Link Roundup

Trying out a new idea where I do a little link roundup of all the cool stuff I’ve seen or read lately. Sort of envisioning this as a biweekly or maybe monthly idea.

Colonialism and its legacies
I’ve been thinking a lot about colonialism in the museum as I continue to work with the archaeological archives here at work.

This tweet caught my attention and now I desperately want to go see the Past is Now exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

There is also more information about the process and idea behind the exhibition in this article

On the same subject, an excellent thread on twitter discusses the inherent violence in colonialism and its intersection with archaeology. I haven’t watched the complete seminar, but it’s available here

Also this thought provoking article on human remains in museum collections and the necessity of doing the work to acknowledge the past wrongs and return them.

Museum Links

On why and how to change the culture of hierarchy in museums

Lots to check out in this twitter thread on what makes a good online museum collection.

Four studies on how to diversify museums, in particular I think the LACMA example is interesting for its spotlight on particular challenges of universal museums.

I’ve been seeing a lot more about ways to make our work relevant and useful. In particular I’m hoping to attend this conference, Archaeology and Social Justice, at Brown in march

And, I’m also looking forward to the new Scholars for Social Justice Project


Resources and Articles

I wanted to put up a quick post while I’m here at ASOR as a location to share some resources and articles that were being discussed at some of the women’s networking events.I welcome suggestions and additions and will try and work this into a more stable location after the conference.

I welcome the addition of comments, other articles or suggested topics either here or at

Letters of Recommendation

Teaching Evaluations
Open Letter on why not to ask for Teaching Evals:

Fatherhood Bonus/Motherhood Tax:




General Resources
Bibliography – Graduate Education:
Benevolent Sexism:
Leaky Pipeline:

Twitter paper on challenges facing women by Trowelblazers

DAHSS17: What is Digital Art History?

Second in what I expect to be a series of posts about what I learned/made at the Digital Art History Summer School in Malaga this September.

When the summer school opened with the question of “What is Digital Art History?” I realized I might be in over my head. After all, I’m not even an art historian, much less a digital art historian (whatever that is???). I still don’t have a concrete answer to what is digital art history, but overall left the summer school with a lot of interesting insights and new ways of thinking about problems/approaches/questions that could be addressed through digital methods.

For me the initial question really came down to one big question, is digital art history about using digital methods/tools to answer traditional questions or is it a different field/sub-field that asks different questions that the technology now allows us to address that weren’t possible before? What do I mean by that? Well, if we look at option 1, using technology to do something we were doing before; I see it like using a word processor to write your book, people wrote books before typing, but it became easier with computers and therefore we have more books – similarly we could do even more analysis that would have taken longer by hand now that we have new technologies in art history. Option 2 on the other hand suggests that there are questions out there we haven’t even thought to ask yet because we didn’t know how we would answer them, with the idea being that new analysis, new ways of thinking can lead us to not only new answers, but totally new questions. In the end I think we didn’t really answer this question, but for the projects we did some people applied new tech to their traditional questions, and some people tackled totally new questions. I guess that means the answer is option 1 and 2.

One of the most important things we talked about was data itself. How do we even create or acquire data to use for analysis. We talked about how all data is a form of abstraction – in order to turn a piece of art into something digital whether it is turning a painting into a set of pixels in a photograph, or coding relationships between collaborators, or creating metadata that gives additional information about an image.

For me, as an archaeologist I’m always thinking about context. The context is the frame that allows us to say anything at all. In the same way data requires context. Greg Niemeyer explained the process of working with data in the following way.


data: original abstraction from reality

record: addition of context (metadata, framework for coding, etc)

information: addition of value propositions (this is a type of interpretation, what do we add, how do we select what is “information?).

knowledge: addition of experience (bringing it all together)

action: this is the step where we transform from abstraction to practice


In the end, Greg said we need both new tech and new ideas to move forward. This will allow digital art historians to be prophets and revolutionaries.


DAHSS 17 Productive Failure

We are working at the Malaga Digital Art History Summer School to think about ways that we can visualize or analyze “Big Data” for Art History. I’ve been doing little meaningless tests on the 6000+ objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. I thought this could be a fun place to start. We were doing a workflow of importing the data from the Met Github repository, refining/reducing in R Studio, then exporting to Gephi to do network visualizations. I made a bunch of meaningless visualizations that I’m embedding here to discuss with my group on Monday.


This is a network visualization of the object names by material – since some objects share names “cylinder seal” etc they appear as larger dots, but that’s not actually meaningful. At least it looks a little interesting. Untitled

I then tried to look at “classification” and “culture” to see if I would see different materials/types of object by culture. With two different visualizations

ANE_class_culture1ANE_class_culture2I also made a visualization of objects by culture – but then forgot somehow that this would lead to totally separate groups because in the database you can only be attached to one culture at a time.


so that’s really ugly, but when you zoom in in Gephi you can see each object number – if somehow that was useful. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s been fun looking at these visualizations, but in the end I think I need to use multimodal networks and think more carefully about questions that could be answered. I actually think that maybe network visualization is not the right method for this dataset, but since we are a group and all working together at the summer school it’s fun to see what I can make together with my colleagues.

Standby for more tests and weird experiments!

Upcoming Talk at Metropolitan Museum of Art

Since September I’ve been working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you will find my research incorporated into their website, rather than here. I do, however, have an upcoming public talk that is part of the annual Fellows Colloquia, specifically the session,

The Ancient Near East from Site to Museum

10:00 A.M.–2:00 P.M.
My talk is:

“An Admirable Scheme”: The Symbiotic Relationship of Archaeology and Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Early Twentieth Century

Caitlin Chaves Yates, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Research Fellow, Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art

Full information is available at: