National Lecture Program

AIA Lecturer: Tiffany Earley-Spadoni

Affiliation: University of Central Florida

Tiffany Earley-Spadoni is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Central Florida; she holds her degrees from the University of Georgia and Johns Hopkins University (MA and PhD).  Her areas of specialization are geographic information systems (GIS), Digital Humanities, and the Ancient Near East.  Professor Earley-Spadoni is the Director of the Vayots Dzor Fortress Landscapes Project in Armenia, and she is currently working on a monograph on “Urartu: a Spatial History” (in preparation).


Popular films and video games featuring beloved characters such as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft frequently portray archaeologists engaged in poor professional practices. While such depictions may inspire interest in the field, they do little to show what archaeologists actually do and how they do it. However, multimedia accounts of archaeology have improved in recent years as archaeologists have increasingly become engaged in multimedia projects. This lecture will provide an overview of the state-of-the-art in digital storytelling as well as describe specific multimedia initiatives being deployed by Earley-Spadoni in her active field project, the Vayot Dzor Fortress Landscapes Project, in Armenia.

Fire beacon communication is not simply an artistic invention of the Tolkien science fiction universe. Until quite recently in human history, people used systems of fire and smoke to communicate messages at the speed of light. The world’s oldest communications networks, however, originate in the fortress landscapes of the ancient Near East, and this lecture will discuss their invention and use in times of peril.

The Vayots Dzor Fortress Landscapes Project (VDFLP), an archaeological research project in Armenia directed by the speaker, is investigating fire beacon networks and other human responses to danger in a precarious alpine environment. In recent field seasons, the VDFLP team has performed regional survey and targeted excavations at major fortress sites. The ancient fortresses that dot the landscape date to both the Iron Age and the medieval Silk Roads periods, and the VDFLP is investigating the rise and fall of fortress culture during these two periods.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

A blog post on our project by a participant:

A podcast (American Anthropologist) describing our research in progress:

Website for the Vayots Dzor Fortress Landscapes Project:

Infinite Armenias: Digital Storytelling as Public Archaeology:

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