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Are Standards in field Archaeology Slipping
So what is more important meeting the needs of the client (quick, cheap temporal contamination removal) or maintaining and improving the standard of the archaeological resource? Have been hearing a few horror stories lately and am wondering if there has been a general decline in standards. As the tales I am hearing are hear say there is no point complaining to CIFA.
Define standard... if the end result is the same. HOWEVER>.

BAJR is currently working with others looking at more robust standards for evaluation. and only through a universal standardisation that is very clear about what is required ( ie cleaning the base of trenches... ) and being realistic of what extra can be gained from additional work.
See this... for what I mean by robust.
trouble is it seems there were issues with implementation - if you are too rigid ... my way of dealing with a site may be different from company x but just as valid and achieves the same result... but is quicker and therefore cheaper.
Nice one Mr B :face-approve:. Though there are "standards" in UK archaeology it is sometimes very difficult to pin point exactly what they are and one unit's interpretation can vary a lot from anothers. And as you say if the result is the same what's the problem but we all know the result is not the same and how do you measure the result when the evidence has been removed?. I work a lot with volunteers who move around the country on various "professionaly" run community excavations and many of them ask very pertinent questions as to why they have been taught to do things in a particular way on a particular site and then find it is done completely differently on another site. I sometimes find myself making excuses for what units are doing when actually my suspicion is that keeping the cost down (in both community and commercial archaeology) is what is driving "standards" rather then doing the best for archeaology. Dont get me started on the other aspect which is the skills shortage and the lack of formal field training.
No one seems to be able to find the edges/bottom of features any more. Have seen a possible small cemetery where the supervisor just got them to dig out the soily bit in the top/middle of each cut then walked away from it instead of removing the lower gravel fills [clearly a slightly trickier task, against gravel natural, might have required some actual digging ability], which might of course have produced a few bodies.... s'ok, he doesn't dig any more, has moved up to Project Manager at big southern RAO... :face-crying:
the 'standard' such as it is, is that which you are paid for.
If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers
P Prentice Wrote:the 'standard' such as it is, is that which you are paid for.

Against all probability, some people do actually try do at least some quality work, despite all the s***e. Problem is that, since standards have been plummeting over such a protracted period, junior staff often don't know what could once have been achieved, for the simple reason that they've never experienced it, nor indeed their supervisors/POs. There's lots of ways of improving the standard of a piece of work without it costing more (site photos are an obvious one, most of the ones taken these days are just embarrassing, Mick Sharpe would be turning in his grave if he were dead), its just that most of them haven't got the experience or awareness of the possibility to do it
Remember hosty that before you turn cleaning the base of a trench into a standard to be monitored that it's wise to clean at least one of the sides first as the cleanings tend to fall on the base and it goes all smuggy. . Obviously if you subsequently discover that all the archaeology is in the face and that the trench is over cut we will need a standard about what to do next. I suggest four standards. One for people who still clean the bottom knowing that there is no archaeology there, one for those who clean thinking that there still might be something there, one for those who don't clean knowing that there is nothing there and my one not cleaning knowing that the palaeolithic is always with us. I dont clean because I usually clean and draw a plan as I go. If by the end of the trench I have planned nothing I write on my envalope that there is nothing there, draw and anotate a represenative sample take a picture for no good reason and cross the trench off a list and am all miserable at not having found anything and put all my efforts into whether there is a sharpe contact between the subsoil and "natural". I have a standard for people who don't clean and plan as they go but talk a good clean and it rhymes with up themselves twat not that I could care less unless they then ask me to plan their trench which suggests another set of standard. Planning somebody else's trench. There are four standards for this and all result in me contaminating thier tea.

I have one other standards for evaluation that differentiates them into good and bad which lends hope to the worst trench ever dug by Jobsworths.. A good evaluation trench always leads to excavation no matter how badly dug and a bad evaluation trench does not lead to excavation no matter how well it was bloody cleaned. Obviously a good evaluation trench may have miss identified the iron age as the Anglos saxon and something bigger underneath may subsequently be found in Excavation. Big deal. That's what the contingency is for and it's where evaluation archaeologists need to cut their teeth.
.....nature was dead and the past does not exist
Quote:There's lots of ways of improving the standard of a piece of work without it costing more

Indeed it is looking at how to quantify this and promote it as value added rather than a waste of time
Standards will continue to plummet under the guise of 're-building the economy' as long as no one is competantly monitoring or enforcing standards.

In some counties I have worked in there has been effectively no monitoring or enforcement. In others the formerly junior county archaeologists are completely out of their depth.

The construction industry has many tricks to avoid doing any annoying archaeology. The main trick is to destroy first, then see if you get in trouble. If not, keep destroying.

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