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.

Winning (aka, Eric Kansa is my god)

My last post had a fairly depressing tone, as I struggled to figure out how to take my spreadsheet data and create a framework to allow people to access it. I’d had my eye on the data organization structure of Open Context since I first heard about it at the 2015 SAAs but for some reason had never just talked to Eric about hosting the data there. I guess for some reason I thought I had to do it all myself? I finally “hit bottom” after that last blog post, in terms of feeling like a reasonably capable human being, and I reached out to Eric to discuss what I was trying to do. Turns out he can totally host my data on Open Context and then I can use their API with my website so that people can pull records. So, here’s one really good lesson I’ve learned in this process: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Has someone already developed a system that will let you do what you need to do? Then partner with them. I did a few data conversion things (transforming number codes to text descriptors, thanks OpenRefine) and sent Eric the database. He got it up pretty quickly, and then I learned my second lesson: No matter how clean you think your data is, there are always things to tweak. We’ve gone back and forth a bit and things are getting there, but I think I still need to add one or two hierarchies so that the data sorts out in a logical way. The next, and most important, step, was preparing a document for all...
Header image 2013-03-29-0898.jpg By Djidiouf is licensed under CC BY 2.0