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Editor's Corner

One of the most enjoyable aspects of editing SAA Bulletin has been the development of new columns, and one of my favorites is Insights, which reports on technological advances applied to archaeological problems. I recently had the pleasure of hearing a paper at the Institute of Andean Studies meeting at Berkeley by John Rick, who has contributed two columns to the series, one on laser transits and the other on laser leveling and measuring devices. John's theme at the meeting was the use of these technologies at the spectacular Andean site of Chavín de Huantar to better understand how the site was constructed and how it has been changed through time. While his graphics were stunning, he reminded the audience that his goal was to be able to "bring Chavín home" through the use of these technologies; he could literally recreate the site in a number of highly innovative, and above all, useful ways. That is, he has been able to create a research tool, not simply a series of pretty pictures.

The Insights column in this issue by Dan Larson and Elizabeth Ambos is another example of how technological tools have the potential to revolutionize archaeological research. Their emphasis on the integration of theory, method, and research expectations parallels John Rick's desire to create an integrated research tool, and the outcome of the application of the methods are the same: the creation of a body of useful empirical data that can be used to explore questions of both culture history and theory in new and unexpected ways.

Technology all too often gets in the way of solving problems, but I think that in both examples, these technologies point the way to exciting research futures our discipline has only dimly begun to perceive. We hope to provide similar examples in future Insights, and we welcome your opinions.


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