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The Cyber-Unit
#21
Cyber archaeology is alive and well, and growing. While we haven't yet absorbed 3D scanning and reproduction at an affordable level (the BBC would have us believe that is only a matter of time though), there are some units out there who are using many of the techniques described - smart phones for on site recording and accessing web-based databases which they can upload photos and paper-style records to and then print out in the office to produce a hard-copy archive for instance. Or GPS recording of sites which can be accurate to within between 20mm and 40mm giving as much detail as you need which can then be augmented by drawn detailed plans and sections and photography.

The issue of storage and external hosting of these sorts of archives is covered by both the ADS and online databases hosted by individual companies. If you have a web database it can be accessed from anywhere in the world and so specialists can acquire all the information they need short of the object (or a 3D reproduction) from wherever they are. Document management systems allow for similar web based dissemination and distribution of large quantities of information in various formats. Its all in use as we speak. It shouldn't be seen as a way of reducing the hands on input of archaeologists though - there is no better or more reliable way of identifying, excavating and recording a site than people and I don't see that as being bettered, no matter what the developments in geophysics amount to in the near future. What we might see is a reduction in the demand for numbers of archaeologists in the near future as time saving techniques become more readily available, and this is arguably happening already. The skills of hand recording, excavation and interpretation will need to be preserved and enhanced as these technologies do fail - no mobile phone signal equals no 3G or Edge to upload to database and no GPS to survey, and probably no dongle on your laptop to surf BAJR with while you're waiting for the rest to come back online.
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