(Anthropology 136E) Digital Documentation for Archaeology: Documenting, Representing, and Interpreting Cultural Heritage at the San Francisco Presidio. That is a prestigious-sounding name for a university course to be sure, but what does it mean exactly? As with all cultural heritage there are both concrete and abstract elements that make preserving patrimony a much more complicated – yet less theatrical – task than any Hollywood-ized archaeologist named Indiana would have the general public believe. That is why multidimensional instruction in how to carry out cultural heritage preservation in the modern-day world of Archaeology is so important. Through education comes greater knowledge of the treasures that (we believe) should be accessible in some form to future generations. CoDA’s wish is that preservation today will eventually translate into greater respect and sustainability of patrimony as time goes on. University courses are one way of disseminating the particulars, which is where the aforementioned class comes into play.
As was already stated, there is no cut-and-dry definitions of what specifically “cultural heritage” is, therefore attempts to communicate its significance likewise need to represent all aspects of the heritage. That brings us to the purpose of the course and how it can contribute to an updated interpretation of cultural heritage preservation. A good place to start is to examine the tangible facts:
- It is a UC Berkeley course being taught this summer by CoDA directors and CAL Professors Ruth Tringham and Michael Ashley.
- It will be in conjunction with the Presidio Archaeology Lab of the Presidio Trust.
- (According to the class syllabus) it “will focus on the real world challenge of documenting archaeological places through the creation of interpretive walks and non-invasive site installations, specifically at the Presidio of San Francisco.”
- The students will be expected to learn the history and current status of the Presidio, and then utilize a variety of digital media as tools in which to present interpretation of the site.
- The students will interact with an interdisciplinary array of professionals throughout the summer as resources for class assignments in addition to references for subsequent projects yet to be developed.
- A viable, interactive product will result from the class’s work with the intention of being employed at the Presidio after the course has concluded.
And then there are the intangible details:
- Interpretive trails, interactive media, and other uses of technology are popular techniques for bringing to life material that is often considered dry or “academic,” and to augment a person’s understanding of cultural heritage.
- Through this media the class can unravel the myriad of layers of historical and archaeological data at the Presidio and transform them into contextual information that is more user-friendly and entertaining.
- Increasing the general public’s exposure to the Presidio will simultaneously promote it as a San Francisco historical landmark, destination for outdoor recreation, prime business location, and overall enjoyable locale worthy of a visit by both locals and visitors.
- The subjects studied in this course will lead to valuable skills for the students that can be applied to numerous other projects besides of the ones employed at the Presidio.
That brings me to the purpose of this writing. I am an intern with CoDA as well as an undergraduate Anthropology student at UC Berkeley. For more information on what I am doing personally, please see my bio on the PEOPLE page of this website. I will be posting recaps here every Friday as a snapshot of the Digital Documentation for Archaeology course and all of the fun activities the class is working on. The students will also be contributing postings of their own and with each new entry I will include their words along with my own overview. The recap will include such information as:
- A wrap-up of the week’s activities with highlights from each day.
- Student recap excerpts.
- Photos on this site as well as on the class Flickr account.
- Class speakers and information on their work.
- Links to pertinent readings.
- Specific skills the students are working on that week.
- Projects the students are working on that week and for the entirety of the course.
- Links to related Presidio Trust and Presidio Archaeological Lab activities.
- Outside events related to the class.
- Links to any upcoming CoDA project/workshop that utilize the skills learned in the class.
- Link to CoDA’s Twitter account for up-to-the-minute details.
Stay tuned by following the Anthro 136E Recap link and looking over our Flickr page, and welcome to class!