Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Sylvia Deskaj

Sylvia Deskaj


August 21, 2013

Tumulus: A Mapping Archive of Northern Albanian Burial Mounds – Final Words

August 21, 2013 | By | One Comment

My CHI project, Tumulus, which can be found here, is an archive of archaeological data that were collected from previous field seasons in northern Albania.  Rather than keeping data hidden away in FileMaker, our efforts are best served, I think, when they are made available and others can use them – particularly since a dizzying array of archaeological projects and culture types are strewn throughout the Balkan landscape, confusing the public.

Tumulus is meant to serve several purposes: 1) allow local landowners to access information that we, as archaeologists, have been collecting during our survey fieldseasons; 2) call attention to the rapid destruction of burial mounds and other cultural heritage assets; 3) provide the beginnings of a platform of data-sharing amongst other archaeologists working in the Balkan region.

Read More

Sylvia Deskaj


January 23, 2013

Excavating the Digital Sub-Strata of an Archaeology Conference

January 23, 2013 | By | No Comments

The Joint Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) and the American Philological Association (APA) was held January 3rd – 6th, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. I went to this annual meeting for a variety of reasons: 1) present my preliminary research findings on the Neolithic mortuary practices of southern Greece; 2) network with friends and colleagues, particular those that I have worked with in both Albania and Greece; and 3) infiltrate the annual meeting by locating the sub-stratum of digitally-inclined people and events.

My experiences at this year’s AIA annual meeting were different from those of previous ones. In the past, I would usually attend presentations that were somehow related to topics that interested me as a burgeoning graduate student and, in part, I found myself caught in a whirlwind of names, faces, and seemingly missed connections. This year, however, I decided to approach the AIA annual Read More

Sylvia Deskaj


January 14, 2013

The Tumulus Mapping Archive: Tumulus

January 14, 2013 | By | 2 Comments


The project that is emerging as a result of my CHI Fellowship is one related to my dissertation research in northern Albania. The tumuli (burial mounds) of northern Albania appeared suddenly on the Shkodër plain around the start of the Bronze Age (ca. 3000 BC). As a result of the ongoing Projekti Arkeologjikë i Shkodrës (PASH), which is co-directed by Drs. Michael Galaty (Millsaps College) and Lorenc Bejko (University of Tirana), we have been able to locate, identify, and map most tumuli throughout the region. However, time is of the essence, particularly since tumuli are mined for soil and are being damaged and destroyed at a very high rate. My project, Tumulus, in its immediate form, will serve as a digital repository through which information collected for each tumulus will be made available to a wider audience.


Like the plethora of “culture types” commonly used to describe the Read More

Sylvia Deskaj


December 5, 2012

What role does “digital” have within Anthropology? – Part I

December 5, 2012 | By | One Comment

This is a question that I asked fellow graduate students here in the Department of Anthropology at MSU. The impetus for asking my peers this question occurred as a result of last week’s meeting of CHI Fellows, whereby Donnie Sackey suggested that it would be useful to us to get a sense of how people define “digital.” What follows are some snippets of conversations that I found to be particularly informative about how people define “digital” and, in particular, the role and/or value that “digital” has within the discipline of anthropology:


“…digital resources have the ability to bring the “other” closer to us…”

“…people we study and work with are able to have access to the resources and information that we use as researchers…”

“…ability to access articles from basically anywhere and across all disciplines…”


What are the pros and cons of incorporating “digital” into your respective sub-discipline?

“…visual databases really help us understand a wider Read More

Sylvia Deskaj


November 7, 2012


November 7, 2012 | By | No Comments

Hello, world. My name is Sylvia Deskaj, and, as of October 21st of this year, I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the department of anthropology here at Michigan State University. Yay!!! Now in my fourth year in the department, I am looking forward to working on my CHI project with Dr. Ethan Watrall and the rest of the CHI community (stay tuned for more on this!).

Traveling around Michigan and meeting locals is something that I thoroughly enjoy, and fortunately, get to do often. After three years of living here, the state of Michigan is really growing on me. I especially enjoy hanging out with friends in Flint and camping in the Upper Peninsula (where the locals refer to each other as “Yoopers”).

Since graduating from college (“big up” to Northeastern Illinois University and Dr. Jon Hageman!) in 2008, I have worked in the Balkan nation of Albania, Read More