The Proceedings from Fields of Conflict Conference 2018 offered two papers of particular interest to me from friends and associates.
Conflict Archaeology, Material Culture, and the Role of Validation Studies in Interpreting the Past
by Douglas D. Scott, Joel Bohy, Charles Haecker, William Rose and Patrick Severts
This paper is fascinating, exploring the ways that battlefield bullets and musket balls can be used to improve interpretation. Especially fascinating is the ways you can look at the way they are distorted and the lead is patterned by fabric, etc. It must have been a lot of fun firing those weapons!
Avocational Detectorists and Battlefield Research: Potential Data Biases
by Chris Espenshade
This paper explores the prominence and risk of data bias (namely bias against iron) among avocational detectorists. There’s incontrovertible evidence of bias in his data but I agree this can be overcome using some of his suggestions related to ranking detectorists’ abilities, keeping a list of the best and most helpful volunteers, perhaps a national database? The ’20-30 years detecting’ experience claim is made by everyone, and I’ve seen it make zero difference in success related to Archaeology. At the same time, I think those who rise to the top in their skills and team abilities with Archaeology projects should be duly praised for the work beyond just being “field technicians.”