Classical & Archaeological Studies

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Dr Benjamin Vis

Eastern ARC Research Fellow (Digital Humanities)


Office: Cornwallis Central 108


Working from the University of Kent, I start and facilitate collaborative research initiatives in the broad fields of Digital Humanities and Digital Heritage within the new research consortium Eastern ARC, uniting the universities of Kent, Essex and East Anglia. My work is primarily interdisciplinary covering both the humanities and social sciences.

I completed my PhD in 2013, titled Mapping the Inhabited Urban Built Environment: The socio-spatial significance of the material presence of boundaries through time ( This work develops a new analytical and interpretive method for urban researchers in archaeology, history, geography, architecture and cognate disciplines, called Boundary Line Type (BLT) Mapping. I received my undergrad and research Master’s degrees from Leiden University reading Archaeology with a specific focus on Mesoamerican and Maya culture.

My research interests centre on (material and social) space, urban space and the built environment in particular. I aim to broadly contribute to fundamental understandings of how human beings in societies transform their life-world for and through inhabitation.

To this end I focus on interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives and methodological developments, which draw upon research in archaeology, geography, anthropology, architecture, history, sociology, and related fields. In its applied form I am developing case studies on a variety of cities to enable social comparisons of urban built environment traditions or cultures worldwide and across time. So far this work has started to address the historical development of Winchester from the Medieval period and the Early Classic Maya Lowland city Chunchucmil (Mexico).

A particular new direction in my research is concerned with gaining a better understanding of the functioning of tropical low-density cities or agro-urban landscapes as found in Mesoamerica, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. By contrasting these alternative forms of urbanism to urbanisation patterns and processes in contemporary cities I aim to learn about the social resilience and sustainability of developing physical configurations for urban ways of life.

I hold memberships of the following academic societies: Royal Geographical Society (Urban Geography and Historical Geography groups); Wayeb (European Mayanists); International Seminar on Urban Form (ISUF); Aerial Archaeology Research Group (AARG); International Society for Archaeological Prospection (ISAP); Computer Applications & Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA); European Association for Archaeologists (EAA).

I am also Co-Director of the Kent Interdisciplinary centre for Spatial Studies (KISS). This new research centre operates across schools in the humanities and social sciences and is developing a programme of research activities starting 2015/16

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Vis, B. (2018). Cities Made of Boundaries: Mapping Social Life in Urban Form. [Online]. London: UCL Press. Available at:
Vis, B. (2009). Built Environments, Constructed Societies: Inverting spatial analysis. [Online]. Leiden, The Netherlands: Sidestone Press. Available at:
Edited book
van Broekhoven, L. et al. eds. (2010). The Maya and their Neighbours : Internal and External Contacts through Time : Proceedings of the 10th European Maya Conference, Leiden, December 9-10, 2005. Markt Schwaben: Anton Saurwein.
Vis, B. (2016). The Material Logic of Urban Space. Journal of Space Syntax [Online] 6:271-274. Available at:
Vis, B. (2012). Establishing Boundaries: A Conceptualisation for the Comparative Social Study of Built Environment Configurations. Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies [Online] 2:15-30. Available at:
Book section
Vis, B. (2014). Mapping Socio-Spatial Relations in the Urban Built Environment Through Time: Describing the Socio-Spatial Significance of Inhabiting Urban Form. in: Rau, S. and Schonherr, E. eds. Mapping Spatial Relations, Their Perceptions and Dynamics. Springer International, pp. 45-93. Available at:
Vis, B. (2012). Review of Bintliff, J. and Pearce, M., 'The Death of Archaeological Theory?'. Antiquity [Online]:274-275. Available at:
Vis, B. (2013). Assembly for Comparative Urbanisation and the Material Environment, Leeds, UK, 12-13 December 2012. [Journal print/digital]. Available at:
Vis, B. (2017). Understanding by the Lines We Map: Material Boundaries and the Social Interpretation of Archaeological Built Space. in: Siart, C., Forbriger, M. and Bubenzer, O. eds. Digital Geoarchaeology: New Techniques for Interdisciplinary Human-Environmental Research. Springer. Available at:
Total publications in KAR: 9 [See all in KAR]
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Classical & Archaeological Studies, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 827159 or contact Classical & Archaeological Studies

Last Updated: 17/10/2018