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The 2015 Summer School

WP8 – Legacy data and dataset design

Emerging digital practices in archaeological research


Archaeologists and stewards of archaeological resources increasingly find often themselves facing the challenge of dealing with research data that are partially documented, uncurated, or generally lacking adequate information about their content and context. The problem is present not only in dealing with “legacy” data from long-finished fieldwork projects, but is also inherent in all finds-related research when the excavation team is distinct from lab-based and academic study, in cases when the time of analysis and interpretation is separated from the time of discovery, and in the whole domain of long-term preservation and reuse of archaeological information for research, public communication and land management. Advances in archaeological practices due to the introduction of digital technology, spanning the lifecycle from digital field recording to data publication, call for a re-examination of the methods availaible to archaeologists and those engaged with stewardship of archaeological information, as they seek to address these challenges and ensure that evidence from past and present archaeological research remains available for discovery and available for future study, enrichment, integration and reuse in a variety of contexts.

This summer school is organized by the Digital Curation Unit-IMIS, Athena Research Centre (DCU) between 28 June and 3 July 2015, as an ARIADNE Transnational Networking Action. It leverages the work of the project to unlock the possibilities towards the effective discovery, integration, enrichment and reuse of archaeological data and resources, afforded by digital tools and services such as the ARIADNE registry of archaeological datasets, controlled vocabularies and metadata schemas, and by methodological knowledge on digital curation and semantic modeling of archaeological data. It also draws from the international experience of participants on issues as diverse as the capture, representation and reuse of field data, the digital curation of archaeological information, the application of virtual archaeology, and the impact of open and community archaeology practices, as well as global, networked and cloud information infrastructures, on the formation of the digital archaeological record.


The main objective of the summer school is to enable researchers and professionals in archaeology to engage with cutting edge and emerging digital practices of archaeological research, ranging from new methods to capture, organize and curate archaeological resources and data to new approaches to archaeological interpretation and dissemination, mediated by digital infrastructures.  It will provide ca. 20 master’s, PhD, post-doctoral and experienced researchers engaged to some extent in digitally-enabled work with a moderated format to share, discuss and elaborate innovative research practices and methods related to capturing, appraising, organizing, representing, and reusing existing archaeological data.


The summer school will focus on a detailed elaboration of a small number of scenarios or digitally-enabled archaeological research that make use of emerging digital infrastructures, tools and services, put in the context of select methodological sources on digital archaeology, bringing together the research experiences of participants, and leveraging the ARIADNE registry and other information systems, as well as semantic and ontological approaches. It will combine formal talks by invited speakers with structured discussion and breakout group activities. The school will start with foundations module introducing the core themes, move on to half-day modules on selected topics, and will integrate, as capstone, a 1 1/2 day expert forum on The future of  digital archaeological practice 2020-2025. Invited discussants and presenters include members of the ARIADNE Special Interest Group on archaeological digital research practices and methods, collectively possessing significant expertise on digital archaeology, as well as visiting researchers conducting archaeological fieldwork in Greece. Participants will be invited to take part in a report summarizing lessons learned from the summer school, individual contributions, and a futures view on digital archaeology.


Participants will be expected to have an understanding of archaeological research principles and methods (excavation, survey, post-excavation, or artefact-based); exposure to at least one aspect of digitally-enabled archaeological work (e.g., digital capture, databases, GIS, 3D modelling, statistical analysis, e-publishing). Prior experience with digital methods, tools or infrastructures for research purposes is desirable, but not necessary.


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