Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Archaeology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
MainDiscussionMonitoringOutlineParticipantsProject organizationAssessmentResourcesShowcase

WikiProject Archaeology (Rated Project-class)
WikiProject iconThis page is within the scope of WikiProject Archaeology, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Archaeology on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
 Project  This page does not require a rating on the project's quality scale.

Terminology articles[edit]

We have a collection of articles on technical terms in excavation, mostly created by the same editor years ago, and neglected since:

They're not well sourced and for the most part appear to be dictionary definitions padded out with textbook-style explanations of how to apply them in practice. I was planning to go through and merge all or most to the glossary of archaeology. That does the job of explaining what they mean when used in articles, without having lots of articles on essentially unencyclopaedic topics.

Following Johnbod's suggestion, I'm posting here to check whether there are any objections. – Joe (talk) 18:01, 29 May 2018 (UTC)

I'm rather more sympathetic to at least some of these. In general, I don't much like "glossary" articles on wp, and think they should mostly be lists of very short definitions with links to articles, like the fairly well-developed Glossary of architecture. They tend to be not well maintained (not helped by the ghastly templating used), though heaven knows this is also true of articles. Glossary of archaeology (avge 28 views pd), which Joe started in late 2016, is still pretty skimpy - apparently there are no terms beginning with E,G,H,J,K,M,O,T,U,V and other well-known letters! The number of articles which should be entirely replaced by a glossary entry is pretty small imo, but may include some of these. Some are quite long - a screenful or more- and I presume that though without incline cites, being from the good old days, they are all pretty accurate in essentials. I'm not really seeing a "how to" issue here. I could go through the lot, but for example, what about Phase (archaeology) or Fill (archaeology), two of the longer ones? The language is rather technical, but there is far too much to just transfer to the glossary, & to just lose it seems like a loss to me. Johnbod (talk) 00:57, 30 May 2018 (UTC)
If you don't like glossaries that's fair enough. Glossary of archaeology is obviously a long way from complete but I think it's useful to define the many bits of archaeology jargon that crop up in other articles but don't necessarily merit an article of their own.
That's what I'd call these articles – excavation jargon. The length is misleading. Fill (archaeology), for example, can easily be condensed to four short glossary entries without losing any information (and note that the last two, >50% of the body text, aren't actually directly about fills):
fill: material that was deposited or has accumulated in a cut after it was made.
primary fill: the first (and therefore stratigraphically lowermost) fill of a given cut; often silt or other natural material that accumulated in the cut before it was used for its primary purpose
slumping: the deformation of a feature from its original position through natural settling action
tip line: the angle of a deposit such as a fill or midden, potentially indicating the direction and/or position that the material was originally deposited from
The rest is unencyclopaedic filler: examples, textbook-style extended explanations, tips on how to apply these concept in practice. That kind of thing. I suspect these were written from the the original author's head (many cite the MOLAS manual, but I checked a few and it doesn't actually verify what's there). They knew what they were talking about, to be sure, but they don't meet our current expectations for either verifiability or encyclopaedic style. They'd work in a wikibook excavation manual, maybe.
Would a good way forward be to take these on a case-by-case basis? I'll continue to expand the glossary, and if I think an entry says everything an existing article does, I'll propose that it be merged. – Joe (talk) 18:52, 31 May 2018 (UTC)

WikiProject collaboration notice from the Portals WikiProject[edit]

The reason I am contacting you is because there are one or more portals that fall under this subject, and the Portals WikiProject is currently undertaking a major drive to automate portals that may affect them.

Portals are being redesigned.

The new design features are being applied to existing portals.

At present, we are gearing up for a maintenance pass of portals in which the introduction section will be upgraded to no longer need a subpage. In place of static copied and pasted excerpts will be self-updating excerpts displayed through selective transclusion, using the template {{Transclude lead excerpt}}.

The discussion about this can be found here.

Maintainers of specific portals are encouraged to sign up as project members here, noting the portals they maintain, so that those portals are skipped by the maintenance pass. Currently, we are interested in upgrading neglected and abandoned portals. There will be opportunity for maintained portals to opt-in later, or the portal maintainers can handle upgrading (the portals they maintain) personally at any time.


On April 8th, 2018, an RfC ("Request for comment") proposal was made to eliminate all portals and the portal namespace. On April 17th, the Portals WikiProject was rebooted to handle the revitalization of the portal system. On May 12th, the RfC was closed with the result to keep portals, by a margin of about 2 to 1 in favor of keeping portals.

There's an article in the current edition of the Signpost interviewing project members about the RfC and the Portals WikiProject.

Since the reboot, the Portals WikiProject has been busy building tools and components to upgrade portals.

So far, 84 editors have joined.

If you would like to keep abreast of what is happening with portals, see the newsletter archive.

If you have any questions about what is happening with portals or the Portals WikiProject, please post them on the WikiProject's talk page.

Thank you.    — The Transhumanist   07:25, 30 May 2018 (UTC)


This isn't part of our wikiproject, which isn't surprising as it doesn't even suggest that it has a history going back to the Neolithic. It's basically about modern or recent transhumance in various parts of the world. I have no time to fix it, but if the subject interests anyone.... Doug Weller talk 16:34, 24 June 2018 (UTC)

I tagged it for recentism, but the tag was removed today. I've replaced it add added some sources on the talk page. Doug Weller talk 18:21, 28 July 2018 (UTC) Which have been used, so this is sorted although needs work. Doug Weller talk 18:36, 28 July 2018 (UTC)

Armenian hypothesis[edit]

Please see Talk:Armenian hypothesis#Requested move 5 July 2018. – Joe (talk) 15:37, 5 July 2018 (UTC)

Use of press releases and newspaper reports for archaeological discoveries[edit]

I'm having a friendly discussion at Talk:Shuafat#Chalcolithic: why shouldn't IAA press releases through good media not be accepted?, an ArbPia article. It's about an important discovery that hit the news in 2016 but seems to have dropped out of sight, ie no publications, further reports, etc that I can find (which is surprising). Contributions welcome. Doug Weller talk 18:23, 28 July 2018 (UTC)

Actually there is a problem. It's been pointed out to me in the friendly discussion at Shufat that this is used in a section on Shufat in our Jerusalem for the text "In 2016 Israeli archaeologists announced they had unearthed a 7,000-year-old settlement from the early Chalcolithic period in the northern neighbourhood of Shuafat.[97] What makes the discovery extraordinary is the fact that it includes houses, as opposed to previous Chalcolithic sites from the Jerusalem area, which contained none.[97] The archaeologists describe the discovery as the oldest of its kind in the region.[76] The Israel Antiquities Authority asserts that the stone houses and artifacts from Shuafat confirm "the existence of a well-established settlement in the Jerusalem area as long ago as the fifth millennium BC"." If we don't have a guideline on this, we should. Doug Weller talk 18:52, 28 July 2018 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I'll take a look at the specifics after, but in general I absolutely agree that we should strongly discourage the use of news media sources on archaeology. Aside from the abysmal state of science journalism about archaeology, there is still too many people within the discipline doing "publication by press release", which makes even statements by experts unreliable. This situation might be similar to Point Rosee, which a big fuss was made of in the media, and then when the papers come out two years later (not even peer reviewed, just a report)... turns out to be absolutely nothing. I don't think we could have avoided having an article on that considering the level of coverage, but still, we might have saved ourselves some effort and disseminated less misinformation if we'd been more conservative about which sources to use.
Maybe it would be worth drafting a project guideline that covers this, to refer to in future? That the news isn't a good source for science is already policy (WP:NEWSORG), but apparently a lot of people overlook that. – Joe (talk) 19:09, 28 July 2018 (UTC)
There is already Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (natural sciences), which technically doesn't cover archaeology, and seems not to have caught on, but gives very applicable advice IMO. – Joe (talk) 19:21, 28 July 2018 (UTC)
@Joe Roe:, it does, but it's too long and not quite tuned enough for the issues here. There is some stuff in the secondary sources section that might be used as a basis. Where would we put it and how would we get it adopted? Doug Weller talk 14:12, 31 July 2018 (UTC)
As a WP:PROJPAGE? We could also include some guidelines on things like calendar systems. I'd see it as elaborating on existing policies (e.g. WP:NEWSORG) as they relate to archaeology, so I don't think we'd need to get a formal consensus in an RfC or anything. I think the majority of people who would care are already watching this page. – Joe (talk) 14:40, 31 July 2018 (UTC)
You will have a job eliminating all of these, and the wider community will be dubious about a relatively small project trying to enforce a local standard. Most editors who touch on archy articles only do so using general media sources. Proper archy publication still often takes a long time. There was some discussion of this at Talk:Staffordshire Hoard, where many non-regulars prefered to take the garbled version printed by the "RS" press, despite the full video of the press conference, with the experts that they were garbling, being available (actually most of that must have been on some other talk page). Despite its very high profile, that has not been "published" in a final form nearly 10 years after discovery. The Hoxne Hoard was found in 1992, and the BM monographs only published in 2005 and 2010. In both cases there were preliminary publications of course. If you want to exclude major papers and press agencies, you may need to argue each case in terms of inaccuracy (to meet WP:NEWSORG), which will be very difficult if press releases are all that is out so far. Johnbod (talk) 15:00, 31 July 2018 (UTC)
Having an advice page we can point to is at least a first step in improving the quality of references. It needn't impose anything, it's just saying: look, this is what editors interested in/knowledgeable about this topic agree is best.
Publication lag is a recognised problem in archaeology, especially when it comes to the elusive "final" report. But less so than it used to me, and I think these high-profile discoveries are exceptional, because they're the ones where you get a significant volume of coverage that isn't reliable. For the majority, if there's nothing published in the peer reviewed literature then we have no article and no problem. – Joe (talk) 15:28, 31 July 2018 (UTC)
I think it's fine to do an advice page, but some more experienced editors will challenge the validity of that, and there can be a good deal of support for such challenges among the wider community. A lot of the problems centre on "earliest find/use of" claims appearing on more general pages, which the media will always print, & some helpful reader always pick up. Johnbod (talk) 15:34, 31 July 2018 (UTC)

Proposal to have "Etruscan" redirect to Etruscan civilization[edit]

... instead of going to a disam page. Please comment at Talk:Etruscan. This follows a similar agreed move of Minoan. Johnbod (talk) 21:55, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

Please comment on Noah's Ark[edit]

Hi. Please comment on the talk page section of the article Noah's Ark titled "Existence of the ark" as to whether the given source verifies the text. Thanks! Thinker78 (talk) 21:01, 6 August 2018 (UTC)

Discussion about Jason Colavito at RSN[edit]

See WP:RSN#Is a blogpost a reliable source?. Doug Weller talk 19:24, 18 August 2018 (UTC)