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RESCUEs position on long term curation of archaeological archives
#1
RESCUE – The British Archaeological Trust welcomes the contribution of the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers (FAME) to the debate over the future of archaeological archives in the UK.


RESCUE have long advocated improvements to the system of archive deposition in local and regional museums and the creation of regional depositories to hold archives from developer-funded and amateur/voluntary excavations in perpetuity.

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The funding crisis has only deepened the crisis surrounding the long term curation of archaeological archives.

http://www.rescue-archaeology.org.uk/bet...treasures/

You have read RESCUES POINT... what is yours?
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#2
i have yet to see any clear examples of univeristies using excavted material from commercial sites - this is a real shame, as there is planty of usefully stuff from interesting sites sitting around not fulfilling its potential.

I tried a couple of times to alert universities to interesting material suitable for eg Masters level projects - but no takers.

i really think something should be done here - it is vital that archives are used to ensure their continuing survival - universities can make a difference.
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#3
I tried to get access to a commercial site archive earlier this year for my undergraduate dissertation and was roundly seen off, in none too complimentary terms. Is there any obligation for commercially-obtained material to be accessible? I had to stick to uni and local arch society material in the end, although it was a shame rather than a showstopper. A balance would've been nice.
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#4
I know that the UCL archaeology students have used MoL archives from commercial excavations as part of undergraduate dissertation work (and probably Archaeology SE site data as well)....it would be unfair to suggest that GnomeKings problem is universal...
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#5
It's the Big Society now - we'll all end up taking the site archive home with us at the end of jobs and keeping them in our garages or spare rooms.

"Where's the archive for that new Mesolithic site"?

"In Jim's garage behind the washing machine and those old tins of paint".

}Smile
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#6
GnomeKing Wrote:i have yet to see any clear examples of univeristies using excavted material from commercial sites - this is a real shame, as there is planty of usefully stuff from interesting sites sitting around not fulfilling its potential.

I tried a couple of times to alert universities to interesting material suitable for eg Masters level projects - but no takers.

i really think something should be done here - it is vital that archives are used to ensure their continuing survival - universities can make a difference.

It may seem like universities don't use stuff from commercial digs, but they do. Admittedly there is still loads to do....Colin HAselgrove points this out in Haselgrove, C., Armit, I., Champion, T., Creighton, J., Gwilt, A., Hill, J. D., Hunter, F. and Woodward, A. (2001) Understanding The British Iron Age: An Agenda For Action. The Trust For Wessex Archaeology Ltd.

Also I've witnessed discussions over commercial sites between academics, we've been contacted by a least a couple of students looking for info on sites that had artefacts useful to their research. etc etc....

I think though there is a large time lag between digging a site and it appearing in the mainstream literature.
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#7
Kel Wrote:I tried to get access to a commercial site archive earlier this year for my undergraduate dissertation and was roundly seen off, in none too complimentary terms. Is there any obligation for commercially-obtained material to be accessible? I had to stick to uni and local arch society material in the end, although it was a shame rather than a showstopper. A balance would've been nice.

Was this due to client confidentiality? The archive and any reports written usually stay the property of the client and confidential until after a certain point..........erm think its after the final analysis report is written? Or is it when the site is archived? However most clients don't mind releasing information, as long as they are consulted.
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#8
i am happy to be wrong on this one!

but i do think more can be done to strengthen/formalise those links - particularly now when local government archives are under pressure, and any indication of 'usefulness' (to commerce, to academia, to the public) is vital to protect heritage infrastructure....
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#9
Article on this theme also in Rescue News 111. See sneak preview here - http://www.rescue-archaeology.org.uk/bet...lems-loom/

This is not a straightforward issue. A big problem, i feel, concerning archaeological archives from dc work being used in academic research is visibility. Certainly, where there are archives which are visible and geared up to welcoming students etc e.g. LAARC. However, the deposition policies of each local authority vary so much that it is often near impossible to work out where the site archive for work in a particular county (or indeed district council/LPA area) will be. As I said there will be no easy solution but this is an issue which has already gone beyond crisis point in many areas. I'm sure everyone could name counties where no museums are accepting archives, and burden of curating an archive that should be available for study falls with the unit. The situation is only set to get much worse with job freezes/cuts in local authorities with museums left open and vulnerably to massive staff cuts (including curators with an arch specialism).

The big problem, with FAME's position is what constitutes 'public benefit'. Who determines this? And what does 'public benefit' mean in terms of archaeological archives anyway?
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#10
this is hardly a new issue and the fact that it has been raised now says more about FAME than any press release, the SMA (who actually have to curate the stuff) have been shouting about it for some time. No curators = no work (or at least, very little), and therefore no archives to deposit. Would suggest a peculiar sense of priorities seems to be apparent despite this being an ongoing issue.

As for GK's statement - there have been some particularly notable academic projects on commercial archive material recently. e.g. the isotope analysis carried out on early Bronze Age cattle bone from a Gayhurst barrow by Bradford University here: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/8514/ An important read for any prehistorian.
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