David BIBBY1 / Reiner GÖLDNER2
(1Esslingen / 2Dresden, Germany)
Keywords: authenticity, digital archive, archaeological data
There is no way around it, archaeological information has to be archived in digital format. Excavation reports, context descriptions, photo documentation, excavation drawings, maps of find spots and monuments, 3D scans… Data are created digitally with increased regularity. They are stored less and less often as analogue copies on paper or film in filing cabinets, boxes and sleeves – indeed, for some data it is impossible, difficult or even makes no sense to create analogue copies. Digital data provide many more possibilities and more functionality then analogue data. But how far can we trust in digital data, Are they “true”? Are they authentic after years and years?
Using the classical concept of “authenticity” in the digital domain, there are some problematic aspects: A digital object can be cloned – so which one is the original? What about changed system environments and changed presentation software? What about data migration to newer versions of data formats? What about integrated functionality?
So it is clear, that an unspecified, absolute authenticity cannot be achieved while archiving digital data. But what can be achieved? The paper discusses some thoughts and concepts on digital authenticity and illustrates some aspects, that may help to preserve digital authenticity over years.