The editors of Advances in Archaeological Practice are delighted to share with you the first issue in the journal’s sixth volume year. We celebrate this milestone with a new cover that integrates Advances into the Society for American Archaeology’s family of journals that includes the better known American Antiquity and Latin American Antiquity. The image on our first new cover shows citizens from Springfield, Illinois trying to save the Illinois State Museum in the face of devastating and politically motivated budget cuts. The energy and conviction of these citizens as they protest the closure of the museum conveys a level of passion for science and history that we want to communicate with this journal. The lead article by Terry Klein, Lynne Goldstein, Deborah Gangloff, William Lees, Krysta Ryzewski, Bonnie Styles, and Alice Wright tells of the lessons learned from that story.

This issue of independently submitted papers contains a convergence of authors thinking about ‘what’s next?’ for archaeological practice. Between the 2016 birthday of the National Historic Preservation Act in the United States, the continuing threats to funding in the social sciences by universities and agencies, and the destruction of heritage sites in places in environmental and social turmoil around the world, archaeologists are thinking about the relevance of the discipline.

We know that in countries that have well developed cultural and heritage management programs, archaeologists are good at collecting information, good at documenting it, and good at archiving it, but as a whole we are more challenged by synthesizing that information in ways that inform and engage the public. Papers in this issue directly address these challenges. Klein and his colleagues provide examples of grassroots, low cost ways to make communities care about the history that surrounds them, both in the context of institutionalized outreach programs and individual projects. They also itemize why every archaeologist should care about this. Altschul and his colleagues propose the creation of a new networked institution based on the now-closed National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (a program that pioneered a new form of collaborative synthesis in many disciplines). They encourage researchers to move away from project level synthesis to collaborative work with a variety of practitioners using existing data to answer big questions and the disciplines’ “Grand Challenges.”

Keith Kintigh and his colleagues illustrate “data integration in the service of synthesis” sharing the methods by which archived data sets can contribute to big picture thinking with a pilot study that shares ontologies developed to integrate faunal data from multiple projects to examine regional patterns of faunal exploitation in the Southwest United States. Jacob Lulewicz uses Bayesian analysis to synthesize data from the Southeast United States and suggest important changes to regional chronologies.

Sean Hixon and his co-authors and Charles Speer showcase cutting edge technologies and attentive methodologies. The use of photogrammetry to analyze inscribed images on the “hats” of the Rapa Nui statues updates work conducted with less fine-grained methods on these continually eroding monuments. The new information will require scholars to rethink the meaning of the images in these contexts, and so the settlement and territorial narratives of the island. Speer provides guidance for others working in technological studies of flaked stone, sharing lessons learned in a how-to article about how to create three dimensional models of projectile points preforms that allow fine tuned and replicable experimental archaeology.

Each of our issues concludes with a Digital Review, and in this issue Meaghan Dennis considers good outreach intentions gone awry, looking at the fate of web-based “extensions” of museum exhibits that have since closed and their online legacies.

From archaeology for the public, to innovative use of technologies, and rigorous methods, our first issue of the sixth volume year is a good representation of the papers we enjoy publishing. We invite you to help us advance archaeological practice everyday by sharing what you learn as authors, and at a grander scale, as engaged citizens helping people understand the importance of history, social science, and scientific methods for a modern society.


Advances In Archaeological Practice is a quarterly, full-color, digital journal devoted to sharing creative solutions to challenges in the practice of archaeology globally. Explore the latest issue on Cambridge Core.

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