Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 837–861 | Cite as

Teaching with Digital Archaeological Data: A Research Archive in the University Classroom

  • Anna S. Agbe-Davies
  • Jillian E. Galle
  • Mark W. Hauser
  • Fraser D. Neiman


Digital tools and techniques have revolutionized archaeological research and allow analyses unimagined by previous generations of scholars. However, digital archaeological data appear to be an underappreciated resource for teaching. Here, the authors draw on their experiences as university instructors using digital data contained in the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery ( to teach in a variety of higher education settings, from method-intensive thematic courses for graduate students to general education science courses for undergraduates. The authors provide concrete examples of how they use digital archaeological data to accomplish a range of pedagogical goals. These include teaching basic artifact identification and simple statistical methods as well as developing skills in critical thinking, inference from data, and problem solving and communication. The paper concludes with a discussion of how archaeologists can use digital data to address ethical and curricular issues, such as preservation, professional training, and public accountability that are crucial to the discipline and relevant to the academy at large.


Pedagogy Digital data Ethics African diaspora Historical archaeology 



Several colleagues have read and commented on earlier drafts of this paper. We thank Amanda Thompson and three anonymous reviewers for suggestions that have clarified our points significantly. Since 2001, Leslie Cooper and Jesse Sawyer and many other skilled archaeological analysts working for DAACS have generated the tremendous amount of high-quality data used in this study. We also appreciate the students with whom we have shared these pedagogical experiences and who have taught us, even as we taught them. Finally, we want to express our appreciation to our archaeological colleagues in the USA and Caribbean who have generously contributed data to The Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery ( Without their contributions, large-scale comparative archaeological studies of slavery would not be possible.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna S. Agbe-Davies
    • 1
  • Jillian E. Galle
    • 2
  • Mark W. Hauser
    • 3
  • Fraser D. Neiman
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Monticello Department of ArchaeologyThe Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative SlaveryCharlottesvilleUSA
  3. 3.Department of AnthropologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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