Real Tools for Academic Landscapes

Over the last few months, I worked my way through Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft (2009). The book argues for the value of “real,” hard work which he distinguishes from the professions that dominate the white-collar, college-educated, information-based, and academic worlds. Crawford himself straddles the line between academia, where he’s been a fellow at various prestigious universities, and work at his Richmond, Virginia area motorcycle repair shop.  On the whole, Crawford finds the latter work not only more challenging, but also more morally rewarding in that the relentless reality of vintage motorcycles refuse to be re-imagined, to succumb to elusive academic arguments, or problematized in more nuanced ways. If he wanted to make a living, he had to fix real, mechanical problems for his customers. The book is well-known and has been reviewed by more thoughtful critics than me. 

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It was fun to think about this book while I worked away on the landscape of the Western Argolid with the Western Argolid Regional Project. My job on the project was relatively unspecific, but I spent most of my field days walking our survey with one of our talented graduate students team leaders and dividing it into units to be walked by one of our 5 or 6 field teams. On an average day, we walked 5-7 miles through olive, orange, and apricot groves, up and down terrace walls, and through dense patches of maquis. As I’ve noted on this blog before, it was hard work, but at the end of the season, I felt like I had a much more thorough understanding of the landscape than was possible from viewing the splendid World View 3 satellite images on my laptop.

This got me thinking about how important having the right tools for my job is. The right tools were not important in the abstract way that having the right software for my laptop made a job easier, but in a genuinely physical way. For example, having the right pants for hiking around the Greek countryside prevented my legs from being cut to shreds by the thorny vegetation of the Mediterranean. Over the past four or five years, I’ve discovered the value of long-sleeve work shirts to protect my arms from sun, thorns, and insects. Boots are another matter entirely. This summer, I wore a pair of decent (and rather expensive) boots that barely stood up to my day-to-day. They were rugged enough to not disintegrate, but they did not provide enough cushioned to protect my feet from the daily pounding. 

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The right pants, shirts, and (probably the wrong) boots did remind me that there were physical realities to archaeological work that directly related to the kind of data that we collected from the field. I realize that other academic scholars confront these kinds of realities daily – whether they relate to the access hours of an archive or the maintenance of a fussy instrument in lab. At the same time, I wonder whether the relationship between our research and our bodies in archaeology (and this is true of all of the field disciplines) anchors our thinking in the same landscape (and perhaps even a shared physical reality) as the people whom we study. 

Understanding Digital Archaeology

I had a bit of a fun(-ish) surprise when a few of my colleagues directed my attention to a recent article in the Journal of Field Archaeology where the authors cite a personal correspondence with me (!), but also, Visions of Substance, the most recent book published by the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. (To be fair, one of the coauthors of the article, Brandon Olson, was also a co-editor of the book and an alumnus of both the University of North Dakota’s MA program in history and the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project).

The article was authored by Christopher H. Roosevelt, Peter Cobb, Emanuel Moss, Brandon R. Olson, Sinan Ünlüsoy documents in great detail their system for digital recording and 3D imaging at the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project in Turkey. In almost every way the article is a model presentation of innovative archaeological procedures. And, it’s available open access so go and read it now!

The article sets out in great (and commendable!) detail, the digital systems and infrastructure put in place to allow excavation teams to document their trenches and contexts in as careful way as possible. I have taken to describing the kind of highly nuanced and details documentation practices as part of a move toward “post-stratigraphic” excavation. This does not mean that archaeologists like Roosevelt’s team ignore stratigraphy, but rather that they approach documentation in such a way that stratigraphic relationships represent just one type of archaeological context documented during excavation. For example, their system allows for them to record single objects as discrete contexts and this unique contextual situation remains the primary identifier of these objects within their recording system. At the same time, the incredibly sensitive photographic, volumetric recording techniques documented in the article capture subtle aspects of archaeological work, such as the fine lines produced by the brooms used to clean the trench for photography, that do not reflect to stratigraphic processes. Finally, the emphasis on volumetric reconstruction of archaeological contexts moves the project beyond the “black boxes” representing stratigraphic contexts in the Harris Matrix and opens a space for more subtle reading of site formation processes that can, for example, distinguish between simple and continuous depositional events. This is all very cool.    

The article also represents a particular strain of archaeological thought summarized in its title, “Archaeology is Destruction” which strikes through the word “destruction” and replaces it with “digitization.” The core idea behind this particular line of archaeological reasoning is that one major goal of archaeology should be to document as thoroughly as possible the contexts and relationships destroyed through excavation. As a result, documenting for the sake of documenting is a reasonable approach to archaeological field practices and procedures. Digitization and digital tools can provide a more efficient and robust means for gathering information at trench side.

The other strain of archaeological thinking views the work of the archaeologist as primarily creative. Excavation is the work of producing archaeological knowledge and it a fundamentally productive endeavor. Following this approach, the goal of archaeological practice is to produce arguments that shed light on both the past and our present. 

To be clear, these two approaches to archaeological work are rarely mutually exclusive in practice. Most archaeologists both engage in field work to answer specific questions and recognize archaeological evidence as a particularly fragile and limited resource. As a result, good archaeologists engage in excavation and field practices in a deliberate, careful, and systematic way and remain aware that their research goals represent a point in an ongoing conversation about the meaning of the past. Since archaeological evidence is – to some extent – limited, archaeologists constantly seek to avoid a “tragedy of the commons” by balancing the arrogant view that one’s work will produce the final word on a subject against practices that serve primarily as an apologia for the destructive character of excavation. If the balance tips too far in either direction, archaeological practices diminish the ethical justification for the discipline.

The Roosevelt et al. article steers well clear of these two potential pitfalls (as does most archaeological work). They demonstrate that their sophisticated, integrated, digital approach to field recording can document excavation both in a more detailed way and with greater efficiency. The authors do not, however, explain how their post-stratigraphic (to use my term) approach actually results in new archaeological knowledge.

My name was invoked by the authors as someone who has argued that a greater focus on archaeological efficiency through digital tools runs the risk of de-skilling archaeologists. I have argued in various places that “traditional” archaeological practices (which rely on older forms of technology) like writing in trench notebooks longhand, drawing individual contexts, and separating extraneous details from relevant evidence at trench side, locates the primary space of archaeological interpretation at the edge of the trowel, trench, or context. In other words, the act of excavation is not destruction, but the production of archaeological knowledge, and while I admit to the need for intermediate steps that document the way in which the archaeologist produced this knowledge, the ultimate goal is always the archaeological argument. Trench side documentation is an extension of argument making.

I’ve tended to privilege practices that slow the process of documentation on the trench side and foreground deliberate, embodied knowledge grounded in practices like manual illustration and long-hand written, narrative style notebooks. My argument for the superiority of these practices has less to do with the results that they produce, which the last fifty or even 100 years of scholarship amply demonstrates, than the pitfalls that they avoid. For example, calls to excavate more efficiently and to produce more robust datasets redouble the pressure on archaeologists to publish not just their data (although that’s good), but also their analysis. Storerooms full of unpublished material are salutary reminders that digging more does not necessary result in the production of more disciplinary knowledge, and with increased efficiency comes the increased temptation to dig more.

Likewise, I remain skeptical of claims that more efficient documentation opens up time and opportunities for more reflective engagement with the archaeological process. One of the great claims of modern industrial life is that machines would make possible more leisure time for creativity, recreation, and family life. Any growth in leisure time over the past two centuries, however, owes more to the push back against the relentless pursuit of efficiency by labor critics and unions than any moderation on the part of industrial class. If archaeologists continue to occupy the rhetorical position that excavation is destruction, increased efficiency, detail, and documentation will persist as ethical imperatives that are difficult to dislodge in the name of trench-side analysis. I don’t doubt that it is possible to use technology to allow more opportunities to reflect, analyze, and interpret, but considering the tradition of technological innovation in modern, industrial societies, I think it is reasonable to expect that digital innovators demonstrate the interpretative gains from the use of technology.

I will continue to “fret” about the de-skilling of the archaeological workforce through practices that fragment the experience of field walking or excavating. The kind of embodied knowledge typical of pre-industrial craft production produced individuals who have command over most aspects of their work. Archaeology, of course, is a modern science and over the past century has sought ways to regiment knowledge production as a way of improving consistency, efficiency, and results. At the same time, archaeologists have clung fiercely to the idea of craft knowledge. Some excavators, illustrators, and even field walkers are better than others and, as a result, no amount of standardization in practice will achieve perfect consistency in data production. As workflows fragment, however, and narrative notebooks give way to standardized forms, context sheets, digital models, and other regularized expression of trench-side or survey unit knowledge, the significance of this embodied knowledge recedes into the background. Foregrounded, instead, is the systematized regularity of digital data which de-authorizes, overwrites, and “black boxes” the complexities of excavation and survey. The idea that digital technologies do less to deskill archaeologists and more to produce archaeologists as skilled, digital practitioners is similar to the claim that 19th century craft workers simply developed the new skills necessary to thrive on the assembly line. Archaeological skills are grounded in archaeology, not the attendant technologies relevant (or even vital) to the field. (And this comes not from someone who fancies himself a craftsman-archaeologist, but from someone intensely aware of the gap between the kind of knowledge that I posses as a manager of digital workflows and data and people with patiently acquired field knowledge.)

Finally, I continue to be disturbed by the tensions between spatial locus of archaeological work (and the imperative that our field continues to embrace that some forms of archaeology – objects, sites, et c. – remain local), and the displacement that occurs with digital recording of archaeological contexts. By recording spaces, objects, and deposits in such detail that archaeologists can remove these “digital surrogates” from the limits of the archaeological site, we begin to test the concept that that archaeological work is fundamentally local. While we’re not yet to the point where entire sites can be reconstructed in computer labs and 3D clones of objects studied, this is now within the realm of possibility. Soon, the only limit on our ability to transport highly accurate digital versions of artifacts and archaeological sites around the world will be our willingness to do so. 

So, articles like Roosevelt et al.’s tend to leave me a bit cold even if their willingness to share their innovation and work flows are commendable. Maybe I’d find their descriptions more compelling if they demonstrated how the increased resolution, efficiency, and technologies advanced the particular arguments that they sought to make about the history of the site or address particular nuances present in their project’s research questions. Or maybe I’m just a cranky, “old” archaeologist who would prefer to dance with the devil he knows than to take on a new partner.

Go Quickly and Support Peter the Slug

Over the past few years, I’ve had a chance to shine some light on cool crowdfunded projects from my friends and colleagues. I want to take a few minutes to do that again.

My buddy Peter Schultz has posted a Kickstarter to support his latest venture, a children’s book called Peter the Slug. Go check it out now and give it a few bucks.

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Peter was one of the guys who inspired me to start The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota and is doing all he can to prove that persistent little slugs can find unique ways to compete in a world increasingly dominated by big corporations built for predictable performances and prodigious profits. Peter’s slug, like Peter, the man, does things his own way and figures out how to compete and innovate. That alone makes him deserving of your support. So go now and give his hard, innovative work a bit of support.

Making Peter and his slug’s work all the sweater is his decision to take on the parasitic practices of profitable publishing by developing his own creative material, producing high quality products, and building a community willing to support his efforts. Creative work is never free, but this does not mean we have to embrace practices associated with traditional publishing to ensure that authors, artists, and editors receive compensation for their work. Peter’s use of Kickstarter is one approach to this challenge. He’s making the book available for free, but offering some elegant bonuses for his supporters. 

So, let’s give a big cheer for both the slug and Peter’s relentless creativity! And go drop a few dollars to support this project even if you don’t love the slug or have kids. Support the idea and the approach and the willingness to try a new, better way. 

More Maps

One of the exciting challenges that I face at the end of every season on the Western Argolid Regional Project is producing maps. The goal of the maps is usually to communicate some basic information: number of units, artifact density, or the location of particularly important artifact clusters. 

Sometimes, however, we need to produce maps that allow for more complicated kinds of analysis. This analysis typically involves looking at several variables on a map simultaneously. At this point, I generally make a mess of things.

Here’s our basic survey map:

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Then I add densities:

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Then I outline in red some units that are interesting to me. In this case, they’re interesting because they are in the highest quartile of density per particular visibility. In the case below it is 10%-20% visibility.

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Then I decide to add pink and purple outlines for units that are in the top two quartiles for 30%-50% visibility:

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Then I just add the visibility numbers for each unit:

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Then I start to add dot densities for various periods of artifacts:

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By then the map is getting a bit cluttered, but it contains a bunch of useful information.

Efficiency

Since we’re all about efficiency and archaeological Taylorism here on the Western Argolid Regional Project, I decided to run some numbers, out of curiosity more than anything.

The primary productive unit of the survey is the five member field team. It consists of a team leader and four field walkers. They walk an average of slightly over 100 units per day with occasional outings in the mid-100s. We run 5 field teams a day since one team is in the pottery storerooms. It takes field teams about 7 minutes to walk the average unit with some units taking as much as 7 or 8 times that long (and others taking almost no time). Most teams start their first unit a little after 7 am and finish their last unit around 12:45 pm.  So our field day runs for about 6 hours (to simplify). The teams walk for about 2 hours, 15 minutes per day (or about a third of the time their in the field). The rest of the day is devoted to filling out forms and traipsing from one unit to the next. Lest this makes our field walkers sound lazy, I should point out that, over the course of our field season field, walkers walked over 1000 km (that over 600 miles for Americans). There’s no lack of energy and commitment on the part of our field walkers!

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What I discovered is that the average field team used only 3 walkers for field walking. In fact, the average number of walkers per field was almost exactly 3 (the mode was also 3). This got me thinking that, next year, we should take our 6 field teams of 4 field walkers and divide them into 8 field teams with 3 field walkers. This would have the clear advantage of putting 7 field teams into the field daily (with one team heading to the pottery storerooms each day), and this should increase the number of units walked per day by about 40%. 

When I pitched this to a few team leaders, they responded that the teams often used the fourth field walker to help record information when not walking units. If resulted in an increase in efficiency, we should see that 3 walker units are completed more quickly than 4 walker units. The numbers, however, don’t bear this out. Both 3 and 4 walker units get done in about 9 minutes despite 4 walker units being generally longer (by around 25 meters) than 3 walker units. So, there doesn’t seem – on the face of it – to be any real efficiency gained by 3 walker teams. (I do know that some field teams operated at below full strength, but even when I did some rough work to control for this, it didn’t seem to impact the overall numbers very much).

There is one hitch: Around 65% of our units used fewer than 4 walkers, but about 20% units used 4 walkers exactly. But this, I think, is an artifact of our units being mapped to accommodate 4 walker teams. This might account for why units with more than 4 walkers (but less than 9) average about 11 minutes which is a substantial increase over those with 3 or 4. This is the result of teams having to double walk the unit; that is: walkers having to walk the unit once and then again. Curiously, the 11 minute average is not twice the time taken to walk a unit where every walker walks only once. This is probably because we tended to make larger units from areas where the fields are disturbed and unlikely to produce much pottery. While I haven’t run the numbers recently, historically our ceramic densities decline as unit size increases. So, I suspect one thing that might happen if we shrink our field teams is that we’d shirt our unit size to accommodate the smaller teams. So we’ll do more units, but maybe not survey more ground. 

Of course, to make this all work, we have to find two more excellent team leaders to complement our fine group of six. Moreover, we’d have less margin of error for individual teams. This year we lost a few field walkers each week to ailments ranging from dehydration to sea urchin attacks. Teams dropping to two walkers would struggle to be flexible enough to walk large units and would probably suffer just walking average sized units.

Embiggening the number of teams (by debigulating the number of walkers) might also lead us to increase the number of cars and would almost certainly require us to increase the number of devices assigned to team (cameras, GPS units, Sharpies, et c.). But as a good buddy once quipped, if you can’t afford to do maximum archaeology, perhaps you should just stay in the library. 

Notebooks

It’s the last week here on the Western Argolid Regional Project, so things are getting hectic. In fact, during our weekly project meeting on Sunday, I asked our student field walkers to increase their pace just a bit so we can wrap up the last few areas left to survey. To do this, I made an appeal to our field teams to leverage every last bit of efficiency gained over our six week field season.

At the same time, I enjoyed reading Allison Mickel’s recent contribution to the Journal of Field Archaeology (40.3 (20150) titled “Reasons for Redundancy in Reflexivity: The Role of Diaries in Archaeological Epistemology.” She argues for the continued value of traditional archaeological notebooks after studying their use at the site of Çatalhöyük. As most projects have move toward either digital or paper recording forms, they have tended to abandon traditional trench notebooks were seen a crude tool for recording the strictly organized, empirical recording at trench side. Mickel evokes Latour to understand this trend in archaeological recording: “As the processes of knowledge production in archaeology became increasingly ‘‘black-boxed’’ (Latour 1987), the inscriptive devices employed in archaeological fieldwork became increasingly structured and resistant to discussing changing interpretations over time, social dynamics, or emotive reasoning.” 

She demonstrated that the notebooks maintained at Çatalhöyük interwove verbatim repetition from other forms of archaeological recording (like context sheets) with distinct reflections and arguments. In many cases the added value to these notebooks involved making clear the complex process of producing archaeological observations. In other words, the unstructured space of the notebooks captures the indeterminacy of archaeological knowledge in a way that more rigid forms of documentation explicitly seeks to occlude.

This ties to matters of efficiency because redundant data collection is generally regarded as a waste of time especially for projects working on limited schedules, with limited funding, or with permit restrictions. Mickel’s article, however, suggests that enduring the redundancy – even the verbatim redundancy – of notebook recording reinforces the clear link between the messy space of actual archaeological work and the tidy boxes of archaeological recording forms.

Curated versus Automated Revisits

There’s a good bit of buzz lately about Apple Music’s “curated” playlists, and TIDAL, my preference for a music streaming service, offers a range of curated music playlists as well. In general, the term curation, like crafted, artisanal, or any of the other tech-media, marketing buzzwords has come to mean that a human, rather than an algorithm has produced a collection. As many, many have observed, the term curation is annoying and overused.

But I still want to use for a little bit in reference to our work on the Western Argolid Regional Project. This morning, I took some time out of the field to start to analyze some of our finds and field data. We plan to revisit a few units before the season concludes and to collect some more material. Our hope is that these targeted revisits will help us both to refine our survey methods by offering some points to calibrate our sampling strategy, they’ll help us produce more robust assemblages of types of pottery that might only appear in very small quantities using our typical collection approach, and revisits will allow us to document archaeological features a bit more intensively than we would have time and resources to do over the course of intensive survey.

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We target sites for revisit in three ways. First, our field teams can tick a check box and provide a brief explanation for why a particular unit is worth revisiting. Our ceramicists, Scott Gallimore and Sarah James, can also identify units as being interesting, important, or confusing and consequently worth revisiting. Finally, we can analyze data through our GIS and databases that target units with certain characteristics (such as low visibility with either high densities or diverse assemblages). Our revisit lists generated by team leader and ceramicists are not fortified by statistics, but generated through careful observations and total situational awareness. These units represent the slow archaeology approach to landscape and artifact analysis.

So far, it has been heartening to recognize that the lists of revisit units curated by our team leaders and ceramicists are remarkably consistent with the units generated from my analysis of our various databases. In fact, combining the curated list of unit with list of units generated through our analysis of GIS tend to complement each other by expanding the potential target units for revisit. As we nuance the criteria for revisit a bit over the next week, I’m sure that we’ll discover some counterintuitive units that will serve as tests of our archaeological instincts. For now, though, we’ll proceed into the final week of the season with just a bit of confidence that our experiences in the field and at the pottery tables reflects the complexity of our study area.

The Greek Crisis

Our field season at the Western Argolid Regional Project has felt the impact of the Greek economic crisis in rather direct ways. Suddenly all the undergraduates decided that they needed cash and our graduate students have discovered long-neglected piles of receipts that require immediate reimbursement. We’ve made more trips to the ATM than usual, have begun to conserve cash, and have started to feel a bit nervous about the complex web financial arrangements that an archaeological project relies upon to survive.

Our insecurity and inconvenience, however, are nowhere close to what most Greeks are experiencing right now.

The media appears to share our concerns about how the current crisis in Greece will impact both Greece and the rest of the world. Despite this concern, it would seem that many commentators struggle because they have only a very basic understanding of modern Greek history and, as a result, are only too ready to fall back on unhelpful statements about Greece’s ancient traditions of democracy or their foundational role in European civilization. It is nice to remember that our notions of democracy owe a debt to ancient Greece, but it is more important to recall that in the modern world, democracy remains more a lovely Western, historical fantasy than a consistently applied set of political principles.    

This tendency to look back seems to have obscured any critical understanding of Greece’s recent past. For example, few commentators have noted that Greece is among the oldest nations in Europe, but even at the very moment of its birth the powers of Western Europe took an active role in shaping its future. Few have recognized or discussed the difficult periods of financial dependency which robbed Greece of political independence throughout the last 150 years. Finally, commentators have generally overlooked the painful political experience of the Greek Civil War and rule of the military junta which shape Greek attitudes toward modern democracy and European intervention. 

Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s referendum, the results will express the unique history of the modern Greek state more than any Classicizing fantasy about the ancient origins of European and Western democracy. 

Industrial Archaeology and Student Resistance

Fridays are good days for me at the Western Argolid Regional Project. I don’t go into the field allowing my aging body to recover and spend the morning processing a week’s worth of data from the project, producing maps for the local archaeological authorities, and doing some more complex queries that’ll help guide our field work.

It’s great to see our progress over the week (at present writing we’ve walked over 1300 units and over 4000 individual walker swaths). Because we’re consciously old school and “paperful,” we collect data in the field on paper forms that are then keyed by our students in the afternoons. I’ve argued elsewhere that the process of breaking the flow of data from the field to the digital form is part of a practice that I call “slow archaeology.” We keep things analogue in the field to encourage care.

At the end of the day, though, we have to go digital eventually, and the point of contact with the digital realm is when the students key the paper forms into the project databases. Copies of the database are circulated each week on a USB drive and these drives are collected on Fridays when I merge the data. This is an inelegant, but generally reliable process. Because our permit limits us to 3 years of field work, we have shied away from investing too much energy into a digital infrastructure. We do not have a data server, iPads data entry, or any bespoke technology in our workflow.

(Before people get spooled up telling me how easy it is to create a more elegant process for collecting data, I’d like to assure them (everyone really) that WE KNOW. I’ve been managing archaeological datasets for over a decade and recognize that there are better, more reliable, and more efficient ways to move data from the survey unit to the database. I KNOW, but this is the best solution for our project because it balances our investment of energy into data infrastructure with the interpretative and analytical requirements of a three-year field project.)

The amazing thing about data entry duty is that our well-meaning, generally well-educated, and interested students never fail to mess it up. The kinds of mistakes they make in data entry are really quite staggering. One team managed to make an entire field vanish from their database. Another team keyed into a database labeled DONOTUSE which they found buried on some hard drive. Another team decided to add random numbers to their unit numbers. Another managed to break the database by repeatedly trying to key in a unit that had already been keyed causing the LAPTOP (the hardware, mind you, not the software or the database) to finally just reset in an desperate act to protect all involved from such a relentless, unmistakably human assault on common sense.

Why do students do this? Data entry is not difficult, nor particularly time consuming. Each member of the team does it for about 2 or 3 hours a week. The database appears to be straightforward and is fronted by a simple form that more or less follows the paper form. Our hope, of course, is that by asking our students to key the data they become more familiar with the units they’ve walked during the week in much the same way that Medieval monks became more familiar with devotional texts, scriptures, and theology by copying these texts in monastic scriptoria.

The results, however, suggest otherwise. Students take this opportunity to resist data entry as a basal assault on their humanity. Their actions argue against reducing the work of archaeologists, past humans, and the complexities of nature to a set of limited data is profoundly dehumanizing. Our students are committed to demolishing the straight forward data entry process by entering nonsense data. They take pleasure in robbing the computer, database, and even data structure of agency by showing the powerlessness of these tools in the face of human ingenuity. They remind the rest of the project to slow down and appreciate the gentle sounds of olive trees in the wind, the rich taste of Greek coffee, and the crunch of plowed fields beneath our feet.

So, I wanted to take this blog post to thank our students for showing us that no matter how efficient, well-designed, carefully-constructed, and time-tested archaeological data structures are, they will always fail in the face of student ingenuity. Humans will never be data.

All the fears that our education system is turning our students into cogs fit only to power the dehumanizing machine of industrial capitalism may well be overstated. There is something in the human condition that persists into the early college years that we cannot break even by subjecting students to the most mundane tasks designed to wear down their resistance to tedium. The will to resist continues and manifests itself in simple, every day forms that we are only too quick to read as sloppiness, laziness, or incompetence. To misappropriate slightly a quote from the great James C. Scott:

“One day you will be called upon to break a big law in the name of justice and rationality. Everything will depend on it. You have to be ready. How are you going to prepare for that day when it really matters? You have to stay “in shape” so that when the big day comes you will be ready. What you need is “anarchist calisthenics.” Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it’s only jaywalking. Use your own head to judge whether a law is just or reasonable. That way, you’ll keep trim; and when the big day comes, you’ll be ready.”

Origins

This week, we made a quick trip to the village of Frousiouna in the far western Argolid. Throughout the first part of the 20th century, some of the residents of this village would make their way toward the Argive plain to winter their flocks. The village of Frousiouna was the origin of the small hamlet in our survey area.

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Archaeologists are often interested in origins whether these are the origins of particular kinds of material culture or groups of people. The Western Argolid Regional Project has as one of its main research focuses is movement through our survey area and the transhumant pastoralists from Frousiouna are part of that history. 

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The well-watered mountain village with impressive two-storey homes is far cry from the rocky fields and simple long houses of their winter settlement in our survey area.