Summer of Digital Heritage # 1: Digital Heritage Summer School

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This summer the Centre for Digital Heritage have been busy organising a wide range of activities and events including fieldwork, a conference, a summer school and visits to our colleagues in partner institutions. In this series of blog posts CDH members will reflect on what has been a very busy summer. We begin with this post about our Summer School by Hannah Simons which was originally published as part of the annual Day of Archaeology

Today in the lovely historic city of York a group of professionals and students from a wide range of disciplines have gathered for the second day of a Digital Heritage Summer School, organised by Gareth Beale from the Centre for Digital Heritage at the University of York. I am a PhD Student in the Department of Archaeology at York and decided to attend the conference to find out what digital heritage was, what methods it uses and what impact it can have outside the academic world.

A pile of coloured paper

Time to get creative with digital heritage project design. Felt tip pens and glue sticks at the ready.

This morning we were inspired by listening to case studies of successful Digital Heritage projects run by Kate Giles (Archaeology; University of York) and Damian Murphy (Electronics; University of York) whose audio projects really got people talking over the lunch break. After lunch and fuelled by a steady supply of tea and biscuits 3 groups of intrepid students set about designing their own prospective digital heritage projects.

Group Photo

Brainstorming ideas

The groups encompassed students studying; literature, film, archives, archaeobotany, history, heritage and archaeology. Through the workshop we hope to build ideas for digital heritage projects that link across disciplines and create outputs that have a broad reach.

These are the 3 final project ideas;

1) This project would take records, such as plans and 3D scans, of historic buildings, ruins and archaeological sites translate them into a format that would make it easy for users of Minecraft to use the measurements to reconstruct these structures in the game. Minecraft users could follow plans or add their own interpretation of how the structures would have looked, other gamers could then virtually visit these structures and experience these sites.

A flowchart on a noticeboard

A visual representation of the path from archaeological data to Minecraft and ultimately to happiness!!

2) A digital interface on which to explore the transition from the use of handwriting to print; exploring manuscripts, charters and historic printing presses. An interactive website would be built with games where you can digitally trace over calligraphy or ‘print’ with movable blocks.

A sketched diagram on a large piece of white paper

Exploring the common ground between librarians, historians and archaeologists.

3) This project explores the perceived heritage and cultural identity of British people who now live overseas. The project would create a platform for crowd sourcing images, videos, and audio from people who want to share their notions of identity and their experiences of Nationality as a someone living overseas.

 Migration heritage poster


Migration heritage

The day was very inspiring and got me thinking about the different ways in which we record, store and encourage access to the data we collect as archaeologists. Digital methods can really open up that data and enable a wider audience to reach it which in turn could generate further interest in archaeology- something to aim for!

Drawings made by participants

Digital heritage projects = Archaeology yay!

Thanks to the organisers and it was great to meet everyone who attended.

Hannah Simons

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