I’m happy to join with a fantastic team, led by Tom Eliot, Sebstian Heath, and John Muccigrosso on an NEH-funded “institute” called LAWDI (Linked Ancient World Data Institute). I promise it will have plenty of the enthusiasm and fervor implied by its acronym. To help spread the word, I’m reusing some of Tom Eliot’s text that he circulated on the Antiquist email list:

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University will host the Linked Ancient World Data Institute (LAWDI) from May 31st to June 2nd, 2012 in New York City. Applications are due 17 February 2012.

LAWDI, funded by the Office of Digital Humanities of the National Endowment for Humanities, will bring together an international faculty of practitioners working in the field of Linked Data with twenty attendees who are implementing or planning the creation of digital resources.

More information, including a list of faculty and application instructions, are available at the LAWDI page on the Digital
Classicist wiki:

As many of us know, the annual SAA conference is about to begin in Sacramento, California. Like all large conferences, scheduling represents a complex and difficult juggling act. So, it is not too much of a surprise when awkward schedule conflicts emerge. Unfortunately this year, two digitally themed sessions coincide in the schedule (see the Saturday schedule, 1-3ish PM slot).

The silver-lining is that these two sessions are digitally themed and both make excellent use of the Web. That means you can connect with the ideas and people involved in these sessions asynchronously. Colleen Morgan organized a session on blogging in archaeology. As one would expect from the subject matter, a great deal of excellent and fascinating discussion can be found online, contributed by many thoughtful archaeological bloggers. Here’s a link to a post that kicked off the discussion. The other digitally themed session was organized by Josh Wells, convener of DDIG. This session, an electronic symposium, also has excellent Web content published on Visible Past. Visible Past is an electronic publication platform built off WordPress, a powerful blogging application. These papers (and since they are more formal and less conversational, so I’ll call them “papers”, not “posts”) can be found here:



We are proud to announce the arrival of a new, exciting project in the Open Context database, co-authored by Levent Atici (University of Nevada Las Vegas), Justin S.E. Lev-Tov (Statistical Research, Inc.) and our own Sarah Whitcher Kansa.

Chogha Mish Fauna

This project uses the publicly available dataset of over 30,000 animal bone specimens from excavations at Chogha Mish, Iran during the 1960s and 1970s.The specimens were identified by Jane Wheeler Pires-Ferreira in the 1960s and though she never analyzed the data or produced a report, her identifications were saved and later transferred to punch cards and then to Excel. This ‘orphan’ dataset was made available on the web in 2008 by Abbas Alizadeh (University of Chicago) at the time of his publication of Chogha Mish, Volume II.

The site of Chogha Mish spans the time period from Archaic through Elamite periods, with also later Achaemenid occupation.  These phases subdived further into several subphases, and some of those chronological divisions are also represented in this dataset. Thus the timespan present begins at the mid-seventh millennium and continues into the third millennium B.C.E. In terms of cultural development in the region, these periods are key, spanning the later Neolithc (after the period of caprid and cattle domestication, but possibly during the eras in which pigs and horses were domesticated) through the development of truly settled life, cities, supra-regional trade and even the early empires or state societies of Mesopotamia and Iran. Therefore potential questions of relevance to address with this data collection are as follows:

  1. The extent to which domesticated animals were utilized, and how/whether this changed over time
  2. The development of centralized places
  3. Increasing economic specialization
  4. General changes in subsistence economy
  5. The development of social complexity/stratification.

Publication of this dataset accompanied a study of data-sharing needs in zooarchaeology. Preliminary results of this study were presented as a poster titled: “Other People’s Data: Blind Analysis and Report Writing as a Demonstration of the Imperative of Data Publication”. The poster was presented at the 11th ICAZ International Conference of ICAZ (International Council for Archaeozoology), in Paris (August 2010), in Session 2-4, “Archaeozoology in a Digital World : New Approaches to Communication and Collaboration”. The poster presented at this conference accompanies this project.


Martin Bailey has another good article in the June issue of The Art Newspaper, this time on the new director-general of UNESCO, Francesco Bandarin. He was promoted from within: he comes from the World Heritage Centre. A few excerpts:

From organising the restoration and re-erection of the 1,700-year-old Obelisk of Axum in Ethiopia more than 70 years after it was looted by Mussolini, to working to protect the ancient capital city of Samarra in war-torn Iraq, Italian-born Francesco Bandarin has been involved in many well-known projects during the decade he has served as the director of the World Heritage Centre, …

How damaging is tourism to the major world heritage sites? —— FB: It is an issue of scale, and context. Machu Picchu now has one million tourists a year, which may not seem so many, but it is an isolated mountain site. This led to the development of the city of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu. All the rules of conservation have been overrun by the sheer volume of tourists. At Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, the temples are being conserved, but we did not realise that nearby, at Siem Reap, 150 luxury hotels have sprung up like mushrooms. —— Should Unesco have been tougher in monitoring Angkor Wat? —— FB: We were distracted because we were focusing on conservation of the temples, not on the environment. Now it is a problem. We are not an international police force, but we do run a substantial monitoring system. This year we will be reporting on 180 World Heritage Sites, out of 890. Sometimes monitoring works in terms of results and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a bit frustrating.

Culture is not a luxury, it is a constituent of development, both economic and social. Culture is not entertainment, it is actually production or capital for development. … Unesco deals with four aspects of culture. First, conservation of heritage sites, both cultural and natural. Secondly, preservation of intangible culture. That comprises traditional knowledge, such as rituals, dance or skills. For instance, the Tango was born in Argentina and Uruguay, but it is now found all around the world. Thirdly, museums. And finally, intercultural dialogue.

I will be organising a major international conference on the future of the book. The book is the most important cultural object, but Unesco has been absent from the debate. The argument between Google and the French government is not healthy, and I think we should provide a forum for the actors [French publishers are resisting Google’s attempts to scan their books]. There is the issue between the Anglo-Saxons and the rest of the world, with English dominating language and technology. Amazon did not exist a few years ago. Books won’t disappear, but they will mutate.

Middle Savagery blogger Colleen Morgan is proposing a special session on archaeological blogging at the next SAA Annual Meeting. There is indeed a measure of ambiguity still about archaeological blogging and other such internet phenomena. Comments, emails, etc. may express appreciation but at the same time it still is seen more or less as a stepchild—at least no longer as a bastard child, I hope! It is the future but remains un(der)appreciated by the powers that be in academia. Maybe I’m wrong? What are your thoughts? Please leave comments here or, better even, at her blog post.

Seeing Is Believing: New Technologies for Cultural Heritage, London (UK), June 9, 2010

“Much of the theory of knowledge organization, information retrieval and concept analysis was developed within a scientific context, and it is only more recently that similar questions have been addressed in the humanities. The organization of, and access to, cultural and humanistic resources presents particular problems because of the diversity of material and the uniqueness of many individual items. Issues of natural language and the semantic complexity of resources add to the mix and provide many challenges for those working in this field.

Despite this, there has been an upsurge in the cultural resources available on the web and many collections of this kind are becoming available. Today’s programme will provide an opportunity to hear about current work with texts, archives, objects and museum collections, from both a theoretical and an implementation standpoint, and to look at a variety of approaches to the material. There is also a focus on user contribution and the way in which Web 2.0 can offer solutions.”

15th Vienna Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies, Vienna (Austria), November 15-17, 2010

This year’s theme is “In/Visible Towns - Archaeology and Cultural Heritage in Urban Areas.”

“Urban Archaeology is a relatively new sub-discipline within the archaeological sciences. Why has it been such a late developer? How do its scientific results amplify and influence our knowledge and thinking on the development of our towns and cities? How has the discipline developed in the last decades and what reasons were there for coining the specific term “Urban Archaeology”? How exactly do we define it? Is it archaeology of or archaeology in towns? How does the approach to and interpretation of Urban Archaeology differ across the world?

Whatever the viewpoint, the special challenge presented by archaeology in an urban environment has become a motor, an impulse-giver, for development and innovation – in project design, excavation philosophy and technology. Deeply stratified sites in town for example gave rise to new stratigraphic thinking, single context planning and of course the Harris Matrix. Latterly modern digital technologies have been used to great effect for 3D recording and reconstruction of lost townscapes – a development of which we are still only at the beginning. The often difficult and cramped conditions and the deep holes dug by archaeologists in city centres led to the adoption of civil engineering techniques never before seen in archaeological projects. The insight into the material culture of historical towns and cities provided by urban archaeology has augmented our understanding of their historical development across all social classes, in a way that written history alone cannot do, while lower layers of urban digs reveal unexpected prehistoric settlement-origins of which there is no historical record.”

PennDesign, the R. Lemaire International Centre for Conservation at the University of Leuven and theUniversity College St Lieven are pleased to announce an international symposium titled, Heritage Recording and Information Management in the Digital Age (SMARTdoc), … will be held on November 19-20, 2010 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Supporting institutions include UNESCO World Heritage Centre, UNESCO Chair for Preventive Maintenance, Monitoring and Conservation, ICOMOS Scientific Committee on Heritage Documentation (CIPA) and the International Society on Virtual Systems and Multimedia.”

“Good decisions in heritage conservation are based on timely, relevant and accurate information about the conditions, materials and evolution of heritage buildings and landscapes. Therefore, documenting, recording and analysis of heritage places is an essential part of their conservation and management. The rapid rise in new digital technologies has revolutionized the practice of recording heritage places. Digital tools and media offer a myriad of new opportunities for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information about heritage sites. With these new opportunities, there are also conflicts, and an intense effort to build digital media into the education of conservation professionals. Issues regarding the proper, innovative and research-focused uses of digital media in heritage conservation are an urgent topic in the global heritage conservation field, and Penn, KU-Leuven and its partners have played a leading role in this area of cross-disciplinary research and practice.”

The volcano erupting from underneath the Eyafjallajoküll (aya-fjatla-yokütch) glacier in Iceland wreaked/wreaks havoc on our 21st-century just-in-time-by-way-of-airplanes culture. Guess what, no, you can’t get to Denmark anymore, not this week… The 13th [!] International Aegean Conference, Kosmos – Jewellery, Adornment and Textiles in the Aegean Bronze Age, held at the University of Copenhagen from 19-23 April, was faced with the prospect of hardly anybody of the archaeologists, historians, etc. being able to attend.

What to do? The organizers of this annual conference decided to hold it mainly online instead! I know at least one of the participants personally. I probably should inquire how it went…

Just a post to share a draft of a paper authored by myself, Tom Eliot, Sebastian Heath, and Sean Gillies (lots of thanks to them; they are dream co-authors!). I presented it at the CAA meeting in Granada.

The paper describes using Atom feeds for helping content escape scientific / archaeological collections. We looked at how Atom feeds can be used to help third-parties annotate resources obtained from other collections. These annotations (using some common vocabulary) can be useful for looking at a research question like trade and exchange.

Here’s the paper (pdf).

Thursday April 15 is apparently THE DAY for DDIG members at the 75th annual SAA meeting in St. Louis. The Digital Data Interest Group meeting will take place on Thursday at 5pm. This meeting is open to all SAA conference attendees, regardless of DDIG membership (which is free, by the way!). Come share news about your digital project, discuss best practices for data dissemination, and meet others in the DDIG community. We hope to see you there!

In addition to the DDIG meeting, a number of technology-related sessions are offered throughout the day. Please mark these on your calendar!

Sessions of interest to DDIGers, Thursday April 15:

(12) 8-10:30am: Fourm: Establishig tDAR: The Digital Archaeological Record

(24) 10:45am-12:45pm: Electronic Symposium: Practical Methods of Data Production, Dissemination and Preservation

(76) 3-4pm: Key Issues in Digital Curation

(MEETING) 5-6pm: Digital Data Interest Group Meeting

(93) 6:15-9pm: Forum: Digging Up the Future of Publishig: The Archaeology of the Americas Digital Monograph Initiative

Other presentations of interest:

In addition to the above, there are many individual papers and posters that address the use of technologies and digital data in archaeological investigations. However, please review the full program to find others, as this list is not exhaustive.

(21) Thurs, 8:45am: Heather Smith, Thomas DeWitt and Ted Goebel—Digital Shape Analysis of Clovis Projectile Points

(26e, Poster) Thurs, 9am: Patrick Livingood—Digital Image Analysis of Shell Temper from the Moon Site (3Po488), Arkansas

(147) Fri, 1:30: Neil Hauser, Wayne Wilson and Robert Wunderlich—Web-Based Lithic Source Database

(160) Fri, 2:30: Ronald Blom, Douglas Comer, Scott Hensley and Andrew Yatsko—Remote Sensing Data and Archaeolog: Ingredients for Success

(160) Fri, 2:45: James Tilton, Douglas Comer, Kevin May and Winston Hurst—Towards Automated Detection of Archaeological Sites utilizing Remotely Sensed Imagery

(163f, Poster) Fri, 3pm: Ruth Trocolli and Shagun Raina—GIS and Archaeological Data Management in the Nation’s Capitol

(164f, Poster) Fri, 3pm: Michael Heilen and Jeffrey Altschul—Analyzing Archaeological Data Quality: Recent Results from Military Installations in the United States

(183a, Poster) Sat 9am: David Massey, Ayse Gürsan-Salzmann and Anne Bomalaski—Managing the Legacy Data from the University of Pennsylvania’s Survey and Excavation at Tepe Hissar in North Eastern Iran (1931-2, 1976) through GIS

(189) Sat, 10am: Fabrizio Galeazzi and Paola Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco—The Western Han Dynasty Museum: from the 3D data collection to the 3D spatial analysis

(222) Sat, 2:30: Benjamin Carter—Wonking the Data: Broad Scale Patterns Derived from 50,000 Data Points on Tiny Shell Beads from Ecuador

(216) Sat, 3:15: Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Eric Kansa—Of Glass Houses and Ground Stone: Open Data and Ground Stone Analyses

(249) Sun, 9:45: Rory Becker—Lasers on the Landscape: Using LiDAR Data in Cultural Resource Management

(252) Sun, 8am: Kevin Pape—The Millennium Pipeline Project – A Model for Interdisciplinary Partnerships and Integrated Archaeological Data Management

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