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Collaborative digital archaeology primer

Shawn Graham from the Electric Archaeology blog has created a Github project called DAP. This projects aims to gather people across the Computational Archaeology community to work on a digital archaeology primer.

The aim of this primer is to gather basic information about computational archaeology from the community. This information can then be used to teach archaeologists about the use of technology in archaeology. Additionally, it can help anyone interested to find the information that they need about digital archaeology in an organised manner.

Become part of the community by contributing to the Digital Archaeology Primer Github repository. I’ve made my first contribution to the photogrammetry section today, hopefully it is actually useful and makes it through.

See you on Github!



Progress for the Meetup in Johannesburg

The meetup is doing well!

We now have 24 members of the Computational Archaeology Meetup group in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Our first meeting will be at Wolves in Illovo on the 20th of July. It is aimed at getting to know each other, after which we’ll know more about each other’s skills and be able to organise some presentations/workshops. We have 8 guests that have confirmed the actual invitation so far, which can be found here: http://www.meetup.com/Computational-Archaeology-Meetup/events/231944654/

Any enthusiasts are welcome to join though. One does not have to have a Meetup account to be able to see the invitations and come along.

I look forward to meeting you all:)

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Computational Archaeology Meetup in Johannesburg

Hello fellow digital humanities enthusiasts living in/near Johannesburg South Africa. I’ve decided to start a computational archaeology  meetup group. In this meetup I hope to encourage a larger interaction between digital humanities enthusiasts in South Africa.

Depending on the interest we can either have a relaxed discussion or set up some presentations.

Here is the link to the meetup:  http://www.meetup.com/Computational-Archaeology-Meetup/ .

Let’s try to do a meetup in July and see how it goes. Hope to see you there!:)


3D modelling with a smart phone

Today I tried out the application called 123D Catch. This app allows you to capture images of an object and creates a 3D model from these. In other words, this is a photogrammetry app.

To use the application you take images of the object that you want to model from a set of different angles by walking around the object. You then get a chance to review the photographs to remove any blurry images. Once reviewed you accept the images and these get uploaded to a server which creates the 3D model.

The application also provides a website where your models can be managed and more models can be explored. The website can be found here.

I did find that the process takes quite a while. First the upload of the images can take some time, especially if you phone’s camera takes high resolution images. In addition to this delay the actual creation of the 3D model takes quite a bit of time.

You can play with the 3D model here and you can see more details here. It actually ended up being a very good 3D model, so worth the wait:)

3d capture.PNG

There is also an app provided by them which I can’t try as I don’t have compatible devices. This app is called 123D Sculpt+  and it allows one to create 3D models from scratch via a smart device.


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Computational Archaeology News – May 2016

Here are some of the articles I have read most recently relating to computational archaeology.


Summer schools (northern hemisphere) coming up

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Experiences with the Crafting Digital History Course

Earlier this year I participated in a Digital History course as an open access participant. The course was run by Shawn Graham, otherwise known as the writer of the Electric Archaeology blog. Shawn was a great distance teacher, always available via the Slack group and always up for any form of discussion. Even though I was in a completely different time-zone Slack allowed us to communicate freely and as synchronously as possible.


The course consisted of a theoretical side, where we were linked to various articles regarding digital history. Each of the 6 sections was followed by a set of practical exercises.

Two websites were provided for information about the course:

The course consisted of 5 modules:

  • Open Access Research: A module discussing why historical data should be open and easily accessible to the public.
  • Finding Data: A module discussing how to search for and scrape data.
  • Fixing Data: A module discussing how to clean up and process data.
  • Analysis: A module discussing quick visualisation and analysis of data.
  • Visualization: A module discussing the visualisation and presentation of historical data.

During the course we had to keep a repository with notes on the course. You can find my repository here. I didn’t complete some of the exercises due to work commitments and visiting Namibia for a holiday, but I did complete most of them.

We also had to do a project that could range from an info-graphic to a full website. I wanted to create an interactive map, but due to time limitations on my side I decided on an info-graphic instead. You can see the info-graphic here. I used the Early Tana Tradition and the Swahili Coast dataset for my info-graphic.

The exercises varied from theoretical exercises to technical ones. Some worked 100% using the instructions provided, others gave Windows users like me a bit of a troubleshooting experience before being able to complete them. The details of how the exercises were approached can be found in the repository mentioned above.

Shawn also wrote an article on his blog about the course and the various projects created by his students.

I personally found the course very interesting. It was important for me, being a software developer interested in archaeology, to see technology from a historians point of view. It was also fun to solve the various problems given in the exercises as well as the additional problems one may have experienced. Lastly, the course introduced me to a wide community of digital humanities, including the Digital Humanities Slack group.

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3D modelling of My Son Unesco Site

We recently visited Vietnam for a holiday and had the chance to visit the My Son UNESCO Heritage site. This site consists of a group of Hindu temples constructed to worship the god Shiva and located in central Vietnam.

My Son is a beautiful site that unfortunately also suffered partial destruction during the war. Today parts of My Son have been restored and 3D models of the various buildings have been created.


These articles written by teams that worked on the reconstruction of the My Son temples give a lot of details about the process:

  • 3D survey and virtual reconstruction of archeological sites: This paper discusses the process (in a lot of detail) of creating archaeological 3D models by applying the process to a number of temples at My Son. The 3D models allowed for an accurate documentation of the state of the site before reconstruction. These also served as a good starting point for the reconstruction process, which was based on first creating some reconstruction models. The article adds a nice diagram representing the process followed for the reconstruction of one of the temples,  I’ve added the diagram below:

process 3d modeling.PNG

In addition to these articles, I found that the Vietnamese Goethe Institut has held an event before to show the use of 3D modeling for museums and exhibitions. They have done this by creating a virtual tour through My Son and other Vietnamese historical buildings, such as the temple of literature. Funnily enough I am starting German lessons at the South African Goethe Institut in a few days and suddenly I found this information. Maybe they host such interesting events here too.

When we were at My Son we walked past some buildings that were still under restoration. These 3D models are probably still serving as a good base for restoration. It was interesting to see the different stages of the process. We saw buildings still covered in vegetation (they are very difficult to spot), buildings still under restoration, completely restored buildings and some some buildings that partially survived the war.

Here is a photograph of our trip to My Son. The small me on the left can serve as some sort of scale, though I am a bit on the short side, so not a very good scale.


I hope that this post gets some archaeologists excited about visiting the beautiful country of Vietnam.


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