Archaeology is the systematic study of material artifacts in order to glean information on past events and societies. The analysis of material remains and their context provides opportunities to examine history beyond written texts. Digital Archaeology is the application of digital technologies to assist and improve traditional archaeological practices in collecting data, analyzing, interpreting, and representing the archaeological record. This integration of digital media and archaeology creates more opportunities to help reconstruct the past by using analytical tools, databases, and new field recording equipment to examine physical objects and landscapes that are then translated into digitized forms. By utilizing these technologies, interactive applications can be generated to present archaeology to the public on a larger, global scale. Data in digital form can be made more easily accessible to the public and therefore more broadly employed for educational purposes.
Digital Archaeology also renders the possibility of virtual reconstructions of historic and cultural sites that were lost or severely damaged throughout time. This provides another mode of preservation, along with helping to further understand the archaeological data and expanding upon its information. Virtual reconstructions and storing of data also applies to museum practices. The use of DAMs (Digital Asset Management Systems), other databases, virtual and interactive exhibitions, and extensive catalogs programs emphasize the significance of Digital Archaeology tools as a way to display and manage information that will remain available for future generations. Digital Archaeology is an essential and innovative facet of traditional archaeology, and with new technological advancements, and makes the unimaginable imaginable.
Material remains can correct, corroborate, add depth and detail to written documentation and accounts as well as most importantly provide information on individuals, groups, and events which are either not recorded or ignored or obfuscated in written accounts. Historical research focusing on written documents or recorded oral histories provides details and depth to the reconstructions possible through the analysis of material remains. Therefore the richest retelling and investigations of the past and our best path to examining and querying the past is through a combination of archaeological and historical analysis.
Drew’s Archaeology Program is involved in archaeological and historical research projects in both New Jersey and Ecuador. See more information in the tabs for each project on this page.