Postdoc Amy Miranda and Professor Rubina Raja (Aarhus University)
Dates: 10-11 February 2022
Time: 12:00-17:30 (Day 1) and 9:00-16:00 (Day 2)
Venue: Zoom (registration necessary)
Over the last century, archaeology has undergone an immense development, particularly in its best practices for the handling and management of data. The significant amounts of data generated by archaeological fieldwork, academic research on museum collections or object provenance form vast archives of physical material. These physical resources can often go untouched for years, if not generations despite holding critical information. Yet, past and present crises – the Syrian civil war or recent events in Afghanistan, for example – have alerted researchers to the fact that resources are often fragile and, in many cases, not accessible to all. Does digitisation offer solutions for preserving and sharing information?
Digital archives take shape dependent upon a variety of factors, such as the type of data they contain or the platform hosting the data. When contrasted with the issues in gaining access to physical archives (e.g. geographic location or institutional permission), the digital archive offers many opportunities and possibilities worth exploring. Is digitisation a democratisation of information, particularly when made open access? One might consider how, as scholars were denied access to physical resources due to the multiple global shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital archives allowed research to continue. On the other hand and despite the benefits of digitisation, scholars must also consider the affordances of digital archives and how the shift to a virtual environment changes the research dynamic. Furthermore, how do researchers address the ethical dilemmas of making resources openly available?
This two-day conference addresses how scholars use and share archival material in archaeology, particularly through digital archives. The array of papers not only showcases the depth of research on archaeological archives, but also offer reflections upon the relationship between archaeological practices and archival form. With a focus on archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, some of which are conflict zones, the conference offers a dialogue on best practices for the dissemination and synthetization of knowledge from digital archives. Through a variety of case studies on archaeological sites and the digital resources associated with them, papers explore the versatility of digital archives and new research directions being taken due to their form and accessibility. Papers also consider the multitude of shapes digital information might take and bring forth problems with digital media. Finally, the conference projects forward and considers productive future avenues for archaeology in the digital age.