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DCH 502: Frontiers in Theory and Methods in Cultural Heritage Sciences








Language of Instruction



Course Description and Aims

The course will introduce theory and methods in cultural heritage through the discussion of cutting edge and visionary technologies, scientific applications, methodologies and ideas of research at the meeting point between technology, sciences and CH. Participants will be encouraged to bring in ideas from different fields, the class being envisioned as a think-tank for discussing and designing the research agenda for the future of CH research. Discussions and topics will cover a wide as possible spectrum of disciplines, in order to identify emerging technologies and scientific applications to be implemented in the CH field. .

This semester long course will be organized in 3-hour weekly meetings which will be devoted to lectures offered by the course tutor and guest lecturers as well as discussion based seminar meetings with the contribution of experts in the field. The projected timetable of lecture and seminar meeting topics is as follows:

Lecture Topics (each topic’s content will be covered between one and two meetings)

1.    Introduction to the course’s theme, objectives and projects
2.    Introduction to theory and methods in the Humanities and Cultural Heritage. A critical survey of existing technologies for digital documentation of CH.
3.    Survey of scientific methods in CH and Archaeology

Digital paradigms for research on CH
1.    Defining a digital research workflow
2.    Collaborative environments and digital research spaces
3.    Digital research and public engagement
4.    Relationships between physical object and its digital surrogate
5.    Accessibility to large-scale digital data
6.    Digital narratives

Theory of computing, logics and modelling
1.    Theory and current critical debates in Digital Cultural Heritage
2.    Development of computers
3.    From Aristotle to Boole
4.    Archaeology and computing – historical perspective
5.    Empirical and Agent-based modelling
6.    3D parametric modelling

Scientific applications for research in CH
1.    Datinf and provenance methods and applications
2.    Analytical sciences
3.    Conservation sciences
4.    Remote sensing and geophysical research
5.    Bioarchaeology


Discussion-based Seminar Topics (meetings will be scheduled during the semester with the participation of guest lecturers and experts)
1.    New trends in CH research, theory and computing sciences – merging possibilities.
2.    Towards the development of a paradigm for digital cultural heritage.


Grade Distribution

60% - final essay; 30% - seminar presentation; 10% - participation in class


Selected bibliography

  • Brothwell D. R. and Pollard, A. M. Handbook of Archaeological Sciences, Wiley, 2008
  • Burenhuit,G. Archaeological Informatics: Pushing the Envelope. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. Oxford: Archaeopress 2002.
  • Eerkens, J. Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology, Springer
  • Epstein, J.M. Generative Social Science: Studies in Agent-Based Computational Modeling, Princeton University Press, 2007.
  • Evans, T. L. and Daly, P. T. eds. Digital archaeology: bridging method and theory. Psychology Press, 2006.
  • Goffer, Z. Archaeological Chemistry, 2nd edition, Wiley 2008.
  • Goldberg, P. and Macphail, R. Practical and Theoretical Geoarchaeology. Oxford:Blackwell, 2006.
  • Ifrah, G. and Harding, E. F. The Universal History of Computing: From the Abacus to the Quantum Computer, John Wiley, 2001.
  • Johnson, M. Archaeological Theory: An Introduction, 2nd edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.
  • Kallinikos, J., Aaltonen, A. and Marton, A. "A theory of digital objects." First Monday 15, no. 6 (2010).
  • Killick, D. and Young, S. (1997). Archaeology and Archaeometry: From Casual Dating to a Meaningful Relationship?, Antiquity 71, 1997, 518-24
  • Kirschenbaum, M. G., Ovenden, R., Redwine, G. and Donahue, R. Digital forensics and born-digital content in cultural heritage collections. Council on Library and Information Resources, 2010.
  • Klir, G. J. and Yuan, B. Fuzzy sets and fuzzy logic: theory and applications, Prentice Hall PTR, 1995.
  • Lambert, J. B. Traces of the Past: Unraveling the Secrets of Archaeology Through Chemistry, Addison-Wesley 1997
  • Larsen, C. S., Bioarchaeology: Interpreting Behavior from the Human Skeleton (Cambridge Studies in Biological and Evolutionary Anthropology), Cambridge University Press, 2015
  • Lazinger, S. Digital Preservation and Metadata: History, Theory, Practice. Libraries Unlimited, A Division of Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.
  • Logan, W. and smith, L. Key Issues in Cultural Heritage. London: Routledge, 2012.
  • Lucas, G. Critical approaches to fieldwork: contemporary and historical archaeological practice. Routledge, London, 2001.
  • Martin, D. L., Harrod R. P. and Perze V. R., Bioarchaeology: An Integrated Approach to Working with Human Remains (Manuals in Archaeological Method, Theory and Technique), Springer 2014
  • Minsky, M. The Emotion Machine: Commonsense Thinking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Future of the Human Mind, Simon & Schuster, 2007.
  • MacDonald, L. ed. Digital heritage. Routledge, 2006.
  • Parry, R. Recoding the museum: digital heritage and the technologies of change. Routledge, 2007.
  • Rapp, G. Jr. and Hill, C. L. Geoarchaeology: The Earth-Science Approach to Archaeological Interpretation, 2nd edition, Yale University Press, 2006.
  • Renfrew, C. and Bahn, P. Archaeology: theories, methods and practice. London: Thames and Hudson, 2008.
  • Rogerio-Candelera, M. Lazzari, M. and Cano, E. Science and Technology for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage. London: Taylor and Francis Group, 2013.
  • Schiffer, M. Formation Processes of the Archaeological Record. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987.
  • Shugar, A. N. and Mass, J. L. Handheld XRF for Art and Archaeology (Studies in Archaeological Sciences), Leuven University Press, 2014.
  • Stanco, F., Battiato, S. and Gallo, G. Digital Imaging for Cultural Heritage Preservation: Analysis, Restoration, and Reconstruction of Ancient Artworks, Vol. 3. CRC Press, 2011.
  • Swedin, E. G. and Ferro, D. L. Computers: the life story of a technology, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2005.
  • Watry, P. "Digital preservation theory and application: Transcontinental persistent archives test-bed activity." International Journal of Digital Curation 2, no. 2 (2008): 41-68.
  • Webb, C. Guidelines for the preservation of digital heritage. Information Society Division, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2003.