Digital Reviews

After 4.5 years, I’m stepping down from my editorship, but the 18 critical reviews published during this time are available open access

Just a quick shout-out to the many people who I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the past half-decade in my role as Digital Reviews Editor for the Society for American Archaeology’s journal Advances in Archaeological Practice. My incredible co-editors Sarah Herr, Sjoerd van der Linde and Christina Rieth have published a heart-warming note on Cambridge University Press’ blog about my ‘retirement’, my successor (Peter Cobb, University of Hong Kong), and the 18 open access articles that we ushered into being during my tenure. These articles represent critical reviews of digital media applications for archaeology and heritage – from crowdsourcing tools (by Donna Yates), to chatbots (by Angeliki Tzouganatou), to archaeological news sources (by Adrián Maldonado), to gaming (Minecraft by Eleanor Brooke Styles, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey by Politopoulos et al., Sid Meier’s Civilization VI by Mol et al.) to the Facebook page of my current employer (by Ingrida Kelpšienė), and many more. The most recent piece, my final as editor, was just published last week: a truly fascinating reflection by Kate Rogers on the i-Doc genre and its possibilities for impactful documentary storytelling.

My co-editors’ tribute to the time I’ve spent in the editorship reminded me of some of the must-haves that we negotiated five years ago: articles must be openly accessible; authors must critically engage with the digital applications they are reviewing (i.e., their articles must feature the detrimental and uncomfortable dimensions of these technologies as much as any positive elements); a more representative demographic of authors must be sought, with a particular focus on early career professionals outside the US. I also managed to negotiate that part of my editorial fee would be reallocated to authors, meaning that I was able to offer a small financial payment for their contribution. To me, this was the biggest success of all given the labour that we know is at the core of any form of publication.

According to Cambridge’s stats, the reviews have been downloaded c.14,000 times, and I regularly refer them to folks who are looking to invest in different types of digital media but who may not be familiar with the consequences of those media. I’m indebted to the more than 18 authors who I’ve had the pleasure to work with – many of whom have become friends and whose careers I’ve seen flourish over the years. Thank you for your work which has inspired me and profoundly influenced my own practice.

I’m excited to carry on as part of the editorial board of the journal – they are still stuck with me for a while yet :) I’d urge you (if you haven’t already) to explore Advances’ many articles on all aspects of professional and academic archaeological practice. Maybe you’ll even consider publishing with us in the future? Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to explore opportunities. And thanks to Sarah, Sjoerd and Christina for everything you’ve done for me.

Analogue/Digital: Productive Tensions in Materiality and Archaeology

I’m so excited to be able to announce a forthcoming roundtable that Colleen Morgan, Laia Pujol-Tost, Kathryn Killackey and myself are hosting at the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA) conference in Glasgow, 2-5 September, 2015. We would like to extend an invitation for participation to all of you in the archaeology and heritage communities who are grappling with questions around the nature and future of analogue/digital material relations. 

In other words, are you investigating issues at the intersections of the physical and the ephemeral? Are you enrolling digital technologies into the production of tangible experiences, or alternatively, aiming to better understand the digital through tangible forms of interaction? Have you eschewed the digital in favour of analogue engagements in your archaeological/heritage work – or have you rethought the dimensions of one via experimentation with the other? How are you materialising digital practices? And how is our very conception of materiality being reconfigured (or not) by analogue/digital innovation?

We seek reflections on how physical materials and digital materials are shaping one another, how these intersections are altering the unique dimensions of each, and how such work is shifting (or solidifying) human understandings of the ‘real’, the ‘thing’, the ‘fact’, presence, embodiment and knowledge-making more generally.

Given that archaeologists are understood as the experts on material culture and materiality, we want to dissect and anticipate how we contribute to conceptual and methodological discussions about the context of, continuities between, and technological changes to physical and digital artefacts.

We are in the distinctive position of being able to extend our roundtable beyond the bounds of the EAA, to engage the wider anthropological community prior to the conference. In August, selected short position papers will be posted on Savage Minds, the eminent anthropology blog, to establish and foment a broader discussion regarding existing and emergent media in archaeological interpretation. More detail on the nature of the position papers and their dissemination through Savage Minds will be circulated to participants following confirmation of your contribution to the roundtable.

Conference participation MUST be confirmed by 16 February, 2015, at the EAA Glasgow website:

For questions, email

Roundtable Title: Analogue/Digital: Productive Tensions in Materiality and Archaeology

Colleen Morgan
Sara Perry
Laia Pujol-Tost
Kathryn Killackey

Due Date: February 16, 2015


As we integrate digital workflows into every aspect of archaeological methodology, it is increasingly apparent that we are all digital archaeologists (Morgan and Eve 2012). Yet archaeology has a long, productive and unfinished history with “analogue” media. Illustration, photography, dioramas, casts, paper-based maps, diagrams, charts and artistic renderings have all been – and continue to be – used to interpret and present archaeology to specialist and general audiences. Walter Benjamin argued that reproductive media destroys the “aura” of traditional artistic media (1968), and it has since been argued (Bolter et al. 2006) that digital media perpetuates a permanent crisis of this aura. As the premiere scholars of materiality, archaeologists can contribute to discussions of the context of, continuities between, and technological changes to these media artefacts. In this session we ask, in what ways are we using the digital in constructive interplay with the analogue? What can digital affordances reveal about analogue methodologies, and vice versa? And how are we pushing beyond skeuomorphic archaeological recording and rethinking the possibilities of media artefacts overall? We aim here to prompt reflective debate about, and speculative design of, the future of analogue/digital experimentation.

We hope you’ll join us! Please spread the word and contribute to the conversation (both at the EAA and on Savage Minds) by confirming your participation.

Heritage & the media

Screenshot by me of York's CHM 2 MA module outline on the web

I’m preparing the outline (syllabus) for one of the modules that I’ll be leading at York in the spring term–Cultural Heritage Management 2: Museums, Audiences and Interpretation.  While most of that outline is finalised, I’m still trying to settle on the reading list for a class on ‘Heritage and the media’.  A lot of the usual literature features in the list as it now stands, including Clack and Brittain’s (2007) Archaeology and the Media, and articles by Kulik (2006) on television and Pollock (2005) on newsprint.

But in terms of scholarship on web-based media, I’m keen to flesh out the readings that I currently have listed, and I’m especially interested to include rigorous literature that is itself hosted online.  I’ve mentioned before (here and in my list of links in the column on the right of my homepage) some of my favourite blogs and web-based knowledge sources, and I’d like to have students critically read the outputs of Colleen Morgan’s 4-week Blogging Archaeology project (which culminated in a Society for American Archaeology session), and the associated Then Dig peer-reviewed archaeology blog, as well as web-based journals like anthropologies, and the incredible Day of Archaeology.  I’d also love to be able to recommend forthcoming articles (which are being published online or in academic print) that assess the public and epistemological impact of this work, not to mention of the media themselves (as applied by archaeologists and heritage specialists).

I’m keen for suggestions, so please don’t hesitate to email me, contact me on Twitter (@archaeologistsp), respond here or via Facebook.  Thank yooouuuu!

Clack, T. and Brittain, M. (eds) (2007) Archaeology and the Media. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

Kulik, K. (2006) Archaeology and public television. Public Archaeology 5 (2): 75-90.

Pollock, S. (2005) Archaeology goes to war at the newsstand. In Archaeologies of the Middle East: Critical Perspectives. S. Pollock and R. Bernbeck, eds. Pp. 78-96. Oxford: Blackwell.