little to do with archaeological interpretation.

Barking just out of interest just how would you descried the company that you work for?


The School of Jack - Dinosaur - 23rd July 2013

Unitof1 Wrote:Ha Dino starting to sound like a curtator are we not

God (of whatever flavour) forbid! :0

I just like to maximise recovery of archaeological data from any job I'm on - and it looks bad if you start by missing half the 'known' stuff at the start, whether due to over-machining, poor ground visibility or whatever. A lot of people seem to be unable to machine-strip at any level higher than half a metre into the natural, so giving them detailed instructions in advance seems like a pretty fair idea, when the info's available? That's not the level of input you ever get from any curator, they tend to assume (perhaps wrongly in some cases) that we're all grown-up field archaeologists who can figure this out for ourselves Cool


The School of Jack - barkingdigger - 23rd July 2013

Unit, I'm well aware of the fact that archaeological deposits get destroyed left, right, and centre. As a "profession" we only ever see a fraction of the deposits that get churned up, so there's no point rushing round to deal with more at the expense of quality. Even if you dropped recording altogether and just rushed out to dig and "see", how much do you really think you could catch? Instead of a good record of a smaller amount of sites, your philosophy would give us a uselessly poor record of a slightly bigger slice of the tiny fraction of deposits we eget to know about before they get destroyed - seems to me that's a poor trade.

I know it gets in the way of earning a bigger paycheck on more sites, but then anyone in this game "for the money" is playing a mug's game. After all, it (like most intellectual pursuits) started as a rich man's hobby...