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The data deluge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 December 2015

Andrew Bevan*
Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31–34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, UK (Email:


Archaeology has wandered into exciting but daunting territory. It faces floods of new evidence about the human past that are largely digital, frequently spatial, increasingly open and often remotely sensed. The resulting terrain is littered, both with data that are wholly new and data that were long known about but previously considered junk. This paper offers an overview of this diluvian information landscape and aims to foster debate about its wider disciplinary impact. In particular, I would argue that its consequences: a) go well beyond the raw challenges of digital data archiving or manipulation and should reconfigure our analytical agendas; b) can legitimately be read for both utopian and dystopian disciplinary futures; and c) re-expose some enduring tensions between archaeological empiricism, comparison and theory-building.

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd, 2015 

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