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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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Computational Archaeology News and Articles – November 2015

There have been quite a few computational archaeology related articles lately. Here’s a list:



Other Links



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OpenRov’s new Kickstarter – Trident

I’ve written before about an open source robotics project for marine exploration called OpenROV.

These awesome guys have started a second Kickstarter project called Trident. This project aims to build a marine exploration robot that has the following qualities:

  • Can be used by anyone
  • Is light weight
  • Can be controlled in various ways (remote control, oculus rift or even become autonomous)
  • Can move around the water in a much smoother fashion
  • Is fun to operate
  • Uses open source software
  • Can be used to create 3D models via photogrammetry
  • Is adaptable (allowing users to add new components to the robot)
  • Will encourage marine exploration around the world by anyone


As for every Kickstarter project, there are rewards for those who contribute (note that there is an image with the pledge rewards on the Kickstarter page, but they have recently added categories that are not on this image):

  • $1 or more -> Receive e-mail updates about news and expeditions
  • $10 or more (NEW) -> Become one of the Beta test pilots by controlling the Trident remotely over the internet (very excited to do this!).
  • $25 or more -> OpenROV Beanie
  • $599 or more -> Get a huge discount on the Trident (super early bird – all gone :( )
  • $799 or more -> Get a huge discount on the Trident (early bird – all gone :( )
  • $949 or more -> Special price for Trident, still available but limited
  • $1000 or more -> sponsor a high school, which will receive the original OpenRov robot.
  • $1199 or more -> The Trident Underwater Drone
  • $1599 or more (NEW) -> 2 Trident Underwater Drones
  • $3699 -> 5 Trident Underwater Drones

Unfortunately I don’t earn in dollars, so my pledge doesn’t get me this awesome drone. However, contributions in the following forms can be made by you and me:

  • Becoming a Beta tester and remote controlling the Trident
  • Contributing to the Open Source project through code (clone branch on GitHub)
  • Sharing exploration notes and proposals on OpenExplorer

For more information on this project and to pledge visit their kickstarter page.

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Dev Day presentation on Computational Archaeology

Software companies often have days where developers either present a topic of their choice or get together to create prototypes of their innovative ideas. Some of these events are held internally and others, by larger companies, internationally. Some examples of popular companies that do this are:

Entelect, the company I currently work for, has an event just like these. In our case, three times a year, we have a DevDay, where any of the employees can propose and prepare a presentation on any tech topic of their choice. I tried my luck and asked if I could present on computational archaeology and, to my surprise, I was told I could.

The itinerary for the day was as follows (I am not adding the presenter’s names in case they don’t feel comfortable being mentioned in this blog):

  • Front end technology choices (15 minutes) – Discussed the importance of making the right front end choices when designing a system.
  • Computational Archaeology  (15 minutes) – This was my presentation, I’ll give a detailed description after this list.
  • Azure Machine Learning (25 minutes) – Discussed how to use the machine learning services provided by Azure and applied these as a test to an solar-flare dataset.
  • Chatops and update on Pluralsight course (5 minutes) – Discussed ChatOps (getting data about builds and deployments in a team’s chat room) and gave the company an update on how the Pluralsight course that he is hosting is going.
  • Node, Pipes and Edge.js (15 minutes) – Discussed his experience with mixing Node.js and .Net using Edge.js
  • Jasvacript Robot Programming  (25 minutes) – Discussed how to build simple robots and program them in Javascript. Some relevant links: NodeBots and Johnny Five
  • REST API’s  (25 minutes): This was an overall discussion on REST API
  • Kerbal Space Program integration and automation  (15 minutes): Discussed the automation of launching a rocket into space in the game Kerbal Space Program.


My presentation on computational archaeology consisted of the following:

  • An introduction explaining that Computational Archaeology is the use of technology for the purpose of helping the archaeological process.
  • Mention that it is one of many applications of our skills as software developers
  • A discussion on the use of robotics in archaeology
  • A discussion on the use of 3D modelling in archaeology
  • A discussion on the use of Remote Sensing in archaeology
  • A discussion on the use of Desktop and Mobile applications in archaeology
  • A discussion on collaborative projects aimed at using technology in archaeology
  • A discussion on the use of Artificial Intelligence in archaeology

You may view the Prezi presentation here.


A few people asked me if any tech had been used during the Maropeng discoveries that were recently announced in South Africa.  I found that:

  • 3D models of the skulls have been created and are available on Morpho Source.
  • 3D printers have been used to create printed models of the skulls discovered.

For more information on the tech involved see this article.

The other topics were very interesting and well presented. However, as this is a computational archaeology blog, I have only mentioned them briefly. Two of these other presentations could be applied to computational archaeology:

  • Azure Machine Learning: The machine learning services provided by Azure can be applied to all kinds of problems, including archaeology. Azure provides a nice user interface and detailed manual to prepare your experiments, requiring no coding experience. Here’s a video giving an overview. This is ideal for archaeologists who have no interest in programming, but would like to use powerful machine learning algorithms.
  • Jasvacript Robot Programming: The robots discussed were small wheeled vehicles, which, with a camera and some proximity sensors, could work well to survey inaccessible archaeological sites. The talk focused mostly on using Javascript to control the robots, which was concluded to be an interesting exercise but not as practical as using more conventional languages for robot programming, such as Python.

Questions were asked about each presentation and the first person to answer was given a prize. The computational archaeology question was: “What technique is used to measure objects through images which can be used in archaeology to generate 3D models?” and the answer was Photogrammetry.

If you want to see the tweets for this event you can check out @Entelect.

Thank you very much to the organisers for all the organising, and to our IT Operations Manager for making sure that the projector works in a room full of developers who can’t use it :P



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