William Limp

Professor and Leica Chair in Geospatial Imaging

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

William (Fred) Limp is the Leica Geosystems Chair and University Professor in the Department of Geoscience and the Environmental Dynamics Program at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Limp is the immediate past-president of the Society for American Archaeology. He has worked for more than three decades in the specialized arena of geospatial and geomatics applications to archaeology and world heritage. He was a founder (1994) and long term Executive Board member of the Open Geospatial Consortium – the international geospatial standards/specifications setting organization. In 2013 he was appointed by Interior Secretary Salazar to the Board of the U.S. National Center for Preservation Technology and Training. He has served as PI/Co-PI on multiple NSF and NEH research projects including a multi-year initiative to develop and apply advanced computational techniques to the recordation and visualization of 3D data. Currently he is a Co-PI on an NSF effort to expand the use of such technologies in archaeology. He served as a member of the Coordinating Committee on a NSF funded effort to define “grand challenges” in archaeology – especially those that can be addressed by digital data, sources and techniques - published in January 2014 in American Antiquity and in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Measuring the face of the past and facing its measurement

Over the past two decades increasing attention in archaeology has been placed on the individual – with theoretical standpoints such as agency and phenomenology. And yet, as even strong proponents of these perspectives admit, “… few ideas so popular in 21st century archaeology [as agency] have led to such sparse methodological developments.” (Dobres and Robb 2005). Some six decades ago Gordon Willey stated that the objectives of archaeology are “approached by the study and manipulation of three basic factors: form, space and time” (Willey 1953).  In 1960 Albert Spaulding identified what he termed the ''dimensions'' of archaeology. He defined dimension as "an aspect or property of the subject matter which requires its own special measuring device” (Spaulding 1960). In the last decade new technological developments have lead to new high density survey and measurement (or HDSM)  “measuring devices” that, coupled with new tools for representation, have the potential to interrogate the past from the perspective of the individual.  Adopting these approaches, however, requires examining many aspects of archaeology, the practice of scholarship and the characteristics of our academic institutions.