As we emerge into the field of digital humanities, it is evident that it is difficult to define the characteristics of a digital humanist. It is also obscure what defines a digital archaeologist. Throughout this post I will delve into what skills expected of a digital archaeologist, or perhaps ‘all archaeologists are digital archaeologists?’(Costopoulos 1). It is quite clear that technology is a driving force, impacting the way we publish our findings and even structure, how we present our work to the public. Costopoulos argues that ‘Archaeology is now fully in a period of experimenting with the computer and gradually adopting it as one of its major tools for research’ and I agree with this statement (Costopoulos 1). However, I believe that technology is an essential innovative way to research the past, but I also argue that it is part of a process. The traditional means of research cannot be completely disregarded, they are also essential to build upon findings and construct an accurate result.
Huggett argues that ‘There’s no doubt that every archaeologist is a digital archaeologist, in the sense that everyone uses a computer to some extent at some point in their work’ (2016).
Does this mean every historian that uses a computer is a digital humanist? I do not believe this is the case. I believe that to be a digital archaeologist or a digital humanist, one incorporates the application of information technology and grasps the importance of its mobilization. However, just like the differences between archaeologists with expertise in ‘pottery or a bone specialist’, technology has many different disciplines (Huggett 2016). For example computational archaeology is the use of computational methods such as data mining, network analysis and GIS. These technological tools are now being used far more than they were before, they’re allowing archaeologists to collect information more promptly than before.
I believe that to be a digital humanist you must master the acquired skills in your specific area, in order to undertake your work in a skilful professional manner. Therefore to define an archaeologist as one thing is completely untrue, I would argue that to be a digital archaeologist, you may not necessarily have the technical skills required, to construct a 3D model of the area excavated for example. Yet you may have an understanding of the certain tools used such as photogrammetry in order for another person to process your images and create the 3D model.
I do not believe that it is sufficient enough to just ‘do digital archaeology’ as Costopoulos suggests. In my opinion it is part of building tools and gathering information that strengthens the process, as these actions are all involved in a final product. As Huggett advocates
‘The challenge is to strengthen the roots of the archaeological technological tree, promoting healthier and more vigorous growth. In the process, influences digital technologies within the Humanities and beyond’ (Huggett 94).
In conclusion to be a digital humanist or digital archaeologist, I do not believe that you have to know every piece of the puzzle to construct the end picture. Using Huggett’s metaphor of a tree, the aim is to build a strong team with different skill sets, in order for a more ‘vigorous growth’ and prosperous results (Huggett 94).
Costopoulos, A. “Digital Archaeology Is Here (and Has Been for a While).”Frontiers in Digital Humanities 16 March, 2016. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fdigh.2016.00004/full, Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
Huggett, J. “A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology” Open Archaeology, 2015; pp. 86–95. https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/opar.2014.1.issue-1/opar-2015-0002/opar-2015-0002.pdf, Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
Huggett, J. 2004. “Archaeology and the New Technological Fetishism.” Archeologia e Calcolatori 15, 2004, 81-92. http://www.archcalc.cnr.it//indice/PDF15/05_Hugget.pdf, Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
Hugget, J. “Let’s talk about digital archaeology” Digital archaeology May 10, 2016. https://introspectivedigitalarchaeology.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/lets-talk-about-digital-archaeology/#more-389, Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.