If it is really the case that archaeological materials can be binned in this
manner than what credibility has the argument that we should avoid
excavating sites because we might be able to do it better in the future? How
do we know that pottery analysis (for example Chris) will not be producing
'better' results in the future?

If one was of cynical mind I suppose the argument against excavation does
mean that we may have the opportunity to find more examples of the stuff
that was previously binned!

Certainly the policy of binning what we can't currently hold on to doesn't
sound a particularly useful approach from a research point of view. As for
'binning' digital data... does anyone actually do this? What sort of data
and why?


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----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris Cumberpatch" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, February 17, 2003 10:24 AM
Subject: The dustbin of history

From Re:source e-bulletin 42

Archaeological Archive
Resource, in collaboration with the Archaeological Archives Forum, has
recently commissioned two pieces of work to inform decision making about
archaeological archive.

1.      A framework for archaeological selection strategies
Helen Keeley's, a freelance consultant, will address issues relating to
retention, selection and discard of archaeological archives.  It is widely
accepted that at present serious storage problems exist, and a policy of
collecting and keeping all archaeological materials (including digital data)
is not sustainable or entirely justifiable on the ground of research.

         Am I alone in disagreeing with the statement that 'It is widely
accepted that at ... a policy of collecting and keeping all archaeological
materials (including digital data) is not sustainable or entirely
justifiable on the ground of research.' ?  Who actually accepts it?  Such a
sweeping statement needs more justification than a vague indication of 'wide
acceptance'?.  Surely the obvious response is to build or acquire more
storage space rather than throwing away items that are found to be
inconvenient or difficult to house.  Should not the opportunities offered by
the current round of lottery-funded museum rebuilding and reconstruction be
taken to increase storage space as well as investing in extra gallery space
and visitor facilities?  I understand that appeals are underway to buy, at a
cost of tens of millions of pounds, paintings by Reynolds and (as far as I
remember) Raphael - would this money not be better spent on storage and
research facilities in museums across the country?

Chris Cumberpatch BA PhD
Freelance Archaeologist

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