skip to primary navigation skip to content

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.

Due to the current sanitary situation, ExPLOT's programme for this term has been postponed. We will advertise the new timetable as soon as it is realistic to do so. Please stay safe, and let's talk about geo-historical spatial sciences very soon.

The first meeting will take place on Tuesday 24 March at 5pm at King's 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, Munby Room, King's College: Geospatial analysis of trade routes

​Dr Toby Wilkinson, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Spatial analysis of prehistoric trade.

Dr Oliver Dunn, CAMPOP/CRASSH, Historical coastal trades of England and Wales, 1680-1830. Modelling infrastructure, sailing routes and voyages.

  • 5 May, 5pm, Munby Room, King's College: Environmental modelling

Dr Hector Orengo, Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology and McDonald Institute, Advanced computational methods for the archaeological analysis of human-environment interactions.

  • 26 May, 5pm, Munby Room, King's College King's College: Spatial modelling

​Prof Robert Haining, Cambridge Institute of Public Health,

Tobias Lunde, CAMPOP, Using correspondence analysis and related methods to describe and visualise large amounts of historical data.

  • 16 June, 5pm, Munby Room, King's College: Modelling Accessibility

Dr Christophe Mimeur, Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée University, Progressive modelling of historic accessibility : urban settlements and growth of the French Railway Network

TBC, Market access and urban growth in England and Wales during the pre-steam era.

We will move over to a nearby pub following the workshop. We aim to create enjoyable and sociable events, too.

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 and the Computational and Digital Archaeology Laboratory (CDAL) from the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research