We are blogging as we dig into the archaeological records archived at Independence National Historical Park (INDE) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. These records were created over the past 50 years as archaeologists researched sites within the park's boundaries. The Independence Park Archives is currently creating a Guide for this vast collection of documents. This blog serves toward that end. It functions as a platform where archaeologists, archivists, and the interested public can share ideas about how to make these materials more widely available and more useful to the user.
Read more about this project blog...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Say Tomayto...

Most archaeologists spell archaeology with two ‘a’s (‘aeo’) but, generally-speaking, federally-based archeology does not (being spelled instead as ‘eo’). However, not even the feds are consistent in this. For example, the Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1974 used ‘eo’ but it was followed by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 with ‘aeo’.

In blogging personal thoughts and observations here I will be using ‘aeo’ as I am not a federally- based archaeologist. But others commenting informally here may do otherwise. I will of course retain the shorter ‘eo’ version where appropriate -- namely in recording literary references and official titles and when transcribing original text.

I will likewise conform to the National Park Service standard of ‘eo’ in making the finding aid at the base of this project – except in those cases where to do so is inappropriate. For example, if the early dating archaeological documentation under study uses the more common ‘aeo’, then their original form will be retained – that is, unless the INDE archivist wishes otherwise. Cataloguing systems are cultural artifacts and collections are routinely accessioned within larger inventory structures (central repositories) under the nomenclature and organizing principles of that host.

There is a lot of speculation within the field about why there are the different spellings for archaeology/archeology. My own favorite rumor (which is erroneous) has the government taking the action to save money because dropping the second ‘a’ eventually means a large savings of ink and paper. If you want to dig deeper into this weird aspect visit the following:

K.C. Smith (1995) I say Tomayto: You say Tomahto. In Archaeology & Public Education 5(4):7.

Little, Barbara (2006)
Why are there two different spellings: archaeology and archeology? at "Archaeology for the public".

K.K. Hirst Archeology VS. Archaeology: A Poll at archaeology@about.com.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this! At the Free Library of Philadelphia, where I have my day job, I run up against cataloguing/cataloging and archives/archive all the time and while I have preferences, I'm afraid to see if there's a Federal ruling on those! Aesthetically,