Engaging with Archaeological Collections from Banks Island, NWT: Examining the value of digital representations and physical replicas
Compton, Mary E. and Lisa Hodgetts
University of Western Ontario
Representations, replicas, and other “copies” of archaeological objects are increasingly used to document and preserve archaeological information and facilitate its sharing. As mediums of communication, both within and outside the archaeological realm, these “copies” form a locus for engagement and experience. Here, as part of our work with the Ikaahuk Archaeology Project on Banks Island, we explore the potential of artifact “copies” to link Inuvialuit community members in Sachs Harbour to ancestral archaeological 56 material now curated in distant repositories. Over the summer of 2015, Compton conducted interviews and focus groups in Sachs Harbour, Inuvik and Yellowknife with a diverse array of archaeological constituents including local Inuvialuit community members (elders, adults, and youth), museologists, curators, and archaeologists in order to examine how they experience, perceive, and value archaeological copies in relation to original archaeological material. A collection of artifacts, digital photographs, 3D models, 3D prints, and handmade replicas provided hands-on inspiration for this dialogue. Findings suggest that, in this case, framing the “copy” in opposition to, or as a devaluation of, the original may be an oversimplification of what is valuable about the various forms. While the majority of participants demonstrated a strong interest in emerging 3D technologies, there was a high diversity of opinion, both between and within communities, about the specific roles archaeological replicas should play.