UA Blog

Where Are They Now Wednesday: Li Sou

Li Sou a Durham University graduate, won the 2015 Gold medal in the Classical Studies & Archaeology category for her paper titled "New Light on Colour: a study of polychromy on Neo-Assyrian reliefs"

Li Sou paper on digitally reconstructing the colours of ancient Assyrian sculptures was published in the journal Antiquity’s project gallery

Since then she has completed her Masters at Durham University, specialising in Later Prehistoric Archaeology, particularly monuments of the British Iron Age (c.800 BC – 43 AD), and worked with the Geospatial Imaging team at Historic England. There, she trained to survey and analyse historic buildings and ancient monuments across the country in 3D using photogrammetry and laser scanning; from sections of Hadrian’s Wall, castles, abbeys and lime kilns to Iron Age villages down in Cornwall. She got to travel all over England, which was brilliant!

Li started her PhD this year, which is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between the University of Bradford, where she is currently based, and Historic Environment Scotland, with Shetland Amenity Trust. She is using 3D digital documentation to study three famous Iron Age brochs; Jarlshof, Mousa and Old Scatness (prehistoric dry stone towers) in the Shetland Isles of Scotland, so her on-going fascination with visualising the past continues. Li is particularly looking forward to experimenting with virtual reality as a way to engage people with these amazing ancient monuments, which can be very difficult to physically get to! Mousa broch can only be reached by a seasonal ferry, as it is on a deserted island with no roads, and to ascend to the top you have to climb a dark, steep, uneven spiral staircase – not the most accessible place, but an architectural marvel built over 2000 years ago! Li surveyed the site this summer with her supervisors and colleagues from Historic Environment Scotland and it was quite an adventurous trek to get there with all their survey kit!

“I think digital technologies are an excellent way of getting a glimpse of what life in the past, and particularly, non-destructive 3D imaging is an invaluable resource for visualising our heritage; to record, present and preserve it for the future. My research will help to develop conservation and management plans for the three brochs, which are on the UK’s tentative list for World Heritage Site status.”

Li keeps a blog, where she is tracking her travels and developments on her PhD, which can be found at