Sunday, 1 February 2015

Intro Part 1: About this blog...

Welcome to you, dear Reader! 

To introduce myself, I’m just going to say that I’m an archaeologist with a passion for discovery. I had the chance to avail of digital imagery to plot, record and measure archaeological sites as part of my various studies. My background is primarily within the recent prehistory (Neolithic onwards) of Ireland, Britain and the rest of Europe and my main interest focuses on the emergence and use of monuments. 

Since leaving both the academic and commercial sectors in 2010, I have been unemployed but never really gave up on the quest for discovery. I have since spent countless hours – hundreds, thousands – perusing Google Earth in order to locate new archaeological sites chiefly within the confines of geographical Northern Ireland. I have an extensive knowledge of the region and its site types and by using a combination of Google Earth’s digital imagery and the available Sites and Monuments Records (for systematic comparison), I was able to identify hundreds of non-recorded sites and likely archaeological features. 

While I have long debated about what to do with such a quantity of new data, I decided a few months ago to contact the authorities at the Department of Environment NI, somewhat thinking that perhaps some kind of project ought to be set up to analyse and incorporate these findings. I met up with old acquaintances in Hill Street, and showed them a portion of my data. However, as everybody in the field knows, any kind of funding is in extremely short supply and I was told, as expected,  that it would be great if I could try and make my findings public in my own way somehow. 

Leaving the Hill Street building rummaging on the words, ‘Once something is out, who knows what it will bring?’,  I went through many phases of indecision. Work on a database, a website or simply create a blog? Problem is, the task is huge and having several spreadsheets and websites in-progress, I was getting nowhere near completion. I finally realised that a blog would allow me to publicise the findings as I find the time to post them and also perhaps enable me to receive worthy feedback.  At this stage, I must thank Robert M. Chapple who supported me in publicising these results and who advised me on many aspects regarding data dissemination. 

Since I won’t be able to organise my findings systematically using a blog, I will instead initially focus on posting a selection of new sites that will showcase the different types of features identifiable via Google Earth and highlight this tool’s potential. Following these initial posts, I will detail an example of a more local and systematic survey of a single area to present the range of new data that can be thus obtained. Gradually, the plan is ultimately to publish full lists of all my new data/sites per County in Northern Ireland. I must apologise in advance regarding the contents of my posts that will invariably be heavy with pictures and I hope that slower connections will not be affected as a result. Also, please forgive my English as it is only my second language…  

I probably forgot to mention a lot of things but this should do for the moment. Now that I have decided to start this blog, I have a mammoth task ahead and I hope the time spent already and that to come will be of great interest to archaeological research in Northern Ireland and beyond. 

Best regards to all,
Willy Adam MA. MPhil.

Main purposes of this blog:

  • Publicise the vast amount of new archaeological data I gathered in the past few years using Google Earth in comparison with SMR data.
  • Raise the issue of heritage conservation and the need to protect these sites by working towards an integration within the SMR records.
  • Raise the awareness within academia and official heritage bodies of the huge potential for discoveries using Google Earth.
  • Reach relevant individuals/bodies in order to ‘perhaps’ convince someone that a full-scale and systematic use of this resource should be carried out, which would yield incalculable results.
  • Create a repository of Google Earth images pertaining to these sites (fear of losing my accumulated GE data - which happened to me a few years back - or losing GE dated coverage of specific areas).

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