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Subject:

Re: [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 2: Landforms and sediments; Session 1, Q2+3

From:

"Whitcombe, Emma" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH)

Date:

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:00:11 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (263 lines)

I was mostly using that as an example of how the date-selection works - I realise it wasn't a particularly useful one, sorry! I was briefly glancing at the monument module to try and see what problems might arise in practice. I suppose I was thinking of the issue from the perspective of an imaginary multi-period Palaeolithic site with well-dated deposits, but not necessarily typologically distinctive finds - so a flake, dated as broadly Pal in the find record (as it is non-diagnostic/could be intrusive) might have come from a deposit with a scientific date that then displays as UP, giving the false impression when searching for UP monuments that specifically UP artefacts are present (this is my issue with the use of cultural terms to date anything that isn't an artefact). A narrow monument search for LP, in which you would like to get the info on the broadly dated artefact, would not return the monument unless you also include a Pal 'findspot' in the tree (or search finds as well - which I guess we would usually do, but web users might not know how/be able to), whereas a narrow one for UP would return a site with deposits of that date, but no diagnostically UP artefacts (less of a problem). A similar issue, more likely to arise in practice, particularly in commercial excavation, is that lower deposits would not be excavated, earlier artefacts might intrude into later layers from post-depositional processes - and then, if the deposit itself is not scientifically dated, we might end up with a deposit 'monument' dated far too early due to the presence of a Lower Pal artefact - or a LP artefact in a later deposit again. I'm not sure what the best solution is or how likely these things are to be a problem in practice, but am trying to think of issues that might come up.

With the option of training, while a 1-2 day course would be fantastic, I think LA budgets are so tight now, it would be very difficult for all the relevant officers from an office to be released to take part - certainly here, I think DC officers as well as HER officers would be interested and find it useful. A document or power-point describing particularly site formation and post-deposition activity, dates/periods (once definitively set!), occupation periods/MIS's, technologies and their geographical variations/overlaps and hominin species, all focussed on the UK with some key sites, might be a good start! And perhaps a web forum/sub-forum hosted somewhere where queries could be peer-discussed would be a useful ongoing resource.


Emma


Emma Whitcombe
HER Assistant
Archaeology Service | Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre | Cocklebury Road | Chippenham | SN15 3QN
Tel: 01249 705526 | E-mail: [log in to unmask] | Website: www.wiltshire.gov.uk



-----Original Message-----
From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Wenban-Smith F.F.
Sent: 24 October 2014 11:36
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 2: Landforms and sediments; Session 1, Q2+3

Thanks Emma! This is something where we probably need more input from practising HER people. To me, from the outside, it seems firstly that you are recording date/period info in the opposite way to how I understand it is done in Kent [Paul may correct me on this]. In our recent project where my role was to update the HER information - but not the HER itself, which Paul is doing - I assigned a period as best as I could to an object such as a handaxe, and the date fields were left blank, unless we had more specific information. Then date ranges were either automatically generated to tie in with the period (or period range) I defined, or were left as the narrower range given. So, say, I had a pointed handaxe from a post-Anglian terrace deposit of uncertain date, I could categorise this as "Late Lower Palaeolithic", which could have a prescribed date-range of -450,000 to -125,000, and we wouldn't have any additional info. But if I had a pointed handaxe from a known Hoxnian deposit at Swanscombe, I could still categorise this as "Late Lower Palaeolithic", but also give a more precise date-range.

Secondly, in the example situation you describe, this seems OK to me. If you only know that an object dates between -20,000 and -500,00 then it is entirely correct for it to come up as in the period range  'Lower Palaeolithic' to 'Upper Palaeolithic'. Generally in the Palaeolithic, we have the object, but the date of its context is uncertain, even when we reliably know the context. So our best bet for identifying period is to base our period attribution on the technology/typology of the object, using previous information on the date of deposits with that type of evidence. And, when necessary, we need to update our frameworks if new info comes to light.

Homepage: www.soton.ac.uk/~ffws/New_ffws/index.html
Francis Wenban-Smith (Dr)
Department of Archaeology (CAHOR - Centre for Applied Human Origins Research) University of Southampton (Avenue Campus) Southampton, Hants
SO17 1BF
02380-596 864 (direct)
07771-623 096 (mobile)


-----Original Message-----
From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Whitcombe, Emma
Sent: 24 October 2014 11:09
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 2: Landforms and sediments; Session 1, Q2+3

S1: Francis, I think the problem for those of us using HBSMR is that, if you enter a date into the date field in figures, it automatically selects the date range from a drop-down menu that the date falls within. So, for instance, if I type '-500,000' and '-20,000' into the boxes as my date range, even though this is covered by the broad term, 'Palaeolithic', it comes up as 'Lower Palaeolithic' to 'Upper Palaeolithic'. This may not always cause a problem, but it will need to be addressed from the software perspective when overlapping date-ranges are being used. You can of course select the broader term (which is defined as 500,000-10,001), but you then lose the specificity. For me, this goes back to the culture/date distinction issue (i.e. what is assumed about the artefacts/occupation present if you have date ranges that use culturally-defined terms that don't match what is there?).

S2: Perhaps the issue in relation to an understanding of the deposit-led approach is that not all HER officers and other practitioners have significant experience of Palaeolithic/Mesolithic archaeology, which is not to their discredit or indeed surprising. Some form of training for all officers again seems like a good idea - even just a document circulated with explanations, dates and definitions.

The word, 'Monument', seems problematic and it is a shame it was picked historically as a term which has since become key to our current data management systems. I can't help thinking it's a shame the word, 'Site' wasn't originally chosen instead . . .



Emma


Emma Whitcombe
HER Assistant
Archaeology Service | Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre | Cocklebury Road | Chippenham | SN15 3QN
Tel: 01249 705526 | E-mail: [log in to unmask] | Website: www.wiltshire.gov.uk

-----Original Message-----
From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Wenban-Smith F.F.
Sent: 24 October 2014 10:46
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 2: Landforms and sediments

Thanks for that contribution Andy. I think you will find that we have quite significant agreement on the importance of deposits, by the time the session has reached its conclusion. The "deposit-led" approach has much in common with the points you make. In fact anyone can check out the details of this on-line if they want, since it is explained in detail in the Palaeolithic section of SERF - the South-East Research Framework - which is available on line.

Homepage: www.soton.ac.uk/~ffws/New_ffws/index.html
Francis Wenban-Smith (Dr)
Department of Archaeology (CAHOR - Centre for Applied Human Origins Research) University of Southampton (Avenue Campus) Southampton, Hants
SO17 1BF
02380-596 864 (direct)
07771-623 096 (mobile)


-----Original Message-----
From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Andy Howard
Sent: 24 October 2014 10:27
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 2: Landforms and sediments

I would agree with Francis's point that all find spots are useful and yes they are a starting point.  Isolated finds may indeed point to the potential of a unit and the condition may well say something about the degree of recycling (see the new Trent monograph).  The point I guess I am trying to make it that the starting point should be the sediment body since a map of dots of find spots is simply that, a map of dots.  Context of the sediment body is critical to understanding the find (something that until relatively recently has been long neglected outside of Quaternary circles).

BW

A

Dr Andy Howard MIfA
Landscape Research & Management
Tel. +44 (0)1746 769739
Mob. 07791 840205
Skype: andy.howard14
http://landscape-research-management.co.uk/

Co-editor, Journal of Archaeological Science Reports http://ees.elsevier.com/jasrep/

Honorary Research Fellow, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Durham -----Original Message-----
From: Wenban-Smith F.F.
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 10:11 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 2: Landforms and sediments

While I totally agree that we need to think about the landscape as "lithostratigraphic units" - a point to be addressed in greater detail later in the morning session as the "deposit-led" approach, it is wrong to make a dichotomy between "intact landsurfaces" [Good] and "disturbed finds" [Bad].
This widely-practised convention really fails to address the great potential of the Palaeolithic archive which includes remains from deposits formed in a wide variety of ways, with evidence disturbed in varying degrees from very much to hardly. all these types of remains can contribute to different aspects of understanding the Palaeolithic better and addressing current research priorities. And there is a very useful distinction for HER purposes between a find from a known context, and a truly stray find. Often, very important Palaeolithic sites, will have their first evidence be a lone find - for instance Harnham, in Wiltshire - and it is very useful HER information to know that a find is linked with a specific deposit. This highlights the deposit at that location as worthy of more detailed consideration/investigation to establish the nature/potential of any Palaeolithic remains.

Homepage: www.soton.ac.uk/~ffws/New_ffws/index.html
Francis Wenban-Smith (Dr)
Department of Archaeology (CAHOR - Centre for Applied Human Origins
Research)
University of Southampton (Avenue Campus) Southampton, Hants
SO17 1BF
02380-596 864 (direct)
07771-623 096 (mobile)

-----Original Message-----
From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Andy Howard
Sent: 24 October 2014 09:50
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 2: Landforms and sediments

Dear all

In terms of find spots and monuments for the Palaeolithic, to my mind this is a minor concern.  Most Palaeolithic finds (for sake of argument hand
axes) are isolated and hence largely recycled - how many intact Palaeolithic surfaces do we have in the UK.  The key point is to get archaeologists thinking in terms of lithostratgigraphic units (i.e. deposits of a particular age and type which are mappable in the landscape (and hopefully to some extent, predicatable).  When thinking about these units, archaeologists really need to move away from thinking contexts (and lots of
them) as they do for later deposits.

BW

A

Dr Andy Howard MIfA
Landscape Research & Management
Tel. +44 (0)1746 769739
Mob. 07791 840205
Skype: andy.howard14
http://landscape-research-management.co.uk/

Co-editor, Journal of Archaeological Science Reports http://ees.elsevier.com/jasrep/

Honorary Research Fellow, Dept. of Archaeology, University of Durham -----Original Message-----
From: Carlisle, Philip
Sent: Friday, October 24, 2014 9:39 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 1: summary and thank you

I would echo Nick's sentiments.

We can and probably should make changes to any/all of the terminologies involved but there are practical considerations which need to be taken into account. If we were all starting from scratch using one system which was optimized to record everything to everyone's satisfaction then that would be great but we aren't. We are using systems some of which were developed over
20 years ago and all of which are based to a greater or lesser extent on a recording methodology which owes much to the Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division index cards.

Any changes to the way we record any information (not just dating) will have cost implications for redeveloping software. I don't want to bang on about this but it is a major and real concern. The changes we are talking about in this conference are necessary but the current recording practice and some software modules may not be able to handle the full complexity to everyone's satisfaction.

As much as discussing the terminologies themselves we need to consider how they will be used and implemented in software. We don't want to end up having to shoe-horn a practically-perfect terminology into a recording form with a 'that'll do' attitude.

Phil

________________________________________
From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Nick Boldrini [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 24 October 2014 09:16
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [FISH] [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 1: summary and thank you

I was following this (or at least trying to) Yesterday, but didn't have time to post, so here goes.

A general point to consider is this - which may be implicit in the discussion but doesn't appear to be.

If this system is for HER use then it needs to be useable with the information HERs are given.

HERs can (generally) records specific dates ie type in the years "-5000" and the appropriate period term will be selected. In that sense we are reliant on the Source of information giving the date - and the term they use is in some sense irrelevant - if the terminology changes for what "-5000" is called, then the system can update the term easily enough

More problematic is when we have a source which just gives the date as "Late Palaeolithic" or another generic term. If the term date range changes, and the terms options change - how do I know what to change it too? In this sense there needs to be a mapping from old to new terms, but also guidance on what to use if there is potentially more than one term that it could be (ie Late Palaeolithic now has two terms spanning the same dates - but from the information I have I cannot determine which is more appropriate).

I know there are ways round this - but they need to be built into the new terminology scope notes in a way that non Paleo-Specialist HER officers (hey - that's me!) can understand and decode given information that may be vague to start with

This isn't a huge issue for us ( we have 8 HER records allegedly
Palaeolithic) but it is something to bear in mind

Best wishes

Nick Boldrini
Historic Environment Record Officer
Ext 267008

From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Campbell, Gill
Sent: 23 October 2014 19:19
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [MASSMAIL] Re: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 1: summary and thank you

Oh dear unfortunate typo. Corrected below

Gill
From: The Forum for Information Standards in Heritage (FISH) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Campbell, Gill
Sent: 23 October 2014 19:11
To: [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [FISH] Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference -Session 1:
summary and thank you

Dear colleagues ,

Thank you very much for attending this session.. A brief summary is given below and we will produce a longer summary for discussion and comment following on from the conference.

Labels, Lithics and Landforms e-conference on controlled vocabularies for Palaeolithic and Mesolithic data: summary of session 1: Chronology

There was some debate at the start of the session concerning the use of BP,
BC and BCE. In terms of the FISH period list BC/AD is used.   Whether using
BP or BC this needs to be made clear in publications and clear in terms of metadata used.

1.    An earlier start for the Palaeolithic.
There is overwhelming agreement that the start date needs to be put ck.  -1000, 000 years is suggested for a start date, though some
participants favoured   -950,000  or possibly -850,000.
2.    Resolving the Early, Lower and Middle Palaeolithic, and sub-divisions.
Participants felt that the debate should focus on defining the Palaeolithic in the UK< Deciding where to put the divisions is problematic.
There was general agreement that the period up to the Anglian glaciation can be defined as Earlier Lower Palaeolithic but disagreement about where the boundary should fall and division beyond this.
3.    Upper Palaeolithic - divide or not.
Division makes sense:  Early Upper Palaeolithic between -40,000 and- 22,000, and a Late Upper Palaeolithic between -18,000 and -10,000 BP.
4.    The Mesolithic - how to deal with overlap with final Upper
Palaeolithic.
Could consider overlapping the dates but have a date for the end of the Palaeolithic at -10,000 or -9,500. Need to gather views on the division between Early/Late subdivision of the Mesolithic.
5.    Having a separate list of terms and date-ranges for geological MI
(Marine Isotope) Stages and glacial/interglacial episodes in the UK.
Support for this but idea.
6.    Reconsidering the distinction, and where to place the boundary,
between Early Prehistoric and Later Prehistoric.
Unfortunately we did not have sufficient time to debate this issue. But would welcome your thoughts following the conference


I look forward to tomorrow and more interesting discussion in session 2


Kind regards
Gill


Gill Campbell
Head of Environmental Studies
English Heritage
T: 02392 856780
English Heritage Science Network Convenor

www.english-heritage.org.uk<http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/>


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