A Session on Digital heritage and archaeology at SHA 2013 in Leicester

For this year’s Society for Historical Archaeology Conference, I am organizing a session called Digital Heritage and Archaeology: Applications of Web-based Technology for Community Engagement. The impetus for this session came from a number of directions. First, I was in the process of building a digital exhibit myself, and figured I’d have enough to contribute a paper on by January 2013. Second, I had gotten to know a number of wonderful digital heritage scholars in England, and I wanted to use this opportunity to build them into a session on the topic since I’d be on their side of the pond for a change. Third, I felt like there had been a lot of discussions about digital heritage and digital archaeology, and a lot of talk about the potential these tools had, but little talk about actually working with communities, and I wanted to build a session that was more focused on concrete examples of doing public archaeology with these tools. Fourth, I thought it would be really neat to bring this discussion under the historical archaeology umbrella, and to bring Carol McDavid into the fold. She was one of the first to examine whether or not public archaeology and the web had a future together. Her research, however, had been conducted before Web 2.0, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to revisit some of her questions with the new technology. Even better, she agreed to serve as our discussant for the session!

The session turned into a giant almost overnight, and I am very excited about the lineup. I tried to find people who I thought were doing innovative things with Web 2.0 as it relates to working with communities, and I tried to get a wide spectrum on the various tools that are out there, ranging from Twitter to Foursquare to microfunding to blogging. I also have a wide variety of organizations represented, such as the National Parks Service, the Florida Public Archaeology Network, the MSU Campus Archaeology Program, Colonial Williamsburg, and Historic St. Mary’s City, as well as individuals. Topics will range from program development, to education, to public intellectualism, to public activism. In all, I’m hoping to cover a wide area.

As should be no surprise for a session such as this, we will be live-tweeting using the conference hashtag #SHA2013 as well as a tag for our session specifically, #webarch (a nod to Carol McDavid’s original public archaeology website, webarchaeology.com). We’ll also be following all these guidelines that I wrote up at the SHA Blog. Please join us, either at the conference or at your home. Because it is a large session, it is divided into two parts, beginning in the morning from 10:30-12:30, with a break for lunch, and then closing out from 1:30 to 4:30. Following Dr. McDavid’s remarks, we will open the floor for a larger discussion until 5 pm or when people can’t take it any longer. I hope to see you all there!!

Below is the abstract, and list of the papers and their authors. You can follow links for their abstracts.

In the past decade, the opportunities for archaeologists to use web-based technologies for public engagement has expanded dramatically. In 2002, when Carol McDavid completed her assessment of web-based public engagement, the availability and access of web-based tools was still limited, both for the public and archaeologists. While accessibility and number of tools have increased, many of the questions McDavid asks are still important to consider. How accessible are new web-based technologies to the public? How do we use these tools to build meaningful relationships to promote awareness, education, and stewardship towards cultural resources? What is the relationship between the digital engagement and face-to-face engagement, and what benefits and drawbacks are presented from digital engagement? How do we build, implement, and sustain digital cultural heritage projects that will effectively engage the public? This session will explore how archaeologists are using current web-based technology to address these questions and engage with communities.

Morning Session: Charles Wilson Quoron Room, 10:30-12:30

Guerrilla Foursquare: The appropriation of commercial location-based social networking for archaeological engagement and education
J. Andrew Dufton (@jadufton), Stuart Eve (@stueve)

Not All Archaeology is Equal: Public Archaeology and the Internet
Lorna J Richardson (@lornarichardson)

Reflections on Community Engagement & Digital Approaches: The Effects & Impacts of Different Tools
Lynne Goldstein (@lynnegoldstein) MSU Campus Archaeology Program (@capmsu)

RT This: The Collaborative Public Archaeology Brand in Social Media
Sarah Miller (@semiller), Amber Grafft-Weiss (ajgweiss), FPAN Northeast (@FPANNortheast)

Slavery to Freedom on the Web: A Community Engagement Experiment for Online Exhibits
Terry P. Brock (@brockter) Walk Together Exhibit (@walktogethr)

Afternoon Session: Charles Wilson Quoron Room, 1:30-4:30

Social contract archaeology: a business case for the future
Brendon Wilkins , Lisa Westcott Wilkins

Strategic Planning for the Web: Goals, Objectives and Tactics for Communicating Heritage
Jeffery K Guin (@jkguin)

Archaeology in Real-time:  The Use of Social Media as Part of the Excavation of Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and Public Armoury
Lisa E. Fischer, Meredith M. Poole Armoury Site

Day of Archaeology: Large-scale Collaborative Digital Archaeology
Matt Law (@m_law), Andrew Dufton (@jadufton), Stu Eve (@stueve), Tom Goskar (@tomgoskar), Pat Hadley, Jess Ogden (@jessogden), Daniel Pett, Lorna Richardson

Making Historical Archaeology Visible: Experiences in Digital (and Analog) Community Outreach in Arkansas
Jamie Brandon (@jcbrandon)

Sankofa in Cyberspace: Developing New and Social Media at the African Burial Ground National Monument
Cyrus Forman (@AFBurialGrndNPS)

“BOOM BABY!”: engaging the public through social media in response to “American Digger”
Tonia Deetz Rock, Misti Wright Furr, Kurt Thomas Hunt, Katie Jacobson, Kristina C Wyckoff

Carol McDavid

Open Forum
Terry Brock and Carol McDavid


  1. Bernard K. Means
    December 18, 2012

    I think I overlap the afternoon papers, but look forward to what I can see in the morning.  It’s nice to see how many archaeologists are embracing digital heritage–and the diversity of approaches they are taking.

    • Terry Brock
      December 18, 2012

      Thanks, Bernard. hopefully you can make the conversation at the end. We’re also working on getting a TweetUp scheduled at a bar later that evening, so there will be an opportunity for more casual interaction, as well!

  2. Bill White
    January 11, 2013

    This is one of the many symposia I missed at this year’s SHA. Is there a way I can get ahold of the presentations from this session?

  3. The Society for Historical Archaeology Conference - "All of Us Would Walk Together"
    July 2, 2015

    […] – Read a post on my personal website about the session and the various contributions. – Follow me on Twitter @brockter. I’ll be live tweeting as much of the conference as possible. – Follow the SHA on Twitter @sha_org, and the conference hashtag #SHA2013. – Read about the conference proceedings at the SHA website and on their blog. […]


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