2020 March - Documentation Strategies in Archaeological Open-Air Museums, Berlin (DE) - Abstracts

Updated: January 20, 2020


Paper 1: Towards a Taxonomy of Ancient Technology? Insights into the Application of Conceptual Maps to Documentation Strategies in Archaeological Open-Air Museums
Lara Comis cand. Phd

During the qualitative analysis of the online survey launched to investigate best practices in Experimental Archaeology and Archaeological Open-Air Museums (presented at the EAC11, Trento, May 2019), an interesting conceptual map emerged from the study of ancient technology activities. The respondents included in the open answers very detailed descriptions which allowed the analysis to delve into a visual representation of causal relationships and connections among different ancient technologies as they developed in time. In comparison to the conceptual map describing the observations on experimental archaeology, ancient technology seemed to be clearer and more structured, because no gap in knowledge was addressed. Could this “map”, if adequately implemented, be of use to strategize the collecting of data from Archaeological Open-Air Museums? In other words, would it be possible to speak about a possible taxonomy for ancient technology? This paper attempts to tap into this argument by highlighting some aspects which could be useful to create a database structure for the collection and recording of data as a day-to-day activity in an Archaeological Open-Air Museum. Finally, it will also explore ways in which this model could also be expanded to include contributions from Academia and the public alike in experimental archaeology data collection strategies. 


Paper 2: Strategies to Document, Record and Store Key Information
Trevor Creighton
Butser Ancient Farm (UK)

Butser Ancient Farm has been at the forefront of experimental archaeology in Britain for over 45 years. The pioneering work of Peter Reynolds defined the experimental evaluation of Iron Age structures and agriculture in The UK and has had an international impact. Butser Ancient Farm has in more recent years extended its remit beyond the Iron Age. The expansion commenced in 2003 with a Romano-British villa, proceeding rapidly since 2014 to encompass the Neolithic and Anglo-Saxon periods. The site now has 12 major experimental buildings, with numerous ancillary structures. The pace of expansion has necessitated the careful consideration of strategies to document, record and store key information about: the archaeology from which the buildings are derived; the rationale and processes involved in their construction; their interpretation and usage; and the recording of subsequent phases of research, including the documentation of their decay, and of the archaeology derived from their demise. Beyond the obvious material considerations, we are also developing methodologies for capturing the experiential impressions of those involved in the construction and later use of the building. Key to this system, which is still at the implementation stage, is consistency, clarity, and ease of access. This presentation will seek to illustrate the processes and provide examples of its outcomes in the hope of contributing to a system through which information may be stored and shared on a broad, consistent, international platform.


Paper 3: Reconstructing the Skuldelev Ships: lessons learned while documenting maritime experimental archaeology
Martin Rodevad Dael & Dr Tríona Sørensen
Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde (DK)

The Viking Ship Museum has been involved in the experimental archaeological reconstruction of boat and ship finds for over thirty years. During this time, a multi-disciplinary research environment has developed around the Museum boatyard, striving towards collaboration between craft specialists, sailors and academics.
Built from 1982-84, the Skuldelev 3 reconstruction, Roar Ege, was the Museum’s first Viking ship reconstruction. The documentation carried out during that project laid the foundation for an internal archive of experimental archaeological documentation that has grown with each new reconstruction project. The focus of this documentation has shifted over the years. When constructing Roar Ege, the building team were very much focused on ‘re-discovering’ Viking Age ship-building techniques. With each subsequent build, the boatbuilders’ fluency in these techniques increased, eventually becoming second nature: and so, documentation focused more on the chronological stages of building projects rather than the thought process and immaterial actions involved in each step. In 2016, Roar Ege was retired on land and in 2017, work began on a new reconstruction of Skuldelev 3, creating an opportunity to reflect over how we document and why. This paper will present the development of the documentation methods and approaches used today at the Viking Ship Museum boatyard, from the perspective of both the boatbuilder and archaeologist. It will detail past successes and – perhaps more importantly – failures, while also exploring the inherent connection between experimental archaeological reconstruction and the intangible cultural heritage of traditional wooden boatbuilding. 


Paper 4: Introduction to Databases for Museums
Joseph Davis MSc. (IE)

As an archaeologist and ICT specialist, Joseph Davis will give a combination of a presentation, workshop and demonstration about this subject, depending on the time we have available. He designed this for complete beginners who may need to create databases for their own projects
Are you not a database developer? Have to build a database anyway? We will cover the fundamentals of relational databases and entity-relationship modelling.
What is a relational database, and how does it differ from a flat file (spreadsheet, CSV)? What is database normalization? Data modelling – Basic entity-relation model. Following on that, we cover how to write basic queries to select data from a SQL database, including joins between tables, filters, aggregations, and creating views.
Finally, Davis will demonstrate Data Wrangling, or how to take a Messy Data Set and prepare it for a Relational Database. Got a pile of spreadsheets? Paper forms? Multiple data sources that don’t quite match up? Don’t have any specialized software in the budget? This demonstration will show how to import data from a flat file into a relational format with a spreadsheet and SQL, using concepts from the previous talks.


Paper 5: Building in Open-Air Museums: Propositions Towards a Universal Template to Record the Specific Data Inherent to our Activity(ies)
Ulysse Douillon MSc & Nathan Schneider MSc, Randa Ardesca (FR)

Experiments conducted by open-air museums produce a substantial amount of knowledge. How to explain that these data are seldom shared between the numerous French entities? We could witness the limits detrimental to this sharing. To cite only the main ones: the lack of an established network able to create a link between the diverse protagonists, the lack of a will to thoroughly study, conserve and share these data, the lack of skills within some open-air museum, especially when private, or the impracticability of allocating time to a task not directly profitable nor useful to the open-air museums running.
Randa Ardesca faces this last situation. In order to solve this issue, it seems important to us to list analyses criteria which are synthetic, accessible to any, adaptable to one’s skill level and useful to all.
In this aim, we will suggest an archetype based upon an already existing building from the open-air museum.
Once completed, the diffusion of this template could offer an opportunity of communication for EXARC towards the French open-air museums, with it hopefully being a better incentive at joining an international network.


Paper 6: Diversity, Authenticity, and Provenance in Prehistoric Reconstruction Practices in Japan
Prof. Dr John Ertl
Keio University, Tokyo (JP)

Prehistoric architectural reconstruction has a short history in Japan, with the earliest examples built in the late 1940s. Yet today there are approximately 350 sites with 900 buildings. This presentation introduces the author’s database project that has attempted to document this broad history. Over the past 70 years, several aspects of their material and design have remain stable, while others have radically changed. As prehistoric buildings in Japan were made from organic materials, the remains that informed their design are quite limited – leaving questions surrounding their authenticity. As such, some have argued these buildings should be dismantled because of their potential to distort the image of the past. This presentation examines the problems of provenance, the ability to trace back the data and decision-making processes that informed their shape. In some cases, revolutionary new analytical techniques are applied, while others simply copy earlier designs – but for the most part this information has not recorded. In looking to the future of these sites, it is unlikely that archaeological remains will provide ample data to resolve all the problems of authenticity surrounding them. This presentation argues that any evaluation of a reconstruction’s authenticity requires proper documentation the decisions, experiments, trials, and the mistakes that inform and re-inform their shape.


Paper 7: Keeping up Appearances: The Visual Documentation of Re-Building Roundhouses at Castell Henllys Iron Age Village
Dr Delun Gibby & Liz Moore
Pentref Oes Haearn Castell Henllys/ Castell Henllys Iron Age Village (UK)

Castell Henllys is an established visitor centre and heritage site near Newport in North Pembrokeshire where the visitor can immerse their senses in prehistoric life. It is the only reconstructed Iron Age village in the UK where the roundhouses and granary have been built on the site of the original post holes.

The site has undertaken a number projects namely the archaeological excavation and experimental reconstruction of the various Iron Age structures as well as developing an educational programme including ancient crafts. Over the last three years, the first two reconstructions built in the 1980’s have been taken down and re-built again.

Although there are a number of ways in which the processes of research, rebuilding, maintenance and decay have been documented over the last 39 years, we found that visual documentation (photographs/ video) proved the most beneficial. This is a very simple way of documenting work that can be digitally stored, accessed and shared widely and does not require a specialist skill. A picture can say a thousand words: in this paper we will discuss how we use a visual documentation strategy to not only record and disseminate information about our work (projects, maintenance, crafts etc.) but also how in reviewing said documentation we can make informed decisions for the future care and direction of the site.


Paper 8: Sustaining the Immaterial – Methods and Experiences in Knowledge Transfer of the educational projects in the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen (DE)
Dr. Rüdiger Kelm
Stone Age Park Dithmarschen (DE)

Since 1999 the Stone Age Park Dithmarschen offers a wide variety of archaeological activities and educational programs for different visitor groups, from the Kindergarten-child to the senior visitor, from school classes to “Stone Age Parties” for enterprises. In this presentation it will be discussed how the Stone Age Park keeps the experiences of the educational programs vivid and transfers it from one “generation” of educators to the other. Also the different forms of introduction of new educators to the practical work in the park are shown, for example with special courses, with a system of direct contact between the experienced and the new educators in the work and with a lot of “open space”-seminars for discussions and exchange. The important role of the Support Society of the Park is presented, also in the integration of new staff. The skills of the handicraft and infrastructure maintaining specialists are also discussed in the end. Although there are all this different ways of knowledge transfer, it remains a general problem to sustain the experiences of the diverse works, educational activities and responsibilities in a complex Archaeological Open Air Museum. Here are new ideas and methods necessary for the future.


Paper 9: Approaches to the Documentation of Houses in Archaeological Open-Air Museums - Results from a Seminar at the FU Berlin in Summer Term 2019
Dr. Enrico Lehnhardt
Freie Universität Berlin (DE)

The seminar was divided into two parts, one group documented the long term experiment “House 1” in the Museums Village Düppel professionally for the first time. The house was built in the 1970’s and left to decay in 1990. The area was always freed from vegetation and photographed at regular intervals. The second group reflected on the continuous documentation of reconstructed houses in archaeological open-air museums with the aim of developing a proposal for binding documentation guideline as well as practicable documentation forms. The contribution is intended as a thought-provoking impulse.


Paper 10: The realisation of an open-air archaeological itinerary from the musealisation of three medieval cemetery areas of Valcuvia (Northern Italy)
Marta Licata, Omar Larentis, Ilaria Gorini, Paola Badino, Roberta Fusco, Chiara Tesi
University of Insubria, Varese (IT), Rosagemma Ciliberti, University of Genoa (IT)

We present our current research project that is part of a larger study planned by our research centre concerning the enhancement and promotion of the archaeological heritage of Valcuvia (Lake Maggiore, northern Italy). The goal of our project in general is to give priority to the redevelopment of some open-air archaeological sites in Valcuvia, still unknown to date, but which have an extraordinary historical, artistic and archaeological potential as well as tourism. The operations envisaged by this original proposal will generate a synergistic development aimed at creating new tourism systems. In particular, in recent years, our centre has been involved in the archaeological and anthropological study of these three archaeological sites: Sant'Agostino Caravate, San Biagio in Cittiglio, Sant'Eusebio and Antonio di Azzio. The sites, partly already investigated from an archaeological and anthropological point of view, present strong potential for thematic and territorial connection. Our current project aims are to conclude the study of the entire osteoarchaeological sample of three sites and to realize a project of a museum of anthropological assets within archaeological sites destined to become “open-air museum sites” that can be inserted into an already planned archaeological itinerary organised by theme. Indeed, the musealization of the osteological findings will have to be offered as a model for other realities similar to ours, that is laboratories of physical anthropology set up directly on the archaeological sites of necropolises and which could realise a visibility of its operations proposing precisely the restoration and museum display of the osteoarchaeological finding.


Paper 11: Analysis of Dumat al-Jandal, Saudi Arabia for UNESCO World Heritage Listing Requirements
Prof. Hisham Mortada, PhD
AIA, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah (SA)

Dumat al-Jandal is an ancient site in the north of Saudi Arabia. Several civilizations have left their footprints and impacts on the urban and architectural components of this site. In general, Dumat al-Jandal consists of 3 components. The first is a castle which is dated back to the Roman time, while the second is a mosque that is believed to be constructed in the 8th century AD. The third part of the site is al-Dira’ district, whose date of emergence is uncertain though physical evidences indicate that it is 400-700 years old. This research analyses the urban and architectural aspects of the three components of Dumat al-Jandal. It also discusses their construction materials and the modifications occurred to each building or component throughout history. The historic and architectural characteristics of this site are then rested against the registration criteria of the UNESCO World Heritage List as well as similar examples that are already on the List.


Paper 12: From Bede’s World Back to Jarrow Hall: a Four Decades Museological Project in North-East England
Marco Romeo Pitone, cand. PhD
Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum (UK)

Bede’s World began as a museological project aiming to showcase the results of Dame Professor Rosemary Cramp’s excavations (1963-1978) at St. Paul’s monastery in Jarrow (UK). The museum opened in 1974 inside the 1785 manor house on the site, with a permanent exhibition dedicated to early medieval Northumbria, monastic life and the Venerable Bede. Later, the display was updated, firstly in 1979 on completion of the excavations, and again on construction of a new multimillion-pound building which currently houses the museum and its collections. Included within this redevelopment, former industrial land adjacent to the new museum was reclaimed to reproduce an agricultural landscape with a selection of experimental buildings showcasing elements of Anglo-Saxon architecture based upon Northumbrian archaeological finds. 

In 2016 Bede’s World closed down due to financial difficulties and reopened as Jarrow Hall Anglo-Saxon Farm, Village and Bede Museum under the new management of Groundwork STAN, an environmental charity. Among the difficulties of adopting an existing, neglected, archaeological open-air museum, conserving experimental buildings is maybe the most complicated to deal with. The staff, with a team of dedicated volunteers, is currently committed to documenting this process and the aim of this paper is to present Jarrow Hall and the new plans to develop its reconstructed buildings and supporting research in experimental archaeology. 


Paper 13: Digital Saryazd: Increasing Tourist Engagement Using Digital Documentation
Kristy-Lee Seaton (UK) & Miglena Raykovska PhD
Gigascan Bulgaria Ltd. (BG)

Saryazd Castle is located in Yazd Province, Iran. The castle dates to the Samani era, with later expansion during the Safavid era. Constructed entirely of mud-brick, Saryazd was continuously used up till mid-20th century as a vault, protecting both people and their property. Earthenware structures require continuous renewal in order to maintain the integrity of the structure.

Today, visitors can witness traditional construction techniques, albeit with some newer materials. The site has a magical quality which is enhanced by the current caretaker, Mr Hosein. The lighting of the fire, serving of tea, and his warm hospitality breathe life into the castle and make this a special visit for guests. The castle has developed into an open-air museum and is unique within the region. 

Considerable restoration work has occurred in recent years, with the desire to increase the number of visitors. Recent weather patterns and excessive rain have created challenges in maintaining the integrity of the castle’s fabric. A project to digitally document Saryazd Castle was undertaken in December 2019 and aimed to document the castle as it currently stands. The techniques used were close-range photogrammetry, high-resolution photography and the creation of a virtual 360-degree tour. The documentation can be used in the future for preservation, conservation and popularisation of the monument. This paper aims to raise a discussion among professionals about living museums and to suggest guidelines for enhancing their potential as open-air museums.


Paper 14: Preserving Building Crafts – a Tradition in the ASTRA Museum
Dr. George Tomegea
ASTRA Museum (RO)

Over 60 years of experience of the ASTRA Museum in the field of keeping and handing down to the future generations of the traditional crafts, according to the reality of the 21st century, led to the adjustment of the strategy of recovery the old traditional crafts. In the field of crafts related to the traditional building, ASTRA Museum created a database of craftspeople that are still performing, stimulating them by being included in reconstructions and restorations of monuments, along with museum professionals or other people willing to improve their knowledge. During the field research that has as result the transfer of monuments in the open-air museum, the museum’s specialists try to identify and involve craftspeople and teams of local craftspeople in the entire process, from deconstruction to reconstruction. In the same time, the museum engages in the local communities’ life by preserving and restoring the traditional buildings in situ, recommending craftsmen or initiating learning programs of traditional crafts.