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ArchAtlas Latest News

Archaeology at the University of Sheffield

31 May 2021

On 26th May 2021 the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology (which has hosted the ArchAtlas website since 2005) was informed by the university’s senior management that they intend to dismantle the department. Only one or two areas of activity (specifically Cultural Heritage and Human Osteology) would be retained and subsumed in other departments, such as the Management School and the Medical School. It seems very doubtful that these areas could thrive once divorced from their current context embedded in archaeology, and this is effectively a closure of the archaeology department.

The Department celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015, and until a few years ago it was one of the largest archaeology departments in the UK. It continues to have an extremely high reputation both in the UK and abroad, and is one of very few archaeology departments that has long successfully integrated science and humanities in its research and teaching. The prospect of the discontinuation of archaeology as a coherent subject at Sheffield has been greeted with dismay by all former and current staff and students, as well as by very many others all over the world.

The decision still has to go before the University Senate (on 23rd June), which has an advisory role only, and to the University Council (on 12th July) which will make the final decision.

Please consider signing the petition:

Further information about can be found at:

<small>Protests against closures 25 May 2021. Photo: Daniel Collis</small>

Protests against closures 25 May 2021. Photo: Daniel Collis


Reports in the media:-

Commentary about the closure in context:-

Preserving ArchAtlas for the Future, edition 5.0

18 April 2021

Long-term ArchAtlas fans may have noticed that the site went offline for over a year. This was due to new security restrictions on PHP-based websites, introduced to protect the host servers at the University of Sheffield. Unfortunately, the ArchAtlas team have mostly moved onto different projects and different institutions in recent years, and active development has mostly stopped, so it proved difficult to resolve the security issues and get the site back online.

By way of background: the use of a PHP back-end to run the ArchAtlas website was introduced in 2005 to provide better control over meta-data and new pages on the site. Since then, web technologies have changed a lot, and static web site generators have replaced many of the basic features that PHP was designed to solve on ArchAtlas. In addition, the advantage of static sites is that they make long-term preservation of contents easier, as they do not require on “active” servers.

So, in the last few months, we’ve been working on a new “static” version of ArchAtlas (edition 5) using Hugo. “Static” does not mean less exciting – in fact, most things should look the same, unfortunately a few features (e.g. the site database search and Postcards) had to be retired – but it does mean that the site should be available for longer into the future without intervention from the team.

We hope you enjoy being able to use ArchAtlas for teaching and research into the future!…

Note: the only major inconvenience you may notice is that page URL/web addresses had to be changed. For now, old major page addresses (which usually ended with .php) should be automatically redirected to the new locations on the live server, but we recommend updating the addresses to the new neater addresses where possible.

ArchAtlas Update Version 4.1

14 November 2012

ArchAtlas Feeds

ArchAtlas provides web feeds for updated access to our data, using a number of different standard formats. For example the ‘journal’ feed allows users to keep up-to-date with the latest essays published in the journal, and the ‘atlas-sites’ feed allows instant access to all sites in the OpenAtlas.

A new streamlined dropdown menu, accessible for iPads, tablets and other mobile touch screen devices.

A feature on ArchAtlas appeared in the CBA’s British Archaeology magazine (Nov/Dec 2010).

The Andrew Sherratt Fund

11 March 2010

A scholarship fund has been established in memory of Andrew Sherratt, founder of ArchAtlas. Please go to a for further information about the fund and how to contribute.

Workshop 2009

7 March 2009

Routes and Landscapes in Eurasia: exchange and movement from prehistory to the present. Read the resulting visual essays in the Journal.

ArchAtlas @ MedArchNet Workshop

11 January 2008

The ArchAtlas team, with financial support from WUN (World Universities Network), were very pleased to be able to take part in the MedArchNet conference in San Diego where the subject was on creating digital atlases of archaeology for the Mediterranean basin, demonstrating a variety of new technologies and sharing expertise and experience.

See the conference website for full details:”,“2008-11-18”,“2010-11-05 11:28:07” “9”,“ArchAtlas @ AIA in Chicago”,“The ArchAtlas team participated in the workshop Web-based research tools for Mediterranean archaeology at the 2008 annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America held in Chicago.

We presented alongside a number of interesting web-based research projects that were presented at the workshop:
MAGIS - Mediterranean Archaeology GIS (
The Fasti OnLine (
Pleiades (
Agora excavations online (
Greek, Roman and Byzantine Pottery from Ilion (

Workshop 2007

7 March 2007

Mapping Human History from Space: Tells, Routes and Archaeogeography in the Near East.

Read the resulting visual essays in the Journal.

Welcome to the launch of ArchAtlas Edition 2

15 November 2005

ArchAtlas moves to Sheffield!

Launch of ArchAtlas

1 March 2004

The first edition of ArchAtlas: a digital archaeological atlas, a vehicle for presenting dynamic processes in visual form.

ArchAtlas Latest Journal Articles

Steps Toward the Study of Seasonality and Trade

1 May 2015 | Toby C. Wilkinson

For the most part, the study of large-scale trade and exchange in the ancient world remains distanced from the physical hardships of real human travel. Ancient trade or, more neutrally, ancient ‘interaction’ is often discussed as if it took place between actors who inhabited a flat and unchanging spatial surface. In fact, topography, climate and seasonality are essential to understanding the changing forms and intensity of human travel that enabled ‘interdependence’ between communities of the Near East. This paper demonstrates some of the steps needed to reintegrate seasonality with the study of ancient trade.

Geospatial Analysis of Aguadas

19 June 2012 | Ezgi Akpinar Ferrand, Benjamin Thomas III, Nicholas P. Dunning

Water has been a principal concern for Maya people inhabiting much of the Yucatan Peninsula for millennia. As a result, studies of water management in the Maya region contribute significantly to our understanding of ancient Maya civilization and its environmental adaptations. <i>Aguadas</i>, water storage ponds of varying size, have been an understudied aspect of Maya water management systems. Recognizing the origins and functions of aguadas provides a more complete picture of ancient Maya water management strategies. In this study, we analyze <i>aguadas</i> geovisually and geospatially in the southern Maya lowlands.

Networks of interaction in Early Bronze Age Anatolia

1 November 2010 | Michele Massa

Research carried out in Turkey over the last few decades seems to indicate that the Early Bronze Age in west and central Anatolia was a period in which new socio-political structures emerged whose mature development is reflected in the territorial entities of the Old Assyrian period. From the second half of the third millennium, we have evidence of social stratification both at the intra-site and inter-site level, accompanied by a wealth of prestige goods and public structures displayed in settlement and funerary contexts. This phenomenon is also paralleled by the rapid growth of long-distance relations both within Anatolia and with surrounding regions, at least partially triggered by the rise in metal demand of local and foreign elites.

Mapping the Silk Road

1 November 2010 | Susan Whitfield, Victoria Swift, Alastair Morrison and Sam Vanschaik

Little was known of the remarkable heritage of the Silk Road until explorers and archaeologists of the early twentieth century uncovered the ruins of ancient cities in the desert sands, revealing astonishing sculptures, murals and manuscripts. One of the most notable discoveries was the Buddhist cave library near the oasis town of Dunhuang on the edge of the Gobi desert in western China. The cave had been sealed and hidden at the end of the first millennium AD and only re-discovered in 1900. Forty thousand manuscripts, paintings and printed documents on paper and silk were found in the cave itself. Tens of thousands more items were excavated from other Silk Road archaeological sites. These unique items have fascinating stories to tell of life on this great trade route from 100 BC to AD 1400. Yet most were dispersed to institutions worldwide in the early 1900s, making access difficult. The size and scope of the collections, as well as their fragility and limited access, has meant that, while they constitute a primary research resource for the history and literature of the region, many of the manuscripts in particular have yet to be studied in detail. The <a href=’’ target=’_blank’>International Dunhuang Project</a> aims to reunite this material by making it freely available online. One part of this project includes the mapping of archaeological sites, and the digitisation of data from archaeological data collected by Aurel Stein and other researchers, using tools such as Google Earth to help users to better understand the history of the Tarim Basin and its cultures.

Trade networks in the Karakum

1 October 2010 | Paul D. Wordsworth

In our imagination of the 'Silk Routes', we envisage travellers, traders and intellectuals traversing vast continents for the purpose of exchanging rare and precious items. The archaeological study of these routes has usually focused on transmitted artefacts and ideas, as opposed to the means and methods by which they were carried. The resultant void of knowledge concerning the infrastructure of the Silk Roads, and the nature of the settlements that shaped and were shaped by them, presents a challenge to archaeologists from both a methodological and theoretical perspective.