University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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15 more years of computer applications in archaeology
Tom Frankland

Last modified: 2011-12-21


Following in the footsteps of Irwin Scollar’s (1997) paper ’25 Years of Computer Applications in Archaeology’ this paper examines the trends in archaeological computing for the last 15 years, based on papers presented at the computer applications and quantitative methods conference between 1997 and 2011. Scollar discussed the trends he identified in the context of increasing availability of hardware and software, and it is therefore considered appropriate to re-explore this topic given the considerable developments we have witnessed in both hardware and software since 1996. Such an analysis is also timely given that the conference is now entering its 40th year and that in recent years the number of papers presented at CAA conferences has risen substantially.

In his paper, Scollar identified a number of themes that he used to classify the broad range of subjects of papers presented at each conference. For the purposes of this paper, the same classification scheme was used to sort and analyse the subjects of papers presented at the CAA conference over the last 15 years. The trends for each of these themes is identified and discussed in relation to the changes in technology available to archaeological computing practitioners.  By categorising the papers using Scollar’s themes it is possible to see that while there has largely been continuity in research interests since his 1996 paper, several new themes have become increasingly prevalent at CAA that are not adequately described by his original classification scheme.

In order to enrich the quantitative data the results of a survey are also discussed, which was conducted to confirm the trends identified in the analysis based on the subjective impressions of practitioners within the archaeological computing community.

Scollar, I. (1997). 25 Years of Computer Applications in Archaeology. In L. Dingwall, S. Exon, V. Gaffney, S. Laflin, & M. van Leusen (Eds.), Archaeology in the age of internet: CAA 97; Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology; proceedings of the 25th Anniversary Conference, University of Birmingham, April 1997. Oxford: Archaeopress.


CAA, topics, trends, themes, quantitative analysis, survey