Alison Ashwell asks:
> If professional archaeologists don't publish their findings are they
> 'hobbyists' and what do the 'responsible archaeologists' propose to do
> getting rid of this irresponsible element
I am not quite sure what is meant by this comment, whether this is another
of those personal jibes which seems to have characterised this discussion in
recent days since it is an answer to the message in which I commented on the
material from an as yet unpublished site under my desk (sometimes that
annoying "Odp." does have its uses). I really do feel disinclined to go into
here the internal academic politics of my department here as to why it is
impossible to advance the publication of this material. Given those
circumstances I certainly do not accept however that this can be attributed
to my irresponsibility and I would not think it fair of Alison to make such
comments without knowing the circumstances of the case.
In many cases there are various extenuating circumstances why projects fail
to find completion in a report (I wrote an article about it a couple of
years ago) and again, the cause is not always (or even primarily) the
irresponsibility of the archaeologist. More often than not it has been
financial. This is a serious problem which needs to be dealt with and moves
have been taken to combat it. British archaeology has at least had the
Backlog project which (despite its drawbacks and some failures) puts it in a
better league in this than the general situation in many other European
countries. This kind of financial
commitment to such a project needs to be duplicated in other countries.
Of course one of the ways of dealing with it - he says getting back to his
Valetta Article 3 hobbyhorse - is the introduction of excavation permits
which stipulate the conditions under which the permit is issued and here the
completion of a report within a stated length of time can be made one of the
conditions. The upshot of this is that the failure to comply with the
conditions of previous permits can be taken as a factor considered in the
issue of new ones, effectively blocking the excavator from starting on a new
project before demonstrating that they've properly finished the previous
ones. That's the theory anyway.
Dare I say the IFA could also usefully take an interest in this problem in
looking at their membership?
OK that's two suggestions how the archaeologists can deal with the problem,
now what about those metal detectorists?
P.M. Barford 1998; ''writing the past: approaches to the publication of
excavations' pp. 505-541 in S. Tabaczynski (ed) 1998, Theory and practice of
Archaeological research vol. 3 Dialogue with the data: the archaeology of
complex societies and its context in the 1990s. Warsaw.
[OK, so the title is terribly naff: the bit on non-publication is pp. 532-5]