Digital Archaeology Grant Wraps Up

29590601212_e82a1606c5_hThe Institute for Digital Archaeology Method and Practice successfully held its second and final meeting at MSU this past August.  Directed by Professors Ethan Watrall and Lynne Goldstein and generously supported by a $250,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the goal of the institute was to bring together scholars, practitioners, and students to learn digital archaeological skills and engage with critical concepts and challenges. The 32 participants were originally chosen from 200 applicants and hailed from a wide range of sectors, including national parks, private cultural resource management firms, academic programs, and museums.

This second meeting followed a year long period during which the participants each built the capstone projects they proposed at the end of the institute’s first meeting (August 2015). Throughout the year, participants blogged about their process and progress ( They also engaged one another, the institute faculty, and the broader archaeological community on the Digital Archaeology Commons (, a newly launched social platform dedicated to supporting work and community building around digital methods and practice in archaeology and closely related fields.

Aside from the workshops and talks by institute faculty, participants spent the majority of their time working with their mentors—and each other—to complete and publicly launch their capstone projects.  Institute participants and faculty also spent time reflecting upon the role that digital methods and projects play in the broader landscape of professional and scholarly practice in archaeology. Capstone projects varied widely, reflecting the diversity of the institute participants themselves:

Ben Carter, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Muhlenberg College, built and launched Digital Data Collection (, a workflow and set of best practices for using a constellation of open source tools and platforms to collect digital data in the field.

Neha Gupta, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Memorial University, built “Map Indian Archaeology” (, a website that maps research and discoveries in Indian archaeology.

Sarah Rowe, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande, built Virtual Valdivia (, an online repository of ceramics pertaining to the Valdivia culture (ca. 4400-1450 BC) of coastal Ecuador.

Jolene Smith, Archaeology Inventory Manager for the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, built Virginia Archaeology for Everyone (, a prototype digital library whose goal is to take often dense, technical archaeological information and present it to the public in an engaging way.

While the grant is complete, the Department will continue to maintain its commitment to research and teaching in the domain of digital archaeology and heritage.  You can learn about these projects and more at

Image: Rachel Croson, Dean of the College of Social Science, welcomes the participants in the Institute of Digital Archaeology Method and Practice during their final meeting this past August.

This article appears in our Fall 2016 newsletter. Read the entire newsletter here.