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Veronica Ikeshoji-Orlati

Classical Archaeologist. Digital Humanist. Data Enthusiast.


My research is structured around three inter-related themes: pottery, artefacts-as-data, and longevity.


My dissertation focused on the representation of music and musicians in South Italian red-figure vase-painting of the 4th century BCE. My current book project (working title: Visual Harmonies: Music, Art, and Identity in the Western Greek Colonies) builds on my previous research to examine the interaction of performative and visual culture throughout Magna Graecia. By integrating visual evidence for music and musicians, archaeological evidence for musical instruments, and literary evidence for the region’s vibrant performance culture, the book and accompanying digital database examines the nature of visual culture audiences, identity politics, and the performative landscape of South Italy and Sicily in the 4th century BCE.

In addition to my research on figure-decorated vases, I also work on archaeological ceramics from the Italian peninsula at the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project (SGARP) in northern Lazio. As the ceramicist and lab director at SGARP, I have had the opportunity to work with field school students to process, document, and analyze pottery from Etruscan tombs (c. 6th century BCE) and a Mediaeval fortification (c. 10th-13th century CE) located within the Marturanum Regional Park (Barbarano Romano, VT). The goal of the project, initiated in summer 2016 by Baylor University, is to investigate the longue durée history of the site. Publications and presentations about our results include a 2017 article in Temporis Signa XI and a paper and poster at the Archaeological Institute of America annual meeting in January 2018.


With research interests straddling archaeological (quantitative) and art historical (qualitative) approaches to ancient Greek pottery, I am methodologically oriented towards executing multi-scaled analyses of archaeological artefacts. While the potential of computer vision technology for archaeological and art historical research is thrilling, I am also interested in how the act of turning artefacts into traditionally-computable (i.e. textual) data impacts our understanding of primary source materials, as well as how the format of the data may drive research questions and conclusions. Some preliminary musings on the topic are available here. In February 2018, I presented on the related question of what it means to collect and curate humanities data, based on the work of the Tiny Data Working Group at Vanderbilt University, at the International Digital Curation Conference 2018.


Having worked with legacy archaeological data for most of my career, I am interested in understanding and, to whatever extent it is possible, future-proofing research data. Beyond the concerns of file formats and hardware stability, I am interested in how to make research data truly (re)usable and expandable by future users wo are 10, 20, 50, or 100+ years away. Whether as a consultant on a digital humanities project or a collaborator on an archaeological excavation, I advocate for data wills. Data wills build upon robust data management plans to explain to future users the full context of the data collection, retention, and publication policies utilized throughout the project and facilitate knowledge building as an iterative, multi-generational pursuit. I presented a few preliminary thoughts on the idea of data wills (in the context of a legacy data curation project) at the International Digital Curation Conference 2017.