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Digital Archaeology

Overview

The Digital research cluster has links to all aspects of cultural heritage theory and practice, across many disciplines. Our focus is on how research questions within cultural heritage can be better explored, answered and communicated through the use of digital technology; along with the impact such use may incur. Members of the cluster are involved in the teaching of our long-running MSc in Archaeological Information Systems (1999) and our newer MSc in Digital Heritage. Members include academic and research staff, research students and associate researchers, along with staff from the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), who bring their many years of practical experience to the MSc teaching and work with research students. The ADS is the national archive for archaeological data in the UK, but is also an active member of the department and the university, along with Internet Archaeology; the premier international e-journal for archaeology.

Members of the Digital research cluster also have close ties to York's Centre for Digital Heritage, which has allowed more formal collaboration with other digital heritage researchers and practitioners across the university. The Centre for Digital Heritage is a joint centre for research excellence led by Archaeology (Director: Prof Julian Richards) incorporating researchers from seven units within the university, and international partners in Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands. In addition to bringing Digital cluster members into direct collaboration with Centre partners, the Centre plays a key role in a variety of collaborative projects based in the Department of Archaeology. The Digital research cluster also have ties to the Digital Creativity Labs, a world centre of excellence for impact driven research in games and interactive media.

Research Projects

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Current Research Projects

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ArchAIDE is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and aims to create a new system for the automatic recognition of archaeological pottery from excavations around the world. ArchAIDE will develop a new app meant to serve the global practice of archaeology, using the latest automatic image recognition technology to aid in the identification of ceramics. Currently, the characterisation and classification of ceramics is carried out manually, through the expertise of specialists and the use of analogue catalogues held in archives and libraries. The goal of ArchAIDE is to optimise and economise this process, making knowledge accessible wherever archaeologists are working. 

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NEARCH (New scenarios for a community-involved archaeology) is a project funded under the European Union (EU) culture programme. The project is running for 5 years from autumn 2013 and follows on from the EU-supported ACE project, which identified a cultural crisis and a crisis of values and ideas that outlined the agenda of European‌ Modernity and made it a reference for the rest of the world. NEARCH aims to assess the crisis implications in the fields of Archaeology and Heritage, and to propose new ways of working and interacting. The project also explores the different dimensions of public participation as well as the multi-scalar significance of archaeological heritage intertwined with different processes underway in today's Europe.‌

 

EMOTIVE: Emotive is an EU-funded heritage project that aims to use emotional storytelling to dramatically change how we experience heritage sites. For heritage professionals, the Emotive application will provide a powerful storytelling engine and a set of rich digital media assets that can be used to create detailed characters and narratives featuring archaeological sites or collections of artefacts. For visitors, Emotive will offer dramatic, emotionally engaging stories that can be experienced while at a cultural site or remotely. Wherever visitors are, they can follow characters, look for clues and explore environments alone or with family and friends.

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DiNAR: Digital Narratives for Archaeology and Heritage. The DiNAR Project is a joint research project led by the Centre for Digital Heritage, Digital Creativity Labs and York Museums Trust. The project was set up to produce innovative museum experiences based upon emerging technologies from the creative industries.

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Gender and Digital Culture
Gender and Digital Culture is a project run within the University of Southampton’s Digital Humanities initiative in collaboration with the University of York. The aim of the project is to explore the way that gender is negotiated, constructed and expressed through contemporary digital media, with an emphasis on how digital technologies variously facilitate, exacerbate, rethink or replicate diverse behaviours. We want to explore how these relationships operate in different disciplines in terms of professional and personal development, and how we can equip individuals to use such technologies productively. Gender and Digital Culture engages with colleagues across disciplinary boundaries, both within and outside of the humanities. The digital humanities have an important role in furthering our understanding of how men and women engage with digital media, which in turn is a key part of supporting professionals and researchers in all digitally-mediated disciplines.

 

 Completed Projects

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ARIADNE
ARIADNE (Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking) brought together and integrated existing research data infrastructures so that researchers can use the various distributed datasets and new and powerful technologies as an integral component of the archaeological research methodology. Ariadne enabled trans-national access of researchers to data centres, tools and guidance, and the creation of new Web-based services based on common interfaces to data repositories, availability of reference datasets and usage of innovative technologies. It stimulated new research avenues, relying on the comparison, re-use and integration into current research of the outcomes of past and on-going field and laboratory activity.

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LoCloud
LoCloud (Local Content in a Europeana Cloud) was a best practice network which began in March 2013, and ran for three years. It was coordinated by the Norsk Kulturrad and was made up of 32 partners across 26 European countries. LoCloud followed directly on from the CARARE project and EuropeanaLocal, another recently completed best practice network project, funded under the e-Contentplus programme. It played an important role in ensuring the digital content provided by Europeana's local and regional cultural institutions were represented in Europeana. The intention of LoCloud was to combine the metadata mapping methodology of CARARE with cloud computing technology, making it easier for small to medium sized heritage organisations to make their contents accessible via Europeana. The ADS had a role in most of the project workpackages and will lead work on dissemination and use, organising events, and networking and promoting services.

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SENESCHAL
SENESCHAL (Semantic ENrichment Enabling Sustainability of arCHAeological Links) was an AHRC funded project lead by the University of South Wales Hypermedia Research Unit, which brought the ADS into collaboration with English Heritage, RCAHMS and RCAHMW. The SENESCHAL project built on outcomes and tools from the previous AHRC funded STAR and STELLAR projects, to address the lack of vocabulary control (with unique identifiers) hindering the full potential of the resulting Linked Data. Major thesauri act as informal standards, lacked the unique identifiers to allow them to act as the envisaged vocabulary hubs for the Web of Data. SENESCHAL created knowledge exchange, based on enhanced vocabulary services, which makes it easier for data providers to index their data with uniquely identified controlled terminology, and allow vocabulary providers to make their vocabularies available as Linked Data. The completed outputs are now available at Heritage Data.

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Archaeology Britain iPad App
The Archaeology Britain iPad app was a joint project between The British Library and the ADS. The collaboration attempted to present the archaeology of Britain in an interesting and accessible manner on the iOS platform. Unique and rare content was provided from The British Library archives, while ADS content was included to add context to some of the most significant archaeological sites in Britain. Additional content was kindly provided by external organisations and individuals to hopefully present the archaeology of Britain in a rarely seen perspective. The app is a first attempt at mobile app development for the ADS, and further improvements and extensions, including iPhone and Android versions, may happen in the future.

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CARARE: a Europeana partner project
CARARE was a best practice network funded by the European Commission's ICT Policy Support Programme . CARARE brought together heritage agencies and organisations, archaeological museums and research institutions and specialist digital archives from all over Europe to establish a service that will make digital content for Europe's unique archaeological monuments and historic sites interoperable with Europeana . It aimed to add the 3D and Virtual Reality content to Europeana. The ADS had specific responsibility for investigating the issues surrounding the long-term sustainability of the CARARE aggregation service.

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ACE: Archaeology in Contemporary Europe
The ACE network aimed to promote contemporary archaeology at a European level, by emphasising its cultural, scientific, and economic dimensions, including its manifold interest for the wider public. With the acceleration of development, archaeology has become particularly important and challenging. Development poses severe threats to archaeological remains, which are by nature fragile and non-renewable, but can also provide opportunities for increasing knowledge and enhancing sustainable archaeological heritage management for the benefit of all.

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STAR and STELLAR
STELLAR was a collaboration between the ADS and co-investigators at the University of Glamorgan (now University of South Wales) and English Heritage, to enhance the discoverability, accessibility, impact and sustainability of ADS datasets and STAR project outcomes (services and data resources) by enhancing the interoperability between resources using the latest integration technologies and development of semantic search facilities and associated user interfaces. STELLAR built on outcomes and tools from the previous AHRC funded STAR project, which in its turn extended semantic search techniques initially developed through the EPSRC funded FACET project, a collaboration with the Science Museum.

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TAG: Transatlantic Archaeology Gateway
The primary aim of the TAG project was to develop tools for transatlantic cross-searching and semantic interoperability between ADS and Digital Antiquity in the United States. This project, jointly funded by JISC and the NEH, investigated cross-searching and semantic linking between archives held at the ADS, Arizona State University and Digital Antiquity. It was completed in 2011.

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DARIAH: Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities
The mission of DARIAH is to enhance and support digitally-enabled research across the humanities and arts. It aims to develop and maintain an infrastructure in support of ICT-based research practices, through the creation of a technical demonstrator based on the ARENA project, called [ARENA 2|arena2], but with an enhanced web services architecture. The project began in October 2008 and is due to be completed in October 2010.

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Archaeotools: Natural Language Processing and Faceted ClassificationBetween September 2007 and September 2009 the ADS and the Natural Language Processing Research Group at the University of Sheffield worked on the Archaeotools project funded under the e-Science Research Grants Scheme which itself was a collaboration between three major funding bodies, the AHRC, the EPSRC and the JISC.

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VENUS: Virtual ExploratioN of Underwater Sites
The VENUS project aims to develop scientific methodologies and deliver technological tools for the virtual exploration of deep underwater archaeology sites. Funded by the European Commission, completed in 2009.

Research Networks

  • ARIADNE (Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking)
  • LoCloud (Local Content in a Europeana Cloud)
  • NEARCH (New scenarios for a community-involved archaeology)

Organisations

Courses