Science and Technology in Historic Preservation (Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science)

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The stewardship of prehistoric and historic archaeological resources, historic structures, and historic landscapes has not received sufficient attention within the Department of the Interior. Even within the National Park Service, which carries out many of the Federal responsibilities for prehistoric and historic preservation, the management of programs relating to other Federal, State, and local cultural resources often conflicts with NPS's priorities in caring for natural resources in the Nation's parks.

Yet, of the units of the National Park system, two-thirds were established because of their prehistoric and historic resources.


Citation Impact 2. Hampel Laboratory obsidian hydration rates: theory, method, and application by Christopher M. Geographic information systems and predictive modeling methods are also finding utility for survey and identification of archaeological sites and landscapes. Museums and source communities. The Ipiutak culture at Point Hope, Alaska. Ipiutak and the Arctic whale hunting culture. Richards, G.

All NPS parks contain some prehistoric and historic cultural resources. In order to implement fully the provisions of historic preservation legislation table 1 , it would be important for the Federal Government, including Congress, to increase its attention to prehistoric and historic preservation.

Federal programs have often served as models for the States, local governments, and private preservation efforts. In view of the concern over the management of the Federal Government's preservation efforts, Congress may wish to consider changing the structure of the Federal Government's preservation efforts. The following paragraphs present options for improving Federal management of cultural resources.

In addition to providing a central focus for all the government's programs in preservation, such an agency would be responsible for administering the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other culturally oriented programs. It would in essence be similar to a Ministry of Culture, which most foreign governments have. Such a policy has the major advantage of providing coherence for the management of U. It would remove the primary responsibility for cultural resources management from the Department of the Interior, yet it would create a new institution that must be staffed and funded though many staff, and some funding would result from transfers from existing programs.

An independent agency would be the logical place for the Federal Center for Preservation Technology suggested above. However, it would lack the benefits of in-house expertise in the actual ownership and management of historic properties. It would be simpler to effect than creating an independent agency, and would increase the visibility and importance of preservation within the Department of the Interior. However, it would continue the current arrangement of maintaining the preservation function within the department, which as noted earlier, carries disadvantages as well as advantages for the national preservation programs.

Work Within the Current Preservation Structure. The initiation and execution of such programs will require direction and continued oversight by Congress. The agencies could:. The United States has made no comprehensive survey of significant national prehistoric and historic landscapes comparable to its efforts for historic structures. Because prehistoric and historic landscapes are an especially ephemeral resource, some groups are now surveying them.

Technologies for Prehistoric & Historic Preservation

For example, the State of Ohio has an ongoing survey of historic landscapes. New Mexico has also conducted landscape studies. In the Historic Preservation Committee of the American Society of Landscape Architects initiated a national survey of historic designed landscapes, which is endorsed by the National Park Service. However, without professional, full-time leadership, relying entirely on volunteers from different regions may lead to inconsistent survey results. The National Park Service could assume a stronger role than it has taken in this effort, in order to assure timely completion of the survey and to standardize the information collected.

Congressional oversight may be necessary to assure that this process takes place. Significant prehistoric and historic landscapes continue to be lost through lack of recognition. These primarily volunteer efforts cannot discover all significant Olmsted landscapes. Although the Olmsted Act is directed toward the parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted's firms, which include some of the most famous and historically significant of U. Focusing attention on the Olmsted landscapes would also enhance public awareness of other significant landscapes. The United States has not undertaken a national inventory of submerged cultural resources, which include submerged villages and other sites as well as shipwrecks.

Historic Resources

Although some States have made substantial progress in surveying their own coastal and riverine areas, and locating submerged resources, no States have comprehensive data on file. Historic shipwrecks in coastal waters contain a wealth of important information concerning the exploration and settlement of this country. Yet efforts to protect them for research and public interpretation are hampered by current Admiralty Laws, under which historic shipwrecks are treated as abandoned property.

Their contents may be recovered by salvors. Such recovery often destroys valuable information related to the Nation's maritime history. Passage and implementation of the proposed Abandoned Shipwrecks Act H. The Senate version is almost identical to the House version, and maintains incentives for sport-divers and salvors to continue searching for historic shipwrecks. It would also guarantee salvors "reasonable compensation" for work undertaken under its terms. The important additional attention to submerged prehistoric and historic cultural resources that passage of the Abandoned Shipwrecks Act implies may require the National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to increase their funding and other support of submerged cultural resources activities.

Congressional oversight may be necessary to guarantee that such requirements are met.

Shop by category Science and Technology in Historic Preservation (Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science) (): Ray A. Williamson, Paul. Science and Technology in Historic Preservation (Advances in Archaeological and Museum Science Book 4) - Kindle edition by Ray A. Williamson, Paul R.

Looting and vandalism are serious threats to the management and conservation of prehistoric and historic cultural resources. The activities of looters are particularly damaging to prehistoric sites because they destroy important and valuable scientific information. Painting graffiti, breaking windows, destroying shrubs, and other acts of vandalism reduce the value of historic structures and landscapes and make them much less attractive to visitors.

Advanced monitoring and observation devices may aid the law enforcement process. However, they cannot substitute for the presence of trained officers in the field. Adaptive reuse of cultural resources imparts a natural element of protection by giving them value beyond their historic value. The high value placed on some items in national and international markets and the lack of consistent law enforcement in dealing with illicit excavation on public lands and trafficking in stolen artifacts, make protection of sites and structures as well as prosecution for illegal activities extremely difficult.

Professional thieves are technologically well-equipped and motivated by strong economic incentives to continue their activities. In addition to employing trained personnel and applying appropriate technologies, the United States needs to improve the enforcement of its policies for dealing with illicit excavation and trafficking in stolen artifacts. Congressional oversight of the implementation of existing legislation may be necessary to encourage such enforcement. Recent technological advances could enable relatively easy registration and coding of artifacts for sale.

To assist in stemming the illegal loss of irreplaceable artifacts from public lands, and the concomitant damage that looting causes, it may be appropriate to amend the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of and other statutes to permit private registration of antiquities obtained in the course of archaeological excavations, conducted by trained archaeologists on private land. Registration would make it easier for law enforcement officials to obtain convictions for illegal sale of unregistered artifacts taken from public lands, by shifting the burden of proof that the artifact was dug on private land from the government to its owner.

To be most effective, registration should include sufficient information about the artifact to allow the owner to understand its archaeological origins and connection to the prehistoric peoples from which it derives. Registration of scientifically excavated artifacts is likely to enhance the value of registered artifacts relative to unregistered ones. Such increase in value might provide economic incentives for private landowners to have their sites properly excavated and recorded, rather than dug solely for their marketable artifacts.

Registration might also assist in educating landowners to the scientific value of using the best possible excavation methods. However, sale of artifacts from excavations would have the disadvantage of dispersing some collections, rendering them less available for restudy.

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However, it is just being implemented and further experience will be needed to test its efficacy in stemming the international flow of cultural property. Law does not protect against export of irreplaceable items of U. As experience is gained with implementing the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act, it may be appropriate for the United States to explore ways in which the registration of artifacts suggested above could be expanded to other prehistoric and historic cultural property for international trade.

The process of sound cultural resource research and management is extremely complex and involves individuals from a variety of disciplines. It can be divided into the following components, which are not necessarily listed in order of application:. These components make use of a broad array of rudimentary, as well as sophisticated, technologies. Many new technologies promise to enhance the process of prehistoric and historic preservation.

Picturing Science: Museum Scientists & Imaging Technologies

However, they must be appropriate to the task to which they are applied. In some cases, traditional methods so-called low-tech solutions may be the most appropriate and cost-effective. NOTE: This list is illustrate of the many technologies applicable to preservation rather than comprehensive.

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Most ot the technologies in this brief list can be applied in other phases of the research process than those for which they are listed For example although predictive locational modeling is listed as a technology for discovery it is also a potentially powerful analytic tool. Archival investigation is an important first step in the discovery phase of the preservation process.

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Before beginning actual fieldwork, archival materials and oral histories related to the project should be collected and studied. They are especially helpful in focusing the research problem and aiding creation of a detailed research plan. Efficient data management systems are needed for archival investigation. These include subject-accessible keyword systems and finding aids that relate to the geographic location of sites.

Careful notation of the field survey and inventory data for later use and archival storage requires the design of collection forms that can be easily read by automated information systems.

Areas of Action

Remote sensing techniques using both aircraft and spacecraft, as well as close-range sensors, appear to offer great promise in extending our ability to discover, characterize, and study archaeological sites and historic landscapes. Yet, high costs of equipment and lack of familiarity with remote sensing techniques have inhibited their use in archaeology and landscape studies.

Although remote sensing techniques are little used in identifying historic structures, they can improve our understanding of the significance of these structures by revealing new contextual information.

Geographic information systems and predictive modeling methods are also finding utility for survey and identification of archaeological sites and landscapes. Ultimately, locational predictive modeling techniques, analytical tools for predicting the distribution of archaeologically significant material across large regions, are likely to prove powerful aids for research and management of cultural resources, especially in the vast public lands of the Southwest and West. However, such models need considerable refinement, and may never reduce the overall costs of surveying and identifying archaeological sites.

Underwater archaeology depends primarily on technologies borrowed from the oil and gas exploration industry. The costs of using such survey technologies as side-scan sonar, sub-bottom profilers, remotely operated vehicles, and precision positioning systems are likely to remain extremely high. However, the data for initial surveys in shallow coastal waters may be available from the exploration firms and the Minerals Management Service at extremely low cost. Magnetometry, the most widely used of underwater locational technologies is less costly, but responds only to ferrous material.

Using airborne magnetometers would reduce the costs of surveys by allowing rapid coverage of large areas of water. Video technology, because it is relatively simple and inexpensive to use has broad applications for survey and identification, can store vast amounts of information about the context of historic structures, and is capable of imparting a sense of presence, place, and context that individual photographs cannot.

It has also found considerable use in underwater archaeology, for survey and interpretation of submerged resources to the public.