Research Data Exhibition & Symposium: DATA-X

I recently posted on the ‘Edinburgh Research Data Blog‘ about DATA-X, a multidisciplinary project I was involved in as PhD student intern. DATA-X brought PhD researchers from the arts and sciences together, to develop interdisciplinary ‘installations’ that explored data use. Limited only by their imagination, researchers brought their data to life to share and communicate research outputs with their peers, and more importantly the public.

Please read more about the project here, and the full Research Data Blog post here.

DATA-X has been a University of Edinburgh IS Innovation Fund project, also supported by the Data Lab and ASCUS. The project provided a dynamic platform for University of Edinburgh student researchers across all schools to come together and develop collaborate …

Source: DATA-X Pioneering Research Data Exhibition & Symposium



Archaeo + Malacology Newsletter


The Archaeomalacology working group (AMWG) is an ICAZ (International Council for Archaeozoology) affiliated group that focuses on the exchange of research and data related to molluscs from archaeological contexts.

During the 2016 AMWG meeting in Kirkwall (Orkney, UK) I had the exciting opportunity to not only present my research on using oxygen isotopes on the top shell Oxystele sinensis to investigate seasonal shellfish use during the South African Later Stone Age, but also to express my interest in taking over the editorship of the group newsletter – Archaeo + Malacology Group Newsletter. The newsletter was established in 2001 as a means for group members to share research interests and contact details. After 17 years of careful stewardship of the newsletter by Janet Ridout-Sharpe and Annalisa Christie, I took on the role in September 2016.

As the incoming editor, it was my aim to increase publication to two issues a year. With the help of the AMWG community, I continue to grow and develop the newsletter as a means to circulate archaeomalacology matters amongst our pears, and I welcome contributions from academic and non-academic members!

Current and previous issues of the newsletter are available at

3-Minute PhD – Explorathon’15

Seasonal Secrets within Seashells

digExplorathon is Scotland’s “European Researchers’ Night” – a Europe-wide initiative to bring research to the public. The scheme is funding by the EU under the Horizon 2020 scheme and aims to celebrate research and share it with members of the public. All subject areas and career stages are encouraged to participate.

In 2015, Explorathon’15 took place across Scotland. In Edinburgh, this included over 58 different activities and events geared toward community engagement and attempts to answer the age old question of  ‘what do researchers really do and why does it matter to me?’ During these events, the public is invited to get involved and participate with research and scientific outputs, and learn from scientists, educators and researchers.

One of these events included a 3-Minute PhD hosted by Dig IT! 2015 at the National Museums of Scotland. I was invited by Dig IT! project manager Dr. Jeff Sanders to participate in the event in which PhD researchers pitch their research to the public in no more than 3 minutes. The topic of my talk was entitled ‘Seasonal Secrets within Seashells’. With it I shared the marvels of how seashells are formed, how we look at their growth lines and the secrets that the chemical profile of shells can reveal about sea surface temperatures, and how that is applied to identify in what season the shellfish were collected.

This was a great opportunity to not only network with other researchers and organizations taking part (i.e. events on data sculpture, visualization, micro-electronics, imaging, volcanoes photogrammetry, storytelling and artcasting) but also to share my love for archaeology with the public. I thank Dig IT! for the opportunity and I look forward to getting involved in more outreach projects in the future!

Image credit: Dig IT! Tv – event coverage 

Developing Integrated Archaeology

* 2016 Update:

Our conference paper ‘Third ‘Annual Student Archaeology’ Conference: Edinburgh, June 2015‘ is now available in International Journal of Student Research in Archaeology 1 (1): 235-237.

The 3rd Annual Student Archaeology Conference: Developing Integrated Archaeology (ASA 2015 Edinburgh)


The Annual Student Archaeology Conference (ASA) series, established in 2013, aims to provide students with a friendly and supportive platform to share their research and activities with one another and the wider archaeological community. The ASA conference takes place each summer and is organized by a committee of students from the hosting institution.

This year I had the fantastic opportunity to be part of the organizing committee of the 3rd ASA conference that was held at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh in June 2015. After our bid to host the conference was selected as the winning proposal by the ASA national committee, myself, and 3 other PhD students – Ülle Aguraiuja, Rachel Faulkner-Jones and Marta Lorenzon – eagerly started our funding applications and planning our conference theme and sessions. The main theme of ASA 2015 was ‘Developing Integrated Archaeology’. Our aim was to focus on developing an integrated approach between soft and hard science in archaeology and how a multidisciplinary methodology can contribute to the understanding of human culture and its evolution. We decided on 4 sessions, each focusing on a different aspect of archaeological theory and method. More importantly, we dedicated one of these sessions on the role of archaeology within the wider community and its role in public engagement. These sessions are outlined below.

For key note-lecture it was our great pleasure to welcome Professor Colin Renfrew (Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn) to Edinburgh and we thoroughly enjoyed his talk on ‘Difficult integration: Archaeology, Language, Genetics: the Indo-European Problem Revisited. To close the conference we decided on a round table discussion on ‘Transitioning between Academic and Commercial Archaeology’. This session aimed to highlight student concerns regarding transferable and employable skills in academic and non-academic careers, and the usefulness of academic-focused degrees in commercial archaeology. Students had the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of heritage professionals such as Andy Heald (Managing Director, AOC Archaeology), Alison Sheridan (Principle Curator, National Museums Scotland), Gaille MacKinnon (Lecturer in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Dundee), David Connolly (British Archaeological Jobs and Resources) and Simon Gilmour (Director, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland).

As a gesture of appreciation to the conference participants we also had a prize giving ceremony for best- poster, presenter in each session, and honorable mentions for the most thought provoking talks. On the third and final day of the conference, participants could choose from 4 optional conference trips to the Museum of Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland, Rosslyn Chapel and a Holyrood Park walking tour.

More information and updates on the conference can be found on our conference website, twitter, facebook and goole+ pages.

Session 1. Scientific Archaeological Methods
The application of science-based methods to archaeology is long established, and its use and impact are continuously expanding. The vast array of scientific techniques available to archaeologists today has made the study of biological and material remains of past people and cultures more comprehensive than ever. Interdisciplinary approaches have become an integral part of any archaeological research project and have created whole new sub-disciplines such as environmental archaeology, paleodietary studies, and forensic archaeology, to name but a few. This session is intended to cover a broad range of topics, including (but not limited to) dating techniques, remote sensing and archaeological survey methods, geoarchaeology, archaeological chemistry (aDNA, stable isotopes, residue analysis), paleobotany, zooarchaeology and osteological methods. Participants could discuss methodological aspects or focus on case studies that employ science-based approaches to investigate archaeological research questions.
Session 2. Archaeology beyond Academia
Archaeological research produces a huge amount of information that is often significant to the communities in which it is practiced. From uncovering untold histories to providing educational opportunities through public outreach and economic development via tourism, the value of archaeology extends far beyond academia. This session will explore the role of archaeology within the wider community, the strategies employed in teaching and promoting public engagement, and developing commercial and public archaeology initiatives. We encourage submissions focused on the use and methods employed in areas such as archaeotourism, community archaeology and public archaeology, and the consequent dissemination of archaeological knowledge to the wider community and general public, in addition to collaborative networks created between professional, academic and community led archaeologist. Reports and outcomes of recent and/or current archaeological projects with community interaction are welcomed.
Session 3. Applied Archaeological Theory
Theory and practice in archaeology can sometimes feel like two distinct disciplines, despite the significant benefits conferred on projects adopting a multi-disciplinary research focus. Applied theory encourages non-traditional interpretations and broadens the spectrum of archaeological research. This session will explore the relationship between theoretical paradigms and physical archaeology, the impact of theory on the practice and analysis of artefact recovery, and novel theory-based interpretations. We encourage submissions focussed on re-assessing existing assemblages, the application of theory in projects involving excavation and post-excavation analysis, and novel interpretations or models where theory has been a significant influence. Reports or updates on recent archaeological projects or studies investigating the interplay between theory and practice are welcomed.
Session 4. Historical Archaeology
Historical Archaeology investigates the past through combined studies of both material culture and documentary sources. Archaeological sources are analysed and interpreted in connection to the historical dataset such as maps, texts and oral history. Due to its multidisciplinary focus, historical archaeology is one of the most rapidly expanding archaeological disciplines and is composed of many sub-disciplines such as industrial archaeology and underwater archaeology. This session aims to present different case studies regarding historic cultures, which should be investigated through material culture, as well as through documented and oral history. The overall goal of the session is to present different approaches in investigating historical contexts. More specifically, the session aims at showing and discussing complementary case studies on themes such as migration, contact and conflict.
Round Table Discussion: Transitioning between Academic and Commercial Archaeology 
As a student conference, the 3rd ASA organising committee have recognised the importance of helping participating students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, to open a dialogue into future careers in archaeology. This will be undertaken at the University of Edinburgh with an informal round table discussion involving specialists from different branches of career archaeology; commercial, museums, academia, and forensics. The workshop will be mediated by Tom Gardner, commercial archaeologist and post-graduate student at the UoE. The discussion will have a free form, involving a loosely structured set of themes, from student work, unpaid internships, and commercial health & safety practice, to forensics employability, CV formatting, and the IfA and CBA’s role in archaeology careers. The conference committee wants this session to be informative and malleable, where topics of discussion and questions are desired, and new avenues for discussion relevant to the participating audience are encouraged. The aim of the session is to prepare conference participants, especially students, for what a career in archaeology entails, and how to achieve it.

Presenting 101

Innovative Learning Week

This year the 3rd Annual Student Archaeology Conference will be hosted at the University of Edinburgh at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology. As part of the conference organising committee, we decided to hold a workshop for undergrad and postgrad students on presenting during the University of Edinburgh’s innovative learning week. The workshop aimed to provide students with the basics on how to structure, design and present papers and posters in a conference setting:

Presenting 101 – The full-day workshop consisted of 3 sessions:

1. A presentation on the skills required for conference papers and posters; fundamentals on how to structure presentations, highlighting common pitfalls, suggesting methodological approaches

2. A guided practical workshop on creating an individual presentation; students were encouraged to bring their own projects or work in progress and included the creation of a presentation using desktop computers

3. Presenting a personal project and receiving peer feedback; students focused on oral presentation and was provided with anonymous written feedback from participating students and the organizing committee

The event was designed to be an encouraging and non –judgemental platform for students to develop and practice their communication and presentation skills. Q&A discussions were encouraged throughout the program. We received very positive feedback on the event from participating students, and I would like to congratulate my fellow organisers (Ülle Aguraiuja, Rachel Faulkner-Jones and Marta Lorenzon) on a great workshop and sharing our combined presenting experiences with fellow students.

Construction techniques & transfer of technological skills

Call For Papers

In 2015 the 21st annual meeting of the EAA (European Association of Archaeologist) will be held in Glasgow, Scotland. As co-chair of session SA7 I proudly present our session abstract.

Co-Authors: Marta Lorenzon, Jonathan Devogelaere, Rossana Valente, Chamsia Sadozai & Michael Toffolo

Session Title: Construction techniques and transfer of technological skills between neighboring regions: The Macroscopic and Microscopic archaeological records 



Border areas have a documented history of cultural interaction between different groups. Historical and archaeological sources suggest that in those areas technologies were exchanged and skills transferred. Such mobility of technology and acquisition of new know-how have a large impact on the socio-economic structure of a human group. Building forms and materials are the result of the assimilation of new technical and engineering skills, and provide evidence of their persistency in the building technology, together with the adoption of new models. This becomes especially apparent when looking at the spread of plaster/mortar technology, the exploitation of specific raw materials or changes in building shape and function. Therefore, the study of architectural remains in border areas is a crucial step in understanding the structure of past societies, and the way they related to different environmental settings and neighboring groups. Previous research has been focused mainly on the macroscopic analysis of buildings (e.g. architectural forms). However, the last two decades featured an increasing attention towards the microscopic archaeological record, i.e. the chemical compounds that make up building materials and occupational deposits, which requires the aid of microscopes and spectrometers in order to be characterized (e.g. infrared/X-ray spectroscopy, soil micromorphology, phytoliths, etc.).

The integration of the macroscopic and microscopic records provides a complete picture of the cultural contexts in which new building technologies were developed. This session aims at presenting integrative research approaches to building techniques in border areas during pre-modern times, which should address the following issues: provenance of raw materials as revealed by spectroscopic methods; extent of building shape diffusion and its cultural significance; role of the microscopic record in the interpretation of architectures; evolution and spread of plaster/mortar technology; identification of activity areas within architectural remains; preservation of the archaeological record and effects of post-depositional processes on buildings.

Deadline for submission: 16 February 2015

Conference website

Image credit: EAA 2015, (2014), 21st Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologist, Glasgow 2015 [ONLINE]. Available at: [Accessed 21 December 15]

Interdisciplinary methods of data recording, management & preservation

∗ 2016 Update:

Our conference paper ‘Interdisciplinary Methods of Data Recording, Management and Preservation‘ is now available in: Campana, S., Scopigno, R., Carpentiero, G and Cirillo, M. Proceeding of the 43rd Annual Conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. Siena, Italy. 30 October – 2 November 2015. Oxford, Archaeopress Publishing: 187-190.

Call For Papers

caa-2015-headerThe 43rd Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Conference (CAA) “KEEP THE REVOLUTION GOING” will be held in Siena, Italy, during March/April 2015. The conference explores a range of topics showcasing innovative technologies and its application in archaeological and computer science disciplines.

I will be co-chairing a session “Interdisciplinary methods of data recording, management and preservation”, and we are looking forward to papers presenting new technologies used in field and laboratory data collection, selection, modelling and its long term preservation.

2A Interdisciplinary methods of data recording, manage-ment and preservation

Authors: Cindy Nelson-Viljoen and Marta Lorenzon

In the last two decades the introduction of computer application and quantitative methods in archaeological data recording has effected our approach to archaeological data and opened new possibilities for interpretations. The different set of archaeological data that must be combined and the quantity of information that must be selected can often be misleading for archaeologists, if not interpreted correctly, and lead to the wrong theoretical conclusion. The aim of this session is to focus on new technologies used in field and laboratory data collection, integration and interpretation. This session will focus on three main aspects:
  • The large quantity of data created by new technologies, the data selection process through quantitative methods and data modelling (e.g. laser scanning, XRF/XRD data set, GIS).
  • Viability and applicability of data management and its long-term preservation (e.g. storage security, durability and longevity).
  • Recording, communication and publication of data  (e.g. 3D printing).

Possible problems that should be considered includes data loss, long-term preservation and integration of different data set (e.g. laser scanning and aero-photography). This session further aims at attracting contributions showing the best practices in the use of interdisciplinary methodologies in field and laboratory data recording, management and storage. An interdisciplinary approach is often required creating a link between archaeologists and computer scientists. This cooperation opens new research opportunities as well as new models of elaborating archaeological data. The emphasis of the papers presented in the session should be on the integration between data recording, modelling, management and preservation.

Keywords: Data- recording, data- management, data-storage, data integration and modelling

Deadline for submission 20 November 2014.

Conference website:

Image credit: CAA 2015, (2014), Keep the revoloution going [ONLINE]. Available at:

See you in Siena!