My aim for this project was to develop a system to allow imprecisely located stray finds data to be taken into account during Archaeological Development Control decision-making since no similar work in artefact mapping has, as far as I am aware, been attempted before. The key data used in the system - namely the artefact types and period data - use nationally agreed standards and terminologies for these data and which, having been peer reviewed, show a certain level of robustness as categorising frameworks. The actual mapping of the artefact data has also been fairly robustly done, and it has been shown both that the artefacts can be mapped usefully, and that this mapping can be merged to give an overall score for a particular area (the Artefact Density Index). It is hoped that the logic behind this process is still seen as sensible despite it sometimes having developed ad hoc during the project. Finally, the data have then been transformed into a format which specifically aims to make the data useful for development control purposes (the Development Control Artefact Density Index) and a number of options regarding this have been explored and demonstrated.
While the model has been successful, it doesn't deal with certain issues which could benefit from attention. For example, the representativity of the data is not addressed - is the data skewed by fieldwork patterns, land use or recovery methods? The model also doesn't really address the issue of how to deal with data which are ambiguous in other respects other than just location - such as quantity of artefacts.
I believe the DCADI can be useful, as it is based on the reasonably well-accepted idea that stray finds can give an indication of the archaeological potential of an area. However, the usefulness of the ADI can only really be tested by use in a DC environment. To that end it is hoped to persuade colleagues at NYCC HER to use the data in the project area to see how it fares as a tool. Even if this is not possible, it should be possible in a few years to test the ADI predictions against actual archaeological information recorded from fieldwork to see how well the predictions hold up. However, if the ADI does not appear to predict archaeological potential accurately, we are left with the dilemma: is this due to limitations of the model, or the underlying assumption that stray finds can indicate potential?
© Internet Archaeology
Last updated: Wed April 25 2007