The Institute on Digital Archaeology Method & Practice

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and organized by Michigan State University’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, the Institute on Digital Archaeology Method & Practice will bring together archaeologists and closely associated scholars interested in developing critical, hands-on skills in digital method and practice.  Taking place on the campus of Michigan State University in 2015 (August 17-22) & 2016 (August 15-20), the institute will provide invited participants with training in key digital methods and challenge them to envision, build, and deploy a digital archaeological project over the course of the institute.

About the Institute

Taking place on the campus of Michigan State University in 2015 (August 17-22) & 2016 (August 15-20), the institute will provide invited participants with hands-on training in key digital archaeological methods.  The institute will also challenge invited attendees to envision, build, and launch a significant digital archaeological project by the end of the institute.


The institute will include lectures, hands-on workshops, discussion groups, and collaborative development sessions covering key digital archaeology tools, topics, and methods – all led by a group of highly respected faculty from both inside and outside of the archaeological community.


Emphasis will be placed on the highly collaborative nature of digital archaeological method & practice.  Attendees will work with each other on small-scale, rapid development projects throughout the institute. Attendees will also have the opportunity to collaborate with each another or external colleagues on their capstone project.


While participants will attend lectures, participate in hands-on workshops, and collaborate on small scale rapid development projects, the organizational focus is on a significant digital archaeology capstone project which attendees will be challenged to envision, design, develop, and launch during the institute.

Digital Archaeology in Nevada

During July I have concentrated on building the objects for the Cave Rock Website – building the timeline with historic photos and the 3D representation of Cave Rock before 1849. As our institute project gets closer to launching, I have realized that my exposure to open source programs and public archaeology has expanded throughout my workplace. One of the first things I did when I got back from MSU last August was to present a synopsis of open source software, and the goals of public archaeology to my peers. A few examples of how we put this to use: We are using Trello to process Nevada’s FHWA Bridge Program Comment. In Trello, we placed NDOT’s entire bridge inventory out for review and comment on exempting certain post-1945 bridges from further Section 106 review. We were able to include the inventory, pictures of bridges types, and a pictorial glossary of the bridge elements. The comment period has now closed and we are compiling the comments for ACHP review. Trello made it much easier to share information and supporting media, and is expected to result in exempting over 1600 mass-produced bridges statewide. Using SketchFab, we shared 3D objects of late Pleistocene grasshoppers from an early food cache with entomologists nationwide for study. The grasshoppers represent a poorly understood subspecies in the Great Basin. The archaeologist working on the analysis, Evan Pellegrini, has made many new research contacts and now has more collaborative opportunities for his project. Several years ago, one of our custom built programs became unsustainable and was abandoned. Using OpenRefine, we are reformatting the data stored in that program...
Header image 2013-03-29-0898.jpg By Djidiouf is licensed under CC BY 2.0