Since many computer resources were available for the use in archeology, researchers begun to incorporate them in their daily activities. Objects catalogs and databases allowed to make significant progress in ordering to interpret similarities and hence cultural affinities. As the computer capacity was increased, just as their purchase price was decreasing, the use of these technologies became more popular. Many tasks demanding much effort was facilitated by the use of these processes. Spatial analysis, various types of quantifications (in zooarchaeology; in lithic studies; etc.), and the use of statistics allowed the creation of various specialties within the discipline. Quantitative archeology, spatial archeology, virtual archeology were benefited and even were created from the use of computers and different types of software.
In parallel and in relation to the conservation of the objects studied by archaeologists the idea of transforming these physical objects into digital objects through its description mediated by a set of metadata emerged. This began in the practice of what is now known as digitizing collections and was supported by museums around the world.
In Argentina concern about this type of initiative starts inside the humanities. The digitization projects of the Ravignani Institute (Universidad de Buenos Aires), the Library of the Faculty of Humanities of the Universidad Nacional de La Plata and various historical archives of Universities and official agencies were the firsts in dealing with this kind of approach to the study objects in the humanities.
Computerization in archeology collections began in the 1990s in three public institutions: the Ethnographic Museum (Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires), the Institute of Archaeology Museum (Facultad de Ciencias Naturales e Instituto Miguel Lillo, Universidad NAacional de Tucumán) and the Museum of Anthropology (Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba). All these initiatives started under the Fundación Antorchas and Smithsonian Institution late 1990’s program in Conservation and Exhibition of Archaeological and Ethnographical materials (http://www.museo.filo.uba.ar/los-se%C3%B1ores-del-jaguar). This was a landmark that permit to obtain new products (new displays, new museums scripts) including the first databases and digital images of some of the objects. Generally whole pieces.
Since 2010 we implemented the “Project to support the computerization of documentary archives and collections of the Museum of Anthropology IDACOR (FFyH, UNC), CONICET”.
During this period several objectives were achieved:
– Strengthening of a technical area of the Museum of Anthropology – IDACOR-COCNICET/UNC.
– The training of human resources in the management and protection of cultural and scientific goods (conservation, digitization and computerization of objects and processes)
– The conservation of archaeological and ethnographic materials, which are of interest to the scientific understanding of human adaptations to the various social and environmental conditions throughout the country and in many different chronological contexts.
– The census of all materials obtaining for the first time a real estimate of the number of objects located in the Heritage Reserve of the institution (approximately 199,000)
– Digitization, visibility in dedicated systems and digital repositories of public access to the two most consulted Fonds in the Museum of Anthropology-IDACOR Archive.
– The creation of databases containing metadata for 199,000 objects that allow a quick search for any item stored in the Heritage Reserve.
– Adaptation of the materials according to the composition of materials. It includes the creation of a new Reserve E, which in a controlled environment and following an ethical disposition of human remains recovered in excavations in the past and current archaeological rescues are safeguarded.
This has allowed into to re-position the area inside the institution as one that receives more funding (even proportionately more than the research area) as the disbursements made by the Williams Foundation, PLIICS-CONICET and the Bunge y Born Foundation-CONICET keep coming since 2010 without interruptions. This has allowed the training of human resources, many of which today have tenure track positions (CPA CONICET, non-teaching staff UNC) or temporary (doctoral fellows).
On the other hand this institutional strengthening tasks related to computerization and digitization has transcended the local level and allowed us to interact with other projects nationwide. With many of these agencies have shared spaces for training human resources and academic ties that in many cases resulted in the creation or support of inter-agency projects such as PLIICS-CONICET and the Program of Digitization and Open Access Collections in Social Sciences and the Humanities (MINCyT). It has also interacted with some members of the National Systems (SNDB-Biological Data National System, SNRD-Digital Repositories National System) coming to cooperate and give lectures in some of this areas.
In view of this growth and in order to continue to lead the actions that guide the ways to digitize collections in humanities and social sciences (and particularly in archaeology) is of specific interest creating links and academic ties with institutions abroad in order to raise the visibility of our actions while knowledge of best practices and good uses in processes involving the digitization of collections increases. Regarding the latter, in September 2014 he took part in the XII International Conference of the International Council for Archaeozoology (ICAZ) held in San Rafael, Mendoza, the “Session 42” called ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON THE THEME “DIGITAL DATA COLLECTION, ORGANIZATION, AND DISSEMINATION” organized by Sarah Witcher Kansa (Alexandria Archive Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA). In this space was discussed how zooarchaeological collections are digitized in various parts of the world. The audience was composed by the most developed places in this area like British or American institutions and to a lesser extent other European nations. Anyway it must be said that the Programa de Arqueología Digital (pad-MdA) was the only one present at this table for discussion and that only two American institutions participated in it. Anyway it should be understood that although participants represented the global community, so did part of one of the sub-disciplines of archeology.
So, in April 2015 and under the 80th Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, developed in San Francisco, CA, USA, we turned to participate in various activities related to the digitization and visualization of archaeological collections.
At the last meeting of the expert group which advises the Platform PLIICS the issue of training human resources arose and was discussed. We came to the agreement that the European institutions nucleated through the Europeana consortium was the most viable option to start with some kind of international relationship. In particular, the laws based on the principles of open access are very similar to those raised in our country for the treatment and management of digital information product of the analysis and physical handling of museum collections and archives. Based on this we started to build links with the Archaeological Data Service (University of York, UK), the British Museum (UK), the Museum d’Histoire naturelle Nationalle and the Musee del’Homme (France). This actions leads to assist in the training of professionals in Argentina within the framework of the creation of the International Exchange Program in Digitizing Collections in Social Sciences and Humanities (Williams Foundation funding-in progress).
We have no doubt there has been progress in obtaining digital products that allow its use in the research process and are working on making this available to researchers through web applications.
It could also be positioned to various nucleated projects in the subject through participation at university level (Open Knowledge Office, UNC, Ethnographic Museum, UBA, Museo de La Plata, UNLP; Museum of the Institute of Archaeology, UNT; Institute Ravignani, UBA; CEPED-CONICET and Faculty of Economics, UBA), at the local level (Regional Centre for Preservation and Conservation of Cultural Heritage in Works on Paper, Secretary of Culture Municipality of Córdoba, Museum of the city Córdoba, Agency Córdoba Culture), at the national level (MACN-CONICET; CADIC-CONICET; CENPAT-CONICET, IIGHI-COCNICET; IGEHCS-CONICET; IDHICS-CONICET; CONICET Headquarters, MINCyT) and as detailed above are working on international integration.
Lastly, the projects included in this program are the following:
- Project to support the computerization of documentary archives and collections of the Museum of Anthropology (financing Williams Foundation).
- Subproject PLIICS-Scanning and archive collections of the Museum of Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy and Humanities, National University of Córdoba and the Institute of Anthropology of Córdoba (IDACOR-CONICET) (financing CONICET).
- Digitization of collections and archive of the Anthropology Museum-Institute of Anthropology of Córdoba (IDACOR). Preserving the anthropological material culture in the central region of Argentina (Bunge & Born Foundation – CONICET funding).
- Project Analysis, conservation and relocation of Jorge von Hauenschild collection at the Heritage Reserve Museum of Anthropology.
- COCNIET PIP 2014-2016. Archaeology in the Valley Ongamira, Deptos. Ischilín and Totoral, Córdoba, Argentina (CONICET financing).
- International Exchange Program on Collections Digitization of the Social Sciences and the Humanities (Williams Foundation funding).
- Projects Archaeological Impact Studies (STAN CONICET, funding from several companies)
- Museum of Anthropology Journal (financing FFyH, SECyT-UNC)