#archaeology: media, theory, and the archaeologist in the digital age

Organisers: Dr Amy Russell (Durham University), Dr Clare Rowan (Warwick University)

This workshop explores how new forms of media and new directions in media theory interact with archaeology, in theory and in practice. Our scope encompasses all forms of digital media (from new modes of dissemination to social media to gamification). Media theory has responded to new technologies by investigating, for example, how knowledge is created and transmitted in a post-mass-media world, or how images and ideas move between media.

Media theorists refer to their work as a kind of archaeology: a reference to Foucault’s use of the term, and an acknowledgement of media’s inescapable materiality. Archaeologists work consistently on the boundary between materiality and meaning. But what is the relationship between the objects, ideas, and people in a mediascape, in the Roman world or today? Do developments in social media and technology offer new frameworks for understanding Roman antiquity? How is experience and cultural memory premediated and remediated (Erll)? Can we still say that the medium is the message (McLuhan)? Can we use the idea of mediation to better understand how objects and human actors interacted within past societies, either using actor network theory or Appadurai’s recent work on human and non-human mediants? How can a media-based approach change how we study images, objects, materials, and how we present them?

The workshop will have two parts: in the first, scholars who use digital media theory in their work will discuss the latest advances in media studies, present examples of how the work of these theorists can be applied to archaeological material, and lead discussion on how they might be used most productively. After the coffee break, we will move on to cover social and digital media in action. Archaeologists using social and digital media in theoretically-informed ways, including in research, outreach, and dissemination, will give short lightening presentations demonstrating their techniques. Participants are asked to bring their laptops, tablets, or other devices to ‘play along’!

If you are interested in contributing to the workshop, please submit an abstract for either a) a twenty to thirty-minute slot during which you will briefly introduce an aspect of media theory and its application to Roman archaeology and lead the resulting discussion; or b) a ten-minute lightening presentation on how digital or social media plays an active role in your research or dissemination, ideally involving a live demonstration. Preference will be given to abstracts which demonstrate a reflective approach to the theoretical as well as practical implications of digital media.


Appadurai, A. (2015). Mediants, materiality, normativity. Public Culture 27.2: 221-237.

Erll, A. (2007). Prämediation – Remediation. Repräsentation des indischen Aufstands in imperialen und post-kolonialen Medienkulturen (von 1857 bis zur Gegenwart). Trier.

McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York.


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