A Study on the vitalization of Digital Archaeology based on European case study analysis

A Study on the vitalization of Digital Archaeology based on European case study analysis

Choi, In Hwa (from Pusan National University) was a visiting scholar at the School and shares their DPhil thesis with us. If you would like a copy of the PDF of the thesis, please get in touch. 



Digital archaeology is a field of archeology and it refers to the application of various technologies to archeological field survey, research, recording, preservation, restoration, visualisation, and etc. In Europe and other countries, research is actively conducted as an archaeological field. This thesis examined the latest research case studies, policies, regulations, and education status in Europe, which is leading digital archaeology, and analyzed ways to apply them in South Korea. This thesis aims to suggest the direction of applying more effective and systematic digital technology to archaeology related research, policies, and regulations through comparative review on the current status of digital archaeology between Europe and Korea.

As a result of the analysis, it has shown that various technologies are being applied to archaeology, namely excavation, data collection, analysis, and exhibition focusing on academia and archaeologists in Europe. In addition, various archaeological projects utilizing digital technology were being actively carried out and diverse research outcomes were also being derived under the systemic support of related policies, regulations, funds, and education. These results confirmed that there was a positive effect that led to the establishment of a European network on cultural heritage, industry-university cooperation, job creation, and economic growth. On the other hand, digital archeology in Korea is still recognized only as a technical assistance to archaeology, and technology and research were limited compared to Europe.

Based on the results of this analysis, this study has taken into consideration and divided specific measures to utilize digital technology more effectively for Archaeological heritage into three categories: 'Archaeological Survey and Research', 'Digital Archaeology for the Public', and 'Policy and Regulations'. First, it suggests trying various archaeological analysis and interpretations that have not been carried out until present by using more diverse digital technologies as a way to revitalize archaeological investigations and research. In reference to European case studies following measures were reviewed: 'Field survey using Lidar', 'Research on ancient cities using remote sensing', 'Detailed investigation of relics using 3D scan', 'Reconstruction and visualization of remains using 3D modeling', 'Automatic search for relics using machine learning', and 'Automatic recognition of artifacts and remains using deep learning'.

Second, the ‘Utilization Plan for Digital Archeology for the Public’ suggested applying appropriate technology according to the characteristics of cultural heritage and in accordance with the public rather than focusing only on technology. Accordingly, it is important that storytelling about the history and people, promoting on and offline participation of the public and expanding access of the culturally underprivileged classes. As a way to apply digital technology for the public, following measures were proposed: 'Interactive experience contents using Virtual Reality', 'Interior restoration of cultural properties using Augmented Reality', 'Realistic contents using mixed reality', '3D scanning, modeling, and printing, archives for those', 'Storytelling using multimedia', 'Hyper-realistic contents using immersive spatial performance', and 'Encouraging various public participation including online contents'.

Third, digital archaeology related policies and regulations were scrutinized by analyzing the status and problems of the current policies and laws, and accordingly, improvement measures were examined. 6 action plans and 12 key policies were suggested including archaeological archives and extending accessibility, improving data quality, encouraging digital archaeology and related research, training professional personnel, encouraging public participation, and etc. Since a greater synergy effect can be expected when policies and regulations are operated together, 7 ways to improve the regulations in accordance with the reviewed policies are presented. It includes the definition and range of digital archaeology, archiving digital data, data standards and criteria for each technology, monitoring and evaluation of data and contents, copyright and reuse, and matters regarding organization and budget, and the likes.

For the vitalization of digital archaeology, this study concludes that research in the related fields of archaeology, policies, regulations, and financial support of relevant organizations, and training for archaeologists should all be organically associated. In the future, digital technology should be used more efficiently and systemically to survey, research, preserve, restore, and exhibit cultural heritage as in many cases in Europe.


Key words: digital archeology, cultural heritage, archaeology, Europe, conservation, restoration, exhibition, education