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    The organics revolution: new narratives and how we can achieve them

    Johnston, P ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2242-1493, Booth, T, Carlin, N, Cramp, L, Edwards, B ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3518-2193, Knight, MG, Mooney, D, Overton, N, Stevens, RE, Thomas, J, Whitehouse, N and Griffiths, Seren ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5168-9897 (2022) The organics revolution: new narratives and how we can achieve them. World Archaeology, 54 (3). pp. 447-463. ISSN 0043-8243

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    Abstract

    Organic remains from excavated sites cover a wide range of materials; from distinct organisms (‘ecofacts’) to biomolecules. Biomolecules provide a variety of new research avenues, while ecofacts with longer histories of study are now being re-harnessed in unexpected ways. These resources are unlocking research potential, transcending what was previously imagined possible. However, this ‘organics revolution’ comes with a salutary corollary; our approaches to recovering and curating organics, and making accessible research data, are not developing as quickly as we need. In this paper we review retention guidelines for institutions in Britain and Ireland, setting this against the backdrop of a ‘curation crisis’ that is affecting museums throughout Europe, and beyond. This is problematic considering the enormous potential that organic remains have to feed into existing and emerging archaeological lines of enquiry. We suggest key issues, such as the state of existing documentation and considerations of the intrinsic and allied research potentials, that can be used to open a discussion about the development of more comprehensive and standardised approaches to archiving in the future. Engaging in this conversation is the only way that we can hope to ensure the long-term retention and preservation of organics, while safeguarding associated research data. We need these changes to ensure the global future research collaborations across the academic, curatorial and professional archaeological sectors.

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