Art and Archaeology Technical Abstracts (AATA) – Reviewed 1989

Prepared by Joyce L. Ogburn June 1989

A. Issues Reviewed:

Vol. 1-5, 1955-1965 published as IIC Abstracts (IIC stands for the International
Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works).

Vol. 6-19, 1966-1983 AATA was published by the Institute of Fine Arts
of the New York University for the International Institute for Conservation
of Historic and Artistic Works.

Vol. 20, 1983- AATA was published by the Getty Conservation Institute
in association with the International Institute for Conservation of Historic
and Artistic Works. Beginning with vol. 23, 1986 AATA is compiled and produced
from bibliographic information contained in the Conservation Information
Network (under the auspices of the Getty Conservation Institute and the
National Museums of Canada).

Scanned Volumes 6-26.

B. Frequency:

Currently published twice a year, two issues per volume.

C. Introduction:

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: This index covers the more technical aspects of
art and archaeology, abstracting articles which take an applied approach
to the disciplines. Because it covers a wide variety of technical analyses,
it would be useful in an art, chemistry, museum studies, or archaeology

SCOPE: AATA is truly international in scope, drawing on sources from
all over the world in many different languages. The contributors also span
the globe. The text is in English, while the titles are in the language
of origin. The scope is clearly stated in Volume 6, 1966. In the later
volumes, (1986 -) the scope must be inferred from the “Guide to the
Use of AATA”.

D. Overall Usability:

This abstracting service has a well-designed classification scheme,
appropriate cross-references, and several indexes. All citations in the
cross-references and the indexes are contained in the same volume. It should
be used by archaeologists looking for information on the technical aspects
of archaeology on a world-wide scale. It probably would be most useful
to curators of archaeological collections, field workers, archaeologists
who work outside of North America, and researchers desiring the broadest
possible literature search.

E. Coverage:

TYPES OF PUBLICATIONS ABSTRACTED: AATA abstracts articles, reports,
news items, books, A/V, machine-readable data files, and other publications
from every major country of the world. The type of coverage is well-outlined
in the section on the “Guide to the Use of AATA.” Coverage of
archaeology would be limited to those works appropriate to AATA’s scope.

Over the past three years AATA has included under “Archaeological
Methods” an average of 46 entries per volume. The average number of
cross-references also has been 46.

AATA abstracts many archaeological journals, including American Antiquity,
Archaeometry, Journal of Archaeological Science, and MASCA Journal.

SUBJECTS COVERED: This publication covers topics of general interest,
technical aspects, including restoration, repair, and preservation, historical
treatments, physical and chemical properties of artistic works and artifacts,
and excavations.

F. Format:

ARRANGEMENT OF ENTRIES: AATA, from 1966-1983, is divided into 9 sections:

1. General methods and techniques (including archaeology); 2. Paper;
3. Wood; 4. Textiles; 5. Paintings; 6. Glass and ceramics; 7. Stone and
masonry; 8. Metals; 9. Animal and vegetable products.

From 1984 on, the abstracts in AATA were arranged under 7 sections:

1. Methods of examination and documentation (“the process of obtaining
information or results, and/or storing this data”); 2. Conservation
practice (“general concerns and conservation practice”); 3. Archaeological
methods (“technical methods… but does not include… site surveys,
listing of finds, or archaeological history”); 4. Architectural conservation,
including landscape gardening (“information on treatment of buildings
and historic sites and monuments”); 5. Conservation training; 6. History
of technology (“non-substance-specific historical material”);
and 7. Analysis, treatment, and techniques of works of art and objects
of materials (a list is included).

Each abstract is numbered by volume and order of appearance in the volume.
The author’s name comes first, followed by the title. The language of the
article is indicated. Journal titles are written in full, not abbreviated
and entries for journal articles contain issue number and month, if applicable.
Entries also include number of figures or tables, and for books, number
of pages.

APPENDICES AND INDEXES: From 1966-1983 AATA contained a list of the
periodicals abstracted and a supplement which was a critical, annotated
bibliography on a selected topic. The later volumes (1984 and following)
have separate indexes for authors, periodicals and distributors (including
addresses), and subjects. Indexes are not cumulated. The entries in bold
in the periodicals list are abstracted regularly (which may not be the
same as completely).

PRINT AND BINDING: The print, though small, is quite easy to read and
printed clearly. The binding is sturdy and margins are adequate for binding.

G. Subject Access

CLASSIFIED ARRANGEMENT: The abstracts are arranged under broad headings
with somewhat more specific subheadings such as methods, history, and case
studies. The headings primarily focus on objects/materials and techniques/methods.
If one wants to go immediately to a heading to browse, it is easy to do.
Each section of the abstracts is followed by a list, in numerical order,
of cross-referenced titles with their abstract number. This allows one
to browse through the abstracts under “Archaeological Methods”
and follow up on the articles cross referenced at the end of the section.

INDEX: The subject index is incredibly lengthy: one volume had an index
of 229 pages. The index contains detailed entries, starting with somewhat
broad subjects further broken down by more minute subdivisions. No use
of a controlled vocabulary was indicated and the index did not employ cross-references.
Because of the detail of the index, one may need to browse the index extensively.
For example, one entry under the index in one volume is “Flint tool
– Identification Pavia Certosa (Pavia, Italy).” Broader headings are
used as well, such as “Italy, Archaeology” and “Chert –
tool dating.” Some index terms are used consistently from year to
year, for example “Computers” or “Conservation” with
plenty of subheadings. All in all, a detailed index can be very useful
when one is very familiar with it.

H. Time Lag:

Coverage is timely and current.

I. Editing

The quality of the editing is good.

J. Document Availability

Due to extensive coverage of foreign (primarily French, German, and
Italian) literature and rather obscure publications, few libraries, if
any, will have all the resources on hand to provide immediate delivery
of the needed material. Many libraries with archaeology collections will
have the basic journals, such as “American Antiquity,” that are
abstracted. The end of the periodical list suggests that one may be able
to obtain the literature through CAS, InfoQuest or Information on Demand.

K. Cost:

Thirty dollars per volume.

L. Comparison with Other Titles

The uniqueness of AATA lies in its technical coverage of art and archaeology.
The sources it covers in archaeology are well chosen and focus on technique
and artifactual remains. Comparisons with Anthropological Literature and
Abstracts in Anthropology show that AATA has a more international scope
and covers a wider variety of literature than either of the two standard
reference sources.

If an institution has a large collection of archaeological literature
and a well-supported archaeology program, this publication, at $30.00,
is a bargain.

M. Summary of Positive Aspects:

AATA covers a wide variety of sources, making it very beneficial to
archaeological research. Although no one issue contains a great many citations
under the section on archaeology, there are a good many abstracts with
information pertinent to archaeologists under other sections. AATA is a
good source on methods, techniques, and materials, especially foreign literature.
The use of full journal titles and complete bibliographic information gives
the user the luxury of looking in one place for a complete description
of each resource cited.

N. Recommedcations for Improvement:

AATA seems to serve its purpose well. Larger cumulative indexes would
prove very beneficial, although given the size of each index per volume,
they would be quite lengthy. This kind of source would be useful to have
online. At this writing it is not known whether the Conservation Information
Network is easily accessible or intended for public use.

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