Archaeological Challenges, Digital Possibilities : Digital Knowledge Development and Communication in Contract Archaeology

Sammanfattning: This research concerns the digitalisation of archaeology, with a focus on Swedish contract archaeology. The aim is to understand how the archaeological discipline relates to the change that digitalisation brings and human involvement in these processes. The thesis is a study of its impact on processes connected to archaeological knowledge production and communication. The work problematises how digital data might be understood within these contexts but also illustrates where the potential of the digitalisation lies and how archaeology can make use of it. The theoretical approach re-actualises the concept of reflexivity in a digital context, combining it with various communication theories aiming to challenge the archaeological workflow and connect it more closely to present-day society. The digitalisation of archaeology can be seen across the whole discipline withan emphasis on academia. This digital development has greater opportunities in larger research projects which have sufficient funding than in contract archaeology. In those projects leading the digital development, the reflexive approach has been re-discovered and the digital enabled for new processes of knowledge production to take place. In case studies of Swedish contract archaeology several observations are made where it becomes clear that the digitalisation already shows positive effects at a government level, in organisations and projects within the sector. But there are also issues regarding digital infrastructure, knowledge production, archiving, accessibility and transparency. The biggest challenge is not technical but in attitudes towards digitalisation. The research concludes that digital communication based on archaeological source material can be something more than mediation of results. With digital interactive storytelling there are ways to create emotional virtual connections with the user, relating to the present and the surrounding society. By interlinking the processes of interpretation and communication an archaeological knowledge production might become an archaeological knowledge development.