|Kyle Campbell and Mark Walley|
A recent addition to our Library is a volume from 2003 that is the publication of a conference held ten years ago in Herakeion as the Proceedings of the 30th such conference sponsored by Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology or CAA. Reading CAA 2002. The Digital Heritage of Archaeology, edited by Martin Doerr and Apostolos Sarris (Athens: Director of Monuments and Publications, Hellenic Ministry of Culture) is an exercise in time travel – both backwards and forwards. The central topics under discussion and analytical approaches in the papers are now common place in many respects but were still then in the early stages of development and adoption. These include Virtual Reality (for research and education), GIS (spatial analysis, data management and presentation), various visualization techniques and photogrammetry (3D, X3D), remote sensing (from low level aerial photography to satellite imagery), various statistical approaches (fuzzy logic, spatial analysis, typology), documentation and digitalization of archival materials, cultural resource management (in the field and in the museums), electronic data sharing publication (internet) and cultural heritage access (researchers and general public). Our Greek colleagues are well-represented in these 64 short, succinct and informative papers with frequently excellent illustrative materials and adequate referencing. There are also the abstracts of the 20 posters that were presented.
What is really striking (but not such a surprise, really) is how much of this research, analysis and dissemination in the Greek milieu has not advanced much further in the intervening decade. Having just attended the annual AIA meeting in Philadelphia I am taken by the fact that the papers that I attended there and the others listed in the program how limited was the use of the topics and research approaches mentioned above. In essence the “digital archaeology package” in the Aegean basin is still very much a superficial add-on to traditional approaches and strategies. Yes, certainly digital imagery, total stations, relational databases, websites, etc. are de rigueur to contemporary projects and archival efforts. What most projects and initiatives lack, however, is the integral use of digital archaeology in its broadest and most conceptual senses in the creation of the research, in the execution of the cultural heritage management, in the delivery of the educational programs or in the dissemination of the results. In this age of economic crisis, with much reduced financial resources available, a truly digital archaeology makes sense from all perspectives. The long-term sustainability of basic research, analysis, data management, and presentation is a critical factor here, especially in such an economically challenged country as Greece.
Systematically perusing the CAA volumes, many of which our Library has on the shleves, is an effective and efficient strategy to learn through reading these case studies what other archaeologists and scientists are doing with “computer applications” as well as the salient trends in the constellations of related sub-disciplines. Even existing research and fieldwork projects can be “retrofitted” to embrace fully a holistic digital archaeology.