National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Adam T. Rabinowitz

Affiliation: University of Texas

Adam Rabinowitz is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Texas, and also Assistant Director of the Institute of Classical Archaeology there.  He holds his degrees from the University of Michigan (PhD and MAs) and Swarthmore College, and his research interests are Greek colonization, cultural interaction, ancient food and drink, archaeology of daily life, and digital approaches to archaeology.  He is a field archaeologist with twenty-five years of archaeological field experience at Greek, Roman, and Byzantine sites in Italy, England, Israel, Tunisia, and Ukraine, and has published extensively.  Professor Rabinowitz is also involved in several digital humanities projects related to the linking and visualization of information about the Classical past, including Pleiades, GeoDia, Hestia 2, and PeriodO.


This lecture offers an overview of the Greek colonial site at Histria in Romania, near the mouth of the Danube, and a presentation of the results of the first two seasons* of the Histria Multiscalar Archaeological Project (HMAP) of the University of Texas at Austin and the Institute of Archaeology “Vasile Pârvan”. HMAP focuses on an unexplored area of the “Plateau”, a part of the settlement occupied as a residential and industrial area from the Archaic to the Hellenistic period, and then reused as a cemetery in the Roman period. HMAP takes a multidisciplinary approach to the investigation of this area, including geophysical prospection, bioarchaeology, archaeogenetics, archaeozoology, and isotopic analysis. The first two seasons revealed a series of Roman child burials in the area of a Hellenistic pottery kiln, along with some unusual finds, including a Roman sword and a more monumental tomb. The lecture will also discuss how this project has been integrated into a larger interdisciplinary “grand challenge” project, and how knowledge of past urban societies derived from archaeology can be used to inform our present and future responses to environmental and demographic stresses.

* three seasons if we can return to the field in summer 2021


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

In recent popular books, geographer Jared Diamond and geneticist David Reich have insisted that understanding the past helps us understand the present and the future. Their stories focus on both positive and negative reactions to environmental and demographic changes, but it is the emphasis on collapse and conflict that sparks public interest and media coverage. It is no surprise that such narratives have gained prominence in the context of our own debates about climate change and migration, at a time when both scientific breakthroughs and digital technologies offer us an unprecedented opportunity to collect new evidence about the human past and explore what the choices of past societies mean for the future. But many scholars see the oversimplified narratives of collapse and “population replacement” relayed to the public as problematic. This lecture will explore what we think we know about past societies and their responses to climate and demographic stress; how what we think we know isn’t always the whole picture; and how we can reach a more accurate understanding of the implications of the past for the future. It will do so through a case-study of the integration of archaeology into a “Grand Challenge” research agenda at a flagship state university, using the example of the Planet Texas 2050 project at the University of Texas at Austin. The speaker is a founding member of the organizing committee of this grand challenge project, which seeks to address the twin stressors of climate and demographic change in the state to ensure that it reaches the middle of the century as a resilient, equitable, and healthy place to live.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

This lecture presents a general, accessible overview of archaeological investigations carried out by the Institute of Classical Archaeology in the South Region of the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine city of Chersonesos in Crimea between 2004 and 2011. It also details the conservation, interpretation, and cultural-heritage-management work conducted both in that area and across the site as a whole, leading up to the site’s successful nomination to the World Heritage List in 2013. Research and conservation efforts are discussed in the context of both local and geopolitics in Crimea and Ukraine, from the Orange Revolution of 2004 to the Russian annexation of the peninsula in 2014 and beyond.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Carter, J.C., and G.R. Mack. 2003. Crimean Chersonesos: city, chora, museum, and environs. Austin: Institute of Classical Archaeology, the University of Texas at Austin.

Rabinowitz, A., L. Sedikova, and R.J. Henneberg. 2010. “Daily life in a provincial Late Byzantine city: recent multidisciplinary research in the South Region of Tauric Chersonesos (Cherson).” In Byzanz — das Römerreich im Mittelalter, edited by Falko Daim and Jörg Drauschke, 2, 1:425–478. Monographien des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums 84. Mainz: Verlag des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums.

Annual reports available at Information about the site in English can be found at

Digital tools and methods are increasingly deployed to document and enhance archaeological research; in fact, some argue that we are living in a golden age of data capture and visualization, where a digital camera can capture high-resolution, high-density information about 3D geometry and resources from databases to video-game engines provide online access to archaeological information for all. But because the technology is developing so rapidly, our critical analysis of these digital practices has not kept pace. This lecture reviews recent developments in digital archaeology and argues that there are three “grand challenges” that our field must address before digital methods can truly become foundational elements in our archaeological practice. The first of these involves understanding what we lose, and how we see evidence differently, when we rely exclusively on digital tools for its capture (a camera instead of a drawing-board, a tablet instead of a field notebook). The second relates to how we preserve our data and documentation for posterity, in a form that will allow them to be discovered and reused by future researchers in 10, 50, or even 100 years. And the third — and perhaps the most difficult — is how we can facilitate new research based on the combination of multiple heterogeneous datasets. I will speak to these questions from my own experience as an archaeologist who uses digital tools in the field, as a data manager who seeks to ensure the longevity and reuse of his data, and as the Principal Investigator of an NEH- and IMLS-funded project to create a Linked Data gazetteer of period definitions to facilitate temporal search across disparate datasets.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Rabinowitz, A., “Time for Linked Open Data”, in S. Bond, P. Dilley, and R. Horne, eds., Linked Open Data for the Ancient Mediterranean: Structures, Practices, Prospects (ISAW Papers 20, 2021),

Rabinowitz, A., “Surrogate materialities: archaeological objects in online contexts”, in S. Barber and C. Peniston-Bird, eds., Approaching Historical Sources in their Contexts. Space, Time and Performance (London and New York: Routledge, 2020), 147-165.

Rabinowitz, A., R. Shaw, and P. Golden, “Making up for lost time: digital epigraphy, chronology, and the PeriodO project”, in A. de Santis and I. Rossi, eds., Crossing Experiences in Digital Epigraphy: From Practice to Discipline(Warsaw: De Gruyter Open, 2018), 202-215.

Rabinowitz, A., R. Shaw, S. Buchanan, P. Golden, and E. Kansa. 2016. “Making Sense of the Ways We Make Sense of the Past: The Periodo Project.” Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 59 2: 42–55. doi:10.1111/j.2041-5370.2016.12037.x.

Rabinowitz, A. 2016. “Response: Mobilizing (Ourselves) for a Critical Digital Archaeology.” In Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: the Potential of Digital Archaeology, edited by Erin Averett, Jody Gordon, and Derek Counts, 493–518. Grand Forks, ND: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

Rabinowitz, A. 2015. “The work of archaeology in the age of digital surrogacy.” In Visions of Substance: 3D Imaging in Mediterranean Archaeology, edited by Brandon R. Olson and William Caraher, 27–42. Fargo: The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

Rabinowitz, A., M. Esteva, and J. Trelogan. 2013. “Ensuring a future for the past: long-term preservation strategies for digital archaeological data.” In The Memory of the World in the Digital Age: Digitization and Preservation (Proceedings of the International Conference), edited by L. Duranti and E. Shaffer, 941–954. Vancouver: UNESCO.

Rabinowitz, A., S. Eve, and J. Trelogan. 2007. “Precision, accuracy, and the fate of the data: experiments in site recording at Chersonesos, Ukraine.” In Digital Discovery: Exploring New Frontiers in Human Heritage, CAA 2006, edited by Jeffrey Clark and E. Hagemeister, 243–256. Budapest: Archeolingua.

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