Exploring the Reuse of Digital Field Data at Toumba Serron in Northern Greece

Dr James Taylor

University of York, UK


Excavations at Toumba Serron, Northern Greece, 2022 (photograph by James Taylor, courtesy of the Toumba Serron Research Project)

The ‘Toumba Serron Research Project’ (TSRP) is a field project centred upon the late/final Neolithic village site of Toumba Serron, situated in the dynamic lakeland environment of the northern side of the Strymon River Valley in Northern Greece. The TSRP is focussed upon dating the site and understanding the social and economic structure of the communities that lived there, as well as studying the wider prehistoric landscape of the Strymon Valley.

As a collaboration between the National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, the Greek Ministry of Culture, and Lund University, the TSRP is developing a hybrid digital field recording methodology, which includes the use of drones and the capturing of 3D models in the field. It also includes the construction of a comprehensive Geographic Information System and the digitisation of all data recorded during the excavation. Having engaged an ethnographer from the outset, the project is also working with a variety of local and regional stakeholders to collate oral histories of the site, understand its value and significance, and is actively seeking to develop an inclusive approach to the creation of knowledge about the site, articulated through the project’s digital assets.

In doing so we are exploring the tensions highlighted by the impact of digital field methods upon archaeological practice (see Taylor et al. 2018, Taylor & Dell’Unto 2021) and the fact that ‘structured’ digital excavation data is not necessarily a panacea for enabling reuse of ‘archaeological knowledge’ by all the project’s stakeholders (after Hacıgüzeller et al. 2021). However, drawing inspiration from William Caraher’s (2019) concept of an ‘Archaeology of Care’, which explicitly seeks to recognise” the human consequences of our technology, our methods, and the pasts that they create”, the project is actively seeking to explore what a critically aware, inclusive and mutually supportive digital research environment looks like within a modern, postcolonial archaeological project.

Since TSRP will serve as a case study for TEtrARCHs, in this seminar we will outline the project’s plan to develop a participatory approach to the design and (re)use of digital technologies in the co-creation of archaeological knowledge derived from fieldwork. We will seek to explore how we might build an accessible and reusable digital field archive and invite discussion on how we can use digital tools to develop an inclusive and ethical approach to digital data collection, management and stewardship, and how we might facilitate the critical involvement of indigenous communities in the production of useful archaeological knowledge. In doing so we ask: can we increase multivocality in our data sets, recognize the plurality of meanings present in the archaeological record and afford all project stakeholders equity of access and control over archaeological data?


Digital Archaeology, Field Recording, Participatory Methods, Greece, Neolithic, Prehistory


Caraher, W., (2019) ‘Slow Archaeology, Punk Archaeology, and the “Archaeology of Care.’ European Journal of Archaeology, 22(3), 372–385

Hacıgüzeller, P., Taylor, J. & Perry, S. (2021) ‘On the Emerging Supremacy of Structured Digital Data in Archaeology: A Preliminary Assessment of Information, Knowledge and Wisdom Left Behind’. Open Archaeology, 7(1), 1709-1730.

Taylor, J. & Dell’Unto, N. (2021) ‘Skeuomorphism in digital archeological practice: A barrier to progress, or a vital cog in the wheels of change?’. Open Archaeology, 7(1), 482–498.

Taylor, J., Issavi, J., Berggren, Å, Lukas, D., Mazzucato, C., Tung, B., Dell’Unto, N. (2018) ‘‘The Rise of the Machine’: the impact of digital tablet recording in the field at Çatalhöyük’. Internet Archaeology 47.

About the presenter

Dr. James Taylor is a Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology, at the University of York. He is the Director of Studies for the MA Field Archaeology and also co-directs the MSc Digital Archaeology and Digital Heritage programmes (with Dr. Colleen Morgan).

His research currently centres on Neolithic Archaeology of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, North Africa and the Near East and he is currently Co-Director of the Toumba Serron Research Project, an archaeological investigation centred on a Neolithic village in Greek Macedonia. He also has a longstanding research interest in Archaeological Theory and Method and in particular the application of Digital Methods in Archaeology, having published on the impact of the ‘Digital Turn’ on archaeological practice.