Chair: Reiner GÖLDNER, Germany

In general “authenticity” means “vouched, genuine”. In the field of classic archiving authenticity describes the fact, that the archived documents or objects remain original, unchanged and undamaged. Jenkinson* described the task of archiving as “to hand on the documents as nearly as possible in the state in which he received them, without adding or taking away, physically or morally, anything: to preserve unviolated, without the possibility of suspicion, every element in them, every quality they possessed when they came to him”. So it is one of the most important criteria of quality in archiving.

“What does “authenticity” mean for archaeological archiving today?”

What does “authenticity” mean in the digital era? Compared with classic archiving some specific questions arise, e.g.:

  • Is a digital copy equivalent to the original document?
  • Will anybody be able to open and use an unchanged and undamaged (authentic) document after some hundred years? What story can it tell then?
  • How do modern methods of archiving digital data (e.g. migration) affect authenticity of documents?
  • Would it be authentic to open an old document with new software or with an entirely new computer system? Which kinds of presentation are authentic?
  • What about complex digital data with integrated functionality (such as databases or geodata), how can we preserve authenticity of these functions?

Authenticity is closely connected with long term preservation of digital data. Already much information on this topic is available. Even standards have been established, such as ISO 14721 (Open Archival Information System) and DIN 31644 and DIN 31645 (digitale Langzeitarchive). But how far does practical experience exist? Are there systems that implement those standards in practice? And how do these systems deal with authenticity?

Authenticity also plays a role outside archiving. It is common practice to publish data via web services, e.g. geodata services. Such services can be flexibly used within various applications and they can interact with the data within these applications. But if the presentation of that data can be freely modified, where is authenticity?

This session addresses the following questions:

  • Which criteria are important to preserve authenticity in an archaeological context?
  • Which conditions, which means and methods, which information is/are required to preserve authenticity for the long term?

Contributions discussing the question of authenticity and connected themes in the archaeological archive – both traditional and digital – are welcome.

Reiner Göldner
(With the friendly assistance of David Bibby)

* Jenkinson, Hilary: A Manual of Archive Administration. London, 1965.