Archaeology In The Digital Age

Convened By

Julian Richards (UK), Jeanne Lopiparo (USA) and Michael Ashley López (USA)

Theme Details

The Digital Age has arrived and it has profound implications for the ways in which archaeology is practiced, analyzed, disseminated and defined. Chances are you are reading this ‘paper’ on a computer screen at this moment or printed it out after downloading it from a website. If we look back even 20 years ago, the use of computers in archaeology was scarce (recall the Apple Macintosh debuted in 1984). Today, they are as important to archaeological field practice as the trowel. Our digital age has opened tremendous possibilities for new scales of investigation, from DNA analysis to satellite imaging to global communication. We can accurately map a large-scale site in hours with digital survey equipment, a task that takes days or weeks the ‘old fashioned’ way. The Internet provides opportunities for international collaboration in real time, instantaneous data reporting, as well as new forms of publication including multimedia, multi-authoring and non-linear narrative. The possibilities for education and for bringing archaeology to life digitally are boundless.

But has digital technology fundamentally changed the practice of archaeology? Excavation still requires hours, days, weeks of hard, manual labor and this probably won’t change unless someone invents a ‘digital dirt mover’. Traditional methods in archaeology are still relevant and necessary. In many cases, the digital age is wrought with new problems and challenges for archaeology. Cutting edge technology is expensive and maintaining an even modest digital archive is not without cost, especially the hidden costs of constant media evolution and a lack of archiving standards. The quality of digital imaging when compared to traditional film is still wanting. Issues over intellectual property rights abound when all it takes to copy an article or a photograph is click the mouse button. Antiquities are finding their way onto E-bay and archaeological sites that were better protected from looting by keeping their locations hidden are now at risk. The ‘Digital Divide’ affects not only the rich and poor but is causing a chasm within archaeology itself as the older generations try to keep up with the younger ones while still espousing that there is no digital shortcut for experience.

How archaeology is situated in our Digital Age is up for debate and is the embodiment of our theme. We see this theme as a dialogue on the present and future of archaeology in the 21st century. The sessions and papers (and media projects) are chosen to explore the wealth of opinions and expertise on this vast topic, ranging from nuts-and-bolts practical information on Geographical Information Systems to producing non-linear narratives and multi-vocal visualizations of the past. We wish to deliberate the challenges for ethics and ‘authenticity’ – ‘who owns the past’ and who owns the ‘virtual heritage’ we create? We hope to develop strategies for education, both online and in the classroom that can be used from K-College as well as for educating ourselves on the promises and pitfalls of digital technology.


Dr Julian D. Richards Tel: +44 1904 433930
Director, Archaeology Data Service Fax: +44 1904 433902
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King’s Manor
York, YO1 7EP, UK

Michael Ashley López
232 Kroeber Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
Tel: +01 510 642 6904
Fax: +01 413 215 6380

Jeanne Lopiparo
Department of Anthropology, 232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA
Tel: +01 510 642 6904
Fax: +01 413 215 6380


From The Field To The File: Using Technology In Fieldwork

Organized By

Gary Lock
Institute of Archaeology,
Oxford University

Susan Kane
Oberlin College

Presentations will include short demonstrations and verbal presentations to complement web-posted papers. The session will be based on maximum discussion between the participants and/or with the audience.

Archaeological fieldwork is a transformative process which has traditionally involved retrieved three-dimensional evidence being represented in 2-dimensional formats. The constraints of traditional methods have obscured or flattened important relationships in the data to enable analysis and publication. Spatial thinking and analysis have always been central to the theory and practice of archaeology just as they are central to an understanding of sites, landscapes and human agency at the individual and social scales. A richer source of three-dimensional fieldwork data should enable archaeologists to represent and interpret both surface and sub-surface scenarios in exciting and challenging new ways.

We welcome papers that will showcase new ways in which the rich three-dimensional data produced by archaeological fieldwork can be captured, analyzed and made available. These approaches include 3-D modeling and reconstructions at different scales including landscapes, sites, and artifacts; the articulation and presentation of these different scales; recording methodologies such as stratigraphical recording; the development of new visualization systems that integrate three-dimensional above- and below-ground models, two-dimensional images, text, and other web-based resources to explicate the physical environment. As well as descriptive accounts we also welcome more theoretical considerations of how such technologies have and/or will change the way we practice archaeology; their impact on interpretation and understanding; the implications for publication, archiving and the public engagement with the past.
9:00-11:00 am session

Introduction: From the Field to the File: Issues in Using
Technology in Fieldwork.
Gary Lock, University of Oxford

Carl Persson and Ola Kadefors, Smålands museum, Sweden:
GIS as a tool to conceptualise the past within the process of
excavation, an example from the early Mesolithic.

Anthony Beck, Department of Archaeology, University of Durham:
Integrated mobile applications: A case study from the SHR project,

Michael Ashley Lopez, Department of Anthropology, University of
California, Berkeley: Real Webs and Virtual Excavations: A role for
digital media recording in archaeological site management

11:30 am-1:00 pm session

Sarah Cross, English Heritage: Revelation: practice, technology,
dissemination and the design of a field recording system

Giulio Fabricatore, Angelo Chianese, Francesca Cantone,
Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy: Archaeological
data sharing: new perspectives.

Keith May, English Heritage: From field to file D – the Good the Bad
& the Wobbly
4:00-6:00 pm session

Kent Schneider, USDA Forest Service and Dean Goodman,
Geophysical Archaeometry Laboratory, University of Miami-Japan
Division: The Visual Value of Ground Penetrating Radar for
Archeology: Two Case Studies in Italy

Beverly A. Chiarulli, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Bernd Kulessa, Queen’s University of Belfast, Suzanne Haney, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Paul McCarthy, Indiana University of Pennsylvania: Geophysical Investigations at Shade Furnace, Pennsylvania

Staffan Peterson, Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology,
Indiana University, Bloomington: Integrating Archaeologies of the
Past and Present – Fifty Years of Remote Sensing at a
Mississippian Site

David Bautts, GLOBAL Terrain Intermap Technologies Inc: Using
Remotely-sensed data to locate burial mounds in the United

The Future As Past: Preserving The Computer Age

Organized By
Christine Finn and Dag Spicer (USA)

Session Details
Computers are becoming historical artifacts at an accelerating rate, not just in the physical sense of new models and changing technological specifications, but in the sense of the processes involved in their use. Computer museums and collectors are relatively new phenomena, but the manner of collection for such public or personal access opens up a discussion of issues recognisable in the traditional curation of artifacts, ephemera and object-stories. There are metaphorical implications in the ‘archaeology of computers’, such as the excavation implicit in ‘digging’ for information on the web, or the virtual storage of ‘early’ webpages. Silicon Valley’s rate-of-change also offers up an opportunity for fieldwork in a contemporary culture – that of the – which moved from economic nadir to zenith in a matter of months.

Contact Information:.
Christine Finn
Research Associate, The Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, 36 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PG UK
In UK: 07980 913795 (cell)/01865 278240 (wk) In US: 917 771 4447 (cell).

Dag Spicer,
Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California, Sellam Ismail, Vintage Computer Festival, California.

Silicon Valley: A Landscape In Flux
Christine Finn Rescue Archaeology: preserving the bits
Julian D Richards (Archaeology Data Service, UK)
Finding And Preserving Early Computer Machines
Javier Comin (Argentina) Learning from Classic Computing
Mark Samis (Lower Hudson River Information Center, New York, USA)
Raiders Of The Lost Mainframe: Rescuing Computer History One Object At A Time
Dag Spicer (Curator, Computer History Museum, Silicon Valley, California, USA) Vintage Tech (abstract to come)
Sellam Ismail
Forgetting And Remembering The Digital Experience And Digital Data
Ruth Tringham (Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Kroeber 232, Berkeley, CA, USA)

Session Time
Day Wednesday Date 25th June
Time 4-6PM Room Shahan 201

World Heritage/Virtual Heritage/Cultural Heritage/Whose Heritage?

Organized By
Michael Ashley López (USA)

Session Details
In the past decade, the focus of much interest in heritage has shifted from site specific world heritage to regionally centered cultural heritage, in order to better capture a sense of place, to ‘humanize’ these important localities. Challenges abound – how does one steward a cultural landscape? How is it defined, described, made relevant to local inhabitants and the world? What of tourism, ‘sustained development’ and conservation in the face of economic challenges and current trends of global violence? From documentation to re-creation, digital technology has been leveraged to assist in our preservation, presentation and understanding of traditional heritage. Will 3-D modeling, GIS, digital storytelling, photogrammetry, video and other imaging techniques help us with the challenges of heritage in the 21st century? Or does virtual technology simply create another set of philosophical problems for us to consider? Will people still want to visit heritage sites if the virtual construction is ‘just like being there’? Does it matter who authors them? How will we ‘archive the archive’ in a time where standards for digital recording continue to change and evolve?

Contact Information:

Michael Ashley-Lopez
Department of Anthropology
University of California at Berkeley
232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley CA 94720
tel 510.642.6904

Professor Ruth Tringham
Department of Anthropology
University of California at Berkeley
232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley CA 94720
tel 510.642.6904
Seven Days To Summer Solstice 2003 At Stonehenge
Clews Everard (Visitor Operations Director, English Heritage, Former Director of Stonehenge, UK) and Michael Ashley López (Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley, 232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley CA, USA) Seven Days to Summer Solstice 2003 at Stonehenge
Clews Everard (Visitor Operations Director, English Heritage, Former Director of Stonehenge, UK) and Michael Ashley López (Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley, 232 Kroeber Hall, Berkeley CA, USA)
Digital Approaches To Cultural Landscapes: Research, Analysis, Management, And Public Interpretation At Hite’s Cove, California
Hannah Ballard (Pacific Legacy, Inc. and Cultural Resources Management Program, Department of Anthropology, Sonoma State University, USA) Parramatta Historical Archaeological Landscape Management Study
Anne Mackay, Richard Mackay and Matthew Kelly
Digital Presentation Of Heritage In Wiltshire
Helen Shalmers (Window on Wiltshire’s Heritage Project, Wiltshire Country Council, UK) To present the past: Heritage management and archaeological parks in Hungary
Dr.Elisabeth Jerem (Archaeological Institute of the HAS Budapest, Uri utca 49)
Multimedia Field School: The Case Study Of The Early Neolithic Enclosure In Goseck/Germany
François Bertemes (Halle/German) and Peter F. Biehl (Halle/Germany)

Session Time
Day Wednesday Date 25th June
Time 9-11AM Room Shahan 201

Envisioning And Embodying The Past: Hypermedia Explorations Of Archaeology

Organized By
Jeanne Lopiparo (USA)

Session Details
This session explores how hyper- and multimedia have been implemented to embody the past through (re)constructions and dissemination of archaeological knowledge that envision a past populated with active agents, multiple voices, and conflicting narratives. How can we represent the material realm of objects, spaces, and landscapes as dynamic and contested places with “life-histories” — constructed and inhabited by social actors in the past? And in turn, how can we represent our multiple and often conflicting ways of understanding past societies through them? From the richly visual and experiential realm of fieldwork to the diverse ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and archaeological sources we draw upon to envision the past – integration of this multiplicity of voices, perspectives, and information sources (a multimedia extravaganza in and of itself) can be greatly enhanced by innovative forms of expression allowed through hypermedia and digital technologies. How have the unique sensory and navigational characteristics of hypermedia – from juxtapositions of text, image, movement, sound, video, and three-dimensional representations, to new forms of interactivity, accessibility, and dialogism enabled by digital technologies – changed the ways we “write” (and read) archaeological knowledge – the ways we envision and embody the past?

Contact Information: Jeanne Lopiparo
Department of Anthropology University of California, Berkeley 232 Kroeber Hall Berkeley, CA 94709 FAX: (413) 215-6380

Envisioning And Embodying Classic Maya House Societies: Hypermedia Representations Of The Dialogic Production Of Material Culture
Jeanne Lopiparo (University of California, Berkeley, USA) Interweaving Digital Narratives with Dynamic Archaeological Databases for the Public Presentation of Cultural Heritage
Ruth Tringham (University of California, Berkeley, USA)
African Archaeology Database & TimeWeb: A Digital Learning Environment For Multi-Scale Archaeological Interpretations
Jeanne Sept (Indiana University, USA) The Internet and Public Archaeological Practice: A Critical Look at the Hype of Hypertext
Carol McDavid (University of Cambridge, UK)
Constructing Quseir: Stories, Pictures And Reflexivity In The Visualisation Of A Roman Past
Graeme Earl (Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton)

Session Time
Day Thursday Date 26th June
Time 11.30AM-1PM Room Shahan 201

Digital Archives And Access

Organized By
Julian D. Richards (Archaeology Data Service, York, UK)

Session Details
Archives have a bad image: worthwhile but boring; necessary but a low priority for funding; little-used and under-visited. Digital access has the potential to change all that. The contributors to this session will discuss a number of projects that have sought to enhance access to research data by making it available electronically. We hope to use these case studies to address a number of questions. What is a digital archive? Does it differ from electronic publication? Is there a role for digitisation in the delivery and preservation of traditional archives? How should we provide access? What copyright and rights management issues are raised? How should archives be funded? How should we encourage people to use them? Is special training required?
The Histories Of Tikal, From Yax Ch’actel Xok To MrSID: An Introduction To The Tikal Digital Access Project
Sharon Aponte Misdea (Research Associate – Tikal Digital Access Project Coordinator
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, USA) Documenting two histories at once: Doing archaeology on archaeological texts
Jon Holmen, Christian-Emil Ore, Øyvind Eide and Ellen Jordal (The Museum project, The Unit for Digital Documentation (DOK) at the Faculty of Arts, University of Oslo, Norway)

The Digital Archive Network For Anthropology (DANA); Current Content And Future Potentials
James Landrum (NDSU Archaeology Technologies Laboratory, Digital Archive Network for Anthropology) Introduction to session
Julian Richards (Archaeology Data Service, York, UK)

Session Time
Day Thursday Date 26th June
Time 9-11AM Room Shahan 201

“Let Us First Posit The Image Of A Triumphant Plural….”: Digital Dialogism, Multivocality, And The Ethics Of Archaeology In The Digital Age – A Public Forum

Organized By
Jeanne Lopiparo and Michael Ashley López

Session Details
Moderator: Alison Wylie.
Organizers: Jeanne Lopiparo and Michael Ashley López
Panel: Session organizers and discussants of ‘Archaeology in the Digital Age’ Theme plus guests

As Roland Barthes advocated with his ideal notion of the “writerly” text in S/Z, promoters of hypermedia in general, and the world wide web in particular, have heralded electronic media as democratizing forums for the competing voices and contentious claims of multiple stakeholders in the archaeological record. How have these new media been utilized by both academic and non-academic voices to represent the complexity and multiple narratives of reconstructions of past cultures?

From Diane Nelson’s notion of “Maya-hackers in cyberspace” – of the transgression by indigenous groups of national boundaries and discourses about identity politics – to “unauthorized” interpretations of archaeological materials for spiritual or commercial purposes (or both), to the increasingly starring role of archaeology in science “fictions” – what are the possibilities and ramifications of this dissemination of authority to previously underrepresented or unauthorized voices?

Have academics adequately responded to the challenges posed by these voices? How might archaeologists utilize digital media to present dialogues about the past that consider the claims and interests of competing stakeholders – that are compelling to the multiple communities they serve?

Session Time
Day Thursday Date 26th June
Time 1-2.30PM Room No Details Available