Composition of project archives (Rule 33)

Rule 33 further elaborates some of the conditions for archaeological archive repository. Objects and documentation should be kept together. Archives should be accessible. Deposition should not be delayed.

The composition of project archives that derive from activities directed at underwater cultural heritage is normally so varied as to require varied conditions for storage. This may lead to practical solutions in which different categories are kept in different spaces. That, however, does not change the principles. Nor should this prevent the management of the collection to be in the same hands or organization.

Along with the removed artefacts, all elements of documentation created in the course of an archaeological project are irreplaceable. As are the documents related to its preparation, such as the project design and background research. The documents relating to analysis and interpretation are also indispensable. Altogether these artefacts and documents constitute the project archive relating to the archaeological site.

The archive will be derived from activities during several phases: preliminary studies, project design, research, analysis, interpretation, conservation and curation. The archives will comprise two main categories, the documentary archive and the material archive, and as a third category, the necessary inventories and correlation lists.

The third category, the inventories and correlation lists are extremely important for future understanding. They can only be completed on completion of the archives. But correlation and concordance are already at issue from the very start of data collection and documentation. Unique find-, feature- and document-numbers facilitate this process. Each separate data group should be cross-referenced to related data groups, to the final report, and if necessary to a general context concordance. These should be supplemented with a table of contents or index for maximum accessibility. Relational databases are practical aids, allowing for daily back-up. Just like in any administrative process, precision and meticulousness are essential.

 

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Delay of archiving

 

Archiving must be completed within the shortest delay possible. It is to be advised that preparation for archiving is included in all documentation and handling of documents and finds. Final archiving and repository should follow as quickly as possible the conclusion of research and conservation. Under no circumstances should this be later than ten years from the completion of the project, preferably much earlier.

A project has not been completed until the archive has been transferred successfully and is fully accessible for consultation. It is in the interests of all parties to facilitate the transfer of completed archives to recognized repositories as quickly as possible. It may therefore be appropriate for an archive to be deposited before the project has been fully published. In such instances, a copy of the publication must subsequently be added.

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