Strategic Approaches to Digital Public Archaeology

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 81st Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL (2016)

Archaeologists have rallied around digital public archaeology and, while scholarship is growing in this area, a more critical approach is vital. The pervasiveness of digital technologies is clear: approximately 87% of American adults use the Internet, 64% own a smartphone, and 58% have a Facebook account (Pew Research Center). Such technologies are an important tool for archaeologists and the discipline’s presence online is already enormous. However, an abundant presence does not equate success. We must do more than join the digital bandwagon; we need to take the ideas and goals that have been a part of public archaeology and embed them in digital platforms. Strategic use of digital technologies will have the greatest impact in supporting our larger interests. To produce measurable results, digital public archaeology projects require goals, strategy, intentionality, and assessment. We must apply the same academic rigor to public archaeology as we do in archaeological research so we understand what success in these projects actually looks like. Unfortunately, few resources exist to support these efforts. This session seeks to address that gap by sharing research and case studies on digital public archaeology projects and strategy from project inception through evaluation.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Are websites doing what we want them to do? Evaluating the effectiveness of websites for public archaeology (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Catto. Virginia L. Butler. Kathi A. Ketcheson.

    Archaeologists widely incorporate websites into public archaeology projects and rely on them as primary vehicles for connecting with the non-archaeologist public for many reasons: they are relatively inexpensive to create, adaptable to most any content, and potentially accessed by a global population. While websites have great potential for advancing public understanding of the human past, to date there has been little consideration of what makes a “good” public archaeology website. Our project...

  • Podcasting as a way to promote archaeology and engage the public, or, Archaeology - straight from the trenches to your ears! (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Chris Webster. Tristan Boyle.

    Podcasts have been around for over 10 years now and only in the last couple years, since the release of the popular This American Life spin-off, Serial, has the American public been interested. Until Serial, it seemed that you were either a podcast listener or you weren't. Now, people are incorporating them into their lives as trusted sources of information and entertainment. The Archaeology Podcast Network was founded as the first season of Serial came to a close and our downloads quickly hit...

  • Printing Ancient Music: The Maya Music Project’s use of 3D printing and Modeling for Public Outreach (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jared Katz.

    3D models have the potential to bring archaeological data to life for the public in ways that were previously impossible. My research on ancient Maya musical practices is demonstrative of the various ways in which 3D technologies can create a tactile experience for the public as they learn about archaeology. This paper will highlight some of the ways in which the Maya Music Project will be using 3D models to increase public engagement with the subject. My preliminary experimental foray into...

  • Video Games, Virtual Reconstructions, and other Digital Avenues to Engage Children of All Ages in a Cosmopolitan Past (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Uzi Baram.

    For talented story-tellers, the past can be conjured up and presented through thrilling narrative arcs and vivid imagery. The result can make the listener feel like they are in an ancient place. But the audience listens, with only awe as the result. With expanding digital technologies, the archaeological past can be animated. Students can immerse themselves in reconstructed buildings and landscapes and move through ancient places, examine material culture from multiple angles, and even engage in...

  • Visualizing a Wired World’s Past: Digital and Tactile Public Archaeology in the Virtual Curation Laboratory (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bernard Means.

    The Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) uses 3D scanning technologies to capture archaeological discoveries from all over the world. Used effectively, these 3D digital artifact models can help cultural heritage institutions share their amazing discoveries to a global audience and not simply to their fixed geographic locations. How to share these 3D digital artifact models to an audience wider than undergraduate students and professional archaeologists has proven...

  • Wemyss Caves 4D: a review of a community 3D digital documentation project at a challenging heritage site in Scotland. (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Joanna Hambly.

    Former sea caves at East Wemyss in Scotland are unique because of the carvings within them. These include around 40 surviving Pictish (5th-9th century AD) symbols and animal representations; a possible Viking boat; early Christian crosses; and 19th century monograms and graffiti related to local New Year rituals. Located in a former coal mining area, today you are far more likely to read bad news stories about the impact of vandalism, structural instability and coastal erosion upon this unique...

  • When the Small, Local Archaeology Project Goes Global – The Missoula Historic Underground Project (2016)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nikki Manning.

    During the fall of 2012 a local, urban archaeological survey project was conducted to see what evidence remained of the Missoula, Montana historic “underground” landscape. Now heading into the fourth year of research and expanding geographically into other cities of the American West, the project which actually began from public inquiries into the existence of a small town underground continues to hold the interest of the local community and beyond. As the project has continued to grow in scope...