If you recall, a while ago I posted about a robot, called Tlaloc II-TC, that was placed in the temple of Quetzalcoatl in Teotihuacan. This little robot had already found a number of interesting objects during its adventure when I last spoke about it. It appears that in April Tlaloc II-TC uncovered three 2000 year old chambers. Archaeologists will be looking into these chambers in more details and allowing Tlaloc II-TC to explore further. Here are two articles on this discovery:
This blog has now officially passed 5000 views. To celebrate here are some news in the field. Thank you all for the support : )
- 3D Mauls and Segmented Stones “In-Situ”: GIS and 3D modelling come together for archaeology.
- New online CAA Proceedings: All Proceedings from 1973 to 2011, except of 2002 and 2010, can now be accessed via the CAA website.
- Up 3D: These guys provide 3D scanning services and one of their listed applications is Archaeology. Check their website out to see some archaeology 3D models.
- Key dates for the CAA conference announced: Although the deadline for abstracts just passed, one can still attend the conference as a guest. Students are also able to apply for bursaries from various institutions in order to attend the conference.
- ArcLand survey about aerial photograph archives: ArcLand is performing a survey to gather information on archives of aerial photos with potential for archaeological and landscape research in Europe. If your institution has an aerial photograph archive support ArcLand by providing some information about it.
- Conference on Cultural Heritage and New Technologies: As mentioned in an older post, the conference on cultural heritage and new technologies will be taking place in Vienna from the 11th to the 13th of November. Those attending, have a good time!
- X-rays used to analyse contents of box: X-rays were used to analyse the contents of a bronze box found in an Entruscan tomb.
- Researchers use high-resolution CT scans and 3D modeling to analyse world’s oldest data storage system: Researchers use high-resolution CT scans and 3D modelling to look inside Mesopotamian clay balls said to be the first data storage system.
- Archaeologists use 3D modeling to reconstruct the 1,500-year-old crime scene: Archaeologists have discovered the site of a 1500 year old massacre and are using 3D modelling to recreate the scene.
Coursera is a company that provides free online courses presented by lecturers at various well known Universities. The courses fall within various disciplines and range from beginner to advanced levels. Some courses even provide a record of achievement.
I am currently taking my second course through Coursera and am very happy with the quality of the lectures and the material covered in both. The first course I took was called Maps and the Geospatial Revolution and the outcomes of a discussion I created about GIS in archaeology were summarized in one of my previous posts, GIS in Archaeology. I took the course in order to learn a bit more about GIS, which is very useful in archaeology (as you may see in the mentioned post).
Currently I am taking a course in Egyptology, it just started last week so if you speak Spanish and are interested in Egyptology quickly go join! The lectures are very interesting.
The list of courses includes a huge variety of computer science modules. If you want to do computational archaeology and already know the archaeology bit but want to start learning some computer science these may be perfect for you.
Another plus of Coursera is that if you find a course that has already ended but you would still be interested on doing, you can add it to a watch list and receive a notification the next time the course starts. You are also not required to do the assignments and tests, you are welcome to just watch the videos for interest sake. The tests and assignments are there in order to receive a record of achievement. You can also receive e-mails suggesting courses based on your previous choices.
Here are some courses you may be interested in if you like computational archaeology:
- Egiptologia (Egiptology – course in Spanish) - The essentials of Egiptology
- Recovering the Humankind Past and Saving the Universal Heritage: An archaeology course
- Learn to Program: The Fundamentals: A beginners course in programming (programming language: Python)
- Computer Science 101: An introduction to computer science.
- The Modern World: Global History since 1760: A history course
- Image and Video Processing: From Mars to Hollywood With a Stop at the Hospital: A course on image and video processing. May need prior programming knowledge.
- The Ancient Greeks: A course on Greek history.
- A History of the World Since 1300: A history course (there are many of them, this is just one example)
- The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem: A course on the history of Jerusalem
- Greek and Roman Mythology: A course on Greek and Roman mythology.
- Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets: An archaeology course.
Some of the above may have already finished, but you can add them to a watch list and be notified when they start again
Enjoy the classes!
For those of you who travel a lot and would like to do something more productive with that time, why not listen to some podcasts while driving?
I recently started listening to The Naked Archaeology podcasts and have already heard two which reference technology used in archaeology.
Here are some other archaeology podcasts I have found online and still need to try out:
Here are some news in the field:
- Mapping Ancient Civilization, in a Matter of Days: LIDAR used to map a Mayan city.
- Ancient Artificial Harbor Found in Israel: Researchers use photogrammetry to construct a 3D model of an ancient Harbor
- Long-Lost Pyramids Found?: Possible pyramids found using satellite imagery
- Robot discovers three unexplored passages in 2,000-year-old tunnel near the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico: An update on our old friend Tlaloc II-TC. After discovering those golden disks the robot Tlaloc II-TC has also found some unexplored passages under the temple of Quetzalcoatl.
- Ancient City of Angkor Bigger Than Thought: Ancient city of Angkorhas been mapped using LIDAR.
- $36 Million in Silver Hauled From WWII Shipwreck: Underwater robot used to capture video footage of a shipwreck on which a large number of silver ingots were discovered.
To those that enjoyed the previous post, ESRI provides GIS tools that can help archaeologists in their daily lives.
Here is link by ESRI pointing archaeologists to the ARC GIS tools available online for a number of archaeology related activities, namely research, survey, excavation, modelling and data management.
I recently decided to take some courses online on Coursera. I attempted to do an Archaeology one but I was at a bunch of conferences during the course so I could not complete it. There is, however, one course I recently completed called “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution”. I took this course in order to learn a bit more about GIS and how it can be applied to various fields, in my case, archaeology. It was a very interesting course, well presented, the assignments were fun and practical and the discussions were intriguing. I would definitely recommend for archaeologists and computational archaeologists to take this course for a nice introduction to GIS.
I didn’t only complete this course, but also started a discussion on “GIS in Archaeology”, asking my fellow students if they had had ever used GIS for archaeological purposes and what their experiences were. I didn’t think I would get much of a response, but I had a very pleasant surprise. The students not only told me about their experiences but also gave some links and asked further questions about GIS in archaeology and Computational archaeology. It made me feel very happy to see that other people were as excited about the subject as I was. This blog post summarizes that thread. Thank you to all who contributed, you are awesome!
Some institutions that deal with GIS and Archaeology:
- University of West Florida teaches a course in GIS in Archaeology
- Jezreel Valley Regional Project: This is a project investigating the history of the Jezreel Valley. Their computational archaeology activities include remote sensing, photogrammetry and the creation of an online repository for the data gathered about the area.
- Coursera – Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secret: The people commenting that had taken the course stated that the use of GIS in the field was mentioned in the course. It was judged as a great course and it will possibly take place again in 2014.
- ArcLand: Mentioned in previous posts, is a project dealing with remote sensing and aerial imagery used in archaeology. They have a linkedin page you can follow as well.
- Gim Geomatics (in Spanish): deals with GIS in many fields, including archaeology. Here are some PDFS (also in Spanish) dealing with GIS being used in caves, sites and artefacts.
- Digital Photogrammetry 3D Representation of Archaeological Sites
- Archaeology UK POI for Garmin
- Digital Archaeology Archive of Comparative Slavery
- Pyramids in Egypt found via Satellite imaging
- Laser based methods to map a Mayan city in Belize
- TED talk on Archaeology from Space
- A video linked to by a commenter, only available in the UK (I couldn’t watch )
- Egyptian pyramids found by infra-red satellite images: The article for the above video
- 3D modelling and texturing of archaeological site (video)
- Engraving Analysis (video)
- Recovering Rupestrian rock art (video)
- 3D visualisations to find lost cities
Quotes on experiences:
- Commenter A: “I have been working in GIS in Archaeology; but more than in recording data in running simulations or predict situations at macro, semi-micro or micro scales. It is a very interesting brench. When you are working at macro or semi-micro scale, sometimes it is called Spatial Archaeology or landscape archaeology”
- Commenter A: ”We run different types os situation, depending on the scale (spatial is “special” and scale is a key factor).
At Lower scales (macro or regional level), we use to run process with 2D – 2.5D data (and sometimes time), based on statistics and “weighted overlay” analysis such as minimum cost paths, watersheds, viewsheds, find of spatial patterns to fin sites, etc.
In the semi-micro environment (site level); most of the times, we continue using “traditional GIS”, based in 2D – 2.5 D analysis to “build a history” from the recorded data and simulate situations such where was the home, calculate working areas, etc. As far as time advances, it is more common to work with ”pure” 3D data such as meshes, voxels, NURBS, etc. Basically, the main differences is that one pair of XY coordinates accepts several Z and the 3D topology. Caves is the case that you have to always use them and typical simulations are light analyses, climate control, wind movement, height calculations, stability analyses, etc.
Micro level usually requires 3D data to draw conclusions and explode data.
Obviously computations Intelligence is present in the “processing stage” and the use fuzzy logic, ANN, data mining and even bio-inspired processing algorithms is not very strange.”
- Commenter B: “We use GIS systems on a Trimble when we’re in the field. This is very helpful for finding our project locations and mapping sites we find along the way. Some experiences have led to frustration, for instance, when there is cloud cover. Also, any approximation of points due to imprecise capturing of data (some GIS systems are less precise within a meter or several meters) can make relocating a site somewhat difficult. It may be important to relocate a site, for instance, when Phase II testing is required. “
- Commenter C: “ I am finding that most jobs in archaeology today are looking for people who know GIS systems”, “GIS systems are making it easier to locate sites for archaeologists, it may also make it easier for criminals to find them as well”
- Commenter D: “I used to be a gypsy digger on archaeological sites around Britain many years ago before GIS. Some sites did have aerial photos to help them locate buried walls and other areas of disturbance. I believe that the excavations they did in Turkey near Mount Ararat on what they believed was the site where Noah’s Ark landed was located using these methods.”
- Commenter E: “GIS has been used in Archaeology for some time, especially for predictive modeling (such as using topographic and social variables to infer site location) and the use of remotely sensed imagery to identify features that may indicate sites. “
- Commenter F: “I work for an engineering consultancy in the UK and we have archaeologists. Alongside our environmental dudes, they are the biggest users of GIS in the company: If you build anything in the UK you have to assess what the likely impact is on the surroundings, including any affect that you might have on the archaeology. They use GIS initially to do desktop studies of what records of archaeology or other historically important stuff there is about. They then report what the likely impact of the construction will be.Sometimes they then have to be involved in supervising any archaeological investigation and providing input to the design to prevent or reduce the impact on the archaeology.
Recently they’ve also been using 3d scanners to record investigations.”
- Commenter G: “Funny you should say that, I’ve just been draping C16th and C17th century maps of a Manor House that friends of friends own. They also want to put stuff from the UK archaeological record on the same map, too.”
- Commenter H: “Kristina, I’ve used a GIS to model source material for the Chinchorro mummies in Peru/Chile, viewshed analysis for evaluating territoriality, line of sight between geoglyphs down valley and modeling historical pathways (trails, travel networks) using cost-distance analysis. All have limitations and embedded assumptions but offer a refined starting place.”
- Commenter I: “A friend of mine used GIS to map out the artifacts we found during our summer field school and the results were pretty cool. You could actually see a ring of artifacts. Looked kind of like a group of people sitting around, tossing things over their shoulders (aka Binford’s Dimensional Analysis). Very cool.
I’m also about to start an internship where we will use it in conjunction with surveying.”
- Commenter J: “ I’ve used a trimble for mapping in artifacts and setting nails”
- Commenter K: “I’m learning GIS to develop skills in photogrammetry and in 3D rendering of site maps. Photogrammetry involves digitally rectifying photographs taken in the field to make them “to scale”. It uses a mixture of both GIS and AutoCAD. 3D rendering also uses GIS and AutoCAD.”
- Commenter L: “ I’m using GIS to layer maps and plans of a 1650s Spanish fort, today located in a slum community in San Juan, PR. There’s a big question for folks here interested in the fort where exactly it is and what’s left of it. By using aerial photographs as layers, the last time it was seen from above was 1930s. Using GIS for the initial remote sensing and basis for a discussion on cultural formation processes, a la Schiffer.”
- Commenter M: “At a regional archaeology conference for the Caribbean, there were several presentations showing the use of GIS for predicting pre Colombian sites”
- Commenter N: “Some time ago I had the opportunity to work with a machine called HDS Scan station used, among other domains, also in archeology to realize very precise 3D scenes of archeological sites. Using laser technology, this device returns point-clouds that are then post-processed using some dedicated software solutions.”
There was also a link provided for another discussion thread dealing with viewsheds used in archaeology. That post linked to this article.
I hope this discussion summary is useful to those of you interested in GIS in archaeology.