DepositInstitute for Digital Archaeology

This proposal seeks funding to support a program designed to provide junior scholars in archaeology with advanced training in geospatial technologies and their application to archaeological research. While geospatial technologies ranging from satellite remote sensing, to subsurface geophysical prospection, to three dimensional scanning and visualization have all become increasingly critical to modern archaeology, few practitioners have the necessary technical skills to integrate these technologies into research and teaching programs. Participants in this program will have the opportunity to spend an entire semester taking a series of intensive courses in geospatial technologies and make use of the hardware, software and instrumentation available at the University of Arkansas’s Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies on independent research projects. On-campus training will be followed up by participation in one of numerous archaeological field projects.

DepositMobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology

Mobilizing the Past is a collection of 20 articles that explore the use and impact of mobile digital technology in archaeological field practice. The detailed case studies present in this volume range from drones in the Andes to iPads at Pompeii, digital workflows in the American Southwest, and examples of how bespoke, DIY, and commercial software provide solutions and craft novel challenges for field archaeologists. The range of projects and contexts ensures that Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future is far more than a state-of-the-field manual or technical handbook. Instead, the contributors embrace the growing spirit of critique present in digital archaeology. This critical edge, backed by real projects, systems, and experiences, gives the book lasting value as both a glimpse into present practices as well as the anxieties and enthusiasm associated with the most recent generation of mobile digital tools. This book emerged from a workshop funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities held in 2015 at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. The workshop brought together over 20 leading practitioners of digital archaeology in the U.S. for a weekend of conversation. The papers in this volume reflect the discussions at this workshop with significant additional content. Starting with an expansive introduction and concluding with a series of reflective papers, this volume illustrates how tablets, connectivity, sophisticated software, and powerful computers have transformed field practices and offer potential for a radically transformed discipline.

DepositMobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology

This project brings together pioneers in the field during a two-day workshop to discuss the use, creation, and implementation of mobile tablet technology to advance paperless archaeology. Session themes will facilitate presentation, demonstration, and discussion on how archaeologists around the world use tablets or other digital tools in the field and lab and how best practices can be implemented across projects. The workshop will highlight the advantages and future of mobile computing and its challenges and limitations. The workshop will consist of formal paper sessions and opportunities for informal discussion of the issues and themes at moderated discussions, demonstrations, round tables, and speaker meals. The workshop’s goal is to synthesize current practices and establish a blueprint for creating best practices and moving forward with mobile tablets in archaeology. The data generated will be made available through a website to promote ongoing discussion and information sharing.

DepositWhither Digital Archaeological Knowledge? The Challenge of Unstable Futures

Digital technology increasingly pervades all settings of archaeological practice and virtually every stage of knowledge production. Through the digital we create, develop, manage and share our disciplinary crown jewels. However, technology adoption and digital mediation has not been uniform across all settings or stages. This diversity might be celebrated as reflecting greater openness and multivocality in the discipline, but equally it can be argued that such diversity is unsustainable, and that standards are insufficiently rigorous. Regardless, all positions face the possibility of being severely tested by some large-scale external event: on every continent we witness economic and political upheaval, violence and social conflict. How is digitally mediated knowledge created, managed, and disseminated by archaeologists today, and how secure are the means by which this is achieved? To investigate this question we apply the futurity technique of scenario analysis to generate plausible scenarios and assess their strategic strengths and weaknesses. Based on this analysis we propose some measures to place archaeology in a more robust knowledgescape without stifling digitally creative disruption.

DepositA Digital Archaeology of Life in Cleveland’s Depression-Era Slums

This presentation discusses a new digital initiative undertaken by the authors to study Depression-era housing in Cleveland through the Ernest J. Bohn Collection, which is held by Case Western’s Kelvin Smith Library Special Collections. Bohn, who directed the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority from 1933–1968, was instrumental in establishing the city’s housing policy, and the collection that bears his name is a unique witness to life in the shanties of 1930s Cleveland. An assortment of manuscripts, maps, photographs, pamphlets, and videos, the Bohn Collection is a rich source of data, but each topically-relevant item must first be “excavated” from this archive, which has seen only rudimentary processing. This archaeological mentality of “excavating the collection” provides the methodological core of the initiative, and in particular, the authors are presently focused on excavating the visual and cartographic materials that highlight life in Cleveland’s 1930s slums. The authors follow a digital-archaeology workflow which attempts to return these excavated photographs and maps to their original provenience by spatializing, temporalizing, and contextualizing them, just as an archaeologist would with any other piece of material culture. Digitizing, enhancing, and colorizing the photographs; georeferencing the maps; closely analyzing photographic content and mapping their locations; and reconstructing the photographer’s point of view by taking modern photographs of these locations are all central to this process. The resulting provenienced dataset is then used by the authors to build an aesthetically-focused digital narrative of life in the slums of Depression-era Cleveland and to explore how reprovenienced archival materials and digital narratives may be effectively disseminated to interested audiences.

DepositReflections on the Use of Social Networking Sites as an Interactive Tool for Data Dissemination in Digital Archaeology

Based on a case study, the paper analyses the possibilities of social media as a tool for science communication in the context of information and communication technology (ICT) usage in archaeology. Aside from discussing the characteristics of digital archaeology, the social networking sites (SNS) Twitter, Sketchfab, and ResearchGate are integrated into a digital research data dissemination tool. As a result, above-average engagement rates with few impressions were observed. Compared with that, status updates focusing on actual fieldwork and other research activities gain high numbers of impressions with below-average engagement rates. It is believed that most of the interactions are restricted to a core audience and that a clearly defined social media strategy is obligatory for successful research data dissemination in archaeology, combined with regular posts in the SNS. Additionally, active followers are of highest importance.

DepositAdditive Archaeology: An Alternative Framework for Recontextualising Archaeological Entities

Additive manufacturing poses a number of challenges to conventional understandings of materiality, including the so-called archaeological record. In particular, concepts such as real, virtual, and authentic are becoming increasingly unstable, as archaeological artefacts and assemblages can be digitalised, reiterated, extended and distributed through time and space as 3D printable entities. This paper argues that additive manufacturing represents a ‘grand disciplinary challenge’ to archaeological practice by offering a radical new generative framework within which to recontextualise and reconsider the nature of archaeological entities specifically within the domain of digital archaeology.

DepositThe Jubilees Palimpsest Project: Digital Archaeology Tools for Discovery and Access to Previously Illegible Manuscripts

The Jubilees Palimpsest Project is working to advance technologies for the recovery of text from illegible manuscripts through the phases of capture, processing, access, and scholarly collaboration. The project takes its name from the only copy of Latin Jubilees, which is joined by the only copies anywhere of the Testament of Moses and an Arian commentary on the Gospel of Luke. After the successful imaging of these erased texts in January of 2017, the scope of objects of interest broadened to other significant palimpsests at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, such as Origen’s Hexapla and a fourth-century translation of biblical books into Gothic. A long-term plan to systematically digitize illegible manuscripts is underway. A major advance in capture and processing technology created by the project is Spectral RTI, which combines the advantages of spectral imaging in color processing with the advantages of RTI in texture and interactivity. The addition of texture imaging can aid the recovery of text—for example if now-missing ink left an outline of corrosion on the surface of the parchment—and much more information about scribal practices from the creation and use of the manuscript.

DepositSlow Archaeology: Technology, Efficiency, and Archaeological Work

Slow archaeology situates contemporary, digital archaeological practice both in the historical tradition of the modern discipline of archaeology and within a discourse informed by calls for Taylorist efficiency. Rather than rejecting the use of digital tools, slow archaeology calls for archaeology to embrace a spirit of critical engagement with the rapidly changing technological landscape in the field. This contribution draws upon lessons from the popular “slow moment” and academic discussions of modernity and speed to consider the impact that the rapid adoption of digital tools has on archaeological practice and knowledge production. Slow archaeology pays particular attention to how digital tools fragment the process of archaeological documentation, potentially deskill fieldwork by relying on digital (Latourian) “blackbox” methods, and erode the sense of place so crucial to archaeological claims of provenience. The result of this critical attention to digital practices is neither a condemnation of new tools nor an unabashed celebration of their potential to transform the discipline, but a call to adopt new technologies and methods in a deliberate way that situates archaeological knowledge production in the realm of field practice.