Tuesday, 5 September 2017


Welcome to our course blog for Fall 2017 on digital archaeology and digital heritage. There are a number of challenges to something like this course, because the subject matter could be, well, anything in the early 21st century to do with archaeological practice and theory! In a sense, then, we get to define what Digital Archaeology means to us as we work our way through this course.

That is not to say there are no examples out there to follow. In fact, "Digital Archaeology" as a concept on the web has been used in very different ways, ranging from "excavating " and re-discovering lost or abandoned web pages and content, to photographic analysis, to various kinds of data mining, to oral history projects, to, yup, archaeology. In fact, when I Google the phrase "Digital Archaeology" (DA) I get more about digital archaeology of the internet or in computers, than I do in doing archaeology digitally, which is surprising, since Google tends to tailor searches based on user preferences.

But I think that DA is more than just a clever term for web based exploration, exhibition, and data mining. For us in archaeology, it is a not well explored dimension of practice that changes practice as it is being employed in practice. From making data accessible, to how it is presented, to engaging with wider audiences, to others using that data, to all the issues of loss, distortion, and mis-representation, I think there are implications to archaeology becoming digital that are worth considering, especially since we are actually trying to go in this direction at Western and at Sustainable Archaeology (SA). So that is what I'm hoping we get to explore and become a little wiser about in this course.

There are, of course, people who blog about digital archaeology (the way we are going to talk about it) and a digital heritage. Many come or go as people move on to new interests, so there are plenty of dated pages to "excavate" out. But a few current ones worth exploring are offered below:

Jeremy Huggett is perhaps one of the most reflexive of people pondering just what a digital archaeology means or not today. And his Blog is well worth exploring and thinking in the vein I hope we explore here in this class. As such, rather than endlessly mining his posts for fodder for our blog, here it is for all of us to follow... and of course exploit as needed!:
Introspective Digital Archaeology

Shawn Graham is the closest in Canada to advancing a Digital Archaeology. It is interesting that he tends to overlap a Digital Archaeology and a Digital Humanities, but that is likely a function of where he works (History dept at Carleton). His blog page is worth reviewing, cuz many ideas he raises we will be talking about, and he is quite good at keeping up to date:

Colleen Morgan is at the University of York in the UK and thinks a lot about a wide range of digital archaeology and heritage, and art, topics, especially in the context of social media shaping archaeology and heritage. Hers blog page is a good read and worth thinking about cuz she, too, explores many themes we'll be talking about in class 
Middle Savagery

Bill Turkel is a History Prof here at Western, and very much all about Digital history and humanities. His blog is a very helpful exploration of how things like databases, web sites, etc. work, and is written for people who are not computer scientists. Worth checking out:

Doug Rocks-MacQueen maintains a web page that is fairly diverse, but has a lot to do with digital archaeology, and offers a good source of sites to explore:

Well, that's enough for the moment... you can find much more! Please start cruising the internet and add pages you think are worth looking at in posts. That’s a good way, too, for you to start planning what you might like to post about, which you should consider start doing as of now. I've left up a few posts from last class as a bit of an example, but anything from links that inspire... or anger... you, to cutting edge technologies, to cool toys being announced, to online exhibits, etc., are all fair game to talk about, though try keeping within the confines of the course itself… the challenge of a Digital Archaeology, as is the challenge of the digital age, is being overwhelmed with information and not really knowing what to do with it.

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