As new digital technologies now pervade the discipline of archaeology, the practice of creating digital 3D representations of artifacts has become widespread. The rapid growth and acceptance of these technologies into the discipline leaves us in a position where we must engage with how these tools fit our epistemologies. I propose that we look to a much older technology, photography, to inform the way that these digital artifacts are dealt with as we move into an increasingly digital field. In doing so, I will argue that the creation of a 3D digital artifact is a productive process, just as any form of media used to document and interpret the archaeological record. Through this production, the digital form is decoupled from the original physical artifact. The creation of a new representation of the artifact (in the form of a photograph or digital model) provides a new dimension to our interactions with these artifacts. The result of the digital movement in archaeology is a more interactive experience with artifacts, allowing researchers and the public alike digital access to archaeological collections. If the current trend continues, digital artifact modeling will become as indispensable to archaeology as traditional photography. It is therefore necessary for archaeologists to be aware of the subjectivities and biases that exist during this productive act as we move into a more integrated field of digital, representational technologies.
Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 7, 2016
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