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ExPLOT - Exploring Past Landscapes Over Time

ExPLOT - Exploring Past Landscapes Over Time

The interdisciplinary network for geo-spatial and geo-historical studies in Cambridge

MapGeographical information systems (GIS) and computational approaches to old and sometimes forgotten datasets have radically transformed our ability to learn about the past. Census records, gazetteers, historical maps, and other sources of legacy data can be transformed into digital datasets that, combined with other spatial data are revealing past worlds. Recent years have seen an explosion in GIS tools and open datasets, but many of the most innovative methods are trapped in disciplinary silos – severely limiting their potential to generate new knowledge. In Cambridge, innovative geospatial work is being carried out in geography, history, archeology, anthropology, architecture and urban studies, but there is currently no forum to exchange and present results and methodologies. We seek to change that through the development of the ExPLOT network, an interdisciplinary group of scholars who are exploring past landscapes using a range of digital and computational tools to research the geographies and histories of times past. Geo-spatial studies of the past are a burgeoning area of research, so let's share more of this exciting work!

The first meeting of the ExPLOT network aims to gather historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers, economists, and researchers in other disciplines to present a range of spatial approaches to the past.

The first meeting will take place on Tuesday 24 March at 5pm at Pembroke College. After this initial meeting, the ExPLOT network will gather on Tuesdays 5 May, 26 May, and 16 June to present and discuss ongoing and new research and to share our ideas and projects. We will invite leading scholars from other universities to present their own research to the network.

  • 24 March, 5pm
  • 5 May, 5pm
  • 26 May - all-day workshop - King's College
  • 16 June, 5pm

We will hold a one-day workshop on 26 May 2020 at King's College. It will be organised in three sessions: the first will consist of 15-minute project talks that describe advanced and ongoing research across Cambridge departments. The second session will consist of 5-minute lightning talks designed to showcase methods and techniques of individual researchers from any discipline. These sessions will be followed by a roundtable discussion that seeks to identify overlapping questions, approaches, and potential collaborations in the future. We will move over to a nearby pub following the workshop. We aim to create enjoyable and sociable events.

In between these formal meetings please follow us on our Twitter feed (@ExPLOT) for all participants to use as a support network for technical questions, highlighting recent publications, collaboration and job offers. We hope this will be a forum for those using geo-spatial tools to find answers and support to specific questions.

We already invite all interested scholars to join our network. All levels of participation are welcome, but we specifically invite the submission of brief (~200 word) proposals for the workshop on 26 May 2020, either project or lightning talks. Please submit your proposal to Alexis Litvine [] and Adam Green [] before the end of December for full consideration. Feel free to circulate this proposal to anyone you think may be interested.

If you would like to get more involved with this new network, and to help us as fellow volunteers to make it successful, please also let us know and subscribe to our diffusion list.


Oliver Dunn,, Faculty of History, CAMPOP

Adam Green,, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, King's College

Alexis Litvine,, Faculty of History, CAMPOP, Pembroke College

ExPlot counts with the generous support of the Trevelyan Fund.