I’ve been finishing up my “Drawn Together” poster for the upcoming SAAs next month. The poster looks at the work I’ve done on my field journal comic from Palau, and it’s thrown up some questions about sequence and process in fieldwork.
Recording the process of fieldwork is always difficult – it’s hard to spend too much time recording the process if you’re spending all your time and effort doing the actual process. This is why context sheets have evolved in the way that they have, and why any field processes that are introduced need to be streamlined and integrated into other elements of practice. While out at the Llanymynech limekilns, and in talks with Steve, I began thinking more about the nature of sequence and process in this context.
If comics are to be a useful addition to the process of recording archaeological fieldwork practice, then they need to also be integrated into current practice in much as surveying, site illustration, photography, environmental sampling or any other technique. Importantly, this integration needs to be not just a matter of achieving seamlessness, but in making the additional steps resonate and speak to existing practice.
It’s a question of time, a question of speed, of course – but more importantly, it’s a question of layering more into a field-based comic work than simply a record of events. The “sequence” of knowledge creation in archaeology is partly about how information builds up, layer upon layer, evolving out of field process. Rather than be simply documentary accounts of events, comics in archaeology need to embrace this broader concept of “sequence”. I’ve tried in Palau: An Archaeological Field Journal to do just this, but I think we can go further.