Conference on the Use of New Technologies in Archaeology, Puget Sound, Oct. 25-28, 2012

Taking Archaeology Digital

A Conference on the Use of New Technologies in Archaeology

University of Puget Sound, Oct. 25-28, 2012

Technology is changing our world in ways that previous centuries could not have imagined, and it is a constant struggle for us to keep up with these frequent changes and innovations.  While archaeology is a very old practice, only in the later 20th century was it given serious methodological consideration, and now, in the 21st century, this explosion in the availability of technological tools offers the potential to transform the practice of archaeology.  But the mere existence of a new tool, no matter how fun and exciting it might seem, does not necessarily translate into good use of that tool. This is the theme we hope to address in the upcoming Redford Conference in Archaeology at the University of Puget Sound, October 25-28, 2012.

We invite proposals for papers and presentations that explore the question of how archaeologists can best make use of the vast range of possibilities that technology opens up.  We are particularly interested in presentations from people who may have already had some experiences in trying to fit new technologies into archaeological practice. Often those who study the past have had difficulty adapting their practice to the existence of new tools, and one goal is to help us learn from the experiences of others.

Some issues we hope to address include:

  • How do technological tools allow archaeologists not only to do their work differently, but better?
  • What kinds of new questions do these tools allow us to ask, and why are those questions useful to a broader understanding of the ancient world?
  • How is the processing of archaeological material after an excavation affected from archiving data through to publication?
  • How can we maximize the possibilities offered by the new digital technology?

While all areas relating to the question of how to make technology work best for archaeologists are open, we anticipate focusing our discussions on three areas and especially encourage submissions that relate directly to them:

  • Fieldwork: How do traditional archaeological methods intersect with digital technologies? What problems can technology help us solve in the field?  And just as important, perhaps, how might the limitations of these technologies hinder us or, at the very least, not help us in our fieldwork?
  • Archiving: If technology increases the amount of information we gain from the field, how can this information be stored so that it can be efficiently accessed again in the future?  How can we account for future changes in technology that might make current storage techniques obsolete?  How can we avoid the loss of data when that happens, and mitigate any problems that the technological change-over might present?
  • Publication:  What possibilities for publication are opened up by digital technology?  How can we make these new electronic publications more valuable, and increase the quality and not just the quantity of the published material?  Is peer review still important, and how will it be connected to the new publication possibilities?

The conference will include both demonstrations of technological innovations as well as critical discussion of the value of such innovations.  Confirmed speakers include:

  • Nick Eiteljorg II, Center for the Study of Architecture
  • Sebastian Heath, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
  • Norbert Zimmerman, Vienna Academy of Sciences

Proposals for papers should be sent to Eric Orlin at  The deadline for receipt of proposals is April 1, 2012. Some subsidies may be available to help offset travel costs for speakers.

For ongoing updates of Conference news, please check out the Redford Conference in Archaeology link at

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