Digital Pasts and Futures of Archaeology

PhD course, Rome, September 16 - 20, 2019

Dialogues with the Past. The Nordic Graduate School in Archaeology.

The use of digital methods in archaeology has a decades long history. However, the digitalisation of all aspects of archaeology has increased on a large scale during the last few years. It is changing the foundations of the practice of archaeological documentation and dissemination and influences the processes of archaeological interpretation.

The aim of this course is to keep theoretical and critical engagement with the digital as our centre of attention. As the development of digital methods and applications is quick, so too must we prioritise critical concern for how, why, by whom and for what purpose digital technologies are deployed. Accordingly, the course will have a two fold focus – looking forward and looking back.

On the one hand, we will explore the future development and use of digital methods in archaeology. Our aim is to think ahead to see how digital development will critically impact future archaeological documentation, interpretation, visualisation and sensorial explorations of the past, as well as archiving and data management. The discussion will span projects of various sizes, from examples presented in students’ papers to national and international projects discussed by the course lecturers, e.g. the creation of national digital registers, the cross-European EMOTIVE project (, etc.

On the other hand, we will contemplate the development of digital methods in archaeology from a historical perspective. The archaeological record and the use of legacy data depend on a proper understanding of this history. Digitisation is affecting the nature and longevity of archaeological practice. Yet its quick, often reactionary implementation and varied sustainability means that understanding of its historical development is narrow, and hence appreciation of its impact over time is limited. We hope to consider the legacy of digital practices in archaeology, and weave it into a discussion about the archiving of that legacy. Our aim is to consider the implications at both project, national and international levels, critically analysing the conditions for availability, accessibility, searchability, relevance and reuse (e.g., the FAIR data principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability).

The course is supplemented by excursions to local projects and facilities to see digital applications in the field. We will also work hands-on with prototype interpretative tools designed for archaeologists to engage their audiences in critical discussion around archaeological research and data. Participants will draft their own simple digital experiences intended to foster critical reflection and historical perspective taking amongst their users.

Course Work

The course will consist of both seminars and lectures. Before the course starts, each PhD student will prepare a paper for pre-circulation, addressing her or his research project in relation to the course theme. In the course seminars, each paper will be allotted ca. 45 minutes, beginning with the student presenting a 15-minute summary of its contents. This is followed with a 10 min commentary from one of the other PhD students (selected in advance), after which she or he will chair an open discussion on the paper for approximately 20 minutes.



     Åsa Berggren           Nicolo Dell’Unto             Sara Perry                 James Taylor


Photo credit for the photo of Sara Perry: Rachel Saunders.

Dr. Åsa Berggren (Lund University)

Ass. Prof. Nicolo Dell’Unto (Lund University)

Dr. Sara Perry (University of York)

Dr. James Taylor (University of York)


The participating lecturers will each give a lecture during the course, as well as participating as prime movers in the discussion of PhD presentations. The seminar days will be structured with adequate time for spin-off debates and networking opportunities in mind.


1 month or 7 ECTS

Location, Travel and Costs

The Graduate School will finance and arrange travel and accommodation, and supply a daily allowance during the seminar for all participating PhD students who are part of the Dialogues With the Past network as well as participating PhD students from the following Indian and South African institutions: North-Eastern Hills University, Nagaland University, HNB Garhwal University, Sambalpur University, Deccan College Post Graduate and Research Institute, University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria and University of the Witwatersrand. Two and two PhD students will share a room.


The Graduate school invites all registered PhD students to apply for participation. Please follow this link to apply for the course (in English only). From these applications, c. 15 PhD students will be admitted to the course.

For more information, please contact:

Important Dates

Application for participation: May 20, 2019. Confirmation on your participation will be sent out shortly after this date together with a reading list.

Submission of working papers (10 pages, Times New Roman 12, Spacing 1,5): August 5, 2019.

Appointment of discussants: August 14, 2019.


Åsa Berggren
Tags: Digital Archaeology, PhD course, Dialogues with the Past
Published Feb. 11, 2019 1:29 PM - Last modified Feb. 27, 2020 12:19 PM