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Digitising monument records and archaeological archives – the Central Asian Archaeological Landscapes (CAAL) project

Lucy Stagg29 April 2019

UCLDH members Tim Williams and Gai Jorayev were among staff from the Institute of Archaeology who have received a £2.89m grant from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin – for the Central Asian Archaeological Landscapes (CAAL) project.

This involves working with partners across the region – the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Republic of Uzbekistan, and the People’s Republic of China (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) – to digitise monument records and archaeological archives, to create an online digital inventory, adopting the open-source ARCHES inventory package developed by the Getty Conservation Institute and the World Monuments Fund.

This will be enhanced by new research using a combination of high resolution photographic and satellite imagery, along with ‘on the ground’ field visits, in order to discover new sites, improve documentation, promote awareness and scholarship, and facilitate policy-making to better enable site and landscape preservation. See https://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/research/CAAL/for more details.

Corpus analysis reveals ‘Routine politeness in American and British English requests’

Lucy Stagg23 April 2019

UCLDH team member, Dr. Rachele De Felice, has had an article published in the Journal of Politeness Research.

Co-authored with M. Lynne Murphy, the article is entitled Routine politeness in American and British English requests: use and non-use of please (Journal of Politeness Research 15(1), 77-100). The article extract explains further:

This paper looks at the use and non-use of please in American and British English requests. The analysis is based on request data from two comparable workplace email corpora, which have been pragmatically annotated to enable retrieval of all request speech acts regardless of formulation. 675 requests are extracted from each of the two corpora; the behaviour of please is analyzed with regard to factors such as imposition level, sentence mood, and modal verb type.

Rachele’s research is in the field of corpus pragmatics. It focuses on speech act annotation and the creation of pragmatic profiles of Business English by applying corpus analysis and natural language processing (NLP) techniques to large collections of real-world data.

Reflections on ‘Big Data in Archaeology’

Lucy Stagg15 April 2019

UCLDH team member Andreas Vlachidis gave a talk at the Big Data in Archaeology: Practicalities and Possibilities conference (27-28th March 2019), organised by the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.

Andreas’ talk was entitled “Reflections on excavating archaeological grey literature: and on the challenges in information extraction”

The conference website explains the aim of the conference:

This conference will bring together leaders in the fields of archaeological data science to critically evaluate the concepts and methods associated with “big data” and data-intensive research approaches. The goal of this conference is to provide a forum for discussion about the growing complexity of archaeological data as well as to provide participants with the scaffolding to explore their own application of data science methods.

For more see https://erikgjesfjeld.wixsite.com/big-data-archaeology

Ethics and Digital History IHR presentation

Lucy Stagg26 February 2019

UCLDH deputy director Julianne Nyhan gave a presentation at the Institute of Historical Research Digital History Seminar on Ethics and Digital History.

Dr Nyhan drew on her oral history research to reflect on the ethical aspects of using oral history methodologies to research the ‘hidden’ histories of Digital Humanities. Among other questions she asked: who ‘owns’ oral history interviews and transcripts? What are the implications of being an ‘insider’ of the (academic) community one is seeking to research? What about the ethical issues that can occur ‘downstream’ of oral history research, for example, the use of contingent labour to provide research assistance and interview transcription?

Also on the panel were: Sharon Webb (University of Sussex); Kelly Foster (public historian); Kathryn Eccles (Oxford Internet Institute)

You can watch a recording of the panel on Youtube

Recent publications on imaging techniques from UCLDH team member Dr Kathryn Piquette

Lucy Stagg4 February 2019

UCLDH team member Dr Kathryn Piquette has had several works published recently, including:

Dr. Kathryn Piquette undertaking Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)

Dr. Kathryn Piquette undertaking Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)

UCLDH Lunch-hour lectures: Star Wars and Hillary Clinton

Lucy Stagg28 September 2018

UCLDH is delighted to have two team members giving UCL Lunch-Hour Lectures this term.

Team member Dr. Rachele De Felice will be discussing ‘What’s Really Going On in Hillary Clinton’s Emails?’ on 16 October 2018. Dr De Felice will explore questions of manners, who gets stuck with the boring tasks, and what kind of boss Clinton is.

Dr Oliver Duke-Williams will speak on 27th November on ‘What Can the ONS Longitudinal Study Tell Us about Time Travel and about the Force?’ Dt Duke-Williams will outline what the study is and explain how to apply to use it by drawing on two examples: the film Back To The Future; and the Star Wars films.

The UCL Lunch-Hour lectures are free and open to the public, but booking is recommended. Lectures are also live streamed. The UCL Events page explains:

Lunch Hour Lectures are an opportunity for anyone to sample the exceptional research work taking place at UCL, in bite sized chunks. Speakers are drawn from across the university, and lectures frequently showcase new research and recent academic publications.

Video abstract on imaging work within mummy cartonnage

Lucy Stagg24 August 2018

The journal Heritage Science has released a video abstract of the paper UCLDH team members co-authored on advanced imaging for investigating inscribed papyrus in mummy cartonnage.

The full original paper is also available to read online. The co-authors are all part of the Deep Imaging research project team.

Reflectance Transformation Imaging Training Courses available

Lucy Stagg6 July 2018

UCLDH are delighted to be offering three 4-day RTI training courses this summer. There are still a few spaces left on each of the dates – book now to avoid disappointment!

During the course you will cover the complete RTI digital imaging work flow, from planning to archiving and publication. You will gain practical knowledge about equipment, image capture setups, and software, using examples from different areas of cultural heritage. You will follow a step-by-step guide through processing the images and how to use different viewing modes to examine details of the image.

These courses are perfect for: museum, library, and photographic staff working in conservation and education; archaeologists, historians, and anyone working with collections; anyone interested in Reflectance Transformation Imaging technology and its practical application.

You can find dates and booking details on the UCLDH website.

Dr. Kathryn Piquette undertaking RTI

Dr. Kathryn Piquette undertaking RTI

UCLDH hosted BL Labs roadshow, April 2018

Lucy Stagg1 May 2018

UCLDH were pleased to host the British Library Labs team on 24th April for their 2018 roadshow. This is the third time UCLDH have hosted the BL Labs, and the success and popularity of the now annual event continues to grow, with over 70 people registered this year.

This year’s event included a series of presentations exploring the British Library’s digital collections, how they have been used in various subject areas such as the Humanities, Computer Science and Social Sciences and the lessons learned by working with researchers, including UCLDH team member Tessa Hauswedell who spoke about her project the “Oceanic Exchanges” Project:Tracing Global Information Networks In Historical Newspaper Repositories, 1840-1914. 

The Roadshow showcased examples of the British Library’s digital content and data, addressed some of the challenges and issues of working with it, and how interesting and exciting projects have been developed via the annual British Library Labs Competition and Awards.

There was some good discussion around potential ideas of working with the Library’s data, and the UCLDH team look forward to hopefully seeing some of these projects come to fruition over the next few years!

More DH networking in China

Simon Mahony6 February 2018

Recently, I have been very pleased to be able to accept more networking and speaking invitations from the ever-growing number of DH groups in China. In November I was an invited speaker for the DH strand at the Cross-cultural, Cross-group and Comparative Modernity Conference in Fudan University Shanghai along with delegates from many different nationalities; interestingly (and fortunately for me) all the presentations were in English.

Conference banner

Banner for the conference at Fudan University Shanghai

December took me to Shenzhen, via Hong Kong, and the University Town Library there for the International Conference on Library and Digital Humanities. They had speakers, on a range of themes, from the UK and USA as well as China, and interestingly mostly from libraries where DH centres in China and the USA are usually found; my slot was in the Higher Education and Digital Humanities strand which enabled many conversations and new connections to be made.

Shenzhen conference photo

International conference at the University Town Library, Shenzhen

One new such connection was with DH researchers at the Library of Shanghai, a public as well as an academic and research library with a strong and committed DH team. In January of this year I was greeted there with a magnificent lunch, a tour of their preservation and research labs, and introduced to their research projects involving both genealogy and the historic local built environment.

Shanghai Library

Shanghai Library

The January visit to Shanghai was enabled by funding from the UCL Global Engagement Fund that I received to support networking and research into interdisciplinary and cross-cultural education. Some of this funding was marked for the translation of teaching material for an undergraduate workshop at the China Academy of Art, Shanghai Institute of Design (that I have visited several times now) and as a follow up to the workshop I ran there in January 2017.

Workshop in Shanghai Institute of Design

Workshop in Shanghai Institute of Design

This is a design institute and the students are great at producing videos but have no background in the Internet or the web and so this workshop mostly covers the coding of webpages along with the all important usability and accessibility built into the design. I, of course, have a translator but this helps with their English language learning too.

Group photo of students at the workshop

Group photo of students at the workshop

Remember when giving talks to Chinese students, always allow extra time at the end for group photos and selfies.

UCL’s Global Engagement funding covered the flights for the Shanghai visit and money to pay a student to help with translating the teaching materials which will go into a collection to later be released under an open licence as Open Educational Resources. Accommodation and hospitality was generously provided by the host institution.