The information value inherent in archaeological material conventionally serves the needs of research, and only secondarily cultural heritage values beyond archaeology. But facilitating a broader, public engagement with and access to the ancient past is critical to conveying a relevancy to archaeology that serves more than the archaeologist’s intellectual curiosity. Static displays of ‘things’ organized by obscure classificatory terminologies and explainable only through an archaeologist’s sensibilities limits the ability of the public to engage with these objects as their cultural heritage, and fails to meet the ever increasing expectation in society of instant information and interactivity. Concepts such as Digital Ecosystems and “The Internet of Things” can bring artifacts to life.
Sustainable Archaeology at the University of Western Ontario and the Museum of Ontario Archaeology is developing a sustainable Artifact Ecosystem by digitizing mass volumes of archaeological material. More importantly the SA is creating context through real-time interactivity, 3D simulations and Internet enabled artifact reproductions.
This paper will outline the goals of Sustainable Archaeology, the digitization process and the techniques used to create platforms for public engagement. We will also evaluate the effectiveness of each, while charting a way forward.
MA Candidate, Western University
Field Archaeologist, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
Prof. Michael Carter
PhD Candidate, Western University
Program Coordinator, Digital Specialization Program, Ryerson University
Dr. Neal Ferris
Lawson Chair Canadian Archaeology
Western University, Museum of Ontario Archaeology