Digital Archaeology

’It could be considered that Archaeology from its inception embraced new technology. This included Cartesian mapping and early photography, ground based and aerial, both balloon and fixed wing. The Atomic era brought carbon14 dating, Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) exploration introduced LiDar, geophysical survey using proton magnometry or Ground Penetrating Radar. Jeremy Huggett suggested “the idea that objects contain embedded within them representations of aspects of their socio-technical and economic circumstances of creation is not unfamiliar to archaeologists”, could this be an ‘aura’. It could be considered that the dig and abstraction of artefacts by human hand are still applicable, the rest, Digital or otherwise simply speeds the process along. A prime example in the use of Digital Archaeological sub-set disciplines would be the discovery of Richard III’s body. A mechanical digger remove the first 30cm of surface material, not a mattock in site. From GPR to dig team, carbon 14 to Osteoarchaeology, CT scans to Archaeogenetics led to his identity being discovered. While the use digital tools and approaches are available to all archaeologists and should when possible be integrated into all aspects their work, many avenues of digital archaeology need a specialist’s knowledge. The introduction of many new tools comes from far outside traditional fields of archaeology, the IMS and GPS used in aerial LiDar is originally from missile technology. Archaeologists implement digital databases in comparative studies, this shared work and experience can be available through open access, linking all data, and optimising the link through new technology can aid in creating more refined interpretations of archaeology. There is a need for the next generation of archaeologists to engage with digital technology. Even to be given a basic knowledge of the many aspects of analytical or research systems irrespective of how often it is used; simply to know that tools are available to speed up complicated processes. There is no doubt that many archaeology projects presently involve the use of computers, it is not necessary that their project leaders know how to use them but they should have people in their department who do, Andre Costopoulos makes this point clear. In Ireland, the availability of dig information provided by the NRA online in incredible. There is an ongoing process to get archaeologists to realize the potential of digital archaeology using it as a new tool or sub-field and to eventually incorporate it into their research. Archaeology has come far since academics dismissed the first radiocarbon dating in the nineteen forties as archaeologically inacceptable. As computer technology becomes more compact and computers became more powerful and human-readable computing languages became more prominent.
The time is here to embrace the technology for what it is, a way of speeding up ancillary processes, overlaying tracing paper on google earth photos of the site to get a sketch map, GPS for distances and scale or identifying dig pits with GPR, reducing the use of test pits. In a generation, Archaeology, will be just be one of many disciplines revolving round Digital platforms. ‘Who commands the future conquers the past’ (Orwell 1949)
Costopoulos A Digital Archaeology Is Here (and Has Been for a While). Front. Digit. Humanit. 3:4. doi: 10.3389/fdigh.2016.00004
Huggett J.A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology
Wenger R. Visual Art, Archaeology, and Gestalt
Leonardo Vol. 30, No. 1 (1997), pp. 35-46, The MIT Press

on images on social media

In the last ten years there has been a massive shift in the way communication takes place online, particularly with Social Media. It could be said that online communication once occurred on websites, they became chatrooms/forums then to personal “blogs”. These “blogs” attracted comments and articles from likeminded responders, creating an online community; but “blogs” were still lengthy, word-heavy. These “blogs” became posts, shorter, more concise encouraged by the introduction of Facebook. This essentially led to Twitter and the shorter again 140 word “tweets”. This introduced a new way of communicating, extended further by the introduction of twitter on android smart phones. It wasn’t long before society made the shift to Uploading photos and videos onto social media services and websites. This has become the primary way to share memorable moments with friends and family, or to boost personal engagement with your online community. The increasing use of image centred information may be due to the WWW being completely overloaded with content; imagery as seen on laptops, tablets and smart phones, are very often the best way to seize the attention of an audience. It is obvious that technology companies are well aware of this. There was a time when smartphones and tablets were sold as mobile offices; now most concentrate on how quickly images are captured and shared. For the average person the camera, used to photograph a specific occasion has been replaced by the tablet and smartphone,( and by extension the DashCam and GoCam) as essential part of everyday ware. Photographs of everything encountered, from the everyday, to dramatic events witnessed in passing are “shared” via social media.
The pace of these changes can be seen in the increase in photo-sharing sites like Flickr, followed closely by Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat who have captured their own percentage of the social media market. There constantly upgraded APP’s provide users with an all-round multimedia device capable of creating, editing, sharing and viewing images on phones and tablets. This means that you now show your ‘followers’ what your preference is instead of just telling them. This is where ‘fashion bloggers’ come into their own, sharing photos of themselves wearing the clothes and/or accessories. International brands soon realised that the image is now the message, utilising how social platforms distribute image content and how people consume it. Imagery is no longer the supporting role but the headline act.
How a person is perceived on Social media can be broken down into three types all of them image based. If they have a personal blog page then a header is essential, usually containing an image of the person in an exciting or exotic place; then the profile image, smaller but no less important than the blog possibly a glamourous image, has to be changed regularly. And finally the post images regular images, once a day or per hour. The increasing use of images on social media has led to many questions regarding ethics, undue influence and the impact on those more vulnerable. This may lead back to an older question of how do you police the web. Social media sites constantly reiterate the ethical protocols regarding images with millions of images uploaded daily can they really stand by them?
#Funeral and Instagram: death, social media, and platform vernacular
Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media [web article]

The Ethics of Sharing in the Social Media Era

Visual Content Strategy: The New ‘Black’ for Content Marketers

Concerns in curating an image collection.

There are many aspects to curating, in museums, galleries and libraries, in Digital Humanities the main emphasis perhaps is on the curation of Digital images. What can be considered best practices for improving access to data, quality control, and data integrity? Which program should be used that includes time-saving tools that allow ease of access to an extensive online directory, yet is intuitive to use and provides further references to the search area . There is a value to digital curation beyond the academic and research communities those in the commercial and professional sector could benefit from exposure to the concept. There are many in commercial and professional sector who have no concept of digital curation or archive preservation and in many cases are not familiar with these terms. This does not mean that they do not actively curate and preserve archives, what it could mean is that they approach the problem without the knowledge best practice, and without properly trained personal, digital data support or infrastructure. There could be more engagement between those in academia and research and those in the commercial and professional sector. We in Digital Humanities should do more to convey the relevance and value of what we do to specific professions, possibly in the form of interdisciplinary conferences (Rusbridge et al 2005). The benefits of this interaction are the opportunity to safeguard a greater degree of digital imagery whatever it may be.
There are many facets to the Curators of Digital data, with considered best practice or not: the individuals using their hard drives or clouds, departments or groups using shared networks or separate drives, academics , groups of academics of many disciplines, the publishing community, national data collectors, or third parties data agencies. The primary issues in effective curation may include the size of the data, the number of objects to be curated and their complexity/delicacy the intervention/interaction of third parties, social and legal concerns. This should also include access policies, best practices/standards. The DCC consider “optimal approach to curation involves four steps” (DCC 2016). First, all data capture should build curation or re-usability into their workflow. This allows for ease of access regarding, provenance and reputation of information (Curry et al 2007) and self-contained metadata. Secondly curators should allow for scalability, not only data capture and retention. The formats and file type process should be standardised, although in some cases this may also depend on the source.
Thirdly all curators should make available all information regarding ownership and licenced or unlicensed access. Lastly curators should provide metadata to allow data or image to be citable, in accordance with standard formats and practices. The last two are straight forward data protection protocols. The concerns in curating digital image collections may be considered in the overall broader sense of digital capture, be it 2D or 3D. Despite considerable advances in international best practices in capture standards, protocols and future proofing software technology; and the forward thinking and generosity of internationally renowned institutes, Library of Congress, British Museum, the main concerns of curating image collections appear to be copyright and licencing laws.

Digital Curation Centre,
Curry Edward, Freitas Andre, and O’Riain Sean, The Role of Community-Driven Data Curation for Enterprises (Mar2007). Available at,
Rusbridge Chris, Burnhill Peter, Ross Seamus, Buneman Peter, Giaretta David, Lyon Liz Atkinson Malcolm, From local to global: Data interoperability—challenges and technologies, Mass storage and Systems technology. IEEE conference Sardinia Italy, June 20-24 2005.

The Standard of Metadata

The Standard of Metadata
The creation of robust metadata is of a primary importance for the success of any digital project. Metadata is typically defined as “data about data.” Good metadata makes it possible to catalogue and present digital information effectively to the public. Metadata typically describes how the image was digitised, its format, and its provenance. A wide variety of metadata schemes currently exist, but to date no single metadata standard has gained worldwide acceptance Deciding which metadata standard to use should be determined before materials are digitized. ‘quality metadata is what is fit for purpose’(DRI.2015). Digitising audio-visual material involves more than simply converting it into a digital file; data must be created and managed as well. Metadata must be recorded every time a component undergoes processing so that its history can be tracked: the parameters used in this process must recorded. The long-term maintenance and preservation of digital files is now of great concern to worldwide institutions. It has been suggested that it could cost as much as ten percent of the set price of the project per year to preserve its digital data. To maintain the ability to display, retrieve and use digital collections, digital files must be cared for, hard drives have a lifespan, and operating systems are constantly updated.
Digital preservation is a rapidly changing and complex field, but there are some questions on how ensure the long-term stability of high quality digital data. Some consider the main component in the preservation of digital files is the establishment of a central digital repository. Is this the right way to attain these goals, essentially placing all the eggs in one basket? It has been suggested that before undergoing a digitisation and preservation project, companies should make sure they have an archiving solution in place that will allow them to easily archive, search and retrieve the content. But there may still be a reason to consider older formats, microfiche for example. Consider that a major requirement is that metadata remain closely attached to the project media throughout the workflow, including in the archive. The archive data base requires a high scalability to store, manage and index the millions of metadata entries generated by any preservation project. Should you lose this for whatever reason all is lost image and metadata. If the metadata was stored in hard copy e.g. microfiche, the search parameters would still exist; this would suggest that the image may still be retrieved on another format or simple web search. There is no doubt that high quality metadata is essential in preservation projects. The storage of irreplaceable data will always be the problem.


Digital Repository of Ireland: McCarthy, Kate ‘Metadata Quality Control’. Dublin: (2014), Royal Irish Academy: 10.3318/DRI.2015.1,
Europeana Task Force, Dangerfield Marie-Claire, Kalshoven Lisette Report and Recommendations from the Task Force on Metadata Quality. The Hague in 2015.
Irish Manuscripts Commission Digitisation policy (Dublin, 2007) pdf
Puglia, Steven, Reed Jeffrey, Rhodes Erin. U.S. National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Archival Materials for Electronic Access: Creation of Production Master Files– Raster Images.

Should museums be recreating the past

Should museums be recreating the past?

The past is considered an integral part of both individual and communal representations of identity. This is considered so important that people cut off from the past by migration or destruction, either deliberate or accidental in war often recreate, even ‘recreate’ what could or should have been there but never existed. (Corsane 2005). This can be seen in the interpretive 3D models of Pompeii, prior to the volcanic eruption. These scans have merits in their architectural models the rest is artistic speculation. What Sinclair appears to consider is the very real chance of preserving a tangible piece of history in the form of 3D models. As Sinclair suggests there has been some type of preservation by replication since Roman times. There is the opportunity to recreate culturally important objects using superior software to replicate of their original condition. An example of this could be Muiredach’s High Cross, with over one thousand years of weathering pollution and human contact particularly in the last forty; there is a marked deterioration seen on the original. Yes there will be detractors, but at what stage do you intervene, replace it with a replica, and preserve the original in specialist conditions for future generations, as in Clonmacnoise. Political and cultural memories are based on the durable carriers of symbols and material representations. These memories can be passed on from generation to generation integrating those with no experience of an event via modes of education. (Assmann, 2002.P25.)
It could be suggested as a member of D.R.I. Jeffrey’s is playing the devil’s advocate. He in his own right is known for his work in digital replication in art and heritage. He asks the question do digital objects exist. This is because he considers them a series of data, computer programs and software graphics. Jeffrey’s use of terms can be confusing at times, his idea of the weirdness of the digital world, almost a ‘forth’ dimension. This concept is already well known in early European mythologies of liminal or ‘otherworld’s’. Jeffrey’s also uses the term ‘born digital reconstructions’ (Jeffrey 2015). If it’s a reconstruction, surely some form of tangible information would have to be captured in order to reconstruct the object; even a series of photographs or the foundations of a ruin. Is that really born digital? The question may have been asked regarding born digital interpretations. Jeffrey’s wonders ‘was possible to imbue the digital with its own aura (Jeffrey 2015). That would depend on the public perception of the artefact[s]; objects that could capture the imagination could gain an aura against a more mundane specimen. There are several occasions in the past were the replicas gained their own aura’s, the 3D replicas of Tutankhamun’s treasures as an example toured the world. (Jones, 2010).

Assmann Aleida, four formats of memory, from the individual to collective constructions of the past. Cultural Memory and Historical Consciousness in the German-Speaking World Since 1500, Emden, Christian / Midgley, David (eds.) ‘The Fragile Tradition’, Cambridge 2002
Corsane Gerard, Heritage, Museums and Galleries: An Introductory Reader. Routledge New York London 2005
Jones Jonathan, Sunday 24 October 2010 20.00 BST
Sinclair Mark, Should Museums be recreating the Past, 20th July 2016,

Stuart Jeffrey Challenging Heritage Visualisation: Beauty, Aura and DemocratisationGlasgow School of Art, Open Archaeology. Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: 10.1515/opar-2015-0008, May 2015.

on the limits of digitisation

The topic of this Blog post is on the limits of digitisation. This argument may also be broken down into Pros and Cons or advantages and disadvantages and may also be viewed as those for or against. It may be that those who were not born into a digital environment yet can ascertain the great advantages of digitisation but they are against it due to their considered limitations. These limitations may include funding, either through the support of their institution or private backer. Funding could be considered as the primary reason as to whether to digitize or not. Without funding in place it is hard to determine the appropriate use of the digitisation data. It could accessible on the internet or intranet, or an in-house network. The funding would also be required to hire technical support, outsource or train existing staff. The next major stumbling blocks would be copyright, contracted or licenced material: the effects of funding can be a factor here also. This is realised in the fact that many contracts and licences regarding publishing rights have to be purchased (Cronin 2016).These licences and contracts may reduce the scope of those who can avail of that information. (Academics etc.).
There is the current problem of access to popular digital sites. As more and more computer are connected to the site its access speed decreases. As new technology continues to allow access to sites through smart phones and televisions; current internet technology has not evolved quick enough to keep up, the problem then in near future will be an Internet full of “this page is busy please try again later”. Another aspect of this problem is wi fi and internet speed. This is still a problem in many countries including Ireland. This slowing of the internet affects multinational businesses; those same businesses have put pressure on government and communication companies to upgrade this technology. The size of the data caches holding these digitised files has increased to allow finer detail. This too is a problem as compressing the file defeats the purpose of high definition data. The increasing speed of technological developments will impact on the viability of digital material. This is due to its inability to preserve the information as technological a can rapidly become out-of-date and its data may become inaccessible.
Digitisation suits the long distance remote viewer. Although initial cost of digitisation is high there is definite investment in new, smaller, less expensive equipment. This suggests that in the future the cost to manage digitised material will be cheaper than that of any traditional archives. The use of online publication is increasing, the needs of users born into the digitised age are shifting towards a different environment, and this environment will eventually remove the limits of digitisation.
Cronin, Charles Patrick Desmond, Possession is 99% of the Law: 3D Printing, Public Domain Cultural Artifacts & Copyright (March 8, 2016). USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 16-13.

Reflective blog post on the reading 3D scanning and copyright law

This blog will reflect on two articles, both regarding the effects of copyright on 3D printing and scanning. The articles involved are, “3D Scanning: A World without Copyright” by Michael Weinberg and “Possession is 99% of the Law: 3D Printing, Public Domain Cultural Artifacts and Copyright” by Charles Cronin.
The two authors have strong backgrounds in copyright and contract law, yet they have differing approaches to the question. Although there is common ground in both articles on a number of occasions, using examples to prove an argument, In particular the Burrow-Giles Co. V Sarony and Meshwerks V Toyota legal cases. Weinberg looks at the question as having two elements, the first being a ‘physical’ item, the second being its 3D digital copy or simply a data file. It could be that Weinberg is aware despite the extraordinary advance in 3D printing, copying artifacts in 3D has its limitations, especially colour. Cronin, on the other hand marvels at the possibilities of the technology, in particular printing. Cronin’s is more in-depth than Weinberg’s following the history of both 2D and 3D technologies. Cronin’s article should be read in its entirety, including the footnotes, that’s where his ‘however’ arguments are to be found, not unfortunately in the main text.
Weinberg uses a similar tactic in his article when he considers various versions of the article, the introduction being the short version, the “yes but what about…?”(Weinberg, 1) being the long version, essentially the rest of the article. Yet Weinberg like Cronin uses his footnotes to refer to further writings on the question. The in class discussion on the question appeared to focus on two main points. The first point being that those establishments or private collectors who held the ‘original’ copies of public domain pieces, gained both morally and financially by allowing free exposure to digitized online copies. The second point being that should these digital data files be used to produce 3D copies; they would be no more than scale models despite their detail. These detailed models could act as invitations for the public to visit establishments that contain the full size original of 2D or 3D, galleries or museums. The question both in these articles and the class discussion remained unanswered; those who hold the artifact public or private consider the copyright or contract. Those organisations that depend on the goodwill of society provide online digital databases and encourage crowd-sourcing. Those with private backers tend to align themselves to their backers’ elitism and pursue what they consider as infringements through the courts.
‘As possibly a tangent to this question is the growing use of ‘YONDR’ devices especially with performance artists. This technology is locked onto your phone or tablet when you enter the establishment. This blocks your phone signal and prevents any form of digital recording. The concept of license or contract was considered in both articles, it is seen here in the purchase of a ticket to a performance event, currently talk show, stand up comedy or music concert. The purchase of the ticket becomes a contract to abide by the rules of the event, namely use the ‘YONDR’ device or no admittance and your money returned. The technology company involved are hoping to expand further’ (New York Times).

Cronin, Charles Patrick Desmond, Possession is 99% of the Law: 3D Printing, Public Domain Cultural Artifacts & Copyright (March 8, 2016). USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 16-13.
Weinberg, Michael “3D Scanning: A World without Copyright”…/wp…/white-paper-3d-scanning-world-without-copyright.pdf, May 2016.
Morrissey Janet – Your Phone’s on Lockdown. Enjoy the Show. The New York Times – Saturday 15 October 2016.