Reilly, Paul. “Additive Archaeology: An Alternative Framework For Recontextualising Archaeological Entitites.” Open Archaeology, 2015.

A copy of this is lodged here

Reading report



Title: Additive Archaeology: An Alternative Framework for Recontextualising Archaeological Entities


Key Themes:

Key Literature:

The Interesting Bits:

  • Conclusion1: I meanthat the refabricated excavation will be both a geometrically and compositionally accurate reiteration. A heuristic rematerialisation through which the curious can explore iteratively, reflexively and extensively the disaggregation and recomposition of archaeological entities encountered through archaeological intervention in such a way as to engender a virtuous, multivalent cycle of recontextualisation, analysis and synthesis. In striving to meet this challenge one can envisage the discipline establishing elements of an exemplary platform for strategic innovation affording the development, and structured introduction, of novel and distinctly archaeological approaches to understanding archaeological entities.
  • Additive4: he long-term value of this proposal will emerge from the experiences researchers will gain during the mission to refine, or re-engineer, the processes of archaeological field recording so that excavations, contexts and assemblages could be refabricated in
  • Additive3: What is to stop archaeologists from recording their excavations so that they could be refabricated in ways, for instance, that are not just synthetically haptic but authentically tactile, or perhaps made with the same material properties and characteristics and therefore also affording acoustic responses and auralisations? From a digital archaeology resource point of view, it would require prodigious amounts of computer processing power and storage, orders of magnitude greater than currently available (depending on the resolution we choose) not to mention the availability of versatile, multi-graded, multi-material fabrication units.
  • Additive2: his technology challenges archaeologists to rethink how the archaeological record is materialised. By incorporating AMF-like concepts into archaeological recording practice perhaps we can better foster and promote a renewed multi-modal sensorial prominence and increased cognitive depth. Some will argue that existing procedures are adequate for current (epistemological) needs. However, in a uniquely destructive discipline, are we not ethically obliged to strive constantly for superior recording practices and access to the archaeological record that we simultaneously destroy and create? Christopher Witmore has articulated the value of anticipation, and it is very difficult to disagree with his assertion that “there is absolutely no excuse for not considering how archaeologists, or myriad other interested groups, will engage the material past 10, 50, 100 or more years from now” [37]
  • Additive1: What is striking about the AMF format is that it encapsulates many of the key descriptive elements found on the typical context and object recording sheets used on a modern archaeological excavation (e.g. Figure 2), but does so in much finer spatio-compositional, that is in both macro-morphological and micro-morphological, detail
  • simulacra7: In either case, however, different configurations are discernible depending on where in the matrix of relationships between these things, their context, us, all our apparatus, and theoretical assumptions, the phenomenon is studied.
  • Simulacra6: f the immaterial orthothetic digital code for the mere husk of an object can give rise to such rich material and discursive intra-actions, imagine the transcendental potency that might be obtained by encoding the substance, including the interstitial structures, compositions and relationships buried beneath the skin of these material things
  • Simulacra5: Whereas the limits of the physical objects may be clearly defined surfaces, the boundaries of the digital object are drawn by the same file format in which they are encoded, that is the same digital code that marks the content and the voids. Such digital artefacts and assemblages besides being porous are easily networked, replicated, aggregated, augmented, processed or transcoded into other formats [33], and thereby extended
  • Simulacra4: Empty moulds or reservoirs full of mortal terror, neither structure, nor artefact, nor deposit, they sit on the cusp of being either (or neither) positive or negative stratigraphic features. Ontologically ambiguous, stratigraphically a collection of sealed contexts, this immaterial assemblage is simultaneously earlier, co-terminus, and later than the layer of volcanic spew.
  • Simulacra3: ltimately, and perhaps ironically, it is the ‘immaterial digital code’ that emerges as the most stable entity between and betwixt virtual and physical worlds [11, pp.281-283]. Although buried under a deep stratigraphic sequence of software layers, in fact the code actually exists on a physical inorganic substrate. The code can be conceptualised as “a second-order form of materiality” [33, p.122]. Nevertheless, the act of inscription using this multi-sensorial mnemotechnology is indeed orthotheticin nature [34] as it captures the ‘exact’ spatial pose of some material entity or assemblage - from one unique fleeting moment of time - and makes it available, in code, exactly as sampled, theoretically for all time
  • Simulacra2: Categorisations such as replicas, copies or imitations do not sit comfortably with these newly printed objects which burst free of such procrustean registers to be (re)printed, endlessly, in different materials, at different scales, with enhanced morphological features, with different material properties, in multiple spatio-temporal locales.
  • Simulacra1: . What is the ontological status of these new printed objects and the code describing them?
  • EvolvingAdditiveManufacturing: Consider the possibilities of a library of voxel types with archaeologically-defined materials and properties (e.g., compact, light brown, silty clay, with sparse white, coarse, sub-angular, components, etc.)
  • Disruptingdiscourse1: Additive manufacturing is disruptive for archaeologists because it poses a number of problems for conventional understandings of materiality [11-12], and especially the so-called archaeological record. In particular, concepts such as real, virtual, and authentic are becoming increasingly unstable as archaeological artefacts and assemblages are digitalised, reiterated, extended and distributed through time and space as 3D printable entities [1
  • Materialising8: the material world is, at any given time, an archive of this process of (de)materialization” [3, p.205]
  • Materialising7: Complimentary processes (called enchainment or coding) cohere to generate recurring associations such as typological similarities or repeated find combinations.
  • Materialising6: Here, depositional processes (called containment or territorialisation) cohere to assemble, or gather, things in specific places
  • Materialising5: the practices of the field archaeologist are not so much data collection but interventions, or material interactions, in which tools and procedures are mobilised locally to materialise new entities or artefacts (e.g. drawings, samples, photographs, context sheets, field diaries, finds and reports); it is these new, mobile, dynamic assemblages of autonomous objects that become archives.
  • Materialising4: viewing any one facet in isolation can lead to fundamental disconnects or an “interpretive dilemma, in which explanations often hover between vacuity and incommensurability” [3, p.169].

Tabular Representation

additive 4 right. b/c that would cause us to rethink the ways we break apart / build up archae knowledge
additive3 printing out site in material that replicates literal granularity of context description; haptics, sonic, other qualitiesStu Eve's embodied GIS, phenomenologyJAMT 19 (4) pp. 582-600
Ethical dimensions of the challenge posed by AMF file format
Additive1 This is incredibly important. An entire fileformat that captures what we think of as the physical reality of a site?I wonder what Eric thinks
simulacra7 'assemblage', the things assembled, depend on which relationships we think are important
simulacra6 ... and imagine when vast assemblages of extracted data are made into things...SoundbashingTara's post photobashing
simulacra4 on the ontologically complicated voids at Pompeii, from whence are cast moulds of the dead
simulacra3 woah. of course - code actually eists as a physical thing on a physical device somewhere...
simulacra2 the contrast between 'replica' and 'simulacra' is interesting. perhaps that ties into some of my arguments about what ABM achieve, are for?JAMT me & scott
simulacra1 - critical code studies?
evolving1 voxel dfn?
disrupting1 Interesting that there is no discussion of 'aura' hereproblem of fakes?where's that damned phd thesis on cultural, economic significance of fakes? On the other machine?
materialising8 decisions are made in 'real' archives about what is kept, what is left out. I wonder how far the metaphor of the 'archive' can be pushed before it breaks? Before it conceals more than it reveals?
materialising7 'enchainment' is a cool word; seems to suggest an element of coercion, perhaps? This must be Lucas' term.
materialising6 'containment' - who/what does the containing? Depositional processes.
materialising5 data are always constructed; the act of 'collecting' is also an act of creation. Here, it literally results in the creation of new material culture too.DruckerDHQ 2011, 5:1Problems:
Materialising4 - quote is from Lucas