Cultural Resource Management

Cross-sector approach to capitalise on archaeology in Scotland

5 April 2012

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The way Historic Scotland supports and funds archaeology projects across the country is to be strengthened.

The heritage agency has completed a review of the scope of the archaeology work it commissions and how it supports external projects across the country.

The recommendations will position Historic Scotland to take on an increased role in leading the archaeology sector and will see the creation of a dedicated forum to represent the sector as a whole and influence related policy.

Director of Policy Andrew Fleming. said: “Archaeology offers us such huge potential to interest people in our past. It is so much more than excavations and this review will help Historic Scotland fully recognise the excellent work already being carried out and develop better ways of supporting archaeology and research across Scotland.

“We are really fortunate as Scotland has an outstanding legacy of physical remains of our past. We are constantly learning more and revising our opinions about how our ancestors lived. Having a tangible link to life thousands of years ago is an incredible resource that we need to appreciate and celebrate.

“The expertise we have access to is astonishing an I hope that in taking forward plans for greater partnership working and the setting up of a forum specifically looking at archaeology we can ensure we are able to identify where investment can be most effective and what further work is needed.

“Last week the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop unveiled the remains of an ancient stringed instrument which had been found on the island of Skye. That project has uncovered a wealth of fascinating information but it is also a wonderful example of a great many people and organisations coming together to advise, fund and generally support the excavation and post excavation research. By working together we are changing the way that people regard their history and celebrating our shared history.”

Holding a review was a key performance target for 2011-12 and involved interviews with colleagues in Historic Scotland, as well as a number of partner organisations and has produced 11 key recommendations have been put forward.

Eila McQueen, Director of Archaeology Scotland, said:

“Archaeology Scotland welcome the review. We have a positive relationship with HS that we want to continue. There are exciting and challenging times ahead and I welcome the developing role of leadership from Historic Scotland and believe that we should all get behind that.”

Archaeology Review recommendations

  1. Archaeology in Scotland has enormous potential. Many, many talented and committed people are involved in different ways. A great deal of innovative work is taking place.
  2. The sector would benefit from input from Historic Scotland to provide more co-ordinated leadership, real partnerships and effective policy. There is a need for a long-term strategy for archaeological resources within Scotland involving all stakeholders that is aligned with the overall desired outcomes and vision for the historic environment.
  3. This long-term strategy should, in the first instance, be developed by Historic Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, working closely with stakeholders and partners within the sector as well as those who ‘consume’ archaeology. Historic Scotland is ideally placed to carry out this leadership role because their staff possess the depth of knowledge, experience and specific archaeological skills required.
  4. The long-term strategy should be developed in the context of the wider review of Historic Environment policy and the outlook for public expenditure.
  5. In developing a long-term overall strategy HS should:

    a) With relevant stakeholders, identify future priorities, in particular how the output from archaeology can be made accessible even more readily and quickly for the purposes of education and interpretation and public display as well as for academic consumption.

    b) Build a clearer picture of the size of the archaeology sector in Scotland and who is involved including as much information as possible about numbers, skills, qualifications, experience, purpose and demand and consider future scenarios for its sustainable development.

    c) Identify options for measuring the impact of the voluntary sector in supporting and providing community archaeology, and the relationship between the public and voluntary sectors in this area.

    d) Consult local government, the development industry and private sector archaeology companies about the operation of developer-led archaeology and its place in the wider strategy and consider the need for any changes in the framework, e.g. legislation, within which they operate.

    e) Ensure all the various funding streams for Scottish field archaeology are identified and co-ordinated as far as possible so that all funders, including HS, are clear about funding priorities, the potential funding leverage and their criteria in line with the overall strategy so that the sector gets the maximum value from all the funding available.

    f) Work with Higher Education institutions, the careers service and the Institute for Archaeologists on a long-term strategy for attracting and training recruits to the profession, in particular at post graduate level, and preparing them for relevant employment in the sector in line with HS strategy and Scottish archaeology requirements such as SCARF run by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and other mainstream projects.

    g) Examine the scope for better marketing of Scottish archaeology to domestic and international audiences, working with VisitScotland and other agencies, and communicating achievements and potential.

    h) Examine the scope for generating more economic value from Scottish archaeology, including from commercial activity on HS sites.

    i) Ensure that innovation, particularly in using new technology, is supported and good practice shared and adopted.

  6. HS should establish an Archaeology Forum for Scotland to provide advice in the development and implementation of the strategy and on funding priorities. A key ongoing task for the forum could be to ensure that the strategy is kept live by keeping up-to-date with latest research in Scotland and elsewhere. The forum could be committee in format and size.
  7. As part of the drive to secure maximum value from and raise the profile of Scottish archaeology, HS, in its leadership role, should support the work of the committee currently being led by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland to make 2015 a Year of celebration of Scottish archaeology and the work of the University of Glasgow and others in hosting the major European Archaeology Association conference in the same year.
  8. In order to develop the overall strategy HS should appoint a senior leader with an appropriate mix of skills to a new role of Head of Archaeology Strategy. At the same time HS should consider how the wealth of archaeological expertise within the organisation could be used most effectively and the scope for a rolling programme of secondments to and from the organisation.
  9. HS should look at the scope for more synergy, in relation to its own estate, between its collection and conservation work and its archaeology function.
  10. HS has a key role to play in investing in the whole of the historic environment, including archaeology. HS should consider aligning the management of the archaeology investment programme with its other investment programmes and the estate and properties in care of Scottish Ministers.
  11. HS should, over the course of the next 12 months, pursue the completion of all outstanding publications of HS funded works.
Current Mood: (chipper) chipper
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Opinion: Academic Publishing Is Broken | The Scientist

20 March 2012

The current system by which academics publish their scientific discoveries is a massive waste of money.

By Michael P. Taylor | March 19, 2012

Academic publishers are currently up in armsabout the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)—a bill that has the perfectly reasonable goal of making publicly funded research available to the public that funded it. Tom Allen, president of the American Association of Publishers, described it rather hysterically as “intellectual eminent domain, but without fair compensation.” Why are he and his colleagues so desperate to retain the current business model?

By any objective standard, academic publishing is a very strange business indeed. It became established at a time when all publishing was on paper, when duplication and delivery were demanding problems, and when publishers provided an important service to researchers. Now, as the Internet is dramatically changing other forms of publishing, academic journals seem stuck in the 1980s, with results both comical and disastrous.

Let’s take a look at the flow of money in the production of research. The government takes tax revenue from citizens and uses it to fund university research groups and libraries. Researchers obtain government grants and use the money to conduct experiments. They write up the results in manuscripts that are destined to become published papers. Manuscripts are submitted to journals, where they are handled by other researchers acting as unpaid volunteer editors. They co-ordinate the process of peer-review, which is done by yet other researchers, also unpaid. All these roles—author, editor, reviewer—are considered normal responsibilities of researchers, funded by grants.

At this point, researchers have worked together to produce a publication-ready, peer-reviewed manuscript. But rather than posting it on the Web, where it can contribute to the world’s knowledge, form a basis for future work, and earn prestige for the author, the finished manuscript is then donated gratis to a publisher: the author signs away copyright. The publisher then formats the manuscript and places the result behind a paywall. Then it sells subscriptions back to the universities where the work originated. Well-off universities will have some access to the paper (though even they are denied important rights such as text-mining). Less well-off universities have access to varying selections of journals, often not the ones their researchers need. And the taxpayers who funded all this? They get nothing at all. No access to the paper.

It’s pretty outrageous.

With government-funded researchers providing the writing, the editing, the reviewing, and even most of the formatting, you might think that the publishers who benefit from all this would be able to do their part very cheaply, and that subscription prices would be low and falling fast. Not a bit of it: at a time when library budgets are being progressively squeezed, Elsevier—the biggest of all the academic publishers—reports a 2011 profit of £768 million on revenue of £2,058 million, an astonishing 37.3 percent, compared for example with Apple’s 24 percent profit margin in their record-breaking 2011. This makes 2011 the fifth consecutive year in which Elsevier’s profit margin has increased. Publishers are bleeding libraries dry: it’s no wonder that subscriptions are being cancelled left, right, and center.

Since these publishers are effectively government subcontractors, you might think they would be subject to government regulation. Far from it. Even the very reasonable public-access policy of the National Institutes of Health—that authors should be allowed to post freely available copies of their unformatted manuscripts 12 months after they are published in formatted form—was recently attacked by publishers in the form of the Research Works Act, a nasty piece of legislation that would have made the NIH policy illegal. Although that act was shouted down by a researcher revolt, no one trusts that it won’t be back again in another form.

In the face of the ludicrous status quo, it’s no wonder that researchers are starting to turn to “Gold Open Access” publishing. Under this model, authors pay a publication fee, and the publisher makes the resulting article freely available to anyone and everyone. There are no subscriptions, and open-access publishers don’t demand copyright. The taxpayers who fund research have full access, and anyone can do whatever they like with the published papers, including text-mining. The benefits to research, commerce and society are enormous.

Since open access is a manifestly superior model, we would expect it to have become ubiquitous. But depending on our definition of open access, it seems that only between 5 and 8 percent of scholarly articles are published under this model.  Why is this?

It’s certainly not due to cost. To publish in the reputable open-access journal PLoS ONE costs a publication fee of $1,350. Other open-access journals average a bit less, around $906. To publish in an Elsevier journal, on the other hand, appears to cost some $10,500. In 2011, 78 percent of Elsevier’s total revenue, or £1,605 million, was contributed by journal subscriptions. In the same year, Elsevier published 240,000 articles, making the average cost per article some £6,689, or about $10,500 US.  So to publish behind a paywall with Elsevier—and make your work available to only some other researchers and no members of the public—costs nearly eight times more than publishing openly with PLoS. It’s apparent that we are not getting value for money from the traditional academic publishers.

And so, the $10,500 question: why do we keep publishing with subscription-based journals? There are three reasons.

First, academic publishing is not an efficient market, because of the monopoly effect of certain journals. If you work in the field of cell biology, you simply have to have access to the journal Cell. There are no competitors that you can buy instead, because the specific papers that are published inCell can be found nowhere else.

Second, academics tend to be conservative. So when publishers say that the current system works and there’s no need to change it, academics are, surprisingly, all too ready to accept that claim.  Senior researchers can become too comfortable to rock the boat; their juniors can feel too insecure to do it.

Third, and most important, while it may cost a fraction as much money to publish in an open-access journal, those savings are not rewarded to the researchers. With open-access publishing, the researchers must pay those fees out of their own grant money, or with department funds, while subscription bills are footed by the university libraries, which have completely separate budgets. So, even though, under an open-access publishing regime, for every thousand dollars that a researcher or department spends on author fees, the library could save eight times as much in paid journal subscriptions, the division of budgets within universities (and the fact that until all publishing is open access libraries will still have to continue subscribing to paid journals) is inhibiting this transition.

So subscription-based journals continue to thrive, bringing in record revenues and profits year after year, because at the moment the status quo still represents a local maximum. We can see that there’s a much higher peak just across the way, but we fear the journey because it will take us through a swamp.  Happily, two things are happening to change that.  One is that the land surrounding our peak is inexorably rising: open-access publishing options are becoming more common and more attractive.  And at the same time, the peak itself is diminishing, as the ever-increasing costs of subscriptions make the current arrangement less and less appealing.  We are heading for a moment when all paths lead uphill to a more attractive publishing paradigm. Paradoxically, the thing that could most quickly bring about this change is for publishers to keep hiking journal prices. In the long run, then, it might even be that the more exploitative subscriptions become, the better off the scientific community will be.

Michael P. Taylor is a research associate in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol. He can be reached at

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Archaeology of Punk Rock: The Sex Pistols | Monty’s World

26 November 2011

Archaeology of Punk Rock: The Sex Pistols | Monty’s World.

(Cross-posted from WordPress “ShareThis” app.  View link above for Author’s article)

Archaeology of Punk Rock: The Sex Pistols

Photo: The University of York
Archaeologists from The University of York have stirred up a heritage hornet’s nest with their new research into a house in London with some of the earliest intact graffiti by the founding members of the seminal Punk band the Sex Pistols. The little old ladies brigade and the ‘better’ newspapers are all up in arms over a what some are calling ‘heritage swindle.’
The research was carried out by archaeologists from The University of York.  According to The University of York Department of Archaeology website: “Dr John Schofield, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, and independent researcher Dr Paul Graves-Brown, suggest that the intact Sex Pistols graffiti may be of greater significance than the discovery of early Beatles recordings. They say the graffiti found behind cupboards in the property in Denmark Street in London is “a direct and powerful representation of a radical and dramatic movement of rebellion.” 

Whatever the outcome, this is a much needed conversation about ‘anti-heritage” sites and what to do to preserve the next generation of “historic” sites.   

But as the authors say: “We feel justified in sticking our tongues out at the heritage establishment and suggesting that punk’s iconoclasm provides the context for conservation decision-making. Our call is for something that directly follows punk’s attitude to the mainstream, to authority; contradicting norms and challenging convention.

Personally, I love it. Somewhere Mr. Lydon is cackling… “God Save the Queen”
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Archaeology and the Gulf Oil Spill: Resources & Articles

24 January 2011

During the coarse of the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster, various articles where published mentioning concerns that the general news overlooked. Impact on Cultural resources. Here are some archived references and links to them. Important stuff to know and disseminate.


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IfA: Institute for Archaeologists

24 January 2011

The Institute for Archaeologists
The Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) advances the practice of archaeology and allied disciplines by promoting professional standards and ethics for conserving, managing, understanding and promoting enjoyment of heritage. This website contains valuable information for archaeologists, students and purchasers of historic environment services. [see web site for full article, photos, links, and references. Link/reference copied for personal reference/archiving. ]

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Gulf Oil Spill’s Impact on National Parks

29 December 2010


Gulf oil spill: What’s the impact on national parks?

By Pete Spotts, Staff writer / June 15, 2010

So far, only the Gulf Coast National Seashore has seen oil on its barrier islands. But park officials from Louisiana for Florida’s space coast are bracing for more oil.

From Louisiana’s Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Reserve to the Canaveral National Seashore on Florida’s space coast, the region’s national parks and marine sanctuaries are preparing for the possible arrival of oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout and Gulf oil spill, now into its eighth week. So far, the the Gulf Coast National Seashore – a string of barrier islands and submerged ecosystems off Mississippi and the western shores of Florida’s panhandle – appears to be the only National Park Service location in the Gulf region to take a direct hit from the burgeoning oil spill. Even there, the oil’s arrival has been patchy. The seashore’s website proclaims that the park is still open to visitors. Where oil is coming ashore on the beaches, it arrives with the tide and ebbs with the tide, leaving residual oil that’s fairly easy to clean up. But with their legal mandate to preserve plants, animals, and marine life, as well as sites of historical value within their boundaries, park officials aren’t waiting until oil laps at their beaches, marshes, and mangrove forests to lay plans for dealing with it. Parks in the region “have done a fantastic job” gearing up for the the oil’s possible arrival, says John Adornato, who heads the National Parks Conservation Association’s “Sun Coast” regional office in Hollywood, Fla. Yet, he acknowledges, preparations represent “a huge balancing act.” Officials must weigh the use of skimmers, front-end loaders, and booms with the type ecosystems they oversee as well as the range of historical assets – from coastal forts and shipwrecks to archaeological sites – that could be damaged or destroyed by a well-meaning cleanup crew.

Lessons from the Exxon Valdez: The response represents a sea change compared with the National Park Service’s response to the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. These days, responders have better communications tools, better data on the range and location of key habitats and cultural sites, and have worked out kinks in coordination among agencies involved in dealing with oil encroaching on parks. One of the critical lessons: Time and distance may not protect parks “all that much,” says John Quinley, an associate administrator in the park service regional office in Anchorage. Mr. Quinley currently is working out of the unified command joint information center office in Robert, La. Initial relief that the Exxon Valdez spill occurred some 100 miles from Kenai Fjords National Park quickly evaporated once it became clear that the spill had defied efforts to keep the oil in the general area where the tanker ran aground. Eventually, the oil fouled coastal portions of three national park-related areas stretching some 400 miles from the spill, according to a report by then-park service historian Rick Kurtz. The lesson hasn’t been lost on parks in the Gulf region. Oil has been entering Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, some 20 miles from the southern tip of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

Gulf oil spill: What’s the impact on national parks? So far, only the Gulf Coast National Seashore has seen oil on its barrier islands. But park officials from Louisiana for Florida’s space coast are bracing for more oil. From the outset of the blowout April 20, employees have been taking a range of plant and water samples to provide a baseline for assessing any damage should oil work its way into the preserve – avoiding a shortcoming Dr. Kurtz’s report highlighted in Alaska. Canaveral National Seashore is the latest in the string of Florida National Park locations to set up contingency plans. The trigger for implementing them: the first tarballs clearly identifiable as Deepwater Horizon oil that wash up on the Dry Tortugas – something that has not yet happened. Distance from the spill has given parks time to conduct the resource surveys they’ll need for any cleanup or efforts to recover damages. Sensitive habitats are one key concern. “We have the world’s biggest nesting ground for sooty terns on Bush Key,” part of the Dry Tortugas National Park some 70 miles west of Key West, Fla., Ms. Friar says. “Should that island be affected, we would have to be very cautious about how we would clean it up.” It’s a tiny island that is closed to the public, in large part because “the birds don’t nest very well if there are lots of people walking around,” Friar says.

Cultural resources need protecting. Beyond the birds are the cultural resources, which are sometimes more challenging to protect. Shell mounds, for instance, may not look like much to the casual visitor or to a front-end-loader operator, but they could well represent evidence of prehistoric cultures living in the area. “We have to protect those for number of reasons,” Friar says. To ensure that clean-up efforts don’t destroy such resources, park employees have been accompanying clean-up crews in oil-tainted areas to prevent damage to cultural sites. The Exxon Valdez clean-up effort led to the discovery of several archaeological sites within park boundaries that no one knew about before, Mr. Quinley says. Some of those were destroyed by the effort, as well. Indeed, in many instances, officials now say some of the cleaning techniques were more harmful than the oil. Collectively, the parks in the Gulf region attract at least 8 million visitors a year, says the National Parks Conservation Association’s Mr. Adornato. For all the preparations, park representatives emphasize that they are still open for business. With the exception of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, no oil has yet tainted their boundaries.

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Alaska Oil Spill Response and Cultural Resources

29 December 2010

Alaska Oil Spill Response and Cultural Resources

The 1989 EXXON VALDEZ oil spill and response activities that followed necessitated the development of emergency and long-term measures to protect cultural resources along Alaska’s affected coastline. The Alaska State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) played a key role in developing and monitoring these efforts, along with other government and industry cultural resource specialists. In many ways, the response to cultural resources and quick development of an infrastructure to address the challenges were unprecedented. There were lessons learned as protocols, guidelines, and organizational structure evolved over the course of several field seasons. One of the important accomplishments in the aftermath of the EXXON VALDEZ oil spill was the development of a “National Programmatic Agreement on Protection of Historic Properties During Emergency Response Under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan” and the complimentary “Alaska Implementation Guidelines for Federal On-Scene Coordinators …”

Our colleagues in the Gulf of Mexico region are now struggling with many of the same cultural resource issues in the aftermath of the recent oil platform tragedy there. Chris Wooley (Chumis Cultural Resource Services), who has played a key role as an industry contractor for the EXXON VALDEZ spill response and for subsequent spill responses and spill drills, offers this advice for cultural resource professionals responding to a major multi-state oil release:

“[Response] … will likely require the organization of a joint Cultural Technical Advisory Group from a number of SHPOs across the spill area. The first thing that typically is done is implement a cleanup-wide cultural resource policy… (customized to the event) that shows the unified command supports the historic properties issues… If there are cultural resource issues (sites in the spill area), get archaeologists on the SCAT (shoreline assessment) teams to document site condition prior to response if at all possible. Keeping site confidentiality is a challenge, so using shoreline segment numbers – not site names or locations when dealing with the documentation – help protect locations. Get monitors into the cleanup. As you know, this takes coordination with all the Unified Command elements, and most importantly, good communications with the Operations element. The folks involved in laying boom, collecting oil, doing cleanup need to understand we’re not some pinhead “ologists” doing research and standing in the way of cleanup. Rather we’re there to help them work around these sensitive areas – just like a nesting site or spawning area of biological concern. That’s a message that needs to be understood early in the response.”

The Alaska Office of History and Archaeology, working with other Alaska agencies and contractors, has compiled digital documents of procedures instituted and lessons learned during the Exxon Valdez spill response (follow linked title above to access).

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