1. Introduction

Archaeological excavators in creating one kind of archaeological record effectively efface the original, 'primary', archaeological traces and residues, and thus the record is censored as the archive is created. According to Derrida (1996), the archive then becomes the new starting point and the nexus of a new reality. This reality is now, more often than not, digital. Negotiating the subjectivity of this process has been central to archaeological thought for several decades, and yet impressions collected while 'digging' are often still described in conventional terms, according to preformed structures and media that are ultimately self-replicating (e.g. field guides with fixed-format recording sheets and controlled vocabularies). Many other potential realities become lost in an institutionally induced amnesia, in which all the selections and decisions made by the diggers, supervisors and specialists that brought the excavation directors, or report writers, to this point along the path are largely forgotten, with other voices being muted, and nuanced narratives deflected into the margins. The observation that conventional strategies for archaeological documentation privilege a mono-vocality is not new (Bradley 2006; Richards 2002). However, the role that the process of technological adoption within archaeology has played in perpetuating this situation has yet to be adequately explored. This article will revisit the concept of Virtual Archaeology, first posited by Reilly in 1991, and will consider whether conceptual frameworks developed during the rapid technological advances of the early 1990s can help us to manage more effectively dynamics of technological adoption and appropriation within contemporary archaeology. Virtual Archaeology was developed in part as a response to the first era of personal computing and the first wave of digital technology that was generally available to field archaeologists. In this article we argue that the emerging era of ubiquitous computing and technological abundance requires us to develop new strategies for technological adoption and development.


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