Project Overview

"Listening to Watling Street" is Dr. Shawn Graham's experiment into sonifying the digital representation of the past - translating what we traditionally see and formalise onto a shelf in a museum or a database into a series of both pleasant and discordant notes, allowing us to explore an unseen experience of the Roman world. Within the song you hear crecendoes and dimuendoes that reflect concentrated areas in the archaeological record - literally allowing the inscriptions to speak to the listener, opening a new, dynamic door for understanding the Roman past. 

Judges' Comments

The judges were absolutely captivated by the brilliant subversion of what is traditionally a highly visual form of representation into a rhythmic soundscape, commenting that it opened up a totally new way to see and think about the past. The novel, insightful nature of the work, the innovative implementation of audio and visual media forms, combined with the clarity and thoroughness of the paradata led the judges to select this piece as one of three judges' choice awards for the online jam, stipulating that they would very much like to see the method discussed in the paradata expanded to include further imagery and for more implementations to be produced. 


About the Creator

Shawn Graham, Associate Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of History at Carleton University. Shawn likes to think of himself as a Romanist, and quite possibly, an archaeologist of Roman landscapes and social spaces. His digital archaeology work often turns on questions of simulation and the best ways to represent these things in everything from interactive fiction to virtual worlds. He's into data mining archaeological datasets, and has a book coming out soonish on digital methods in history with Ian Milligan and Scott Weingart.


I can't thank Brian Foo enough. His experiments in sonification, and his committment to sharing his code and expertise are exemplary. You too can play with this code to generate your own sonified experience of space - see Foo's Github repo at

AuthorIan Kirkpatrick