3. Blogs

Blogs represent an innovative and versatile medium for developing DPMA. In the world of archaeological blogging, there is plenty of effective and insightful reportage, and many blogs operate on a project- and discovery-orientated basis. However, there are others that draw the public into critical engagements with mortuary theory, method and its popular interpretation. The most prolific are dedicated to bioarchaeology, although others afford attention to other mortuary matters (Meyers and Killgrove 2014; Meyers Emery and Killgrove 2015). Examples include blogs by David Mennear (These Bones of Mine), Katy Meyers Emery (Bones Don't Lie) and Kristina Killgrove's (Powered by Osteons), as well as the blogs by the authors of this article, Alison Atkin (Deathsplanation) and Howard Williams (Archaeodeath). Other blogs touch on numerous and varied mortuary concerns alongside other topics; a good example of this is the blog of archaeologist and journalist Mike Pitts (Digging Deeper). Further, many blogs are not consciously archaeological at all and yet engage with a wide range of ancient and historic mortuary monuments (Caroline's Flickering Lamps and the collective The Cemetery Club).

Meyers Emery and Killgrove (2015) provide a review of the benefits of blogging not only as a means of outreach and public engagement but also for the author. They also suggest guidelines for best practice in blogging about archaeology and death. From our perspective, these blogs have considerable DPMA potential in aspiring to report on new studies and interpretations in mortuary archaeology. Blogs can also emphasise debates over interpretation and they place new mortuary research in a wider popular context. Often actively using images and sometimes videos, and composed in a variety of styles of popular writing, including humour in various guises, blogs allow readers to follow, add comments and explore mortuary archaeology online beyond discovery-focused news stories (Meyers and Williams 2014). Furthermore, an explicit aim of these blogs is transdisciplinarity, connecting themes of death, disease and mortuary practices and commemoration with broader communities of those interested in a wide range of sciences, social sciences and the humanities online.

Blogging promises to become a mainstream conduit for open-access online research publication over the longer term in its own right (Meyers and Killgrove 2014, 24). Specific DPMA dimensions include engaging a wider audience in disciplinary self-critical issues and simplifying the most recent research from the latest scholarly publications for a popular audience (Meyers and Killgrove 2014; Meyers and Williams 2014; Meyers Emery and Killgrove 2015), including popular perceptions of death in the human past and of mortuary archaeology in the public realm. This last element is exemplified by Killgrove's ongoing critique of how mortuary remains are photographed and interpreted in the media.

Blogs can be rich, varied, visual and textual and can include project-focused websites. These can be promoted through a range of social media including Facebook and Twitter, making them available and accessible globally via the Internet. A good example is the use of social media to distribute information about archaeological excavations of cemeteries. In the UK, there are few public-accessible excavations that involve human remains, though a notable exception is the Oakington Dig Project, which has adopted an overt strategy to open up the trenches to visitors and local volunteers. The discoveries, some hitting international headlines, as well as their methods and philosophy, are disseminated via social media, including a Facebook page and blog (Sayer and Sayer forthcoming).