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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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Computational archaeology news – January 2016

Quite a few news have gathered since the last news post, here they are:






Pottery resources


  • Unearthed in 2015, Part 1: Podcast mentioning historical news, including various mentions of computational archaeology applications


Research groups




Twitter accounts

Here are some twitter accounts i’ve followed lately for their content relevant to computational archaeology:


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Slack group for the Digital Humanities

In a previous post I mentioned a Slack chat group for the Crafting Digital History course taking place from the 11th of January. Our lecturer has been quite active on the group and has shared numerous valuable resources already. One of these resources was the mention of the Digital Humanities Slack team where archaeologists, historians, curators, developers, and anyone else interested in digital humanities gets together virtually and shares a  plethora of information relevant to the field.

There are lots of channels in this slack group including tutorials, jobs, data-sharing, conferences and so on. You can introduce yourself in the introductions channel and start getting to know people.

To join this group you can use this invitation.

For those unfamiliar with Slack, you can download the desktop/mobile application here  or just log in on the web site.

Happy chatting:)


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Crafting Digital History Course starting

A few blog posts ago I mentioned that Shawn Graham from the Electric Archaeology blog will be presenting a course  which is freely open to anyone. This course is called Crafting Digital History and it will commence on the 11th of January.

There is an opportunity to gain official credits as well if you want, you can read more on that here.

The course syllabus can be found here.

The workbook can be found here.

There is also a Slack chat team that you can join using this invite.

Hope to see some of you there:)


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Computational Archaeology Lego

Yes, this post is as silly as it sounds, but it was necessary ^^.

It was my birthday recently and my partner wrote me a story about a marine archaeologist using an ROV to discover a treasure. He played this out with little Lego pieces, including a Lego ROV. Here is a picture of this cute Lego ROV:


And things got ridiculous.




So inspired by this, here are a couple of links about underwater Lego robots:


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