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The University of Southampton
TAG 2016 Southampton

S6. Don't Shoot the Messenger: Interpreting Archaeological Data to Inform Practitioners and Policy Makers

**** We are sorry, this session has had to be CANCELLED ****

Session organizers:


Carol Lang, Rob Marchant and Daryl Stump (University of York,

Session abstract:

Despite the economic, cultural and political importance of urban and rural landscape change to the world’s growing population, and the explosion in the amount of ‘Big Data’ that has been generated by the social sciences over the 20 years (Bail, 2014), there has been an underutilisation in the communication of this data to modern day policy makers (Riede et al, 2016). The formats collated by individual academic institutions, publically funded investigations and governmental groups do not always lend themselves to data visualisation and effective communication of this information through the descriptive statistics understood by development organisations, e.g. the formulation of graphs, plots and infographics.

The transmission of archaeological insights - through up-to-date digital visualisations and models, and contemporary and accessible writing – offers potential ‘translation’ tools for communicating concepts and processes from the past to modern day policy makers. Data visualisation can be considered not only as a cross-disciplinary method of sharing information but also an extremely important theoretical development tool. Arguably having the data visualised and accessible is only the first (but vital) step to it being used, how do we then mobilise this data?

Papers presented during this session will focus on, but are not limited to, the collation of archaeological data and its dissemination to policy makers, NGOs and local communities who are at the forefront of landscape development strategies. This session will ultimately foster discussion on the scope, presentation and impact that archaeological ‘Big’ data can potentially have in the wider world both today and in the future.


Bail, C.A. 2014. The cultural environment: Measuring culture with big data. Theory and Society, 43: 465-482.

Reide, F., Andersen, P. and Price, N., 2016. Does environmental archaeology need and ethical promise? World Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2016.1192483


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