Visualisation in Archaeology at the University of Southampton 2008

Sara Perry (University of Southampton)
Enquiry into the epistemological implications of visual representation in the sciences has been ongoing for decades now, as historians, philosophers, and disciplinary specialists have increasingly come to challenge the often taken-for-granted nature of scientific practices of pictorialisation. Archaeologists, in particular, have become progressively more familiar with the tensions at the heart of the visual communication of knowledge (e.g., see Molyneaux 1997, Moser 1998, Smiles and Moser 2005), but the number of forums open to practitioners to pursue and develop such study have tended to be few and far between.
The newly-launched Visualisation in Archaeology (VIA) project endeavours to redress this predicament. Connecting researchers through its web platform, its annual workshops, an international conference scheduled for 2010, its online bibliography and research showcase, and various related outputs, VIA aims to inform professional standards around pictorial practice, investigate viable guidelines for imaging, and, in so doing, articulate an intellectual framework for the visualisation of archaeological data.
Contributors to VIA’s 2008 Workshop pose for a photo at the University of Southampton, UK. Courtesy of Colleen Morgan.
The first of VIA’s three annual workshops was held over two days this past October (23-24 October 2008) at the Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton. The Visualisation and Knowledge Formation-themed event brought together representatives from the scholarly, private and public sectors to discuss and debate the historical and philosophical dimensions — and future possibilities — of the visual representation of knowledge in archaeology (and beyond). With contributions from British, Australian, German, Swedish, Portuguese, French, Danish, and North American practitioners, the workshop strived to engender conceptual reflection and to create an open network of dialogue, critique and visuality-related information sharing across countries and disciplines. Details on participants and papers presented at the event can be accessed online at
As VIA’s organisers endeavour to formulate strategies for the dissemination of the 2008 workshop results, planning is currently underway for next year’s workshop at the University of Southampton, tentatively set for October 2009. The call for papers will be posted on VIA’s webpages in the near future — as will information on the outputs of the 2008 workshop. Please visit the website for updates and to read more about the project, its goals and its various components and contributors.
Molyneaux, B. L. (ed.) 1997. The Cultural Life of Images: Visual Representation in Archaeology. London: Routledge.
Moser, S. 1998. Ancestral Images: The Iconography of Human Origins. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Smiles, S. and Moser, S. (eds.) 2005. Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image. Malden: Blackwell.

One thought on “Visualisation in Archaeology at the University of Southampton 2008

  1. I look forward to seeing more outcomes from what was such a positive – while critically engaging – collection of people and conversations. Came across Colleen Morgan’s comments on her excellent blog – here.

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