Martin Carver – What Makes Archaeology Happen?

Martin Carver DigVentures

For the first of our DVIP lectures at Flag Fen we were honoured to host Martin Carver, Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of York, editor of the Journal Antiquity and the author of one of our favourite ‘how-to’ books on field archaeology – Archaeological Investigation.

Based on his latest book Making Archaeology Happen: Design versus Dogma,’ his far-reaching lecture left us convinced that our unique approach to crowdfunding and crowdsourcing was an important step forward.

Discussing how and why archaeology is undertaken all over the world, Martin passionately argued that ‘Archaeology is for the People,’ deeply embedded in the needs of local communities, making it simultaneously an art, science and social science. Realising this ‘public benefit’ means changing how archaeology is currently practiced, from a standardized process to one that rests on creative design – kind of like the difference between a builder and an architect.

We were blown away by this – particularly in relation to our creative approach to crowdfunding and crowdsourcing – and there were some interesting chats afterwards in the Wattle and Daub! If, as Martin argued, the way archaeology is currently funded stifles our creativity as archaeologists (whether its undertaken by university’s or by developers seeking planning permission), then a crowdfunded approach like DigVentures that draws support from as wide a constituency of funders as possible must do the exact opposite.

Rather like architects it allows us to design a project and assemble a team that is exactly right for the needs of the site, and if the community like what they see we are given the permission and resources to dig it. Keeping our side of the bargain in this  ‘social contract’ means staying 100% focused on our Venturers, either through updates on our digital platform or with sleeves rolled up on the site itself. This is ‘Archaeology for the People’ and its what we mean when we say ‘Archaeology in your hands’… but of course you all knew that already!

Settle back and enjoy the presentation, and if anyone has any comments or questions, just jot them down below or on our Facebook page and we’ll do what we can to help. All the best!

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DigVentures crowdfunds archaeological projects that everyone can be part of, in the UK and overseas. With help from people all over the world, we investigate the past and publish our discoveries online for free. Become a DigVentures Subscriber and be part of great archaeology - all year round!

Brendon Wilkins

Written by Brendon Wilkins

Co-founder and Projects Director at DigVentures, Brendon heads up our field and post-ex team. Aside from field archaeology, his specialisms are cheese, tea and writing animatedly about himself in the third person.

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