Appendix 1.5: Oral interviews

The questions posed, and the responses, are set out in Figure 67 of this article (streaming) or can be downloaded via the archive.

Oral interviews were recorded to document peoples' values and interpretations of the landscapes and buildings within the study areas. Four people were asked set questions. The interviews took place at two locations: one within the urban (Fig. 9) and suburban landscapes (Fig. 40). The choice of people was limited by time and local practicalities, but we hope to undertake more interviews in the coming years. The interviewees were:

Technical approach

The interviews were undertaken during the September 2006 field-season at Merv, by Sjoerd van der Linde and Gaigysyz Joraev, using a digital voice recorder OLYMPUS VN-120. The audio files were downloaded on to a laptop computer and reworked in Audacity 1.2. The interviews with Perman Dowrangeldiew were undertaken in the field in Turkmen, and an English version was subsequently recorded in London, March 2007, by Sjoerd van der Linde.

Copyright issues

Two separate copyrights are created when an interview is undertaken: in the words spoken and the recording itself. The copyright for each oral interview is held partly by the interviewee (the words) and partly by the Ancient Merv Project, UCL (the recording). Although there is nothing in UK copyright law that prevents UCL from making the recording accessible for listening and research, we consider it unethical to use the interviews without the informed consent of the interviewees. Furthermore, if oral interviews are edited and published in such a way that creates a false impression or representation of the interviewee, this would be illegal.

The Ancient Merv Project therefore asked each interviewee's permission to use the recorded interviews, or extracts from transcriptions, in publications, exhibitions and on the Internet and to be able to copy, adapt and publish them. The Ancient Merv Project did not ask the interviewees to assign their copyright. Instead, the Ancient Merv Project obtained joint non-exclusive copyright to the words spoken by the interviewee, which was done by asking each interviewee to complete and sign a 'clearance form'. This means that while the interviewee still has copyright over the words spoken, he/she has agreed that the interview can be used for various purposes by the Ancient Merv Project without further permission. The scope and purpose of this use was set out in the clearance form, and the Ancient Merv Project undertook to inform, where possible, the interviewees whenever the interviews are published.

The clearance form was translated into both English and Turkmen, and was signed by the interviewee at the time of the interview, or shortly thereafter. The oral interviews were conducted along the lines set out by Yow (1994) and in the Oral History Society Ethical Guidelines, which aim to make recordings available for research and other use within a legal and ethical framework that protects the interests of informants (Oral History Society 2007).

Alan Ward suggests that, while copyright law relating to the transmission of recordings (or transcripts) on the Internet is still developing, the safest course is to regard the Internet as a 'new method of publication and dissemination to which existing copyright law applies in all respects' (Oral History Society 2007, para. 6). Agreement of the interviewees and the copyright owners of the actual recording itself (in this case the Ancient Merv Project) has therefore been required for the transmission of the recordings.

The Ancient Merv Project allows all forms of copying, downloading and quotation on condition that the Ancient Merv Project is acknowledged as the source, and that the interviewee is acknowledged as the author. In line with the moral rights set out in the 1988 Copyright Act, interviewees will be credited by the Ancient Merv Project when the interviews are published.

In addition, the Ancient Merv Project undertakes not to edit or alter the words of the interviewees in such a way as to create a false impression or to misinterpret their words. Relevant in this respect is that Perman Dowrangeldiew agreed in writing to the translation made of his interviews by Gaigysyz Joraev and to the subsequent recording of this translation by Sjoerd van der Linde. He has further agreed that these resources can be used without further approval by him.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, it is illegal to keep personal data for any longer than is necessary. In the case of the oral interviews this includes information on the interviewee's name, contact details and occupation. In agreement with the interviewees, this information will be kept until the end of the Ancient Merv Project after which the information will be destroyed. Personal details of the interviewees are not provided for storage with the Archaeology Data Service.


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Last updated: Mon Sept 29 2008