4.1 Structures and information policies

In spite of the rather considerable national, regional, and sub-disciplinary variations in survey, excavation, and documentation, empirical investigations of archaeological work show certain quasi-universal practices and foundations of work in the field (e.g. Edgeworth 2006; Davidovic 2009; Vander Linden and Webley 2012). These can partly be explained by material remains being the shared object of study, partly by how methods and theories spread as archaeology grew (Lucas 2001), and partly by the tradition of setting up international conventions like UNESCO and the Council of Europe conventions uniting heritage discourses. Furthermore, the spreading use of English in research and teaching, and international professional organisations like the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) may contribute to an amalgamation of archaeological practices (Harding 2009; Demoule 2012; Vander Linden and Webley 2012).

Nevertheless, we can also see that significant differences in national information practices and knowledge production result from how countries structure archaeology in practice. Two countries with systems strikingly different from the Swedish one are Norway and the US. In the Norwegian system DL archaeology surveys are documented (by museum DL archaeology departments), primarily as a means for further research. Hence the Norwegian documentation does not need to be educational for the public, and the surveyors do not need to engage in dialogues with potentially interested parties (Glørstad 2010). In the US DL archaeology system (with major differences between states), the documentation is generally considered confidential, and its dissemination can also be restricted by the paying land developer. Documentation is stored for use in DL archaeology and research by state offices of historic preservation, but it is available only to licensed archaeologists upon special request and for a fee. The US system is a source of friction between DL archaeologists and researchers (e.g. Roth 2010; Seymour 2010). In the US, as in Norway, the task of communicating archaeology to the public and other more specific target groups has been delegated to museums, heritage societies, and educational institutions.

We can see therefore how various countries have chosen to form the relationship between doing archaeology and archaeological knowledge production differently. Both the Norwegian and the US examples differ quite clearly from the path chosen by countries like Sweden, where DL archaeology is regarded as a part of archaeological research but with a simultaneous explicit responsibility for public dissemination cf. similar responsibility of the museum sector. These variations can all be understood as based on theoretical views on the connection between doing archaeology, documenting the same, and producing archaeological knowledge, and views of the disconnect between these activities as a potential threat to archaeological knowledge (Hodder and Hutson 2003; Harding 2009; Andersson et al. 2010). Thus we can see how theoretically guided documentation choices are stabilised in systems and in information policies, which in turn maintain those theoretical choices as the standard.