Understanding archaeological documentation practices

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Fri, 06/17/2016 - 11:46

This year's ARIADNE Summer School in Digital curation of archaeological knowledge and Expert forum: The future of archaeological knowledge curation 2021-2026 (organised by prof. Costis Dallas and the DCU of Athena research Centre in Athens) took some interesting steps in explicating the current state and developing insight into the future of archaeological information management. It is still highly obvious that we don't know enough about archaeological practices and knowledge work. Another equally clear observation at the workshop was that we don't necessarily know how to talk and write about them. 

One of the most fundamental topics of discussion at the expert forum was the significance of paradata and a better understanding and documentation of what people are doing when they are working with archaeological information. Michael Carter introduced a highly interesting idea of paradata blogs as an approach for collecting and managing usable data about making of and working with data. On a more theoretical level, the discussion touched upon such topics as whether "visualisation" is correct word to describe what 'visualisers' are doing, what visualisation (if that term is being used) means in different contexts and/or whether we should be talking about experiences, representing and understanding instead. In this sense the talk of prof. Rimvydas Lauzikas (Vilnius University) on using Juri Lothman's semiotics as a lens for understanding arcaheological documentation and its contexts was a refreshing take on increasing the theoretical understanding of archaeological practices and knowledge work. There are apparently other possibilities and conceivable theoretical approaches to that but the it seems somehow clear that a better understanding of archaeological practices requires also more in-depth theoretical considerations.