CFPo: THEN DIG – The Senses and Aesthetics of Archaeological Science


I’m very excited to be co-editing a new issue of THEN DIG – the Open Access, Open Peer Review archaeology blog with Dr. Andrew Roddick. Here is an excerpt from the Call for Posts:

In this issue of Then Dig we explore encounters with the past in the context of archaeological science. From the abstract expressionist appreciation of ceramic thin sections, to the treasure hunt for phytoliths under a microscope, to the severe precautionary costumes of the Clean Room, we investigate the aesthetic, the multisensorial, and the profound in archaeological science.

After a small hiatus, the blog/journal has been thriving. I’ll be posting the last submission associated with the Zeitgeist theme very soon, and there’s a great line-up that Dr. James Flexner has put together from a conference on Oceania that will also be going up shortly.

I’ve also very much enjoyed the Open Peer Review style. It is non-confrontational, productive, and synergetic. In the very small world of archaeological publishing, most of the authors cannot be anonymous anyway, and the cloak of reviewer anonymity invites a level of nastiness that is counterproductive. I’ve joined John Hawkes in signing all of my reviews anyway. I should probably send samples of my hair as well, so the authors can make a proper doll to stick with pins.

Anyway, consider submitting to the issue! It should be a good one.

Here’s to experimental publication types in archaeology!

The Evaluation of Digital Work in Archaeology

During the Visualisation in Archaeology closing discussion session we collectively struggled with methods for evaluating visual works by archaeologists as a means of legitimizing the work as an intellectual product on the same level as a journal article or book.  This is especially important for those of us who devote so much time to making videos and multimedia projects and do not get academically or professionally rewarded for this work.

The MLA has taken up a bit of this slack in publishing their wiki on the Evaluation of Digital Work, here:

This wiki is an ongoing project initiated by the MLA Committee on Information Technology (CIT) as a way for the academic community to develop, gather, and share materials about the evaluation of work in digital media for purposes of tenure and promotion. These materials were initially conceived, written, and hosted by Geoffrey Rockwell when he was a member of the CIT (2005-08). The wiki is now maintained as a collaborative project of the MLA and other interested parties, such as HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory).

It’s this kind of policy making that might bring a more thoughtful use of digital work in archaeology.  As part of a now-defunct journal, Critical Archaeology, I was to have a regular review column that would address these kinds of problems.  Internet Archaeology has a review section, so perhaps I should take my case there, but  I would still like to have a specialized venue to develop these criteria.  It is difficult finding archaeologists who are conversant enough in theory and practice (this especially!) in digital archaeology to be peer reviewers and there are so many projects out there that are using digital media in an uncritical, piecemeal fashion that it would be good to have to more generalizable standards.

Instead of a wiki, I’ve started a google wave to develop these standards.  Full disclosure: I’m still trying to find some kind of use for google wave.  Let me know if you’d like an invite.