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

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

Vilnius University

11 December 2023, 16.00-17.00 GMT

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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.


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’


Re-investing wealth and power in archaeology

Dr. Sara Perry

Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), UK

24 July 2023, 16.30-17.30 GMT

Slide advertising Dr Sara Perry’s upcoming talk on Re-investing wealth and power in Archaeology, including her name and contact details, and logos for TETRARCHs, MOLA, AHRC and CHANSE.

Inspired by Vanessa Andreotti’s (2021) reflections on disinvestment, in this talk I explore opportunities to redistribute wealth and power in UK archaeology and heritage in order to tackle local and systemic inequities. Archaeologists are regularly implicated in perpetuating harm and injustice upon people and planet through the extractive nature of their practices and the tools and systems (e.g., computational) that enable this work. Here, I consider what resistance and transitions to alternative ways of doing archaeology look like through a series of case studies drawn from my own and my collaborators’ work in academic, development-led, and citizen-led archaeological contexts. Through efforts to establish new small-scale and large-scale infrastructures to destabilise and reconceive power relations, I suggest that it is possible to re-invest in a more equitable form of archaeology—one which, following the work of Ricaurte (2019), necessarily embeds human dignity, justice, and respectful relations with the more-than-human world at its core.

Note: This presentation is a shortened version of the keynote talk that I delivered at the 50th conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology in April 2023, and an adaptation of a recent seminar for the Historic Environment Forum’s Foresight Day in June 2023. This will be a zoom presentation (joining details will be sent to registered participants closer to the time).

Dr Sara Perry is Director of Research and Engagement at MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology), overseeing post-excavation, grant-funded research, communications and community programming, and Honorary Professor at the University of York. She is currently also the lead on several major national and international research and impact projects concerned with data, storytelling, audiences and digital transformation, including Accelerating Impact at MOLA (, Transforming Data Reuse in Archaeology (, and Networks for Transformational Change ( 


Andreotti (Machado de Oliveira), Vanessa (2021) Hospicing Modernity: Facing Humanity’s Wrongs and the Implications for Social Activism. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

Ricaurte, Paola (2019) Data Epistemologies, The Coloniality of Power, and Resistance. Television & New Media 20(4), 350-365,


Improving data reuse in archaeology: Exploring the role of 3D web archives in supporting archaeological practice

Prof. Nicolò Dell’Unto

Lund University, Sweden

08 June 2023, 16.30-17.30 GMT

In recent years, significant investments have been made worldwide to build data platforms to support large-scale research and innovation in the cultural heritage field. While these platforms have proven valuable, their design often falls short of facilitating in-depth interactions with digital materials.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought these limitations to the forefront as digital archives were transformed from mere reference sources to the only available resources for conducting research. This situation highlighted the urgent need to develop strategies to redefine digital archives as primary research tools and to provide comprehensive support for scholars working in the digital realm.

This presentation focuses on the potential of using 3D web archives to enhance archaeological research. It explores the benefits of 3D models in encouraging the adoption of new documentation and archival practices, thereby enabling scholars to engage in transformative research in the digital space.

About the presenter

Nicolò Dell’Unto is Professor of Digital Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University. He studied archaeology at the University of Rome, La Sapienza. Upon completion of his Master’s, he had a joint appointment as a research assistant at the Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, ITABC-CNR, Italy. There, he took part in several international projects for 3D documentation and visualization of archaeological sites through the use of digital techniques. Later, he obtained a PhD in technologies and management of cultural heritage at the Institute for Advanced Studies, IMT Lucca, Italy. Since August 2019, he has been visiting Professor at the Department of Collection Management at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo.


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.