ArchaeologicalTraces.org

ATPG Publications

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Editorial #1

This first number of Traces in Time represents the completion of a long path started two years ago with the online project ArchaeologicalTraces.org by A.T.P.G. Society. This project was born in an atmosphere of discussion and debate in Rome, where young archaeologists [1] feel that the scarcity of independent, digital and peer-reviewed spaces of publication severely limits the development of the discipline. A central concern is that Open Access philosophy - and related technology - is still far from being understood, accepted and adopted.

In the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing, an Open Access Publication [2] is defined as one that respects the following statements:

  1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship [3], as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.

  1. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central is such a repository).

In the Berlin Declaration, Open Access is said to represent the removal of any economic, legal or technical barrier to the fruition of Scientific Knowledge, which may hinder access to scientific information. This ensures that society as a whole may benefit from scientific and technological progress [4].

In Italy the Berlin Declaration was subscribed to and integrated in the Dichiarazione di Messina in 2004 by a number of Italian Universities [5].

According to a study published in 2011 [6], Open Access journal publishing has increased particularly between the years 2000 and 2009. In 2008, 20% of the total output of peer-reviewed published articles could be found Openly Accessible [7].
 
Unfortunately, in Italy, the archaeological discipline has shown a worrisome reluctance to adopt Open Access, Peer-reviewing and, more generally, digital media in the reorganisation of its own editorial sector, which has shown evident signals of being in crisis. This is particularly true not only for journals, but especially for the publication of Conference Proceedings, which is increasingly being delayed to several years after the actual end of the meeting. This means a waste of knowledge and time, particularly since a primary aim of scientific research should be to share results widely, as this permits the discipline to advance at a steady pace.

ArchaeologicalTraces.org was developed as a reaction to this state of affairs.

The aim of this project was to create a free, digital, international Open Access environment, giving the authors the freedom to make use of their work without the legal impediments that limit the spreading of scientific – and in this case archaeological – knowledge. With this project we have thought about freedom, accessibility, and independence of archaeological knowledge.

This first number of Traces in Time contains four papers on topics regarding Mediterranean area prehistory, including Italy, Malta, Sardinia and Jordan. The article by Giandaniele Castangia aptly contributes to the debate on Sardinian prehistory with an analysis and discussion of the evidence from the long-term settlement of Sa Osa in Sardinia. Castangia argues that this is a peculiar type of productive settlement, probably seasonally occupied, especially during the nuragic phase (XVI-XII sec. A.C.), suggesting that the Sardinian landscape could have been far more logistically complex than expected during the Bronze Age.

The work of Clive Vella analyses the lithic assemblage from the site of Ras-il-Pellegrin on Malta. This site’s relevance lies in the main activities that presumably were carried out in its surroundings: the procurement of chert from the exposed Middle Globigerina levels and access to the bay. The author’s analysis is particularly interesting in his discussion of the “associative use of landscape and artifacts” in the study of such contexts. It reveals the necessity of integrating the habitual site-centred focus (common especially among Mediterranean archaeologists) with a modern archaeological approach, which considers the site location within its landscape as one of the most important variables to take into account.

Piccione, Copat and Costa’s paper presents the results of an analysis on the ceramic design of the Castelluccio phase painted pottery in Sicily, Early Bronze Age. The authors recognise the existence of a pattern of interaction between sites based on short or middle range multidirectional contacts. The article represents the completion of long-term work on published and unpublished materials recovered from the main ‘Castelluccian’ sites. The main aims of the authors are to discuss the results of an ongoing stylistic analysis carried out by the authors on a wide corpus of Castelluccio painted ceramics and to propose a methodological means for a better detailed study of style and decoration of pottery.

Arikan’s article investigates the evolution of settlement systems in Wadi el-Hasa, west-central Jordan, between Early Bronze I-III (ca. 3,500-2,400 BC) and Iron Age (ca. 1,200-500 BC), utilising GIS-based analyses. In the author’s view, the use of this technology is useful in creating ‘alternative scenarios’ in the manipulation of the data, leading to a more robust relationship between theory and practice in archaeological research. We hope this will be the first of a number of articles in Traces in Time that will deal with this extremely delicate and important topic.

Different archaeologies, different proposals, different backgrounds.

We strongly believe Traces in Time represents a beginning for something that will grow and show its creative potentialities for increasing the possibilities of archaeological publication. We hope to continue to improve this space, and encourage all those interested to contribute to our work in progress.

 

NOTES

[1] In the meantime, over the past two years, the editorial core of Traces in Time and ATPG spans across numerous universities including Brown University, University of Cambridge, University of College London and the University of Rome.

[2] Open access is a property of individual works, not necessarily journals or publishers.

[3] Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now.

[5] Workshop Gli atenei italiani per l’Open Access: verso l’accesso aperto alla letteratura di ricerca, at http://www.aepic.it/conf/Messina041/index981f.html