BAJR Federation Archaeology
Post Ex - Printable Version

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Post Ex - trowelhead - 5th June 2007

Question, is it feasible or sensible to put post ex programs out to tender? Does the archaeological organisation who carried out the field work have to carry out the post ex and dissemination phase? If the developer finds the project to pricey can he or she opt to go elsewhere? Anybody had a similar experience surley the eyes that dug it hold the best info.

But can archaeological organisations also hold developers to ransom with post ex costs.

Close enough for a country job!

Post Ex - tom wilson - 5th June 2007

Feasible yes, sensible no.
If you didn't do the fieldwork, then you are going to spend an awful lot of time chasing your tail, and may miss out on intricacies of the site that didn't get into the record for some reason. It also helps if you can distinguish people who write appalling context sheets but know their digging from those who produce clear, coherent works of fiction. Stuff like that costs more time and therefore money, so the unit that dug a site will always have both interpretive and competetive advantages. However, if they made a total balls-up of the fieldwork they forfeit the former, and if they are asking for silly money they've lost the latter.

'can archaeological organisations also hold developers to ransom with post ex costs'
Not remotely. The developers can employ whom they like.

Post Ex - gumbo - 5th June 2007

It certainly does happen, I was involved in winning a post-ex job as we got in with the clients and they were unhappy with the tender from the original contactor. However, i think it is problematic as, especially if the recording is not great, someone coming cold to a load of archive will undoubtedly lead to a different and probably weaker interpretation than if one contrator had seen the the whole thing through.

However, to play devils advocate, in a number of larger companies the on-site recording/interpretation team is often completely split from the report writing team. I would argue that unless good communication is kept up then this structure could add to similar problems?

Finally, theoretically I suppose lots of the pro-reflexsive method systems (e.g. the Framework system discussed recently) would be whole heartedly against this sort of practice (e.g. the partitioning -off of on-site and post-ex interpretation) as it would add another 'circle' of interpretation between the 'trowels edge' and the final report? However, im not convinced that there is ever an absolutely clear line of narrative that can be acheived between context sheet (in whatever form) and final reporting if more than one person is involved in the excavation of a site(unless a GIS map is your final document?). So, perhaps I am actually arguing that even if a site is recorded well the final report is only as good (and as inclusive of others interpretations)as the person who is writing it, and that perhaps we shouldnt get overly hung up about different people writing up sites that they have not dug on?

However, a bigger concern is perhaps that to win the post-ex off the toes of the contractor who dug the site is more likely to end up in a cheaper tender and therefore a rushed job or a financial defecit...

quite happy to be shot down in flames!

Post Ex - drpeterwardle - 5th June 2007

I would argue as what is being done is preservation by record it should be perfectly possible for anybody to write up the site.

There is also the point that much of the post X costs are specialists who for better or worse have not had any previous involvement.

Peter Wardle

Post Ex - Digger - 6th June 2007

Mmmm, in a perfect world Peter... As an 'In-house specialist' I can track down and talk to the people who did the work if there are any problems. (mis-labeled bags, wrong site code, why is the matrix written in Swahili, etc,etc).

Post Ex - voice of reason - 6th June 2007

indeed - many of us old lags have written up other people's backlog sites and know how difficult it is to deal with, no matter how good the paperwork (and it is not always good). There is no subsititute for having the person resposnsible for digging the site involved. Familiarity, ability to visualise and the need to apply intellectual thought in reconsidering hypotheses formed on site (which influence the record)are all key to doing good archaeology and creating a product which stands up. To do otherwise reduces recording and PX analysis process

Looking at it from a purely efficiency-driven view, it cannot simply be cost-effective to have to become acquainted with a site from scratch and produce an archaeologically wholly rigourous product.

Post Ex - gumbo - 6th June 2007

Within Dr Petes 'perfectly possible' lies a whole world of pain though surely!

Im interested in the fact that there seems to be a big gap between the apparent empirical reality of 'preservation by record' and the thrust of some more theoretically driven recording (/?post-ex) systems. Is this just down to a lack of money in the everyday professional context?

Post Ex - 1man1desk - 6th June 2007

Speaking as one who has written up other people's backlog sites in the past, I would say that it is strongly preferable for post-ex to be led by the same team that led the excavation.

However, if you can't have the same team (or at least the person who was in charge on site), then you don't necessarily lose much by changing organisation.

My experience, though, is that when post-ex goes to a different organisation, or out to tender, it is often because of a dispute about the scope of work rather than the cost of an agreed scope. That opens a whole other can of worms...


to let, fully furnished

Post Ex - Manuport - 12th June 2007

One advantage of the threat/credibility of tendering the post-excavation is a constraint on any tendency to bargain basement the fieldwork with the aim of recovering disproportionate margin/profit from the post-excavation stages.

This behaviour also creeps forward into the competitive costing of the evaluation stage; this is anti-competitive as it generates non-real bids to secure a client who is fleeced later in the day. Or perhaps this is just normal commerical behaviour.

Anyway, threat and ability to tender post-excavation is good; but should only be enacted when there are serious concerns regarding the established contractor (either based on capability, inability to negotiate a constrained programme or unreasonable escalating costs).

The Devil to pay and no pitch hot

Post Ex - voice of reason - 12th June 2007

make profit from post-ex, you are having a laugh aren't you? It is a renowned money pit for just about every contractor I know.