Hiding in plain sight: Understanding data reuse at the Archaeology Data Service

KL Seaton

University of York, UK

12 June 2024, 16.30-17.30 BST

In the current research landscape, there is an emphasis on ensuring that digital data is made openly available so others can use it. The European Union has spent more than a decade investing in the aggregation and interoperability of heritage data, ensuring that data can be accessed and used. Despite this investment, current perceptions are that archaeological data is not being reused. Using the Archaeology Data Service as a case study has demonstrated that archaeological data is being reused, just not in the way we expected. This presentation will present a comprehensive analysis of the available evidence of the reuse of archaeological data archived with the ADS, providing the quantitative data that has been lacking in the current critiques of our practice.

About the presenter

KL Seaton is currently a doctoral student at the University of York studying the use and reuse of digital archaeological data. Using the Archaeology Data Service as a case study, the fragmented landscape of data reuse is being examined to challenge current assumptions that archaeological data is not being reused.


Building an anti-colonial digital archaeology through FAIR and CARE data governance principles

Dr. Neha Gupta

University of British Columbia, Canada

8 May 2024 17.30-18.30 BST

Growing numbers of archaeologists are interested in implementing data governance principles such as FAIR and CARE in archaeology and digital heritage. The FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) and CARE (Collective Benefit, Authority to Control, Responsibility, Ethics) data governance principles have the potential to transform the way archaeology is practised. In this talk, I will present research with Westbank First Nation archaeologists that enacts Indigenous Data Governance principles in archaeology and digital heritage, and preliminary research to build FAIR+CARE practices for cultural heritage in American archaeology. I will discuss how contextualizing data practice can help build an anti-colonial digital archaeology.

About the presenter

Dr. Neha Gupta is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Neha’s research programme examines and addresses geospatial and digital methods in postcolonial, decolonial, anti-colonial and Indigenous studies of heritage and archaeology. Research interests include geovisualization and GIS, place-based heritage, data practice, community governance of data, anti-racism and archaeology in India and Canada. Neha builds and expands on these interests through DARE, a research lab at UBC Okanagan.


Making People and Worlds with Digital Archaeology

Dr. Colleen Morgan

University of York, UK

24 April 2024, 16.30-17.30 GMT

Within fiction and game creation, worldbuilding is the act of integrating history, ecology, geology to bring an imaginary world to life. I argue that archaeologists are intimately involved in worldbuilding, using archaeological remains to try to understand past lives. We bring together multiple lines of archaeological data to create representations of the past. The characterisation of archaeological interpretation as worldbuilding contrasts with the understanding of archaeologists as storytellers, those who create a narrative with a beginning and end, motivated by specific actors or events. To explore worldbuilding as a productive trope in archaeological investigation, I discuss examples from my research, including the OTHER EYES project, Catalhoyuk in Second Life, and working with artists as part of TETRARCHS and the Avebury Papers. Finally, I will note the political and prefigurative implications of worldbuilding, sometimes called worldmaking, in terms of queer and black envisioning of the future.

About the presenter

Dr. Colleen Morgan is Senior Lecturer in Digital Archaeology and Heritage in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. She is Director of the Digital Archaeology and Heritage Lab, the MSc in Digital Archaeology and the MSc in Digital Heritage.  Colleen is the PI on the UKRI-AHRC funded OTHER EYES project and the Co-I of The Avebury Papers with Professor Mark Gillings (University of Bristol) to creatively investigate the extensive personal and archaeological archive at Avebury. Her research contributions fall in three main areas: 1) bringing digital archaeology into conversation with current theory drawn from feminist, queer, posthuman, and anarchist approaches 2) multisensorial interventions and digital embodiment, with a focus on avatars of past people created from bioarchaeological data 3) issues surrounding craft, enskillment and pedagogy in analog and digital methods in field archaeology, including photography, videography.


Paradata and the technopolitics of process transparency

Prof. Isto Huvila

Uppsala University, Sweden

05 March 2024, 16.30-17.30 GMT

Data management literature has emphasised the importance of contextual knowledge as a critical premise of successful (re)use of research data both in archaeology and other disciplines. A particular, important aspect of context of research data that informs its users is how data came about, how it has been processed and used in the past. A term that has become established to denote information on diverse data-related processes is paradata. It was first introduced in survey research in the 1990s, somewhat later in heritage visualisation and more recently in several other fields including field archaeology, research data management and archival studies. In a part of the archaeological literature, it has become almost a truism to note that it is important to document and preserve not only data itself but also metadata and paradata. A question remains, however: what is the paradata that is important to include and how it is different from data and metadata?

This presentation discusses paradata, its whatness (what is paradata) and aboutness (what it describes and informs about), and what types of problems it is expected to solve and how, through an exposé of findings from the research project CApturing Paradata for documenTing data creation and Use for the REsearch of the future (CAPTURE). Both conceptual analysis of paradata and evidence-based research of paradata in the wild show that many types of information and things can function as paradata but also that the notion of paradata can be understood in widely different ways, and how things can function as paradata in diverse manners with diverging theoretical and practical implications to process transparency. In a theoretical sense, the multifariousness of paradata and why process documentation persists as a wicked, difficult-to-solve problem can be approached through inquiring into the politics of how paradata as a meshwork-like cultural technology is conceptualised, generated and appropriated in use. Acknowledging paradata as a meshwork implies in practice that achieving process transparency through paradata is contextual and specific to research communities, and including paradata is both a more complex and simple question than adding a new descriptor called paradata to data documentation standards.

About the Presenter

Professor Isto Huvila holds the chair in information studies at the Department of ALM (Archival Studies, Library and Information Studies and Museums and Cultural Heritage Studies) at Uppsala University. He has conducted research on archaeological information work and information management for over two decades. He is currently the PI of the European Research Council funded project CApturing Paradata for documenTing data creation and Use for the REsearch of the future (CAPTURE) and a chair of the recent COST Action ARKWORK on archaeological practices and knowledge work in the digital environment.


Data Ontologies: designing digital encounters with cultural heritage through the lens of kinship

Cara Krmpotich and Heidi Bohaker

University of Toronto, Canada

05 February 2024, 16.30-17.30 GMT

Since its founding, the Great Lakes Research Alliance (GRASAC) has sought to digitally reunite Great Lakes Indigenous heritage items dispersed across museums and archives globally with the peoples and knowledge systems of the Great Lakes. In 2023, we transformed our database into an open access Knowledge Sharing Platform guided by Great Lakes kinship ontologies in which artifacts (as well as plants, animals and political allies) can be considered relatives. In this talk, we share some of the features of the Platform that embody this kinship ontology as well as innovative data fields that extend traditional cataloguing practices. We offer critical reflections on our practices of reparative description and data stewardship, confront some of the technological challenges, and offer observations on why and how heritage data matters.

About the presenters

Cara Krmpotich (she/her) is Co-Director of GRASAC and Associate Professor of Museum Studies at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.

Heidi Bohaker (she/her) is Co-Director of GRASAC and Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto.


Introducing TETRARCHs’ 2024 seminar series…

After a successful first year of seminars featuring 11 speakers over 7 sessions, with more than 1000 registrants from 43 countries, we on Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology are excited to announce our 2024 speakers!

Please keep your eyes peeled for exact dates and times, more detail on the topics, and registration links on our website. We aim to advertise our seminars at least one month in advance, and we will update the timetable below as we confirm specifics with our kind speakers. Note that we break in August and December for rest and rejuvenation.

POSTPONEDDr Sharon Howard (University of Southampton), The Beyond Notability project, Linked Open Data, & re-evaluating women’s work in archaeology, history and heritage.

Monday, 5 February 2024, 16:30 GMT – Dr Cara Krmpotich & Dr Heidi Bohaker (University of Toronto), Data Ontologies: designing digital encounters with cultural heritage through the lens of kinship. Read more HERE.

Tuesday, 5 March 2024, 16:30 GMT – Prof Isto Huvila (Uppsala University), Paradata and the technopolitics of process transparency. Read more HERE.

Wednesday, 24 April 2024, 16:30 GMT – Dr Colleen Morgan (University of York), Making People and Worlds with Digital Archaeology. Read more HERE.

Wednesday, 8 May 2024, 17:30 GMT – Dr Neha Gupta (University of British Columbia), Building an anti-colonial digital archaeology through FAIR and CARE data governance principles. Read more HERE.

Wednesday, 12 June 2024, 16:30 BST, KL Seaton (University of York, UK), Hiding in plain sight: Understanding data reuse at the Archaeology Data Service. Register HERE.

July 2024 (date to be confirmed) – Dr Konstantina Georgiadou (British School at Athens) and Dr Valeria Vitale (University of Sheffield), British International Research Institutes (BIRIs) and data reuse infrastructure. Registration details to follow.

Thursday, 12 September 2024, 16:30 BST – Dr Sophie Vohra (University of Leicester), The Sensational Museum. Registration details to follow.

October 2024 (date to be confirmed) – Dr Shawn Graham (Carleton University), Artificial intelligence and data reuse in archaeology. Registration details to follow.

November 2024 (date to be confirmed) – University of Antwerp and Ghent University, TETRARCHs’ storytelling ontology. Registration details to follow.

If you would like to recommend a potential contributor to our 2025 series, please contact us.

Stay tuned, and hope you can join us and spread the word!


What can Linked Open Data do for us? How the Beyond Notability project is re-evaluating women’s work in archaeology, history and heritage.

Dr. Sharon Howard

University of Southampton, UK


A vintage-looking (1920s)  image of women of various ages and occupations, plus text with the full title of the project in vintage font: "Beyond Notability: Re-evaluating Women's Work in Archaeology, History, and Heritage in Britain, 1870-1950".

Image source: Sharon Howard

Beyond Notability is building a new and innovative database documenting several hundred women working in archaeology, history and heritage in Britain c.1870-1950. The database uses a wiki-based interface to store and publish the data as Open Linked Data, which is in turn readily queryable for analysis and visualisation in order to generate new insights into large-scale, longitudinal change in women’s working lives during this period. In this talk I discuss the benefits (and challenges) of the project’s approach, using specific examples and case studies to illustrate some of our early findings and think about future directions.

About the presenter

Sharon Howard is Research Fellow in Digital Humanities (University of Southampton) on the Beyond Notability project. She has also worked as Research Associate on Power of Petitioning in 17th-century England and Old Bailey Online. Her research interests focus on the social history of early modern Britain (c.1500-1800 C.E.), especially crime/legal history, and women’s history. Her PhD on ‘Crime, Communities and Authority in Early Modern Wales’ was completed at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2003.


Archaeology data and non-archaeological professionals: Why do people need archaeology?

Prof. Rimvydas Laužikas, Dr. Ingrida Kelpšienė, Indrė Jovaišaitė-Blaževičienė, and Prof. Andrius Šuminas

Vilnius University, Lithuania

11 December 2023, 16.00-17.00 GMT

Image source: Rimvydas Laužikas

The proliferation of digital information technologies (IT) has created new practical opportunities for improvement in many fields, but, more importantly, it has caused major changes in how society functions. This transformative shift is explored through concepts like the Network Society put forward by scholars such as Manuel Castells and Jan van Dijk. Heritage, traditionally associated with the past, representing historical culture and knowledge, now assumes a dynamic presence in the present – serving as a versatile instrument for contemporary culture, education, the entertainment industry, social identity construction, political communication, and personal inspiration, among its multifaceted roles. 

The focus of this seminar is on the intersection of archaeology and non-archaeological  audiences, delving into the intriguing question of why and how individuals outside the realm of archaeology, who may not have formal academic training or professional certification in the subject, seek access to archaeology, heritage and associated knowledge and materials. Within this context, “archaeology-related” encompasses the wide spectrum of public interests and relationships to archaeology, encapsulating tangible elements such as immovable objects, artifacts, and ecofacts, as well as the vast realm of data, information, knowledge, education, and intangible facets like archaeology-connected traditions and practices. The term “non-professional” serves as an identifier for those individuals who may not have formal academic education, training, or official certification in archaeology, and whose primary vocation lies outside the domain of professional archaeology. How do these individuals search, filter, use, reuse, and recreate archaeology’s data for different purposes in various contexts? How do they interact with the interfaces of digital archaeology data archives? And what kind of good practices, and barriers to reuse do they find?

About the presenters

Prof. Rimvydas Laužikas is a digital heritage researcher and communication professor at the Faculty of Communication at Vilnius University. His education is in the interdisciplinary fields of educational sciences, history, archaeology, communication, and information sciences. Rimvydas’ research interests cover the communication of cultural heritage and museology, history and heritage-based identities, and the history of gastronomy. He has written four monographs (with co-authors) and more than 50 scholarly articles in the fields of his interests. He participates in international expert groups (such as the Evaluation Body of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage), heritage projects (such as CARARE, LoCloud), and COST Actions (Saving European Archaeology from the Digital Dark Age (SEADDA)) and Archaeological practices and knowledge work in the digital environment (ARKWORK). 

Dr. Ingrida Kelpšienė is an Assistant Professor at Vilnius University, Faculty of Communication. She holds two BAs in Archaeology and Economics, as well as MA in History and Cultural Heritage, and DPhil degree in Communication and Information sciences from Vilnius University. Ingrida’s research is on heritage communication in social media and digital memory in the field of digital humanities, cultural heritage and communication science. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on participatory heritage, a new shift in heritage practice, and the investigation of heritage communities and people engagement on social networking sites. She has over 15 years of work experience in the field of archaeology and cultural heritage, conducting archaeological excavations and doing research in digital humanities, communication and information sciences. She has contributed to several accomplished European digital heritage projects (e.g. Europeana Archaeology CARARE, LoCloud, Europeana Food and Drink) and participated in several COST Actions (i.e. Slow Memory, SEADDA, NEP4Dissent, ARKWORK).

Indrė Jovaišaitė-Blaževičienė is founder, director and educator of the Toy Museum in Vilnius, creator of the exhibitions based on the principles of new museology, coordinator of exhibitions, author of the museum’s educational publications for children and families. She is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Communication, Vilnius University, researching the significance of play and games in presenting cultural heritage to society. Interests: cultural heritage, museology, play pedagogy, history of toys and play. In her professional work, she focuses on the presentation of cultural heritage to the public, especially the information obtained during archaeological research.

Prof. Andrius Šuminas (Ph.D.) currently holds a professor position at Vilnius University, Faculty of Communication (Lithuania). During 2015-2017 he was employed at Warsaw University, Faculty of Journalism, Information and Book Studies (Poland). In 2010-2021 he was editor-in-chief of peer-review journal Parliamentary Studies (publisher Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania). Currently, he is an active member of EU COST Action 18230 INDCOR Interactive Narrative Design for Complexity Representations. His main research areas are communication theories, political communication, eye tracking, publishing, interactive networking and social media.


What is a museum object according to a museum database?

Erin Canning

University of Oxford, UK

25 October 2023, 16.30-17.30 GMT

Image source: Erin Canning

Museum collection management systems (CMS), as the core data infrastructure for managing information about museum objects, have considerable power to shape understandings about what an object “is” through the fields made available for recording object information, and the relationships permitted between those fields. An interrogation of the fields of an art museum CMS demonstrates two primary ways through which an object can be known: through physical attributes, and through systems of classification intended to bring order to diverse objects from multiple and varied locations. This limits the way that an object can be known to, on one hand, vision-based empirical means, and, on the other, a system of organising the world that comes from only the museum’s point of view. In this talk, I will consider affect as an example of another way of coming to know museum objects that cannot be accommodated in museum databases at present. Through this example, I seek to show how databases can constrain ways of knowing, as well as demonstrate how it might be possible to accommodate radically different ways of knowing into such systems. Furthermore, by making space for additional ways of knowing, I aim to demonstrate how answering the question of “what is a museum object” is dependent upon the structure of the museum database and therefore can change when different system affordances are introduced. Finally, I discuss how changes to databases are never just that, but are tied to shifts in institutional power relations and long-held relations of power.

About the presenter

Erin Canning is a DPhil student in the Department of Engineering at the University of Oxford. Their project, “Novel applications of computational approaches in addressing problematic terminology within V&A museum catalogues”, is an AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership co-supervised by the University of Oxford and the Victoria & Albert Museum. Prior to beginning their studentship, Erin held the position of Ontology Systems Analyst at the Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship project (LINCS). Erin holds Masters degrees in Information (MI) and Museum Studies (MMst) from the University of Toronto, where they conducted research examining how art museum information systems could be designed to accommodate affect as a fundamental way of knowing material culture. Erin is interested in the possibilities that semantic data modelling offers for structuring cultural heritage knowledge and data in more holistic and inclusive ways, as well as feminist and queer approaches to museum data practices. 


Critical Contexts of Object Marking in Museums

Prof. Alice Stevenson

University College London, UK

21 September 2023, 16.30-17.30 GMT

small pot bearing inventory details written on it in ink, placed above a colour scale
Image source: Alice Stevenson

Physically applying or marking an object with a registration, inventory, or accession number is integral to its transition from cultural belonging or artefact into a museum object. The procedure of assigning a unique number or providing a contextual label is also identified as being an essential aspect of care in order to avoid one of the ten agents of deterioration that affect collections – dissociation – the accession number or markings often extending into and tethering an object within an ecosystem of related historical documentation. In collections management and care, whether or not to employ a particular marking technique is usually informed by the material properties of an object. This talk, however, reviews some of the cultural, religious, political, moral and ethical conditions that are equally important to consider and what this data does in a museum context. The significance of inscribing and re-inscribing numbers or other such marks is highlighted in moments where source communities are confronted with labels, particularly obtrusive ones, which may cause grief, anger, or confusion, but possibly also feelings of relief that the markings ensure that remains are identifiable as specific ancestors or items as sacred belongings. ​​ Markings can therefore be both bane and boon (something that is both a benefit and an affliction) as artefacts and cultural belongings transition from institution to institution, or from public museum back to community. Care thus needs to be extended to even those more taken for granted aspects of collections practice.

About the presenter

Prof. Alice Stevenson is Professor of Museum Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL), UK. She previously held positions as Curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (2013-2017), Researcher in World Archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum (2009-2012) and Research Fellow in the Institute of Archaeology and Department of Information Studies (2007-2009). Between 2013 and 2017 she was the lead researcher and initiator of the AHRC-funded project ‘Artefacts of Excavation’, which explored the history and legacy of the dispersal of finds from British excavations in Egypt. She subsequently led the follow-on for impact project from this, ‘Egypt’s Dispersed Heritage’