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Landmark Publication from York Researchers on Archaeological Illustration in Journal of Field Archaeology

Posted on 6 February 2018

In "Pencils and Pixels" Colleen Morgan and Holly Wright Critically Examine Digital and Analog Field Drawing

Isometric Sketch from Archaeologist Michael House

Dr Colleen Morgan, Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology and Dr Holly Wright from the Archaeology Data Service published a new article, Pencils and Pixels: Drawing and Digital Media in Archaeological Field Recording in the Journal of Field Archaeology. This article examines the history of archaeological illustration in the field and asks, Within the context of a growing emphasis on digital recording, what is the place of analog drawing in archaeological fieldwork?

The authors find that an increased emphasis on "born-digital" or "paperless" archaeological recording may have strong implications for understanding the archaeological record. Morgan and Wright argue that there are essential cognitive processes that occur when archaeologists draw archaeological deposits and that these processes are not always translated when using digital tools. From the article:

The take-away for archaeology from this selected literature on structured sketching and the transition to digital tools in design is that there is a kind of cognitive work that is being performed while drawing, that is not easily replicated by digital tools. As drawing has persisted since the beginning of archaeological recording, remained important after the introduction of photography, is characterized as an essential mode of communication and knowledge production within archaeology, and features prominently within abductive reasoning during initial archaeological investigation, a complete abdication to digital recording should be a matter of intense consideration.

The article can be accessed here:

Morgan, C., & Wright, H. (2018). Pencils and Pixels: Drawing and Digital Media in Archaeological Field Recording. Journal of Field Archaeology, 1–16.