ROOTS Citizen Science involvement

With a long history of volunteer participation and great potential for piquing public interest in cultural heritage, archaeology offers fertile ground for cultivating new models of citizen science research. Citizen science projects offer excellent examples not just of returning results to communities, but involving communities in asking research questions and in the research itself. The Communication Platform seeks to engage with citizen science approaches with two major research initiatives:

1)    On June 7-8 2021, a workshop on “Citizen Science in Archaeology: Exploring its Possibilities and Limits” seeks to convene an international group of scholars to discuss the potential for, and limits of, a critical citizen science of archaeology. In this workshop, we inquire into models and possibilities of public engagement with archaeology. Is a critical, engaged citizen science of archaeology possible? What would this mean for the formulation of research questions, development of research methods, research ethics, funding, and practical partnerships in fieldwork or remote cooperation? What are the specific challenges and opportunities posed by pursuing rigorous public engagement through the model of citizen science research in archaeology? Speakers will be invited to present citizen science projects and illustrate their experience, as well as to provide theoretical input, including an introduction to citizen science and its different approaches.

2)    In 2022, a Citizen Science project in community archaeology will be coordinated by members of the Communication Platform based at the ZBSA (Center for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology in Schleswig; link). In cooperation with the Schleswig-Holstein State Archaeological Office in Schleswig (link), "Test Pit Excavations" (TPE) will be carried out together with local residents. 1 sq.m. trenches will be excavated at different locations within a rural settlement in Schleswig-Holstein to document the archaeological record and reconstruct the history of the location. As the TPEs will be of the same size and the excavations will follow the same methodology and documentation procedures, they offer similar conditions and opportunity to different participants in different places. This will enable us to directly compare both archaeological and social data. The participatory approach and the specific features of the TPE integrate lay and expert knowledge and support from the implementation of the excavation to the research of the results. Dr. Carenza Lewis of the University of Lincoln has explored these approaches with community archaeology projects across the UK and other European countries. As a JMA-Chair, Dr. Lewis will assist in the preparation and conduction of this project. Furthremore, the Communication Platform will accompany this project by investigating whether this public participation approach result in community solidarity, increased historical interest as well as volunteer satisfaction. 
Lewis, Carenza, 2019, Test pit excavation as a method for reconstructing the development of currently-occupied rural settlements: Evidence from England. In: Jesús Fernández Fernández and Margarita Fernández Mier (eds), The Archaeology of Medieval Villages Currently Inhabited in Europe, Oxford: 7-34.


Project by

Claus von Carnap-Bornheim
Ilka Parchmann
Ilka Rau
Andrea Ricci
Katrin Schöps


Fieldwork + Activities


Participating Institutions