Sara Perry
Lecturer in Cultural Heritage Management



Sara completed both a BA and MA in Anthropology at the University of Victoria (Canada), specialising in prehistoric archaeology and visual anthropology.  Following these degrees, she moved to the UK to pursue a PhD in Archaeology, graduating from the University of Southampton in 2011.  Concurrent with her PhD, she held a British Academy research fellowship at the Society of Antiquaries of London, a managerial post on the English Heritage-funded Visualisation in Archaeology project, and a fellowship in digital humanities at Southampton.

Sara’s research focuses on the means by which archaeologists present the past to both academic and non-academic audiences—e.g., in museums, books, journal articles, magazines, exhibitions, lectures, on television, film and the web.  Her work converges on the intellectual and economic consequences of these various forms of media, particularly how their use feeds back into disciplinary research questions and funding streams.

Sara blogs about her academic life at, and she's on Twitter at @archaeologistsp.

Departmental roles



Sara’s research centres primarily on the relationship between imagery, media and knowledge-making in archaeology, particularly the capacity for different forms of presentation to create, elaborate and disrupt the discipline.  Her PhD focused on the entanglement of images in the foundation of one of the earliest departments of archaeology in the UK: London’s Institute of Archaeology.  More broadly, her interests can be grouped into four themes, all supported by active cross-institutional partnerships:

Current projects

Archaeological Visualisation: Sara’s primary research interest revolves around archaeologists’ skilful development, application, and analysis of visual media (photos, film, digital visualisations, illustrations, models, drawings, museum and temporary exhibitions, and related 2D & 3D graphic presentations). This interest complements a long history of work on defining new methods of, and deconstructing existing approaches to, archaeological visualisation.  Sara sits on the board of the Society for Visual Anthropology, and sits on the managerial team of the landmark English Heritage-funded Visualisation in Archaeology project.

Archaeological Heritage, Politics and Museum Studies: Sara is among a small team of scholars working with the director of the Çatalhöyük Research Project to manage the visualisation of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük. Since 2009 she has been collaborating with the local community and the larger project team on the critically-engaged redesign of the site’s Visitor’s Centre; the ethnographically-informed production of new signage, informational material and related display items; redevelopment of Çatalhöyük’s online presence; the application of new digital visual technologies to the rethinking of the intellectual record of the site; and the longer-term heritage management of Çatalhöyük.  She is also currently collaborating with Marius Kwint (Portsmouth University) and the Wellcome Trust in the curation of a major exhibition on the history of collecting human brains for the Wellcome Collection’s Spring 2012 exhibition programme in London.  As well, in collaboration with an international team, she and her colleagues at York are contributing to the multi-year Urban Cultural Heritage and Creative Practice collaborative, aimed at exploring the possibilities and dissonances of experimenting with artistic production in urban heritage spaces.

Archaeological & Anthropological Theory and History: With Matthew Johnson (Northwestern University), Sara is cataloguing and assessing the archive of the archaeological illustrator and artist Alan Sorrell, presently on loan to the Society of Antiquaries of London. Sorrell’s unparalleled, heavily-annotated archive speaks not only to his relationship to neo-Romantic art and British identity in the mid-20th century, but also to the professionalisation of archaeological illustration in Britain, and the intimate involvement of the visual expert in the process and standardisation of disciplinary knowledge creation.  Separately, Sara is collaborating with Richard Wingate (King’s College London) on an analysis of the cultural value and pedagogical role of material culture (human brain matter) in neuroanatomy teaching classrooms. 

Digital Humanities: Alongside Graeme Earl and Simon Keay (University of Southampton), Sara has contributed to a number of digital humanities initiatives, including design of the Portus Project showcase on the international Heritage Portal site, and strategic research into UK digital humanities programmes.  Her ongoing work at Çatalhöyük and on the VIA project similarly cross-cuts this subject matter, with special attention to the means by which digital tools can be strategically used to enhance the intellectual capital of archaeological research.

External activities


  • Board Member, Society for Visual Anthropology
  • Executive Committee, Histories of Archaeology Research Network
  • Advisory Committee, Centre for Audio-Visual Study and Practice in Archaeology (Institute of Archaeology, UCL)

Invited talks and conferences

Archaeologists anonymous: Hopes and fears. Discussant at the Society for Historical Archaeology conference, Leicester, UK, 9-12 January, 2013.

Visual economies and the foundation of the Institute of Archaeology (London). Invited paper at the Financing Archaeology: The Economic History of Archaeology workshop, London, UK, 2 May, 2012.

Debating the Future of Archaeological Visualisation. Invited paper at the Institute for Archaeologists conference, Oxford, UK, 20 April, 2012.

Grappling with archaeological visual media across multiple institutions: Catalhoyuk, the Wellcome Collection, and UCL's Institute of Archaeology. Invited paper at the York Heritage Research Seminars series, York, UK, 21 February, 2012.

Romanticism and reconstruction: Alan Sorrell and his influence on archaeology. Invited lecture to the Society of Antiquaries of London, London, UK, 9 June, 2011 (with Matthew Johnson).

Visualisation in archaeology. Invited paper at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group, Bristol, UK, 17-19 December, 2010.

Circulating images. Invited paper at the 109th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, New Orleans, LA, 17-21 November, 2010.

The rewards of archaeological visual media: Founding London’s Institute of Archaeology. Invited paper at the 3rd Visualisation in Archaeology workshop, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK, 21-22 October, 2010.

End/s, ethics, and images: A roundtable discussion on visual ethics. Invited paper at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia, PA, 2-6 December, 2009.

The productivity of the pictorial: Leveraging the possibilities of archaeological visual media. Invited lecture to the Association of Archaeological Illustrators and Surveyors, Bristol, UK, 4-6 September, 2009.

Visual culture and archaeological scholarship: The role of images in the foundation of academic archaeology in Britain. Invited seminar to the School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, Wales, 19 March, 2009.

Creating and created by images: Visualisation and the establishment of the earliest archaeology departments in Britain. Invited colloquium to the Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada, 16 January, 2009.


Contact details

Dr Sara Perry

Tel: (44) 1904 323907
Fax: (44) 1904 323902