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Computational Archaeology in Italy

I just came back from a nice 2 week holiday in Italy, where I was spoiled with archaeology, art and sun (the latter not often seen in Berlin). We visited Napoli, Pompeii, Amalfi, Roma, Siena, Florence, Chianti and Pisa. Somewhere in between waiting for late/imaginary buses and drinking wine, we managed to see some incredible archaeological sites. This post tries to dig a bit deeper into the computational archaeology work done in the larger two of these sites, namely Pompeii and the Roman Forum (including the Colosseum).

Pompeii

Pompeii was an ancient Roman town located in the west of Italy near Mount Vesuvius. The town was subject to common tremours, but was damaged significantly during an earthquake in AD 62. The citizens were repairing the damaged town when Mount Vesuvius, the nearby volcano, erupted in AD 79, killing the inhabitants and leaving the town in the state that popularised it as a touristic and archaelogical site upon rediscovery.

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Photo from my visit – Homes and Vesuvius in the background

Visiting Pompeii has been in my wishlist for a long time and it is a place that I would like to visit again. This incredible archaeological site was discovered in 1748 and it is so large that it is still being excavated. It contains homes, roads, an amphitheater, water systems, a Gymnasium, etc. Some of the mosaics and frescoes decorating the buildings have been well preserved. Additionally, due to the unique layer of ash created by the lava covering Pompeii, the famous casts of the human remains of Pompeians can be created using a resin. This is possible because the lava solidified over the body and as the body decomposed, a void was created between the layer of ash and the remaining human bones. A transparent resin is then injected into this void, creating a cast.

Pompeii is one of the sites that I have mentioned in this blog before as technology has often been used to analyse and present it. Here is some of the computational archaeology work that has been done for Pompeii:

  • Google maps street view – I have mentioned this in a previous post about Google maps mapping archaeological sites. You can now explore Pompeii (and other sites) via the commonly used Google app. In the link that I have added you should be able to walk around and also see to your left the pottery and casts discovered.
  • 3D models created by laser scans – Allow people to explore Pompeii virtually. The link provided will take you to an article that links to the project as well as to some raw 3D models.
  • Laser technology used for restoration of Frescos – The lasers aim to remove layers selectively in order to restore the Fresco to its original state.
  • CT scans of Pompeii victim casts – X-rays allow scientists to analyse the remains of Pompeii victims without destroying the casts that preserve their last moments. These scans are also being used to create 3D models of the remains and casts.
  • iPads used by archaeologists to document excavations – Also something mentioned before in this blog. Archaeologists often have paper based systems to document each step of their excavations. Pompeii archaeologists started using iPads in order to improve the recording of data.
  • 3D modeling using aerial imaging – Drones were used to capture areal images of Pompeii, which were used to generate a 3D model for an interactive Journey through the ruins.

The Roman Forum and the Colosseum

The Roman Forum refers to a set of Roman Ruins in the center of Rome which includes a large number of structures ranging from government buildings to temples. This is located near the Colosseum and was the center of life in ancient Rome. The Forum was abandoned following the fall of the western Roman empire and was slowly despoiled.

The Roman Forum contains a senate house, government offices, royal residences, tribunals, temples, memorials, statues, etc. This too is quite a large site. considering that it is in the middle of a modern city.

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Roman Forum during my visit

Here is some of the computational archaeology work that has been done for the Roman Forum and Colosseum:

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Colosseum during my visit

That’s all for now. If you have not yet had a chance to visit these incredible sites, I hope that these 3D models and virtual tours can give you a glimpse into the ancient Roman towns. Of course, I also wish that one day you can experience them yourself too.

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Computational archaeology news June 2017

As you may have realised, Berlin has kept me quite busy. Now there is some catching up on blogging to do, so here is your dose of computational archaeology.

Articles

 

Software

  • This blog has a large list of Free and Open source software that can be useful for archaeology.
  • The article listed above links to an academic article that speaks about open source software in archaeology.

 

Blogs, feeds and sites

 

Collaborate

  • Global Xplorer – crowd sourcing analysis of satellite imaging available to archaeologists.4

 

Meetup

Here’s a photo (strategically at the history slide) from the Women Who Code meetup.

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Happy reading!

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3D modeling updates

The 3D models in archaeology posts seem to be pretty popular, so I decided to add some more content for you 🙂 Here are some links:

Lastly, here is a photo of an interactive display of 3D models. We found this display at a temporary Humbold forum exhibition near the Berliner Dom. Tapping on each model allows you to view that particular model in more detail as well as get more information on it.

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Computational Archaelogy news- January 2017

Once again it has been a while since my last news post, so I’ll be squishing a variety of resources here.

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Institutions

Gihub repositories

Courses

Journal Articles

Noticed computational archaeology in museum visit

  • Gemäldegalerie [Berlin]- Audio tour mentions the prior use of CT scans to analyse a Rennaissance artwork revealing planning sketch
  • Naturkundemuseum [Berlin] – There are interactive screens around various displays allowing people to gain more information

 

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Digital Humanities communities in Berlin

Happy new year readers!

I am glad to say that we have arrived in Berlin and are settling in. So far we have been exploring the areas around us and awing at the amazing architecture. The city has been fairly quiet (except for an incredibly large amount of fireworks on New Years), so we have mostly been walking around the streets.

I have found a Digital Humanities group that that has certain events in Berlin. I am not sure if these events will even be in English, but I’ll find out by attending some of them. You can find the group’s website here: http://www.digital-humanities-berlin.de/, it is in German but if you are using Google Chrome you can translate it with the option on the right of the browser’s address bar. They also have a Twitter feed and you can add their calendar to yours so that you get reminded of the events that they have.

I have also found the following digital humanities institutions and groups:

Additionally to the above links, the Institute for Art and Visual History has a nice list of digital history resources and institutions in Berlin and internationally.

Hope to maybe meet some of you at the events organised by these institutes 🙂

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The above image is from a site that contains a set of virtual reconstructions. The Virtual Terrain Project official site is here, but here you can find the reconstructions done in Germany.

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Moving to Berlin!

I’ve been living in South Africa for the past 13 years. I did my high school, bachelors and post-graduate studies here. I’ve had a wonderful time during my stay in a country so full of beautiful scenery and archaeology, wrapped in the hearts of so many cultures. I’ve made some amazing friendships and memories.

Now, it’s time for a new chapter in our life. We are moving to Berlin, Germany! I am very excited for this new opportunity and looking forward exploring the city and meeting some of you. This blog has had many views from Germany, so I am considering starting the Berlin version of the meetup once we have settled.

This also brings me to the sad news that I will no longer be able to run the Johannesburg meetup. If there is anyone interested in taking over the meetup, please get in touch. You can contact me via the meetup page or the Digital Humanities Slack Channel (where my user name is kgeorgieva).

I would love to get involved in the digital humanities community in Berlin, so if you are keen to meet up ping me on the Digital Humanities Slack Channel. You can also add a comment to this post with your e-mail address and I won’t make it public 🙂 (I need to approve all comments posted on this blog, so I do have control over that) .

Here is a photo of the Berlin wall remains from my previous visit. See you there!

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Computational palaeontology and archaeology successfully met

I am glad to announce that our latest meetup was an awesome one. 12 individuals (including the speakers) made it to the event. Pizza, beer and coffee were consumed and awesome talks took place.

Our guest speaker Viktor, amazed us with great knowledge and humour. He focused his talk on the Paleo’s digital renaissance currently taking place. He presented a brief history of palaeontology and then dived into a bit more detail on his research on the South African Nqwebasaurus thwazi dinosaur (otherwise known as the clickasaurus :P). He also gave an overview on how the ESRF generates high quality X-rays through particle acceleration.

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I also did a small talk introducing the concept of computational archaeology. Here I just talked through various areas in archaeology where technology has been used.

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For those of you who want the slides for the event, these can be accessed via the following links:

If you missed the original post regarding Viktor’s research you can access that here.

Here are some more photos from the event:

Thank you Viktor for the great talk!