Digitizing Archaeology – Using Technology to Preserve the Past

One of the greatest considerations of all those who work with material objects (be it art, artifacts, buildings, etc) is conservation and preservation. In spite of our greatest resources and attempts, degradation and, ultimately, destruction of material cultural is the reality – nothing lasts forever… or can it?

Live Science is highlighting the work of the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas which is focusing on using digital technologies to help preserve (possibly indefinitely) our records of the past.

“The development of digital technologies has exponentially magnified the amount of data we’re collecting, simply because we have the tools now to collect a lot more information much more easily than we did in the past,” Adam Rabinowitz, Ph.D.

So while archaeologists, art historians, and conservationists may not ultimately be able to indefinitely preserve objects themselves (susceptible to destruction in war, theft, negligence, or just natural processes), they may be able to retain and disseminate the information indefinitely. To learn more about these endeavors, see the article in Live Science.

5 thoughts on “Digitizing Archaeology – Using Technology to Preserve the Past

  1. Jack3d

    Hello Jennifer,
    I was wondering on a similar note,, I have a Brother sewing/embroidery machine. I keep reading about digitizing but I cannot find any info. Please Help!
    Catch you again soon!

  2. Jim Wheeler

    Digitizing data makes all kinds of sense for the purposes of study and sharing, but it leaves me in doubt about long-term storage. Just in my lifetime I have seen alternatives to paper come and then vanish into obsolescence. Old black and white photos are pretty good still, perhaps a bit yellowed, but early Polaroids are faded. Many early movies were lost forever when the film deteriorated under poor storage conditions. Then came better film and now we have digital storage of course. But will the machines of the future use the same technology? I’m certain they will not.

    The earliest sound recording machine I can recall used a spool of metal wire. That evolved into magnetic tape and thence into digital devices that stored written material as well. But, how lasting is that digital storage? I would guess, for example, that there might not be any machines left that can play back data tapes from the 1960’s era Apollo missions. Are such data vulnerable to electro-magnetic pulses, including the current sunspot activity? Will digital storage last for hundreds of years? From what I have read the most long-lasting storage medium continues to be high-quality, low-sulfur, low-acid paper. But if all storage goes digital, what are the chances that the data will still be achievable a hundred years from now?

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      That is also one of the main concerns of those who are using electronic media for storage. How does one play a record without a turn table? I’ve seen lots of arguments for how this media will be stored along with plans to consistently upgrade data for new platforms.


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