Dr Chiara Bonacchi (BA, MA, PhD, FSA, FSA Scot, FHEA)

Chancellor's Fellow in Heritage, Text and Data Mining and Senior Lecturer in Heritage; HCA and Edinburgh Futures Institute


  • Director of the Heritage Minds Lab: https://www.heritageminds.org/ 
  • Co-lead of the HCA Heritage Research Group
  • Co-lead of the Cultural Heritage Research theme for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Chair of the HCA Research Ethics and Integrity Committee


I am an internationally active researcher in digital heritage and the politics of the past, designing and using transdisciplinary, small- and big data-driven approaches to researching contemporary heritage experiences and values. I was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Archaeology (2022) for my work on: 1) development of novel big data-driven methodologies for heritage research; 2) theoretical and empirical studies of media experiences of archaeology; 3) large-scale and comparative studies of the relationships between people’s interactions with the past, their political identities and future thinking. I have led/co-led a dozen projects on these topics; published over 50 research outputs including a monograph, two edited books and two special issues; and have been invited to give 75 keynotes/talks in eleven countries. My research featured in outlets including Nature News, the Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph and British Archaeology. I am Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and of Scotland; Fellow of the Higher Education Academy; member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland and of the AHRC Peer Review College. I serve on the International Executive Board of the Association for Critical Heritage Studies, and have advised research and heritage policy makers in the UK and overseas, such as Arts Council England, Historic Environment Scotland and Historic England. I have contributed to the Research Strategy for the Antonine Wall, FRE World Heritage Site; and peer-reviewed research grants for UK, EU, and Dutch research funding schemes. I was visiting fellow at the University of Helsinki and the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage. I am the co-founder of the MicroPasts crowdsourcing platform, which has involved thousands of citizens in archaeological, historical and heritage studies research over a decade.

External appointments

  • Member of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council's (AHRC) Peer Review College.
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
  • Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
  • Member of the International executive committee of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS).
  • Advisory Board Member of the SGSAH Heritage Knowledge Exchange Hub.
  • Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.
  • Visiting Fellow, University of Helsinki (2019) and Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, NUKU (2022).
  • Advisory Board member for: Journal of Open Archaeology Data.
  • Advisory Board member for AP: Online Journal in Public Archaeology.


I hold a BA in Archaeology and an MA in Medieval Archaeology from the University of Florence. I completed a PhD in Public Archaeology from the UCL Institute of Archaeology (2012).

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am happy to supervise new PhD students in areas related to my specialties, which include:

  • The politics of the past in a digital age
  • Heritage and digital activism
  • Heritage experiences, values and identities
  • Digital heritage and digital museology
  • Heritage transformations in big data ecologies

Current PhD students supervised

  • Rachel Dutaud (Co-supervisor)
  • Qiuran Xia (Primary supervisor)
  • Alex Hiscock, AHRC CDP with Historic Environment Scotland (Primary Supervisor)
  • Lydia Narramore, AHRC CDP with the British Museum (Secondary Supervisor)
  • Hannah Cocks, AHRC CDP with Historic England (Secondary Supervisor)
  • Hanneke Booij, AHRC CDA with Glasgow Building Preservation Trust (Secondary Supervisor)

Research summary

My research focuses on the politics of the past in the context of digitally-enabled communication and big data. I have three main areas of interest:

- development of novel small- and big-data methodologies for heritage research

- theoretical and empirical studies of media experiences of archaeology and the past

- large-scale and comparative studies of the relationships between people’s interactions with the past, their political and social identities and future thinking

I pursue these interests through primarily collaborative and transdisciplinary projects. I direct the Heritage Minds Lab and co-lead the Heritage Research Group, at the University of Edinburgh.

Current project grants

2023-26, PI on Philip Leverhulme Prize in Archaeology. https://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/news/philip-leverhulme-prize-winners-2022.
20232-4, PI on Historic England's Innovation Fund grant 'Artificial Intelligence (AI) heritage guidance assistant – HAZEL' (with CIs Ed Lee and Lisa Brausem, Historic England).
2023, PI on CAHSS Knowledge and Innovation grant 'Activating Tolerant Futures in Primary Schools: interventions on ancient and contemporary identities' (with CI Zachary Horne, Psychology, University of Edinburgh).
2023, PI on Munro Research Grant 'Influential Pasts: understanding and challenging heritage-based tribalism' (with external collaborator Alberto Acerbi, Sociology, University of Trento).

Past project grants

2022, PI on the AHRC Follow-on Funding project 'Co-producing Tolerant Futures through Ancient Identities' (with CI Richard Hingley, Durham Archaeology).
2020-21, CI on the Royal Society of Edinburgh grant 'Narratives of Roman Scotland in the Digital Age' (with PI Manuel Fernández-Götz, University of Edinburgh; and CI Rebecca Jones, Historic Environment Scotland).
2020-22, CI on the AHRC JPI research grant 'Deep Cities - Curating Sustainable Urban Transformations through Heritage' (with PI Torgrim Guttormsen, Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research and CIs from UCL, University of Stirling, University of Florence and University of Barcelona).
2016-19, CI on the AHRC standard mode research grant 'Iron Age and Roman Heritages: Exploring Ancient Identities in Modern Britain' (with PI Richard Hingley, Durham Archaeology; and CI Tom Yarrow, Durham Anthropology).

The list below is a subset of the information held on the University of Edinburgh PURE system, and includes selected Books, Articles and Chapters. For a full list, including details of other publication types (e.g. reviews), please see the Edinburgh Research Explorer page for Dr Chiara Bonacchi.



Jones, S., Bonacchi, C. et al. (2024). Assessing the dynamic social values of the ‘deep city’: An integrated methodology combining online and offline approaches. Progress in Planning, 100852. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.progress.2024.100852

Bonacchi, C. (2022) Heritage and Nationalism: Understanding Populism through Big Data. London: UCL Press. DOI: 10.14324/111.9781787358010.

Bonacchi, C. (Ed.) (2021) Heritage in a World of Big Data: re-thinking collecting practices, heritage values and activism. Special Issue of Big Data and Society.

Nucciotti, M., Bonacchi, C., Molducci, C. (Eds.) (2019). Archeologia Pubblica in Italia. Florence: Florence University Press.

Bonacchi, C., Petersson, B. (Eds) (2017). Digital Co-Production in Archaeology. Special Issue of Internet Archaeology46.

Bonacchi, C. (ed.) 2012. Archaeology and Digital Communication. Towards Strategies of Public Engagement. London: Archetype Publications.



Bonacchi, C., Witte, J., Altaweel, M. (submitted) Political uses of the ancient past on social media are predominantly negative and extreme. 

Broccoli, E., Bonacchi, C., Jones, R., Fernández-Götz, M. (2023) Sketch-bridging the Past and Present to Craft the Future: Reflecting on the Archaeology and Heritage of Roman Scotland Through Creative Storytelling. Epoiesen. http://dx.doi.org/10.22215/epoiesen/2023.2.

Fouseki , K., Hisari, L., Dong, X., Bonacchi, C., Robson, E., Broccoli, E., Guttormsen, S.T., Skrede, Nucciotti, M., Shieh, S. (2023) Unpacking the dynamics of urban transformation in heritage places through ‘critical system dynamics’: the case of Beresford Square, Woolwich. Land. Special Issue on: Urban Landscape Transformation vs. Heritage. https://doi.org/10.3390/land12112040.

Bonacchi, C., Jones, S., Broccoli, E., Hiscock, A., Robson, E. (2023) Researching heritage values in social media environments: understanding variabilities and (in)visibilities, International Journal of Heritage Studies. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2023.2231919.

Guttormsen, S.T., Skrede, J., Guzman, P., Fouseki, K., Bonacchi, C. and Pastor Pérez, A. (2023) Assemblage urbanism: the role of heritage in urban placemaking, Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCHMSD-12-2022-0208.

Bonacchi, C. (2021) Heritage Transformations. Editorial of Heritage in a World of Big Data: re-thinking collecting practices, heritage values and activism. Special Issue of Big Data and Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/20539517211034302.

Bonacchi, C., Krzyzanska, M. (2021) Heritage tribalism in Big Data Societies: origin myths and antagonistic othering on Twitter. Big Data & Society 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/20539517211003310

Bonacchi, C., Lorenzon, M. (2021) Assessing the transforming social values of cities in the longue durée: a reflection on a Florence neighbourhood from the Middle Ages to the present, European Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies, vol 11 (2021): 303-325.

Bonacchi, C., Krzyzanska, M. (2019) Digital research re-theorised: ontologies, epistemologies and ethics in a world of big data. International Journal of Cultural Heritage Studies 25(12): 1235-1247. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2019.1578989.

Bonacchi, C., Bevan, A., Keinan-Schoonbaert, A., Pett, D., Wexler, J. (2019) Participation in heritage crowdsourcing. Museum Management and Curatorship 34(2): 166-182. https://doi.org/10.1080/09647775.2018.1559080.

Mac Sweeney, N. et al. (2019) Claiming the Classical: The Greco-Roman World in Contemporary Political Discourse. Council of University Classical Departments Bulletin 48(19). https://cucd.blogs.sas.ac.uk/files/2019/02/MAC-SWEENEY-ET-AL-Claiming-the-Classical.pdf.

Bonacchi, C. (2018) Public Archaeology cannot just ‘fly at dusk’: reality and complexities of generating public impact. Antiquity 92(366): 1659-1661. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2018.231.

Bonacchi, C., Altaweel, M. and Krzyzanska, M. (2018) The heritage of Brexit: Roles of the past in the construction of political identities through social media. Journal of Social Archaeology 18(2): 174-192. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469605318759713.

Hingley, R., Bonacchi, C., and Sharpe, K. (2018) ‘Are you local?’ The ‘indigenous’ Iron Age and mobile Roman and post-Roman population: Then, now and in-between. Britannia 49: 283-302. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0068113X18000016.

Bonacchi, C., Hingley, R., and Yarrow, T. (2016) Exploring Ancient Identities in Modern Britain. Archaeology International: 54-57. http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/ai.1909.  

Bonacchi, C., Moshenska, G. (2015). A Critical Review of Digital Public Archaeology. Internet Archaeology 40.https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.40.7.1.

Bonacchi, C., Bevan, A., Pett, D., Keinan-Schoonbaert, A. 2015. Crowd-funding Community Archaeology. Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage, 3(2): 184-198. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/2051819615Z.00000000041.

Wexler, J., Bevan, A., Bonacchi, C, Keinan-Schoonbaert, A., Pett, D., Wilkin, N. 2015 Collective Re-Excavation and Lost Media from the Last Century of British Prehistoric Studies. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 2 (1): 126-142. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/jca.v2i1.27124.

Vannini, G., Nucciotti, M. and Bonacchi, C. (2014) Archeologia Pubblica e Archeologia Medievale [Public Archaeology and Medieval Archaeology]. Archeologia Medievale. Special Issue: Quarant’anni di Archeologia Medievale in Italia. La rivista, i temi, la teoria e i metodi, 2014: 183-195.

Bevan, A., Pett, D., Bonacchi, C., Keinan-Schoonbaert, A., Lombraña González, D., Sparks, R., Wexler, J. and Wilkin, N. (2014) Citizen Archaeologists. Online Collaborative Research about the Human Past. Human Computation (2014) 1:2:183-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.15346/hc.v1i2.9.

Bonacchi, C. (2014) Understanding the public experience of archaeology in the UK and Italy: a call for a ‘sociological movement’ in Public Archaeology. European Journal of Post-Classical Archaeologies 4 (2014): 377-400. http://www.postclassical.it/PCA_vol.4_files/PCA%204_Bonacchi.pdf.

Bonacchi, C. (2013) Audiences and values of archaeology on the small screen. Public Archaeology 12(2): 117-131. http://dx.doi.org/10.1179/1465518713Z.00000000035.

Bonacchi, C. (2009) Archeologia pubblica in Italia. Origini e prospettive di un ‘nuovo’ settore disciplinare [Public Archaeology in Italy. Origins and Prospects for a ‘new’ disciplinary field]. Ricerche Storiche 2-3 (2009): 329-350.



Bonacchi, C., Krzyzanska, M. (accepted) Who's influential? Archaeology-themed communications on Twitter. In: Resistance and Reception: Critical Archaeologies of Iron Age & Roman Worlds, edited by Robert Witcher and Emily Hanscam. Oxford: Archaeopress Publishing.

Bonacchi, C., Hennessy, K., and Gaylor, B. (submitted, 2023) Creative engagements with heritage ethics in the age of the data deluge. In: A. Pantazatos, T. Ireland, J. Schofield and R. Zhang (Eds) The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Ethics. London: Routledge.

Bonacchi, C. (2022) Digital Public Archaeology. In: Noiret, S. and Tebeau, M. (Eds) Handbook of Digital Public History. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Bonacchi, C. (2020) Forward. In: William, H. and Clarke, P. (Eds) Digging into the Dark Ages: Early Medieval Public Archaeologies. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 173-180.

Bonacchi, C. (2019) Esperienza, Archeologia e Musei. In: M. Nucciotti, C. Bonacchi and C. Molducci (Eds) Archeologia Pubblica in Italia. Florence: Florence University Press, pp. 173-180.

Nucciotti, M., Bonacchi, C., Molducci, C. (2019) Introduzione. In: M. Nucciotti, C. Bonacchi and C. Molducci (Eds) Archeologia Pubblica in Italia. Florence: Florence University Press, pp. 9-13.

Nucciotti, M. and Bonacchi, C. (2019) Il Congresso di Archeologia Pubblica come progetto culturale nazionale. In: M. Nucciotti, C. Bonacchi and C. Molducci (Eds) Archeologia Pubblica in Italia. Florence: Florence University Press, pp. 15-31.

Bonacchi, C. (2017) Digital Media for Public Archaeology. In Moshenska, G. (ed.) Key Concepts in Public Archaeology. UCL Press, pp. 60-72. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/key-concepts-in-public-archaeology.

Wilkin, N., Bevan, A., Bonacchi, C., Keinan-Schoonbaert, A., Pett, D., Wexler, J. 2015. Crowd-sourcing the British Bronze Age: Initial experiences and results from the MicroPasts project. Proceedings of the Society for Museum Archaeologists Conference.

Bonacchi, C., Bevan, A., Pett, D., Keinan-Schoonbaert, A. (2015) Crowd- and Community-fuelled Archaeology. Early Results from the micropasts Project. In Giligny, F., Djindjian, F., Costa, L., Moscati, P. And Robert, S. Eds. CAA2014, 21st Century Archaeology. Concepts, Methods and Tools. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, Paris. Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 279-288.

Bonacchi, C. (2014) Archeologia Pubblica al Tempo della Crisi Economica [Public Archaeology at the Time of the Economic Crisis]. In Parello, M.C. and Rizzo, M.S. (eds) Proceedings of the Conference Archeologia Pubblica al Tempo della Crisi, 29-30 November 2013, Agrigento, Italy, pp. 19-23.

Bonacchi, C. (2012) Introduction. In Bonacchi, C. (ed.) Archaeology and Digital Communication. Towards Strategies of Public Engagement. London: Archetype Publications, pp. xi-xix.

Bonacchi, C., Furneaux, C. and Pett, D. (2012) Public Engagement Through Online TV Channels: A Way Forward For The Audiovisual Communication Of Archaeology? In Bonacchi, C. (ed.) Archaeology and Digital Communication. Towards Strategies of Public Engagement. London: Archetype, pp. 50-65.

Bonacchi, C. and Pett, D. (2012) Conclusions. In Bonacchi, C. (ed.) Archaeology and Digital Communication. Towards Strategies of Public Engagement. London: Archetype Publications, pp. 126-130.

Bonacchi, C. (2012) Dal progetto museologico allo studio sui visitatori. La mostra Da Petra a Shawbak: un caso di Archeologia Pubblica [From museological planning to visitor studies. The exhibition From Petra to Shawbak: a case of Public Archaeology]. In Vannini, G. and Nucciotti, M. (eds) Proceedings of the Conference La Transgiordania nei secoli XII-XIII e le frontiere del Mediterraneo medievale, 5-8 November 2008, Florence, Italy. Oxford: B.A.R., pp. 479-486.

Bonacchi, C. (2011) Dalla Public Archaeology all’archeologia Pubblica [From Public Archaeology to Archeologia Pubblica]. In Vannini, G. (ed.) Archeologia Pubblica in Toscana. Un Progetto e una Proposta. Florence: Florence University Press, pp. 103-112.

Bonacchi, C. (2009) La mostra: idea e struttura. Il progetto museologico [The exhibition: concept and articulation: The museological project]. In Vannini, G. and Nucciotti, M. (eds) Da Petra a Shawbak. Archeologia di una Frontiera. Catalogo. Florence: Giunti, pp. 36-46.