Old books

Digital Excavations: Text mining approaches for a better archaeology

Archaeology has a persistent problem with continued nationalist discourse appearing in our
narratives about the past, and it is vital to understand how this discourse developed and
evolved over decades. We use techniques from the digital humanities and data science to analyse this discourse, which serves two purposes. Firstly, we see this as an initial step in developing a long-term collaboration between experts in the digital humanities and archaeology, a discipline which is currently lacking a recent in-depth historiographical analysis. We are developing approaches to provide one, drawing on expertise at Linnaeus University and through a collaboration with the editor of Antiquity, one of the most important (and long-standing) peer reviewed archaeology journals. Secondly, the digital humanities are currently under-utilized within archaeology, and we hope to demonstrate their
applicability in order to inspire future similar collaborations.

Digital Excavations: Text mining approaches for a better archaeology 
Emily Hanscam - Linnaeus University, Department of Cultural Sciences
Ahmed Taiye Mohammed - Linnaeus University, Department of Cultural Sciences
Alisa Lincke - Linnaeus University, Deptartment of Computer Science & Media Technology
Robert Witcher - Durham University, UK, Department of Archaeology, Antiquity Editor
Project period
September- December 2022
Research areas in this seed-project
Digital Humanities, Archaeology, Historiography

More about the project

Recent research within archaeology has identified the need to use techniques like text mining to improve our knowledge of the history of archaeology as a discipline and uncover the ways nationalist discourse developed and remains influential (Plets et al 2021, Journal of Field Archaeology). The team brings together unique knowledge and expertise from distinct but complementary disciplines at Linnaeus University to undertake this work. Thus, we combine experts in the digital humanities and data science (Dr Ahmed Taiye Mohammed & Dr Alisa Lincke), the history and politics of archaeology (Dr Emily Hanscam), and working additionally with Dr Robert Witcher (Durham University), the Editor of Antiquity.

Our collaboration targets a significant body of published works of Antiquity, a journal of world archaeology that has been publishing continuously since 1927, with circa. 7000 articles in its records. The corpus of Antiquity comprises a substantial record of the development of archaeological discourse and is ideal for a historiographical study.

This new contribution to the history of archaeology, not only reveals the results of our analysis (we aim to analyse at least 2100 papers from the entire collection of 7000 articles) of the development and continued prevalence of banal nationalism within archaeological publications but also demonstrates the value of such cross-disciplinary collaborations and highlights the unique expertise at Linnaeus University that has led to this project. This will result in a data-driven discourse analysis of how archaeological thought has evolved, specifically regarding concepts of ethnic and cultural identity of peoples in the past.

Seed projects within Digital Transformations

Learn more about the seed project concept and Digital transformations' other seed projects.