Submissions for papers are invited for the session “Theoretical Approaches to Big Data in Roman Archaeology” at the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC) to be held in London on 11-14 April 2024.

Proposals are to be sent to Nicky Garland ([email protected]) and Penny Coombe ([email protected]) by 15 September, including name, affiliation, paper title, and paper abstract (200 words).

For further info, please visit the RAC/TRAC website: We look forward to hearing from you!

Session abstract

Roman archaeology has long produced large and complex data. Creating, managing, and sharing ‘big’ datasets has been of perennial interest for many archaeologists. The potential and limits of ‘big data’ have been recently highlighted and discussed and a light shone on how digital heritage relates to recent research in Roman Archaeology (e.g. Garland TRAC webinar 2023; TRAC 2023 Digital Archaeology workshop; TRAC 2022 session 4).

Technological advances and the increased application of data principles in Roman archaeology provide the urgent impetus and opportunity for critical reflection on the theoretical approaches that underpin these analyses. By identifying the theoretical frameworks that drive the production, use and reuse of big data in Roman archaeology we can better understand the potentials and pitfalls of these approaches.

This session provides space for theoretical analysis. In particular, we welcome papers and discussion on, but not limited to:
– What assumptions have been made in constructing datasets and ontologies?
– Can the theoretical discussion of data and big data (e.g. Morgan 2022) elucidate more aware and humanised interpretations?
– What common principles for compiling, combining and sharing data are needed?
– How can we combat the ‘siloisation’ of data within archaeological subfields (Lawrence 2022)?

Lawrence, A. (2022) ‘Harder – Better – Faster – Stronger? Roman Archaeology and the challenge of ‘big data’’, Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal 5(1): 1-29.
Morgan, C. (2022) ‘Current Digital Archaeology’, Annual Review of Anthropology 51: 213-231.