Households through a Digital Lens (2012)

At the conference of invited participants on Household Archaeology in the Middle East and Beyond: Theory, Method, and Practice in February 2009 at the University of Utah (Salt Lake City), I gave one of the keynote presentations. I had been one of the early researchers into household archaeology in the early 1980s, and had subsequently written an encyclopedia entry on “Household Archaeology” in 2003. This is the written version of my keynote presentation that filled out the presentation with extra data support and bibliographic and Web citations. I struggled in this publication with the challenge of representing – in the linear two dimensions of print on paper – what was naturally a complex multi-dimensional non-linear web of ideas that I could express in the presentation using the help of digital mind-maps and rich audio-visual video and photographic images.

I have drawn together in the chart below (and in this paper) four or five strands of practice (designated with a key in the figure) that come together in what I do on a daily basis and together could be called my version of Household Archaeology:

  • History and Historical Context of Household Archaeology
  • Methods of Investigation of Household Archaeology
  • Sites of Investigation of Household Archaeology •
  • Household Archaeology in the Context of the History of Digital Technology
  • Creating the Digital Window to Household Archaeology

Each of these strands – not just those that have the word ‘history’ – is considered along a time trajectory from the late 1970s to now.


This presentation gave me the opportunity to review how the field of Household Archaeology has changed since the 1980s to the present at the same time as reviewing the path of my own transformation of thinking and practice of the archaeological investigation of the past at the intimate scale of households. My focus was to show that our articulation with technology is part of this transformation, in particular my own in my changing use of digital formats to express the complexity of the tangled web of data, media, and narratives as we document and interpret the remains of archaeological households.


Tringham, Ruth (2012) Households through a Digital Lens. In New Perspectives on Household Archaeology, edited by B. Parker and C. Foster, pp. 81-120. Eisenbrauns Publishing, Winona Lake, IL.



Miriam Müller in Journal of Near Eastern Studies 73.1 (2014) 155-158. download

Cynthia Schafer-Elliot in Cambridge Archaeological Journal 23(2) (2013) 341-342. download