Wednesday 18 December 2013

Completing an excavation report is no easy task

despite the detailed "recommendations and advice" that can be found on the website of The National Board of Antiquities. Despite my 30 years of experience as an field archaeologist so much has changed in recent years that it actually feels a lot like starting from scratch again.

Picture from the new archive facilities at Sturenkatu 2 Helsinki. Photo  Soile Tirilä.

Digitalisation has it´s understandable pro´s and cons too when it comes to excavation photographs. The NBA still advises or wish that excavations would also be photographed on black and white film which at the present almost requires one to start developing films by hand (in your own photo lab). I understand the issues when it comes to how materials will preserve in the archives but I can´t see how this could possibly work in the years to come.

Computer operated  archive cabinets at Sturenkatu 2 . Photo Markku Haverinen.

Then to the issue of numbering the excavation finds. A while ago it was still possible to take the excavation finds to the National Board of Antiquities for numbering. Not so any more this too has be done (and paid for) by the excavator. I look back at the good old days when employed people with the right attitude, skills, patience and good handwriting took care of this part. I honestly hope that things will work out in the future without the costs of making excavation reports rising to the extreme, or the quality suffering because of people lacking solid personal assistance in the future.

Page from the find catalogue of the "National Board of Antiquities" from ca 1900.

and today

Looking at the bright side of things regulations and written advice on how things should be done is a good thing that I really wish would have been available when I started my career as an field archaeologist. All that said an NBA peronal help desk would have been more than welcome many times this fall  :)

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