The use of archaeological skeletal material is strongly reliant on methods for the identification of sex, age, ancestry, disease, and other variables that leave their marks on bone. As methods improve, identification also improves. Throughout the archaeological community, there is constant re-assessment of these methods as well as the creation of new more accurate ones especially through the innovative use of technology. However, the progress of this field is limited by its ability to communicate this progress of the various levels of academia and different international institutions. While texts, journals and conferences do allow for the transfer of information, they are limited in the information they choose to include and the audience that they address. We need to move beyond a one way transfer of knowledge to a community sourced discourse and dialogue.
Therefore, I have begun work on a project known as “The Bone Collective”. The goal is to create a Wiki where methods and theories for bio- and osteo-archaeology can be easily accessed and updated by the academic public, but moderated by experts in the field. It will use the online platform Wikimedia, and will rely on the bioarchaeology community for its content. The project will allow individuals to hold a variety of positions at varying levels of involvement, from creation of some of the larger sections, to editing smaller sections, or moderation of comments as listed below. It will support active critique of the methods through posting comments or submission of alternative methods. This site would serve as an area where new research can be proposed and critiqued. The community will be accessible to a wide international audience and at the varying levels of academia. For practical reasons, it will also provide access to various proformas for research. By providing this new source for communication there can be faster and more efficient collaboration and growth in the field.
New technology is becoming increasingly important in academia, and it would benefit the discipline greatly to make the best possible use of it. I believe that this project would be extremely beneficial to both archaeology and the push for digital humanities.