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CAA UK – November 2023

This year’s CAAUK conference, organised by the British chapter of CAA (Computer Application & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology), was held in Edinburgh on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th November 2023. This annual event brings together archaeologists, computer scientists and other professionals in the sector based in the UK, and is a great opportunity to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, share discussions and celebrate progress in our field.

CAAUK 2023 unfolded at the Augustine United Church in Edinburgh City Centre, hosting a diverse gathering of heritage professionals. The event’s structure, featuring parallel sessions, workshops and presentations, provided a comprehensive view of the current landscape, trends and applications of computational methods and approaches in the archaeological sector.

Accompanied by colleagues Olivia Foster (Digital Archives Officer) and Valeria Carrillo (Digital Archives Assistant), this year I had the opportunity to attend and represent the Archaeology Data Service. While two of us attended only as spectator’s, Valeria showcased an important part of her work at the ADS at this year’s event. 

Her presentation was titled One big jigsaw: Challenges in disseminating 3D data from The Former Curzon Street Station Yard and showcased her work on 3D data from the former Curzon Street station yard in Birmingham, deposited at the ADS as part of the HS2 Historic Environment Digital Archive. She highlighted the challenges concerning the processing dissemination of such data – including dealing with large quantities of unstructured data, varied levels of quality, technical limitations, inconsistent naming conventions and so on.

A picture of ADS staff member Valeria Carrillo Garza presenting at CAA UK
ADS staff member Valeria Carrillo Garza presenting her paper at CAAUK

Another two ADS team members showcased their work at CAAUK 2023: Alfie Lien, PhD candidate at the University of York on placement at the ADS at the time, delivered a presentation about How FAIR is bioarchaeological data: with a particular emphasis on making archaeological science data reusable. Solange Bohling, ADS Intern, presented her work with a poster titled Online dissemination of 3D bioarchaeological data: an exploration of ethics, user preferences, and contextualisation in an official digital archive setting.

A picture of ADS Intern Solange Bohling presenting her poster at CAA UK
ADS Intern Solange Bohling presenting her poster at CAA UK

Engaging in various presentations broadened my understanding of industry challenges and innovations. Notably, the focus on creating inclusive opportunities and accessible digital platforms – including the creation of immersive and interactive experiences – showcased the event’s commitment to addressing current discussions regarding the dissemination and reuse of archaeological digital data. 

A picture of PhD Student Alfie Talks presenting at CAA UK
PhD Student Alfie Talks presenting his paper at CAAUK

The second day of CAAUK 2023 provided a unique twist with off-site activities, including visits to Edinburgh Castle and a guided tour of the Museum of Scottish Fire Heritage. These excursions offered not just a cultural break but also valuable networking opportunities in a more relaxed setting. Interacting with colleagues outside the formal conference environment was a great chance to create connections and lay the groundwork for potential future collaborations.

As a recent entrant to the archaeological sector, CAAUK 2023 was a valuable opportunity for me to connect with other professionals in this field and exchange ideas beyond the walls of my workplace – as well as talking to others about our organisation’s impactful work. 

Representing the ADS at CAAUK 2023 was indeed an honour, and reinforced my understanding of the relevance and dedication of our organisation to contributing meaningfully to digital preservation, especially in the context of British Archaeology and the heritage sector in general.

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