Christoph BLESL1 / Ingeborg GAISBAUER2 / Doris SCHÖN3
(1Bundesdenkmalamt Wien / 2Stadtarchäologie Wien / 3 Denkmalforscher, Wien, Austria)
Keywords: beginning of settlement; reinterpretation; new methodological aproach
The Archaeological department of the Federal Department for the Protection of Monuments curates and secures analogue and digital records from archaeological interventions, observations and research projects in the Austrian federal area since 1850. The archaeological sites and monuments record and also a new monuments information system (archaeological and architectural monuments), which is currently being developed, also supply concrete data about historic and modern research institutions, finds and records depots, research history, literature and geodata from past excavations. The increasing need to reanalyse sites, which are “lost” scientifically as well as in terms of conservation, makes this central knowledge base all the more important.
In a period of tightening finances and considering the increasing scarcity of undisturbed deposits in the built-up city centre, research into urban lives has to be rethought. The reassessment of older earthfast or structural archaeological research can lead to new results as many new methodological approaches have emerged in recent decades, thus making it possible to analyse contexts in a fresh way and to arrive at new research questions. An interdisciplinary approach can be particularly helpful in scrutinising familiar material and reinterpreting it, if necessary.
Evaluation and re-evaluation processes of this kind concentrate on controversial questions and/or excavations, not the least for financial reasons. The particular approach to the material, and with it an accessible and transparent praxis, are primarily dependant on the extent and condition of the record and the finds material, of course, but the (in)completeness and character of partially published excavation results can also be relevant. Prepublications, older publications and nearly-published topics often result in the establishment of models, which go on to overshadow new discussion processes and, by persisting, obstruct new approaches and alternative suggestions. Particular care and above all a rigorously self-critical attitude are necessary in order to avoid a prejudiced approach in evaluating the material.