Accessibility statement

Digital Knowledge Production in Archaeology 


Module leader: Dr Tim Evans


This module introduces a wide range of subjects surrounding the ever-growing use of the internet for the dissemination of heritage information. The pivotal theme of the course is to consider how this platform offers opportunities to overcome some of the fundamental issues affecting our discipline, namely: publication and data backlogs. In tandem we'll also look at the challenges: how do we find things, how do we know they're reliable and how do we prevent data loss?

Over the term we will look at the history of the internet, noting key advances and historic use by our field. We will also look at the rise of electronic publishing, self publishing (via blogs) web-based dissemination of grey literature, and the Open Access movement. The module will also discuss Digital Archives, including why we need them and how they work. We will also look at initiatives to facilitate the sharing of information: introducing metadata and looking at specific metadata standards relevent to archaeology and heritage. We will look at the world of Web Services, seeing how they work and relative strengths and weaknesses. Finally, we'll look at Linked Data and other aspects of the semantic web, dispelling some myths and looking at the rich potential for opening up heritage datasets.

The module is based around classrom-based lectures from the module lead often with live demonstrations of particular sites to help explain and give context to particular concepts, such as Web Services or Linked Data, that may be new to some. Students will be assigned their own work to present to the class, both in the form of traditional reading-based tasks, but also reviews of websites or reports on particular technologies in action.

The module is designed for anyone with an interest in how we're using the internet for our work; all technologies, concepts (and acronyms!) are approached at an introductory level.


  • To introduce students to current and historic use of  internet-based methods, technologies and standards used for the dissemination of archaeological information
  • To highlight and discuss examples of where these methods have been applied, including a strong understanding of their relative pros and cons
  • To introduce students to wider debates and issues around online dissemination (e.g. Open Access)

Illustration by Jørgen Stamp CC BY 2.5 Denmark

Illustration by Jørgen Stamp CC BY 2.5 Denmark

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of this module students should have:

  • Good knowledge of the development of digital dissemination, publication and archiving in general, with particular knowledge in relation to archaeology and cultural heritage
  • An understanding of the potential of online dissemination to overcome the traditional problems in archaeological publication
  • Knowledge of key historic and current internet languages, standards and protocols
  • An understanding of the development of Open Access (including issues for and against)
  • An understanding of metadata: from basic global inititiatives such as Dublin Core, to the  implementation of standards and thesauri within cultural heritage and archaeology
  • Knowledge of a range of Web Services - where they are applied, how they work and limitations
  • Understanding of the develoment of the Semnatic Web and Linked Data, and the use within cultural heritage and archaeology

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