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Archaeology... are we lackeys of the capitalist state?
#11
Jack Wrote:I may be unfashionable in my world view but what exactly is wrong with capitalism? As long as people get a fair wage for their fare days work?


So would you be suggesting that the 'capitalist' wage paid to most UK archaeologists is a fair wage for a fair days work? I don't think so and as I wouldn't be blaming the workers, I guess I'll blame the system instead.....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#12
Sith Wrote:I'm just trying to reconcile that question with the repeated discussion here of how undergarduate courses (in Britain at least) teach almost nothing of practical use to the would-be commercial archaeologist.
because the world of commercial archaeology is only concerned with ticking boxes and mitigating against destruction. for this you need few skills and only a passing understanding of any given context combined with an oppressive and aggressive cut throat tendering system?
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#13
P Prentice Wrote:because the world of commercial archaeology is only concerned with ticking boxes and mitigating against destruction. for this you need few skills and only a passing understanding of any given context

That's not entirely true. It would be more accurate to say that the skills possessed by many archaeologists employed in commercial archaeology are not skills they acquired at university. It is not fair (or correct) to say that we need 'few skills'.....taking myself as an example of somone who has been employed in commercial archaeology for 30 years, I am skilled at most all archaeolgical tasks and very skilled at a few....I would certainly feel competent at holding my own against the skill base of anyone employed in whatever the reciprocal of 'commercial archaeology' is called. I would agree that newer members of the 'commercial archaeology' community have to adopt an attitude that values skill acquisition and continue that throughout their archaeological career.

Reason I wouldn't attend this session (aside from the travelling to Brazil bit) is that the premise it is based upon is actually largely bollocks and sounds as if it were devised over a heavy latte session in a university coffee-bar by undergraduates with no real concept of what it is they are talking about....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#14
That's a very negative view of things!

I'd agree that, judging by their reports, some units take that approach (shame on them), but there are plenty of others (I work for one, and I can think of a few others) that attempt, within the available resources (and sometimes beyond), to get as much 'academic' value as possible from any project whatever it happens to throw up - hence my recent interest on here with turkeys. We frequently get additional work done over and above the remit of the spec and budget, just takes a bit of time and effort and the right 'academic' contacts - e.g. 14 years after the event I'm currently awaiting the results of isotope analysis on some Roman skellies being done by Reading Uni with a research grant, hasn't cost the the original project a penny although admittedly I'm then going to have to extensively re-write the (still-unpubliished) draft monograph on my own time. Other material from the same site has been the same subject of a number of undergraduate and post-graduate dissertations etc (and thankyou to those who've sent me copies of their work) and some of the finds have been the subject of analysis and publication by 3rd parties and much discussed in other published works despite the (deeply annoying) on-going non-publication of the original monograph - 'ticking the boxes' needn't/shouldn't be the end of the process of PX, data from 'old' sites should be being constantly reconsidered and where possible augmented? :face-thinks:
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#15
Sorry Kevin, crossed posts, I was of course referring to PP's post above yours!

I concur with your 'bollocks' assessment of the original email, having re-read it :face-approve:
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#16
Seems from where I am sitting that the commercial stuff would not get done if it were not for a more extensive and inculsive archaeological community whether it be academic, county council, amateur, or interested member of public (and enlightened commercial unit). They have ensured that the "archaeology\historic environment" is valued. So though there is a commercially driven aspect to aracheology it is there because we value the cultural aspects of archaeology. Take that away and there is no commercial imperative, after all archaeology is only someone elses rubbish . The only comercial imperitive would be the removal of that rubbish to allow the development. Could do that with a JCB and a landfill site to dump it all in.:face-stir:
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#17
well obviously there are exceptions and i'm glad to see you both reiterate yours. but it is undeniable that the product, and therefore presumably the methods, of a vasy amount of archaeological mitigation submitted as part of the planning process is piss poor and does nothing to further archaeological research or theory. from where i sit it appears that quality is being left to a decreasing number of individuals whilst the majority chase profit margins and market share and require the workforce to cut corners and ignore the bigger picture.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
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#18
P Prentice Wrote:well obviously there are exceptions and i'm glad to see you both reiterate yours. but it is undeniable that the product, and therefore presumably the methods, of a vasy amount of archaeological mitigation submitted as part of the planning process is piss poor and does nothing to further archaeological research or theory. from where i sit it appears that quality is being left to a decreasing number of individuals whilst the majority chase profit margins and market share and require the workforce to cut corners and ignore the bigger picture.

I think what is possibly shows is that there is a mismatch between the standard that is deemed 'minimal but adequate' by curators and that which many archaeologists would consider the minimum needed. The work being done isn't necessarily poor. Conundrum for many archaeologists is, 'Walk away' or 'Do the best we can with the time and funding available'. Some archaeological undertakings are able in very difficult circumstances to raise their game due to the skill and experience of their staff and those that use more efficient but equally accurate working practices. Your suggestion is that the majority of archaeologists have given up on quality...I don't believe that!! I think the majority are still trying to square the circle of the conundrum....
With peace and consolation hath dismist, And calm of mind all passion spent...
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#19
There's a fair number of things that can be done to improve the 'academic' value of the product even within the imposed constraints (time, budget etc) with minimal effort - as an e.g. I've been involved in any number of evaluations where we've gone back to the curator and suggested moving trenches about, if you've got a good arguement they're usually quite happy with it. Local knowledge and experience counts for a lot, on a recent project prior experience suggested there'd be b***er-all useful stuff to C14 (which proved to be correct) but by pointing this out very early on we got a programme of OSL sampling written in to the spec instead - a bit of advance thinking has basically salvaged the dating programme on a major prehistoric site with very few finds which would otherwise have continued to be pretty much undated

In the same vein, I despair of the way some people waste their limited C14 budgets...

Having a good knowledge of regional/national research agendas and also what other people regard as interesting also helps - the post-med/Victorian pot and clay pipe (and turkey) from my last urban broggle has turned out to have more research value than all the medieval stuff underneath combined, good thing we had enough sense not to machine it all off once we realised there were some nice closed assemblages
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