AB, Alex Brandsen, 1987

Archaeologist - Programmer - Tinkerer


Portrait of Alex Brandsen

My research interests lie at the intersection of Archaeology and Computer Science, with a specific passion for creating useful tools for other archaeologists to further their research. In my PhD, I am using text mining techniques and machine learning to unlock the information hidden in archaeological field reports. This will result in an online tool (called AGNES) allowing researchers to search through this enormous amount of grey literature in a detailed and fine grained matter.

In my spare time I like to tinker with things, I've recently acquired a 3d printer and really enjoy designing and making useful (and sometimes not so useful) items. See the Side Projects section for some of my creations.

Want a quick, high-level overview of my research? Have a look at this 5 minute presentation:


Below you can find a list of my published work, datasets and code.


Brandsen, A. (2022). Digging in documents: using text mining to access the hidden knowledge in Dutch archaeological excavation reports. PhD Dissertation, Leiden University. DOI: hdl.handle.net/1887/3274287


Brandsen, A., Verberne, S., Lambers, K., & Wansleeben, M. (2021). Can BERT Dig It? - Named Entity Recognition for Information Retrieval in the Archaeology Domain. Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage. DOI: 10.1145/3497842

Brandsen, A., & Lippok, F. (2021). A burning question - Using an intelligent grey literature search engine to change our views on early medieval burial practices in the Netherlands. Journal of Archaeological Science, 133. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2021.105456

Brandsen, A., Verberne, S., Wansleeben, M., & Lambers, K. (2020). Creating a Dataset for Named Entity Recognition in the Archaeology Domain. Proceedings of The 12th Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, 4573-4577. Link: aclweb.org/anthology/2020.lrec-1.562.pdf

Brandsen, A., Lambers, K., Verberne, S., & Wansleeben, M. (2019). User Requirement Solicitation for an Information Retrieval System Applied to Dutch Grey Literature in the Archaeology Domain. Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, 2(1), 21-30. DOI: 10.5334/jcaa.33

Paijmans, H., & Brandsen, A. (2010). Searching in archaeological texts: Problems and solutions using an artificial intelligence approach. PalArch's Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology, 7(2), 1-6.

Paijmans, H., & Brandsen, A. (2009). What is in a Name: Recognizing Monument Names from Free-Text Monument Descriptions. In M. G. J. van Erp, J. H. Stehouwer, & M. van Zaanen (Eds.), Proceedings of the 18th Annual Belgian-Dutch Conference on Machine Learning (Benelearn) (pp. 2-6).


Brandsen, A. (2021). Archaeological entities and timespans extracted from all archaeology documents available in DANS EASY in 2017. DANS. DOI: 10.17026/dans-zcs-7b72

Brandsen, A. (2020). alexbrandsen/archaeo-document-classification-dataset: Second version. DOI: 10.5281/ZENODO.4115747

Brandsen, A. (2019). alexbrandsen/dutch-archaeo-NER-dataset: First version. Zenodo Repository. DOI: 10.5281/ZENODO.3544544


Most code can be found on my GitHub, but here are some highlights:

Verschoof-van der Vaart, W., & Brandsen, A. (2020). Boundingbox Localizer Tool (BLT) - Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg version. Zenodo Repository. DOI: 10.5281/ZENODO.3888053

Brandsen, A. (2019). alexbrandsen/joint-disease-tool: A HTML/JS based tool that interactively guides the user through a number of questions, ending in a specific pathology diagnosis. GitHub Repository.

Brandsen, A. (2018). alexbrandsen/archaeo-CRF: Version 0.1 of Archaeo CRF. Zenodo Repository. DOI: 10.5281/ZENODO.1238861


I am part of a number of groups that deserve sharing, here's a list!

CAA NL/FL. I am the outreach officer for CAA Netherlands/Flanders, the Dutch chapter of the International CAA. We promote computational approaches in archaeology, and organise a yearly meeting with presentations by members.

Digital Archaeology Group. Together with Wouter Verschoof-van der Vaart and Marina Gavryuskina, we organise monthly lectures on digital archaeology, and provide a space where researchers can present and discuss their work in an informal setting.

DAWN. I am part of the organisation of Digital Archaeology Workshops Netherlands/Flanders (DAWN), where we organise yearly workshops on digital archaeology topics.

Text Mining and Retrieval Leiden (TMRL). I am a member of the TMRL research group led by Suzan Verberne, where we discuss text mining and related technologies on a monthly basis.

Side Projects

I like to make stuff and tinker with things, here you can find some examples of my side projects!

3D Printing

I design and print all sorts of objects, below is a selection of my recent prints. Some of these are designs by other people, and some I have designed myself, such as the sloth keyhanger, Walouija board and Tray-buchet (dice tray with integrated catapult).

I sell some of these items on Etsy.