Archaeology 2.0

How is the Web transforming the professional practice of archaeology? And as archaeologists accustomed to dealing with “deep time,” how can we best understand the possibilities and limitations of the Web in meeting the specialized needs of professionals in this field? These are among the many questions posed and addressed in Archaeology 2.0: New Approaches to Communication and Collaboration, edited by Eric Kansa, Sarah Whitcher Kansa, and Ethan Watrall. With contributions from a range of experts in archaeology and technology, this volume is organized around four key topics that illuminate how the revolution in communications technology reverberates across the discipline: approaches to information retrieval and information access; practical and theoretical concerns inherent in design choices for archaeology’s computing infrastructure; collaboration through the development of new technologies that connect field-based researchers and specialists within an international archaeological community; and scholarly communications issues, with an emphasis on concerns over sustainability and preservation imperatives. This book not only describes practices that attempt to mitigate some of the problems associated with the Web, such as information overload and disinformation, it also presents compelling case studies of actual digital projects—many of which are rich in structured data and multimedia content or focused on generating content from the field “in real time,” and all of which demonstrate how the Web can and is being used to transform archaeological communications into forms that are more open, inclusive, and participatory. Above all, this volume aims to share these experiences to provide useful guidance for other researchers interested in applying technology to archaeology. .

Where to find it

Archaeology 2.0

View and download the book at eScholarship or purchase the printed version of the book from the David Brown Book Company.

List of contributions

  • New Directions for the Digital Past (Eric C. Kansa)
  • The Archaeology Data Service and the Archaeotools Project: Faceted Classification and Natural Language Processing (Julian Richards, Stuart Jeffrey, Stewart Waller, Fabio Ciravegna, Sam Chapman, and Ziqi Zhang)
  • Toward a Do-It-Yourself Cyberinfrastructure: Open Data, Incentives, and Reducing Costs and Complexities of Data Sharing (Eric C. Kansa and Sarah Whitcher Kansa)
  • Poor Relatives or Favorite Uncles? Cyberinfrastructure and Web 2.0: A Critical Comparison for Archaeological Research (Stuart Dunn)
  • Archaeological Knowledge Production and Dissemination in the Digital Age (Robin Boast and Peter Biehl)
  • Creating a Virtual Research Environment for Archaeology (Michael Rains)
  • iAKS: A Web 2.0 Archaeological Knowledge Management System (Ethan Watrall)
  • User-Generated Content in Zooarchaeology: Exploring the “Middle Space” of Scholarly Communication (Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Francis Deblauwe)
  • UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Archaeological Data, and Web 2.0 (Willeke Wendrich)
  • Open Access for Archaeological Literature: A Manager’s Perspective (Jingfeng Xia)
  • What Are Our Critical Data-Preservation Needs? (Harrison Eiteljorg)
  • Web 2.0 and Beyond, or On the Web, Nobody Knows You’re an Archaeologist (W. Fredrick Limp)

Listen to audio recordings of the presentations in the 2008 session:

  • Open Access for Archaeological Literature: A Manager’s Perspective (Jingfeng Xia, Rutgers University)(click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: Open Access as new scholarly communication has provided free, unrestricted access to digital material. With content of peer-reviewed articles, open digital repositories will facilitate online dissemination of research data and discoveries. In archaeology, several online databases have been available for journal articles, such as AnthroSource. However, these databases are accessible through subscription and are limited to certain journals. Scholars need a repository containing archaeological literature and free of charge. Modern technologies and changed copyright rules by publishers have made the implementation of the repository possible. This presentation discusses how a repository can be effectively managed to support archaeological research.
  • Creating a Virtual Research Environment for Archaeology (Michael Rains, York Archaeological Trust) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: The Integrated Archaeological Database (IADB) began as an excavation recording and post-excavation analysis tool but during more than ten years of development its scope has widened to include archiving and publication. In recent years, work has focused on the development of more sophisticated interfaces and tools within the IADB to create a collaborative research environment and publication framework for all aspects of fieldwork based archaeological research. This presentation will focus on how technologies usually associated with the term Web 2.0 have enabled and to some extent driven this development.
  • Think Globally, Act Locally: Scholarly Collaboration through the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery ( (Jillian Galle, Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery Monticello) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: Since 2004, The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) has provided archaeologists with detailed archaeological data from slave quarter sites throughout the Atlantic World. Forged through collaborative partnerships in the US, Caribbean, and UK, DAACS’s success lies in its regional focus, freely accessible data, and direct communication with scholars. DAACS also recognizes that archaeologists have difficulty keeping up with their own research and are frequently unable to contribute to collaborative digital projects without direct help. This paper discusses the philosophy behind DAACS and focuses on the methods used to facilitate data sharing and collaboration among scholars.
  • Web 2.0, Archaeotools and the Archaeology Data Service (Julian Richards, ADS; Stuart Jeffrey, ADS; Stewart Waller, ADS; Sam Chapman, University of Sheffield; and Fabio Ciravegna, University of Sheffield) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: The ADS has been preserving and disseminating digital research data in the UK for ten years. This presentation will outline how we are embracing technologies broadly termed Web 2.0. It will discuss Archaeotools, a two-year project funded by AHRC-EPSRC-JISC under their eScience programme. This is a collaborative project with the Natural Language Processing Group at the University of Sheffield UK in which we are conducting data mining and content tagging of archaeological grey literature and journal literature, and permitting user searching via a facetted classification interface, allowing users to ‘click and browse’ rather than ‘type and hope’.
  • iAKS: A Web 2.0 Archaeological Knowledge Management System (Ethan Watrall, Michigan State University) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: Currently in development, iAKS (Interactive Archaeological Knowledge Management System) is designed to address data collection, archiving, and analysis problems encountered by many archaeological projects. Based on Web 2.0 technologies, iAKS features a flexible setup and install model that allows archaeologists to customize the types of data they want to collect and archive. Further, iAKS features a variety of connectivity models, making it an appropriate tool for projects that have regular network connectivity and those that do not. In addition, iAKS features robust data visualization, allowing archaeologists to browse and creatively visualize data. Finally, iAKS is designed with a keen sense of usability, thereby making it appropriate for a broad user base.
  • UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology Data Access Level (Willeke Wendrich, UCLA) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: Since two years UCLA is developing an online encyclopedia of Egyptology (UEE) which sets out to be a comprehensive scholarly web resource. Apart from article texts, images, interactive maps, VR models and enhanced search functionality, the UEE also allows archaeologists to archive and publish data, which in future will be connected to online publications. The UEE-DAL is envisioned as an open source service which will encompass both ongoing field work, excavations and ‘heritage’ data (unpublished data from past excavations). Project information can be found at
  • A marriage of convenience: the possibilities of Service Oriented Architecture and Web 2.0 for digital archaeology (Stuart Dunn, Arts and Humanities e-Science Support Centre) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: Service-oriented architectures (SOAs) integrate and repackage heterogeneous computer services and data, so they do not have to be redesigned for new purposes. Web 2.0 technologies allow users to integrate and repackage services and data themselves. The relationship between Web 2.0 and SOA is therefore important. Here we review ways of combining them to deliver online archaeological services and complex data to user communities. We will draw on the UK’s Web 2.0-type portal (, various theoretical SOA approaches, and existing archaeological and related collections, services and data; and present a research agenda for linking Web 2.0 and SOA for archaeology.
  • Beyond Open Access: Open Data, Web services, and Semantics (Eric Kansa, UC Berkeley and Sarah Whitcher Kansa, The Alexandria Archive Institute) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: Simple web services delivering machine-readable data can help make archaeological information truly open and reusable for research, instruction, and creativity. Open Context (, is an open source publishing system that facilitates sharing, collaboration, and integration of field research and museum collections. It includes Web 2.0 features: folksonomies, dynamic weblog linking, maps, and browsable navigation through multiple collections. RESTful web services will soon enable new interface and presentation options. However, “user-generated content” (a web 2.0 hallmark) requires difficult schema-mapping steps to make data interoperability possible in Open Context. Can community-based solutions meet the complex semantic challenges of archaeological data?
  • Web 2 and the Sociology of Archaeological Knowledge (Robin Boast, University of Cambridge and Peter Biehl, SUNY Buffalo) (click here to download an audio file of the 15 minute presentation).
    Abstract: Our traditional understanding of knowledge, of a discipline or in a discipline, on-line or off-line, assumes either a direct correspondence with the world or a systematic semantic correspondence with concepts. Even Web 2 largely ignores the past 70 years of sociological and philosophical arguments for an understanding of knowledge as situated skillful practice. This paper explores, through several on-going projects, how both Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 fail to recognize this vital aspect of disciplinary knowledge and public understanding of knowledge, and how many of the tools of Web 2 could be used to enable a diversity of perspectives.
  • Discussion: On the Web, Nobody Knows you’re an Archaeologist (Fred Limp, University of Arkansas) (click here to view a pdf of the discussion points).