From Drawing into Digital

On the Transformation of Knowledge Production in Postexcavation Processing

by Felix Rösch

In: Open Archaeology 7, 2021 Special Issue on Archaeological Practice on Shifting Grounds (Eds: Åsa Berggren and Antonia Davidovic-Walther).

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Digital methods have undoubtedly become an integral part of archaeology in recent decades. This has had a major impact on how archaeological knowledge is produced. Accordingly, there has been a recent increase in the number of studies addressing this issue and calling for a reflexive approach. Although studies have so far focused on the changes in knowledge production in fieldwork practices, studies of postexcavation processes are rare. This way of archaeological knowledge production is described using the analysis of old excavation documentation of the medieval waterfront of Schleswig, northern Germany, through geographic information system. It is achieved by an approach that combines the methodological tool of a chaîne opératoire with concepts based on the actor-network theory, whereby the production of knowledge is understood as a translation network. The approach reveals the individual processing steps and how the data change. Accordingly, for each step, not only are the applied practices described in detail, but also the influence of actors, devices, and documents is mentioned. This allows not only a critical reflection of the approach and a review of the interpretation, but also demonstrates that profound archaeological findings are possible despite data alteration through digital methods.