Materializing Media Archaeologies

The MAD-P Hard Drive Excavation


  • Sara Perry University of York
  • Colleen Morgan University of York



contemporary archaeology, digital archaeology, excavation methodology, hard drive, media archaeology


Weaving together the theoretical and methodological assets of the fields of archaeology and media archaeology, this paper presents the first phase of the Media Archaeology Drive Project (MAD-P) wherein we aim to articulate a formal procedure for the excavation of media objects. Using an abandoned hard drive as our case study, we introduce our approach, discuss its varied intellectual implications, and suggest a series of next steps for developing the method and extending its deployment outwards to contemporary archaeologists as well as media archaeologists themselves.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Sara Perry, University of York

Sara Perry is Lecturer in Cultural Heritage Management, Department of Archaeology at the University of York.

Colleen Morgan, University of York

Colleen Morgan is the EUROTAST Marie Curie Research Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York.


Akoumianakis, D., N. Karadimitriou, G. Vlachakis, G. Milolidakis and N. Bessis. 2012. “Internet of Things as Virtual Settlements: Insights from Excavating Social Media Sites.” 4th International Conference on Intelligent Networking and Collaborative Systems (INCoS), Bucharest, 19-21 September, 132–139.

Brachman, R., P. Selfridge, L. Terveen, B. Altman, A. Borgida, F. Halper, T. Kirk, A. Lazar, D. L. McGuinness and L. A. Resnick. 1993. “Integrated Support for Data Archaeology.” International Journal of Cooperative Information Systems 2(2): 197–211.

Buchli, V. and G. Lucas. 2001. “The Absent Present.” In Archaeologies of the Contemporary Past, edited by V. Buchli and G. Lucas, 3–18. New York: Routledge.

Clack, T. and M. Brittain. 2007. Archaeology and the Media. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Dissanayake, E. 1995. “The Pleasure and Meaning of Making.” American Craft 55(2): 40–45.

Finn, C. 2001. Artifacts: An Archaeologist’s Year in Silicon Valley. Boston, MA: MIT Press.

____. 2003. “Bits and Pieces: A Mini Survey of Computer Collecting.” Industrial Archaeology Review 25(2): 119–128.

Gauntlett, D. 2011. Making is Connecting: The Social Meaning of Creativity, from DIY and Knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Getchell, K., A. Miller, J. R. Nicoll, R. Sweetman and C. Allison. 2010. “Games Methodologies and Immersive Environments for Virtual Fieldwork.” IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies 3(4): 281–293.

Goddard, M. 2014. “Opening up the Black Boxes: Media Archaeology, ‘Anarchaeology’ and Media Materiality.” New Media & Society, Published online before print 28 April:

Huhtamo, E. and J. Parikka. 2011. Media Archaeology: Approaches, Applications, and Implications. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ismail, S. and C. Finn. 2001. “The Valley of Lost Data: Excavating Hard Drives and Floppy Discs.” Paper presented at Archäologie und Computer conference at Forschungsgesellschaft Wiener Stadtarchäologie, Vienna, Austria, 5–6 November.

Kirschenbaum, M. G. 2008. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Klein, C. 2014. “Archaeologists Unearth Giant Sphinx – in California.” History in the Headlines 21 October. Available online:

Law, M. and C. Morgan. 2014. “The Archaeology of Digital Abandonment: Online Sustainability and Archaeological Sites.” Present Pasts 6(1): Art. 2 (online edition).

Mattern, S. 2012. “Dirty Media Archaeology.” Words in Space, 23 April. Available online:

____. 2013. “Ear to the Wire: Listening to Historic Urban Infrastructures.” AMODERN 2. Available online:

Moshenska, G. 2014. “The Archaeology of (Flash) Memory.” Post-Medieval Archaeology 48(1): 255–259.

Nesselroth-Woyzbun, E. J. 2013. “Dematerializing Digital Objects: Denial, Decay, Detritus and Other Matters of Fact.” Theses and Dissertations, Paper 1446. Available online:

O’Connor, B. 2014. “Dust and Debitage: An Archaeology of Francis Bacon’s Studio.” In Art and Archaeology: Collaborations, Conversations, Criticisms, edited by I. Russell and A. Cochrane, 131–139. London: Springer.

Perry, S. 2014. “Professionalisation: Archaeology as an ‘Expert’ Knowledge.” In The Encyclo­pedia of Global Archaeology, edited by C. Smith, 6150–6159. New York: Springer.

Pogac?ar, M. 2014. “Digital Heritage: Co-Historicity and the Multicultural Heritage of Former Yugoslavia.” Dve Domovini – Two Homelands 39: 111–124.

Reilly, P. 1990. “Towards a Virtual Archaeology.” In Computer Applications in Archaeology, edited by K. Lockyear and S. Rahtz, 133–139. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports.

Reinhard, A. 2014. “The Video Game Graveyard.” Archaeology 9 June. Available online:

Schablitsky, J. 2014. “Media and Archaeology.” In Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, edited by C. Smith, 4730–4736. New York: Springer.

Shanks, M. and R. McGuire. 1996. “The Craft of Archaeology.” American Antiquity 61(1): 75–88.

Thompson, J. n.d. “Every Nokia Tune.” Available online:




How to Cite

Perry, S., & Morgan, C. (2015). Materializing Media Archaeologies: The MAD-P Hard Drive Excavation. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 2(1), 94–104.