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Besides Hodder, also others including, for instance, Tilley , Lucas and Bradley have expressed similar views. They are given a face but not necessarily a name. When the group effort is explicitly opened, it becomes obvious that a large number of people have contributed to an interpretation e. Bradley, However, perhaps somewhat counterintuitively, the debate on facelessness may not have affected the attribution as much as considerations of its kind. Even if expectations of objectivity and neutrality, and in a sense, anonymity, of individual archaeologists in the process have shifted when the predominant paradigms of archaeological scholarship have fluctuated between positivist and subjectivist theorising Trigger, , field practices have shown considerable resilience to change.

Earlier culture-historical archaeology was centred on the person of the field director and his [sic! Post-processualism and reflexivity from the late s onwards lead to resurgence of subjects Binford, ; Jensen, ; Trigger, , As Baines and Brophy note, at present, there is a gap between the dominant, often rather positivist, documentation versus interpretation oriented and subsequently anonymising field practices, and the more theoretically oriented, often academic archaeology with a clearer interest in interpretation and its subjectivity.

A Companion to Social Archaeology / Edition 1

This does not mean that the authorship of field directors or the anonymity of their team would have changed. The emergence of professional development-led archaeology as the predominant form of archaeological fieldwork in many European countries and, for instance, in the US and Canada has formalised the role of field directors and subordinated them to new, often more stringent guidelines, legislation and personal needs of securing continuing employment in an increasingly precarious labour market e.

Everill, ; Huvila, , ; Zorzin, Field directors have also become more closely subordinated to their employers even if with some precaution it seems that the formal role of the field director as an author has remained relatively constant. Field directors might not be authors as auteurs of an oeuvre anymore but rather named professionals with certain liabilities and responsibilities regarding the project and its outcomes cf.

Huvila, There are indications that field directors might be losing their primacy and become a part of the invisible mass when the contractor becomes the entity with a name e. Zorzin, In the sense that developers have an opportunity to put pressure on archaeologists to work faster and cheaper e.

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Goudswaard et al. They also have an opportunity to use archaeological findings for polishing their image even if they would not directly claim authorship of archaeological knowledge. Interesting exceptions to the colloquialisation of the role of field directors are popular culture and television documentaries e. For other team members, the changes in how projects and information are attributed have been similarly subtle. In addition to the social evolution of archaeological work, also the tools and techniques of archaeology have influenced the authorship of individual archaeologists.

As Hodder noted already a quarter of a century ago, before the digitisation of everyday archaeological practices, the shift towards more schematic, coded and technical drawings have replaced dated and signed personal illustrations. Gitelman, This type of anonymisation has been accelerated by the emergence of digital data capture as a standard method of documentation in archaeology. Even if data is always a representation as Carusi reminds us, of both its subject — and as may be added — of its producer, the representations can be very different depending on whether data are captured by using a pen, a total station or a laser scanner.

The data, how it is captured, if it is attached with information on its creator and how this information is made available affect the degree and type of the eventual anonymity of their author. At the same time, however, the data may reveal very little of what Hodder demands, of the decisions, rationales and premisory assumptions related to the processes of documentation and interpretation.

A companion to social archaeology / edited by Lynn Meskell and Robert W. Preucel

Fluctuating discussions on engagement and documentation across the field of archaeology from the documentation of archaeological representations e. Greengrass and Hughes, ; Huggett, to engagement with social media e. Huvila, ; Richardson, are symptomatic of the intricacies of naming and not naming in digital contexts. Even if the underlining of the authorship of the field directors and, to a limited extent, of a small number of specialists participating in the analysis of the findings and the anonymity of the contributions of the rest of the team is a common form of namelessness in archaeology, it is not the only one.

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The second, and in a sense, an even more comprehensive form of not naming the origins of archaeological information and knowledge relates to labelling things as being archaeological , archaeologically significant and interesting. This type of anonymisation of the information and its stakeholders starts already in the field and is institutionalised in the later stages of the information process when the excavation data and the conclusions of individual projects are archived and used as a basis for making claims of the archaeological and cultural value of sites and monuments.

This anonymity is similar to the anonymity of a large and structurally complicated society where individuals act as representatives of corporations and societal entities. Participants rely on the system rather than on a named individual Lewis and Weigert, Huvila cites one of his informants who underlines that an administrator needs a clear statement from an expert archaeologist that a particular site either is archaeologically significant or not.

He ibid. Apparently it is an important part of the process that it is an archaeologist who makes the decision and turns a location into an archaeological or non-archaeological site. At the same time, however, the required expertise appears binary by its nature and whenever a decision has been made, a site is archaeological by definition.

In an attempt to understand the patterns of how anonymity is practiced in archaeology, it seems that both when anonymity is attributable to the primacy of field directors and when the labelling as archaeological has been performed, much of archaeological information remains anonymous because it is never explicitly attributed to its authors or the attribution is lost during an information process that has often been described e. Huvila, b; Thomas, as being long and disconnected. Unlike some other forms of anonymous transactions indicated in the literature e. It is doubtful whether any archaeologist would explain that she or he would deliberately attempt to act anonymously.

Rather when explicit anonymity might be desirable, for instance, in interview research of archaeologists work e.

A Companion to Social Archaeology

Huvila, ; Zorzin, , online contexts e. Morgan and Eve, and in countries with small professional communities Smith and Burke, , it has become apparent in many cases that ensuring anonymity is difficult or even impossible because most of the archaeologists acting in a given context know or are knowledgeable of each other.


As a conclusion, anonymity of archaeologicality can be seen as a result of a process of the institutionalisation and infrastructuralisation of archaeological knowledge production. The information process has become legitimate per se as a part of a process that has produced an authoritative frame of discussing archaeology, a part of the authoritative heritage discourse discussed by Smith and turned archaeology into a particular type of common good.

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  8. Archaeological significance and its implications are not generally contested and in general they do not require elaborate argumentation and personal authority to be accepted. Simultaneously, when archaeology has been objectified as public property, the management of archaeological heritage has turned to task-based public administrative work with an ethos of reducing personal involvement and promoting anonymity cf.

    Bonwitt, even in administrative cultures based on transparency, accountability and freedom of information. Similarly to how, for instance, Gray and Jenkins criticise the mythical anonymity of civil service in contrast to the accountability of politicians in archaeology and heritage management, anonymity is a construct that is assumed and acted upon rather than an irrevocable technical state.

    Even if the identity of the actors can often be difficult to determine: who was digging, who documented what, and who came to which specific conclusion, there are ways to at least partially withdraw the anonymity of archaeologists by consulting the available documentation and making inquiries. The same applies for many other forms of anonymities. The anonymity of organ transplantations, donated blood and eggs can be technically revoked by DNA testing but this is generally resisted because of the preference to maintain the mutually advantageous exchange of assets, whether bodily or informational.

    As Nissenbaum notes, the value of anonymity does not necessarily relate to the capacity to be unnamed, but to the possibility of acting or participating while remaining unreachable. This condition can be fulfilled both when an individual remains technically unreachable or the likelihood of being reached is considered negligible. A closer look at the various forms of anonymities in archaeology suggests that like anonymity itself, the eventual social productivity and counter-productiveness of being and remaining anonymous stems from how anonymity is practised within and in relation to archaeology in different situations.

    In comparison to the life as a context of a named individual, it is a parallel milieu with different possibilities to act.

    The Story Of Archaeology 3of6-Digging By The Book

    The extent and kind of possibilities and for whom they apply depend on how, when and in conjunction to what anonymity is being practised. Even if the anonymity of past human-beings may seem an obvious form of namelessness, that does not mean that it could not be socially useful. In contrast, it plays a very specific role in the context of contemporary post-colonial and community-oriented archaeo-politics. In spite of the recent advances in palaeogenetics and the new possibilities to study the evolution of populations, only rarely is it possible to name an individual or a group in the archaeological record.

    It is more likely when it comes to recent remains, remains that are associated with explicit written evidence or when very specific conditions are met. Similarly, it is extremely difficult to find definite links between past and present populations and communities.

    From a strictly scientific point of view, it is obvious that archaeological evidence is not very useful in supporting claims of lineage and ownership set forth by individuals and communities today Gathercole, However, even if the demands would lack validity beyond any reasonable doubt in a scholarly and scientific sense, they can be useful as political arguments outside of the professional and scholarly archaeological discourse.

    The anonymity of ancient remains can be used as an argument for claiming that the remains are not unique and as such of limited significance. On the other hand, many local communities take pride in archaeological sites Huvila, and make claims of lineage to the ancient inhabitants of their site and in some cases assert ownership or influence on how a specific site should be managed Chirikure et al.

    The prioritisation of genetic lineage would exclude later historical and contemporary occupants and communities engaged in the site and its heritage and could bestow the named community with responsibilities beyond their contemporary interests and capabilities. In addition to the namelessness of the past, social productivity can also be found in other forms of archaeology related to anonymity practices. Even if the primacy of field directors has been a subject of vehement criticism, the facelessness of individual fieldworkers can also be an advantage.

    From the perspective of anonymity, it coalesces with the labeling of things as being archaeological. Even if the silencing of individual voices can be questionable from the point of view of collecting and appreciating diverse interpretations and perspectives to the object of study, the anonymisation functions also as a mechanism of standardising the archaeological information process — for good and bad. From the perspective of an individual fieldworker, anonymity furthermore has a certain equalising potential when the results and interpretations of the entire group are presented under the authorship of the field director or a collective body. Whether being a part of the mass is detrimental or not, depends on how the information process is working, to what extent contributions of individual participants are erased and whether the field director is claiming a total ownership or merely assuming the liabilities relating to the project and its outcomes. The relative anonymity of an individual does not necessarily mean that interpretations or reflections are not encouraged even if it would be the case in many situations but it is rather a question of how they are used in drawing conclusions and how they are recorded and preserved as a part of the field documentation.