Digital diasporas: remaking cultural heritage in cyberspace

Valentina Asciutti & Stuart Dunn (King's College London)

Institute of Classical Studies Digital Seminar 2011

Friday August 12th at 16:30, in Room 37, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Cultural heritage is rarely static. Throughout history, artefacts have been removed from their findspots by a series of processes, most often as a result of human intervention; leaving a picture of the material past which is fragmented in a geographical sense, but also in a conceptual one. Advances in geospatial and visualization technologies give us the opportunity to both visualize and conceptualize the histories of such dispersed heritage, recording both the point where an artefact was originally found, its current location, and the physical and interpretive stages (if any) that went between.

Using examples including verse inscriptions in Roman Inscriptions of Britain, and geographic data gathered on Hadrian’s Wall, we will show a database of different types of cultural heritage objects with multiple location fields. Using a combination of quantitative GIS and KML-based views of the data, we will illustrate how the history of artefacts can be traced through both time and location. In doing so, we draw on an incomplete and, at times, imperfect record of the objects’ histories; but we can nonetheless document and delineate that uncertainty in a systematic way; for example (at its most simple) by drawing graded polygons around a presumed findspot, or using algorithms to buffer levels of certainty around point data. Such means of dealing with uncertainty will be explored and extrapolated.


The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

Audio recording of seminar (MP3)

Presentation (PDF)