Archaeological website project

The point: This exercise should expose you to some of the wonderfully rich and weird archaeology information on the web, and help you to develop skills for sorting the two out. I hope it contributes to your ability to find solid information and to defend yourself against hokum of any variety.

What you do: You visit two web sites about archaeological subjects, one that you eventually judge to be reliable and scientifically sound, and one that you eventually judge to be unreliable and not scientifically sound. (See the web links page for suggestions, or find your own.) You make these judgements by investigating a number of questions about the site, outlined in the "content" section below, keeping notes about the sites you visit and your findings. Then you write up a review of each site, describing it and explaining how you came to your conclusions about the credibility of each.

What you turn in: You turn in two reviews of about two pages each (I won't read more than three), one for each web site, each accompanied by a printout of the first or most identifiable page of the site. In each review, you briefly describe the web site, explain what you did or looked at to evaluate it, and discuss the evidence and reasoning that led you to conclude that the site was reliable or not. See the "content" section below.

Format: Please cite all the websites you visit, both the subject of the review and any that provide other useful information, in the text of the review and in a short bibliography in the style of journals American Antiquity and Latin American Antiquity, illustrated below.

Citations in the text are in this format:

"There are hundreds of radiocarbon dates from Canada (Morlan 1999)." or, "According to Morlan (1999), there are hundreds of radiocarbon dates from Canada."

Morlan's web site would be listed in the list of references as:

Morlan, R. (editor)

1999 "Canadian Archaeological Radiocarbon Database." <> May 12, 1999.

The year at the beginning indicates the year that the site was last modified, as best you can tell. The date at the end is the date on which you accessed it.

Due date: Thursday, October 10

Lateness policy: I accept assignments up to one week late with a 15% penalty.

Grading: 10% of the course grade (100 points out of 1000).


Description of the website: Enough to give me an idea of what you were dealing with.

Evaluation of the credibility of the site: This is the meat of the assignment. Explain what you did in order to evaluate the site, what you found out, and what that told you about the reliability of the site. The more kinds of evidence you can provide to support your opinion, the better. Here are some specific guidelines:

Visit at least "Evaluating web resources" by Paula Hammett (on the web links page), plus other evaluation sites if you like. Every website is different, but your evaluation should address at least some parts of each of Ms. Hammett's main categories:

Each of these categories includes specific questions that are detailed on her web site. Explain not only what you find out about these questions, but also what the answers tell you about how reliable the site probably is, and why.

Also evaluate the following specific issues for clues about the reliability of the site:

Do try all of these methods. Some should prove interesting or illuminating for each site. Good luck!