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.


What can data do for us?

An online seminar series hosted by the TETRARCHs team, 2023-2025.

How we re-use data is a topic of pressing importance across professions, fields of practice, organisations and communities locally and around the world. We may question how existing datasets (e.g., personal data, object-related data, geographic data, environmental data, economic data, or any form of data, metadata or paradata) are being applied to address new social issues or to think creatively about long-standing cultural concerns. We can query if, how and why we are using these data to achieve forms of innovation or to foster just, equitable and sustainable futures for human and more-than-human communities. And we must ask whether these data are actually structured in fashions that can realistically facilitate justice, equity or sustainability.

What can data do for us? is a 3-year online seminar series (2023-2025) centred around exploring and challenging approaches to data reuse in the arts, culture and social sciences, and showcasing unusual or provocative experiments in such reuse. Through one-hour webinars, international speakers working across industry, the charitable sector, the educational and academic sectors, government and beyond are invited to inspire and stretch us into considering the social and cultural impacts of our myriad datasets and what can and cannot be achieved in today’s data landscape. This series is a product of TETRARCHs (Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology), an international research project supported by CHANSE (Collaboration of Humanities and Social Sciences in Europe). TETRARCHs aims to experiment with the re-use of archaeological data (from photos and illustrations, reports and captions, to 3D reconstructions and LIDAR) to tell stories and share findings about the past in ways that are democratic, stimulating and nurturing of more just futures. In so doing, we hope to transform approaches to data reuse not only within archaeology and history, but across cultural spheres more broadly.

If you are interested in contributing to our seminar series, please get in touch with us at: hello[at] .

TETRARCHs is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in the UK, the Research Council of Lithuania, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport in Slovenia, the FORTE Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare in Sweden, and the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) in Belgium under the CHANSE ERA-NET Co-fund programme, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, under Grant Agreement no 101004509.


February 2023: Our First TETRARCHs Seminar

Edisa Lozić and Benjamin Štular

“Making archaeological LiDAR more accessible: why and how”


In the last two decades, archaeological LiDAR has become an essential part of archaeological prospection and landscape archaeology. However, it is too often used as an opaque digital method, which keeps it within the realm of a specialist field. We believe that steps towards theoretically aware, impactful, and reproducible research are needed.

Recently we have taken several steps in this direction. First, we have focused our attention on enabling LiDAR specialists to effortlessly create the necessary meta- and paradata and also to implement archaeology-specific processing of LiDAR data from point cloud to enhanced visualisations. Currently, we are focusing on enabling “general” archaeologists, that is, non-LiDAR specialists, to critically engage with LiDAR data and derived archaeological information. In other words, to understand archaeological LiDAR as a reciprocal practice of knowledge creation, while acknowledging the circumstances in which this knowledge is created, thus viewing technology as a process and not just a product. To this end, we have developed a concept and demonstrator for an Executable Map Paper (EMaP). EMaP is a type of executable paper that strives to achieve the goals of Open Science. The proposed technical solution is based on a PDF frontend, a persistency layer, and a hyperlinked interactive map. The concept is applicable to all map-reliant science, such as geography, geology, or any kind of geoscience.

In this talk we will present the opening up of archaeological LiDAR, from theoretical background to past and current results and an outlook on the near future.

About the presenters

Assist. Prof. Dr. Edisa Lozić is a researcher at ZRC SAZU specialising in archaeological LiDAR, artificial intelligence in cultural heritage, and Classical Archaeology.

She is project leader of the research project Identifying quarries in the Roman Pannonia and principal investigator of the AI4Europe and TEtrARCHs projects. She lectured at universities in Austria and Slovenia and is author of a scientific monograph and numerous articles published in international journals as well as co-author of the Open LiDAR Toolbox software.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Benjamin Štular is a research advisor at ZRC SAZU. His background is in landscape archaeology and GIS. He has over a decade of experience in airborne LiDAR, including algorithm and software development. In addition, he is involved in digital data management for cultural heritage both as a researcher and in implementation at institutional and national level. Currently, he is focusing on machine learning applications in spatial analysis.

He published numerous scientific books and articles and is co-author of the Open LiDAR Toolbox software. He lectured at universities in the USA, Ireland, Austria, and Slovenia, and managed and coordinated numerous research projects including as a project leader of the ERC pilot project Methodological Maturity of Airborne LiDAR in Archaeology and as a partner principal investigator on ARIADNE and ARIADNEplus.

Project Meeting

TEtrARCHs Kick-off in York

TEtrARCHs partners in front of the King's Manor, home of the Department of Archaeology at the project kick-off meeting in November, 2022.
TEtrARCHs partners in front of the King’s Manor, home of the Department of Archaeology at the project kick-off meeting in November, 2022.

The Archaeology Data Service and the Department of Archaeology welcomed the TEtrARCHs Partners to York on 3-4 November, 2022. Some partners had worked together in previous projects, while others were meeting each other for the first time.

The meeting began with the usual welcome and introductions, but with the additional question: What is one thing we should know about you that will help you to thrive in the project?

The Partners then participated in the activity Going beyond the state of the art: scholarly inspirations, creative vision, pushing on the boundaries of current research & practice. Everyone prepared three slides and gave a short presentation on the current research scholarship, creative practice or other inspirations that have influenced where they would like to go / how they would like to reshape the research and professional landscape through the TEtrARCHs project. Please drop your slides here in advance of your presentation.

As the Department of Archaeology has a strong Digital Archaeology research focus, the Partners then headed to the weekly Digital Lunch held within the Department Presentation of TEtrARCHs to participate in the Digital Lunch Seminar Series organised by The Digital Archaeology & Heritage Lab (DAH LAB). Holly Wright presented the project in the hybrid seminar, with all partners participating and interacting with in-person and online attendees. The presentation is available here.

After lunch, workpackage leaders highlighted aspects of their workpackages, including where they will need to work, and with whom they will need to collaborate and realise their tasks and deliverables.

The major activities for the second day included a values setting for the Project. The Partners considered what values they would like to see underlie TEtrARCHs, and their work together in break-out groups and all together, to agree on a handful that could guide the work on the Project.

The meeting closed with a planning discussion for the activities and potential case studies for the first year of the project, a review of action points from the meeting, and final wrap-up and meeting evaluation.