Sessions at TAG 2013: visualisation, anthropology and connectivity

August 30, 2013

logoThis year’s Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting is coming up, and my friends are organising a cool set of sessions there. Sara Perry, Cat Cooper and Gareth Beale are hosting a session called “Seeing, Thinking, Doing: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation”. Their key message is that visualisations are not neutral: they can lie, hide information, or enhance communication of a message. Whatever they do, a critical evaluation of the use of visualisations in archaeology is necessary. I would love to see some infovis and network visualisation studies there! You can read the full abstract below, or visit their blog.

Fiona Coward, Rosie Read and colleagues will chair a session ‘Archaeology and Anthropology: Squabbling siblings, star-crossed lovers or bitter enemies?’. It will discuss the differences between the two disciplines in the past, present and future. See the abstract below.

Two other sessions that got my interest are those by Ben Jervis and colleagues: ‘ANT(ics) and the Thingliness of Things: Actor-Network Theory and other Relational Approaches in Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology’ and ‘It’s All Material Culture, Ain’t It! Connectivity and Interdisciplinarity in Material Culture Studies’.

For more info on TAG 2013 Bournemouth visit their website.

Seeing, Thinking, Doing: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation
Organizers: Gareth Beale (, Catriona Cooper ( & Sara Perry (

Decades of enquiry have born witness to the importance of visualisation as a critical methodology in archaeological research. Visual practices are intimately connected to different ways of thinking, shaping not only how we interpret the archaeological record for diverse audiences, but how we actually see and conceive of that record in the first instance (before investigative work has even begun). A growing body of volumes, workshops and symposia* testify to the centrality of visualisation in processes of deduction, narrative construction, theory-building and data collection – all those activities which lie at the heart of the discipline itself. But these testimonials generally still lay scattered and detached, with researchers and visual practitioners often talking at cross-purposes or working in isolation from one another on issues that are fundamentally linked.
Following the success of Seeing, Thinking, Doing at TAG Chicago in May 2013 (, we seek here to delve further into such issues, concentrating on those bigger intellectual tensions that continue to reveal themselves in discussions of the visual in archaeology. We welcome short papers attending in depth to any of the following five themes:
(1) Realism and uncertainty
(2) Ocularcentrism
(3) Craftspersons and visualisation as craft
(4) Historical forms of, and past trends in, visualisation in archaeology
(5) Innovative approaches to representing the archaeological record
The session will be linked across two continents with a discussant in Canada as well as the main presentations in Bournemouth. We are happy to include speakers willing to participate remotely, via Google Hangout, and we encourage all contributors to add their perspectives to our group blog prior to – and following – the session: The papers will be accompanied by a roundtable discussion, where we will analyse the five themes—and related intellectual trends in visualisation—at an overarching level.
*E.g., Molyneaux 1997; Smiles and Moser 2005; Bonde and Houston 2011; “Seeing the Past,” Archaeology Center, Stanford University, Stanford, USA, February 4–6, 2005; “Past Presented: A Symposium on the History of Archaeological Illustration,” Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, October 9–10, 2009; “Visualisation in Archaeology,” University of Southampton, Southampton, UK, April 18–19, 2011.
Bonde, S. & Houston, S. (eds.) 2011. Re-presenting the Past: Archaeology through Image and Text. Oxford: Joukowsky Institute Publications/Oxbow.
Molyneaux, B.L. (ed.) 1997. The Cultural Life of Images: Visual Representation in Archaeology. London: Routledge.
Smiles, S. & Moser, S. (eds.) 2005. Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

‘Archaeology and Anthropology: Squabbling siblings, star-crossed lovers or bitter enemies?’
The relationship between the disciplines of archaeology and anthropology (social/cultural and biological) goes back a long way, but the nature of that relationship has varied hugely over that time. The papers in this session seek to investigate how archaeology and anthropology relate to one another today, academically and professionally, and to debate whether the disciplines should work to come together in future, or contemplate a permanent separation. Does archaeology offer anything to anthropologists, or anthropology to archaeologists? In what areas might closer collaboration be useful? Or have the two disciplines drifted so far apart that no rapprochement is possible or desirable? This session will aim to address these questions from as broad a perspective as possible, including for example papers considering the historical development and/or future trends of the disciplines, the academic or professional relationship between them, case studies demonstrating how the disciplines might benefit (or indeed not benefit) from closer links, or why they should forge their own, more independent identities etc.
All relevant details about the conference can be found here: We would like to invite anyone interested in presenting a paper in our session to submit their proposal by September 8th to Fiona Coward:; Rosie Read: or to myself:

Programme of conference ‘The Future of Historical Network Research’

August 19, 2013

histnetThe programme of next month’s ‘The Future of Historical Network Research’ conference is out! Find it on the conference website. It is looking very good, with some big names as keynotes and discussants to kick off the event, and a long list of practical case studies over the following two days. The event is closed with some reflections network analysis in the Digital Humanities. I am sure it will be a great event.

Videos Hestia2 seminar online

August 14, 2013

Hestia_logo_whtLast month we organised a seminar on linked data and spatial networks in Southampton and as you know I really enjoyed it. Videos and slides of presentations of the seminar are now available on The Connected Past website. There are hours of footage and books-worth of slides on there for you to enjoy! This was only the first in a series of Hestia2 events. More info on Hestia2, future seminars and online resources can be found on our new website. Looking forward to seeing you at one of our future seminars!

The Southampton Hestia2 seminar aimed to explore the potential of innovative spatial networks and linked data techniques for research and work in the higher education, public and cultural heritage sectors. It attracted an audience with diverse backgrounds and discussions really benefited from this. The seminar is part of Hestia2, a public engagement project aimed at introducing a series of conceptual and practical innovations to the spatial reading and visualisation of texts. Following on from the AHRC-funded initiative ‘Network, Relation, Flow: Imaginations of Space in Herodotus’s Histories’ (Hestia), Hestia2 represents a deliberate shift from experimenting with geospatial analysis of a single text to making Hestia’s outcomes available to new audiences and widely applicable to other texts through a seminar series, online platform, blog and learning materials with the purpose of fostering knowledge exchange between researchers and non-academics, and generating public interest and engagement in this field.

CFP Leipzig eHumanities Seminar

August 9, 2013

Screen shot 2012-05-04 at 10.55.46A reminder of the Leipzig eHumanities Seminar series call for papers, deadline 15 August.

The Leipzig eHumanities Seminar established a forum for the discussion of digital methods applied within the Humanities. Topics include text mining, machine learning, network analysis, time series, sentiment analysis, agent-based modelling, or efficient visualization of massive and humanities relevant data.

The seminars take place every Wednesday afternoon (3:15 PM – 4:45 PM) from October until end of January at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science in Leipzig, Germany. All accepted papers will be published in an online volume. Furthermore, a small budget for travel cost reimbursements is available.

Abstracts of no more than 1000 words should be sent by August, 15th, 2013 to

Notifications and program announcements will be sent by the end of August.

If you have any questions please contact at

Seminar board (in alphabetical order):
• Marco Büchler (Natural Language Processing Group),
• Elisabeth Burr (Digital Romance Linguistics),
• Gregory Crane (Digital Classics, Digital Libraries),
• Klaus-Peter Fähnrich (Super Computing Centre),
• Christian Fandrych (German as a Foreign Language Group),
• Sabine Griese (Medieval German Studies);
• Gerhard Heyer (Natural Language Processing),
• Gerik Scheuermann (Visualisation Group),
• Ulrich Johannes Schneider (Cultural Studies, University Library).

Citation analysis paper published in LLC

August 6, 2013

llc262coverIt took a while, but it’s finally published! My citation network analysis of archaeological literature can now be found in Literary and Linguistic Computing, the Digital Humanities journal. The paper looks at how archaeologists that used formal network techniques cited each other, and it tries to trace where they got their ideas from. To do this I use citation network analysis techniques developed in a field called Bibliometrics. It doesn’t sound particularly sexy, but I think it’s pretty cool stuff. Academic papers have long lists of references they cite, which can be considered a formal expression of where they  got their ideas from, or what they were influenced by. Each one of those papers can be considered a point or node in a network. An arrow is drawn between two papers if one cites the other. This creates a pretty web of citations when done for 10 papers, but it creates a complex messy spaghetti monster when done for more than 30,000 papers, as I illustrate in my paper. So for this reason we use network techniques to tackle such massive datasets and say something interesting about them.

Over the coming weeks I will write blog posts about some of the more interesting findings of this work. But do have a look at the published paper. If you have access to LLC then download it here. If not then you can find a link on my bibliography page or you can download it on Scribd.