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What is the state of a degree in Digital Archaeology?


At the beginning of this year, I published a chapter in a volume called “What is a Digital Archaeologist?” in which I described what – in my personal view – makes the digital in Digital Archaeology. Today, I read a introductory chapter by Karsten Lambers in a new publication that tackles more or less the same question. One thing stood out in both our chapters: what do students expect when obtaining a degree in Digital Archaeology?

What I wrote

In a 2023 chapter in a celebratory volume in honour of Reinhard Bernbeck, I wrote about what the difference is between an archaeologist using digital technologies and a digital archaeologist. In that chapter I also talked about the situation in Cologne, where we now have two programs in Digital Archaeology, offering a wide range of courses in Digital and Computational Archaeology .

One part covers what students actually led to these programs, based on countless student consultations I undertook . Most of them think that Digital Archaeology will lead to more perspectives later on, as the job market in Archaeology is generally not as good as in other fields. I also wrote that we do not know if that is true, as we do not have the data to support that claim.

What Karsten Lambers wrote

In the introductory chapter of a recently published volume on Digital Archaeology, Karsten Lambers, an Associate Professor of Archaeological Computer Sciences at the University of Leiden, wrote something similar . Lambers goes a bit more into detail when writing about the situation in Leiden that has a longer tradition of Digital Archaeology than in Cologne. His numbers indicate that the importance of ICT skills in Archaeology seems to grow:

While not a decisive factor, their importance has grown over time. However, many (digital) archaeology graduates find jobs outside of archaeology, often intentionally due to better working conditions in other sectors.

What is the state of a degree in Digital Archaeology?

Both chapters show that there is a need for digital methods in Archaeology, but it doesn’t seem to be the solution. My gut feeling says that the graduate situation in Cologne might be slightly different, but I can’t say for sure. To have reliable numbers like Leiden, we need to wait 8-10 years. When doing consultations, I nevertheless always encourage at the least the addition of Digital and Computational Archaeology to a classical Archaeology program.

As I am on the job market myself right now, I also have a good overview of possibilities at least at a PhD level. As within Archaeology, the positions in Digital Archaeology are rare, but I also see a raise in positions in Digital and Computational Archaeology in Europe. Sometimes these positions are called differently, but there are possibilities. I would therefore see the future of Digital and Computational Archaeology rather positive and the state accordingly.

Cited Literature

Lambers, Karsten. 2023. “Introduction: Leiden Perspective on Digital Archaeology.” In Digital Archaeology,. Promises and Impasses, edited by Tuna Kalaycı, Karsten Lambers, and Victor Klinkenberg, 9–16. Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia 51. Leiden: Sidestone. https://doi.org/10.59641/f48820ir.
Hageneuer, Sebastian. 2023. “What Is a Digital Archaeologist?” In “What Does This Have to Do with Archaeology?” Essays on the Occasion of the 65th Birthday of Reinhard Bernbeck, edited by Editorial Collective, 77–82. Leiden: Sidestone. https://doi.org/10.59641/c2g2395e.


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Sebastian Hageneuer

Hi! My name is Sebastian. I am an archaeologist, a university lecturer, freelancer, guitarist, and father. You could say I am quiet busy, so I learned to manage my time and energy to build good habits and still have space for myself and my family. Sounds difficult? Read here how I do it. Every Friday.

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