Alex Smith (Oxford Archaeology)
This paper will look at how new methods of archaeological recording and publication are affecting post-excavation management. One of the key factors that should feature in the early stages of all post-excavation programmes, but one which is often barely given the attention it deserves, is the actual nature of the published output (ie what exactly are you wanting to produce). The type of publication should have a significant effect on post-excavation processes and management and it is important to use appropriate methods within the right projects.
Digital publication is becoming more and more popular, often as a way of presenting supplementary data but also as the sole form of published output. This is due to a number of different reasons, including increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness of publication, gaining a much larger world wide audience and because it enables the presentation of huge volumes of data that modern excavations can produce. Archaeological practice has always produced substantial amounts of data, but with the increased use of digital recording technology, the volume of this material has expanded enormously. This brings with it new challenges of how this information can be analysed and presented effectively, as well as the need to ensure that the bulk of the data does not become ‘lost’ in an archive that cannot be readily consulted except by the most persistent.
As digital publication becomes increasingly important, it presents new ways of disseminating data that are not possible by traditional printed means, for example interactive site plans and on-line databases, which can allow researchers to actually engage with the data. It can also be a way to effectively publish interim data, so interested parties do not have to wait years for the final publication, and also to bring ‘grey’ literature into the public domain. In terms of post-excavation management, the level and type of digital dissemination would ideally be ascertained from an early stage so that all of those involved in the project have a clear idea of what they are expected to produce. In this way, there should not only be a much easier transition from analysis to publication, but also a more coherent end product.