Martijn van Leusen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For more than 20 years, at least since the POPULUS conferences of the mid-1990s (www.oxbowbooks.com/pdfs/books/medlangen.pdf; especially Francovich & Patterson eds, 2000), archaeologists have emphasised both the enormous importance - for heritage management and scientific purposes - and lamented the practical impossibility, of being able to merge the hundreds, if not thousands, of fieldwalking survey datasets generated in Europe since the 1950s.
Attempts at analysis of multiple survey datasets (e.g., Alcock & Cherry eds, 2004; Launaro 2011) have so far failed to go beyond the 'maximum common denominator' approach, preventing the drawing of any supra-regional archaeological of historical-economical conclusions. More-over, the data of most surveys, and the metadata for nearly all of them, remain unpublished or inaccessible.
However, in recent years the issue has seen progress on three fronts:
- firstly, a representative cross-section of survey archaeologists active in the Mediterranean, meeting regularly every six months, have drafted a guide to good practice for modern intensive off-site surveying;
- secondly, the FASTI Online Survey project (www.fastionline.org/survey/) is now actively promoting the submission of legacy survey datasets for online archiving and publication;
- and thirdly, a Dutch-UK-Italian research team has since 2016 been investigating the feasibility of a merged survey database for the area around Rome, and is now nearing completion of this work.
All these developments converge on the conclusion that standardisation of survey documentation practices is the main issue to be resolved, whilst for fieldwalking itself, a statement and justification of good practice will be needed.
The goal of this EAA community, therefore, is to discuss the implications of this work with a broad range of interested European colleagues, to determine the main lines along which standardisation of survey documentation practices can be achieved, and eventually to publish and promote such a standard with EAA endorsement.
EAA members who have an interest in the theory or methodology of fieldwalking surveys, and/or in the promotion of FAIR archiving standards (www.go-fair.org/fair-principles/) are encouraged to subscribe to the Community.
Alcock, SE & JF Cherry (eds) 2004, Side-by-Side Survey: Comparative Regional Studies in the Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Francovich, R & H Patterson (eds) 2000, Extracting Meaning from Ploughsoil Assemblages. Oxford: Oxbow books.
Launaro, A 2011, Peasants and Slaves. The Rural Population of Roman Italy (200 BC to AD 100.) Cambridge: Cambridge Classical Studies.