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No srsly Commercial Archaeology Sucks The debate thread
#1
Splitting off from the drug thread

http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/showthread.php?...ace/page12

RedEarth Wrote:So many things going on there I'm not sure where to start, but I certainly don't understand your proposal of 'evaluations should be paid for by a consortium of potential tendering archaeological units for cost estimation... all sites are dug 100%'. I'm not sure what you've got against evaluations, I would say they are one of the more interesting and useful methods of making new discoveries.

Far too much use of the term middle management (what does that even mean, do you know?) and your notion of 'a system that feed-backs modifications from the analysis interpretation end to the field end in the most productive and expedient way possible' is potentially even more flawed than the alternative you are criticising as it too will always be seen as the 'ultimate methodology' while constantly shifting. The most current methodology is always going to be perceived as the best one.

Clearly you missed the session from our guest lecturer Professor Jones 'Archaeology is the search for facts, not truth'.

Enough about all that talk about drugs, it had got very boring, a bit like drugs, ironically enough.


I'LL bite }Smile

I'm not against evaluations...

well I am because they are being misused.

your point about constantly shifting system is a good one but really is what we have now because top down imposition actually curtails the correct implementation of the one we supposedly have! though I take on board the point by repeating the term expedient... i agree there is a danger for a load of feckwitery free for all..but that doesn't mean we just switch off our brains

the; time, working conditions and budgetary constraint issues simply do not allow us to collect the data by the book... and the supposed facts we collect are LIES OF OMISSION where the absolute quantities (IE FACTS) are lost and thisi effects the context of meaning between stuff...and this is not some ineffable BS use of the term context by a load of theoretical archaeologists but the ability to divide up data into meaningful sets

we do not even have a benchmark for a how much is left out because its a site/person specific issue probably only vaguely understood by the site supervisor in question... one of the most useful things on a context sheet is the diggers sig... yeah?

as for facts vs truth...

is the relationship between two bits of data a fact or an interpretation?

that is just going to disintegrate into a semantic world of nonsense... I can produce a case study (if you wish) where the sub contexts of a data set has been missed meaning that the data has been interpreted in a profoundly different way from and an alternative manner... moreover the meaning and context of the data is frozen by research agendas imposed by said middle management.


The problem is this those arguing for a wider analysis and the error of site specific agendas can not win the argument until they demonstrate what it is we are failing to understand by restricting our methodology its a catch 22 which means we are perpetually caught in a tedious theoretical argument for which there is no resolution because systemically its nigh on impossible to change anything

well lets see if we can find an example where the current system produces a radically different result from a wider more integrated and frankly saner methodology

Middle management is a; broad, soft and somewhat derogatory term and yes deliberately provocative... come and get some
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#2
Can we retitle this 'Theoretical archaeology makes my head hurt'?

OK, taking it bit by bit:

- your first paragraph contradicts itself, you are concerned about a strategy being implemented from above but at the same time admit that the alternative is a potentially disasterous interpretative free for all, thereby suggesting that one persons interpretation/method is more correct than anothers. Perhaps yours?

- next, commercial archaeology is certainly not ideal but it is better than the stuff being bulldozed out of existance, and so lose the all important evidence. There are still 'facts' to be had though, and I can't imagine what fantasy world would allow for a perfect retention of information in all cases - WE ARE DIGGING THE STUFF OUT OF THE GROUND FOR GOD'S SAKE! I would imagine there are all sorts of ommissions, nothing is perfect.

- I bet your supervisors love you!

- you seem to be confusing 'facts', 'data', and 'interpretation'. They are not the same thing.

- I have no idea what the sub context of data bit is all about.

- I have lost the will to live....
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#3
I am saving my lost the will to live for pps.

I think midi for me I am embarrassed that clients have to pay for archaeology. I particularly hate that they have so called archaeologists imposed on them by the lackey state and their lackey conditions in which every single term is an absolute travesty against doing archaeology. I think that almost every site brings archaeology into disrepute and can be vilified from almost any angle, politic and ethic. I see it as my job to ease their suffering as much as I can.
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#4
RedEarth Wrote:Can we retitle this 'Theoretical archaeology makes my head hurt'?

OK, taking it bit by bit:

- your first paragraph contradicts itself, you are concerned about a strategy being implemented from above but at the same time admit that the alternative is a potentially disasterous interpretative free for all, thereby suggesting that one persons interpretation/method is more correct than anothers. Perhaps yours?

competing ideas usually one will be better than an other ... yes it is not a contradiction to show pros and cons



Quote:- next, commercial archaeology is certainly not ideal but it is better than the stuff being bulldozed out of existance, and so lose the all important evidence. There are still 'facts' to be had though, and I can't imagine what fantasy world would allow for a perfect retention of information in all cases - WE ARE DIGGING THE STUFF OUT OF THE GROUND FOR GOD'S SAKE! I would imagine there are all sorts of ommissions, nothing is perfect.


breath in breath out.... the notion is commercial archaeology needs improvement. It has deteriorated and lost its way... not we should do nothing instead


Quote:- I bet your supervisors love you!

I am the supervisor


Quote:- you seem to be confusing 'facts', 'data', and 'interpretation'. They are not the same thing.

- I have no idea what the sub context of data bit is all about.

- I have lost the will to live....

OK here is an example we will take it one step at a time. lets examine confirmation bias as a precursor

For those that have dug in the City of London (molas wessex oxford PCA etc) the site method statement will no doubt include the following research objective

What evidence is there, if any, for the decline in activity on the site in the mid-2nd century?

that's a loaded question

this is akin to giving a load of biologists a bunch of data and ask

What evidence is there, if any, for the intelligent design in this data set?

Someone could find evidence for intelligent design in the data set because some things could be interpreted as such but clearly if they look at the data as a whole they will conclude those bits of evidence can b explained in a different way that forms a more consistent explanation.. evolution

but they are not being asked that they have been asked to cherry pick out those bits of data that could fit ID theories at the expense of other theories

The same thing is being asked of all the Londinium dig supervisors and if they lack insight and/or experience they tend to try and fit the data to the model of 2nd cent decline ...now at this point it is irrelevant whether 2nd cent decline model is correct or not what is important for our discussion is we both agree that you understand the point I am making concerning confirmation bias.

this 2nd cent decline model is passed from top down with unstated assumptions built into the way sites are approached

Do you understand this first point?
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#5
oh method statement or prodject design or written scheme of investigation as in pre-archaeology statements, how do you get it to answer

What evidence is there, if any, for the decline in activity on the site in the mid-2nd century?

not sure I would put it in.
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#6
mididoctors Wrote:competing ideas usually one will be better than an other ... yes it is not a contradiction to show pros and cons



breath in breath out.... the notion is commercial archaeology needs improvement. It has deteriorated and lost its way... not we should do nothing instead

I am the supervisor

OK here is an example we will take it one step at a time. lets examine confirmation bias as a precursor

For those that have dug in the City of London (molas wessex oxford PCA etc) the site method statement will no doubt include the following research objective

What evidence is there, if any, for the decline in activity on the site in the mid-2nd century?

that's a loaded question

this is akin to giving a load of biologists a bunch of data and ask

What evidence is there, if any, for the intelligent design in this data set?

Someone could find evidence for intelligent design in the data set because some things could be interpreted as such but clearly if they look at the data as a whole they will conclude those bits of evidence can b explained in a different way that forms a more consistent explanation.. evolution

but they are not being asked that they have been asked to cherry pick out those bits of data that could fit ID theories at the expense of other theories

The same thing is being asked of all the Londinium dig supervisors and if they lack insight and/or experience they tend to try and fit the data to the model of 2nd cent decline ...now at this point it is irrelevant whether 2nd cent decline model is correct or not what is important for our discussion is we both agree that you understand the point I am making concerning confirmation bias.

this 2nd cent decline model is passed from top down with unstated assumptions built into the way sites are approached

Do you understand this first point?

I'm not sure that what you are talking about is pros and cons, more wrongs and rights, as you state beforehand 'usually one [idea] will be better than an other' - will it? who has decided that? that too sounds like a autocratic statement made, perhaps passed the top down, based on an a priori decision about future decisions. How is that any worse than what you criticise below?

I'd agree that elements of it need improving but I don't think you've demonstrated it all needs improving.

Fair enough, your the supervisor but there is someone above you presumably making decisions, which I get the feeling you don't agree with.

Of course it's a loaded question, but until robots carry out excavations (goodbye jobs) then there is always going to be some presumptions made beforehand. We do not approach the site in a vacuum, just as biologists don't, it's called evidence and debate.

I simply can't tell what you are suggesting should happen instead.
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#7
RedEarth Wrote:Of course it's a loaded question, but until robots carry out excavations (goodbye jobs) then there is always going to be some presumptions made beforehand. We do not approach the site in a vacuum, just as biologists don't, it's called evidence and debate.

I simply can't tell what you are suggesting should happen instead.

well you have hit the proverbial nail on the head because the facts vs truth or evidence and debate is built in

we both agree

secondly we both agree that assumptions are brought to process

would you agree these unstated assumptions need to be highlighted and questioned? flagged up?

or should they be left alone?

the problem is these unstated assumptions also include assumptions about how the data should be analysed (which is where the context sub context part comes in but leave that for latter where an easy to understand real world example will be presented)

for now do you agree?

think about it for an hour or so I have to do something

this is not a discussion i can make my point in one post without steering you through a path where you understand what it is I am trying to say... if you did you would have it from the first post.... thats just the nature of communication.

its not some sort of attack
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#8
mididoctors

The questions are of a similar nature, but not of the same type, but that's a philosophy of science debate.

Aren't you ignoring that "if any"? "If any" distinguishes the question from being presumptive - it is asking for one to search for negative evidence for the hypothesis. It probably should be phrased more clearly though, first, stating the presumption, and then, asking for that presumption to be tested by archaeological "experiment". Is that, roughly, what niggles you about it? That it lacks rigor?
"The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation". (Jacob Bronowski)
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#9
mididoctors Wrote:well you have hit the proverbial nail on the head because the facts vs truth or evidence and debate is built in

we both agree

secondly we both agree that assumptions are brought to process

would you agree these unstated assumptions need to be highlighted and questioned? flagged up?

or should they be left alone?

the problem is these unstated assumptions also include assumptions about how the data should be analysed (which is where the context sub context part comes in but leave that for latter where an easy to understand real world example will be presented)

for now do you agree?

think about it for an hour or so I have to do something

this is not a discussion i can make my point in one post without steering you through a path where you understand what it is I am trying to say... if you did you would have it from the first post.... thats just the nature of communication.

its not some sort of attack


Where would you start with flagging up in built assumptions? We are all human and therefore subject to the same sort of prejudices and assumptions, what would count and what wouldn't? Would the process of identifying existing assumptions not also be subject to them, and on and on and on. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it unless something was patently wrong (i.e. there was plenty of evidence that it was wrong and a broad consensus of opinion, which is about all you can hope for).

I'm not sure what 'context sub context' means so you will have to explain that one to me.

In an hour I will be at home!
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#10
Hi Chaps
I dispute your basic contention that commercial archaeology "has deteriorated and lost its way". It's got it's problems but there has never been some golden age from which heady heights of pure subjective academic investigation we have fallen! The amount of money has gone up for projects, the number of qualified staff has risen, there is an acceptance by developers that archaeology is part of the development process, elected members are far more aware of archaeology then ever before. Sampling procedures and redundancy in analysis has honed the skills of post-ex specialists and excavation staff to squeeze maximum information from datasets. The use of GIS and GPS mapping means evidence can be analysed quickly, ideas tested and strategies adapted to new circumstances. Radio-carbon dating is more accurate and getting cheaper, other forms of scientific techniques are telling us more and more about the past. There were more archaeological reports produced in the last ten years than ever before and there is a legal basis for requiring reports to be submitted to the HER.
Do you really believe that commercial archaeology was better in, say 1995, or 1990, or (god help us) before PPG16?
I am also very worried about this statement:

"can produce a case study (if you wish) where the sub contexts of a data set has been missed meaning that the data has been interpreted in a profoundly different way from and an alternative manner... moreover the meaning and context of the data is frozen by research agendas imposed by said middle management."

Mainly I'm worried because I don't believe it makes any sense whatsoever, what do you mean "a profoundly different way from and an alternative manner"? That's just weird, sorry but it is!
You also make this point:

"The problem is this those arguing for a wider analysis and the error of site specific agendas can not win the argument until they demonstrate what it is we are failing to understand by restricting our methodology its a catch 22 which means we are perpetually caught in a tedious theoretical argument for which there is no resolution because systemically its nigh on impossible to change anything"

I thought you wanted site specific analysis instead of more general research aims because they produced bias? I think your contradicting yourself a lot here chap.

It might really help if instead of writing enigmatic sort-of theory statements you actually say how you would do it different!
Steven
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