Over the weekend, Stefan Woehlke and I were asked to think about Maryland archaeology in the 21st century. The Archaeological Society of Maryland (ASM) held their spring symposium on Saturday, with the focus on the present and future issues and directions of archaeological research in the state. I spoke about the public digital projects that I’ve been working on through Archaeology in Annapolis, and Stefan took part in a panel discussion with Charlie Hall and Jim Gibb. We’ve come away with a lot to think about, so we wanted to share our parts of the discussion for those who could not be there, and hopefully we can continue the dialogue that we began there. Stefan’s post will follow soon.
For my talk, titled Open Access Excavations: Archaeology in Annapolis in the 21st Century, I focused on something that is not directly related to my dissertation research, but is still a large part of my methodology and what I think is important as an archaeologist. My part and influence on the Archaeology in Annapolis project has been trying to make our work as publically-accessible and understandable as possible, and I’ve been experimenting with various media, particularly online, in order to do that. I’m the one in the lab that says, regardless of what we’re working on at the time, “We need to put this online.”
I’m offering up my experiences for discussion. I don’t always know what I’m doing, how it’s working, or if there is a better way. Access to new technologies and media outlets is not the struggle. The struggle that many archaeologists are facing now is how to best use the tools available to us, how to integrate them into research design from the beginning, and what we or the audience should get out of the experience. The Archaeology in Annapolis project always strove to do public archaeology or public “engagement,” but what that means has changed dramatically in the past few decades.
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