Setting up a field lab for science-based experimental archaeology

Bison code: L.28293

Cultural heritage is inherited from past generations and common ‘property’. It can be lived in, walked through, appreciated, practiced and used. Archaeological heritage, on the other hand, can only be touched by trained professionals while most people only take not of it in museums and reports. As artefacts eminently are articles of everyday use, the study of them should be participated by the society that inherited them. The field lab to be developed aims to bridge the gap between professional researchers and students, pupils, volunteers, mentally and physically challenged and anyone interested. Gaining new insight and research data from experiments performed, the field lab should in the meantime provide an annually recurring learning environment for anyone interested, anchoring archaeological heritage to its natural heir.

As a draft of the field lab to be designed, the following serves as an outline. Every year a well described research question serves as a guiding theme for the workshops of the field lab. Examples could be: which ceramic products can be made of which raw materials? Which marks leave different uses of ceramic mortars? Which slag types are produced during which activities? Four workshops of a few days each can be designed for specific target groups, or for a mixture of them. Each workshop aims to contribute to a specific step of the pre-designed research process. Participants upload their contributions and experiences to a custom made digital platform by means of vlogs, blogs and digital exhibitions. Moreover, this platform enables project related communication and connection of unrelated participants. The annually recurring field lab should lead to scientific articles and a (mobile) exhibition in which products, experiences, insight and research questions can be shared with a larger public.

Students participating in this project will meet a diverse set of challenges. From an archeological point of view, formulating significant and realistic research questions will be challenging. But also defining a new revenue model in a rapidly changing archaeological market can be daunting. A nice challenge for students with a different background. Another challenge will be the integration of the field lab with (new) media. Students should be well equipped for drawing up the requirements of the intended digital platform. Attracting participants for the field lab will be a challenge as well, a nice approach for students with another background. An important aspect of this project will be the participation of mentally and physically challenged people, this needs to be looked at from a care perspective as well. Above all, students are stimulated to bring their creativity and expertise to set up this field lab for science-based experimental archaeology.

Cluster: The Future of the Past