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Computational archaeology during my trip through Turkey

I disappeared for a couple of months, I am sorry about that. I was busy on a road trip around Turkey, moving to another city and starting a new job. A lot of exciting things have been happening.

In December two friends, my partner and I flew to turkey and hired a car. Our road trip consisted of the following places:

  • Nicaea
  • Afyonkarahisar
  • Ankara
  • Cappadocia
  • Pammukkale
  • Selcuk and Sirince
  • Kusadasi
  • Istanbul

During this trip we encountered a lot of archaeology, Turkey is a country with fascinating history and impressive remains. Every city had some ancient building or the ruins of some ancient structure.

When we went to Ephesus, we met this little guy:


This device is called a quadcopter. The owners were using it to photograph or video Ephesus. This reminded me of the drones previously used to perform an aerial survey of the same site (see my article on archaeological drones for more information).

Quadcopters are useful tools to perform aerial surveys of archaelogical sites. Here are some articles with examples of quadcopters being used for this particular purpose:


Game of drones (hehe)

– Quadcopters used to survey Guatemalan ruins

Quadcopter over Tel Dan

Quadcopters as the archaeologist’s eye

Although this particular quadcopter may not necessarily have been used to survey Ephesus, it did remind me of previous archaeological applications of drones. It was exciting to see technology and history together in one place.

When we went to Istanbul I found the following inside the Hagia Sophia:


So what is this block and why have I taken a (really bad) picture of it?

These blocks are used to perform a 3d survey. Through the blurriness of the photo you may be able to see the word Faro. Faro is a company that deals with 3D modeling technology.It seems a team at the Hagia Sophia was busy building a 3d model of the building.

I must have looked a bit strange taking a photo of a piece of paper on the wall while I have, well… the Hagia Sophia around me. I wanted to, however, share this small discovery with you.

If anyone has some more information on exactly what these blocks are used for when it comes to the 3d survey please comment on this post. I assume their purpose is to mark some position that needs to be recorded.


Free online archaeology course starting now

Coursera has a vast amount of interesting topics taught by some great lecturers and tutors. An archaeology course, which I think I have mentioned before, started again yesterday. This course is called “Recovering the Humankind’s Past and Saving the Universal Heritage” and can be accessed here. The course consists of the following sections:

  • The recovery of the human past and the protection of the universal heritage
  • The birth of archaeology and its role in the contemporary world
  • The fascination of archaeology in its practices and in interpretation
  • Archaeology in research practice
  • Contemporary archaeology and public perception
  • Digitizing Cultural Objects and 3D virtual reconstruction
  • Sharing Digital Cultural Objects over the Internet
  • The past as a universal heritage of humankind

Notice I have made the computational archaeology specific sections bold. This does not mean that only those sections will refer to technology in archaeology. It is quite possible that there will be traces of technology used in archaeology in the rest of the sections. But this is what personally made this course extremely attractive over other history and archaeology courses.

I hope to see some of you in this virtual class :)

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Archaeological drones

Drones are the new thing. They are being used for various purposes across the world. For example:

Archaeologists have caught up to this new trend of using drones and are now using drones themselves to map archaeological sites, get aerial images of a site and protect endangered sites. Examples of the use of such technology by archaeologists can be seen in the following articles (some of these I have reported previously but I am adding them in this post again):


Here are some more links related to this topic:

Castillo, a Peruvian archaeologist with Lima's Catholic University and an incoming deputy culture minister, flies a drone over the archaeological site of Cerro Chepen in Trujillo

I don’t know about you, but I really want to play with a drone after writing this.

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No, I am not talking about a seafood pie, which sounds like a terrible idea anyway. FishPi is a project aiming to develop an unmanned  marine vessel which  will cross the Atlantic taking scientific measurements. The idea is to use a Raspberry Pi to explore the marine world.

I would go as far as to say that probably ALL computer and engineering geeks know what a Raspberry Pi is and have probably played with one, if don’t already own one.  This blog, however, has a much wider audience than that. A Raspberry Pi is a computer that’s the size of a credit card. This computer was developed to promote the teaching of computer science in schools and it’s widely used by people for tech pet projects. For more information on the Raspberry Pi check out the official website or the wikipedia page.

So back to FishPi. This project aims to use the credit card-sized computer to explore the mysterious sea. The project is still in the planning and proof-of-concept stages and there are discussion forums where everyone is welcome to give their input. I have subscribed and have asked in the forums if they have considered using the FishPi for archaeological purposes :)

Go check out the project! The forum is there to ask questions, but also so you can brainstorm solutions to a variety of problems that they have or will run into. They are currently on the engineering stage, so I can’t be of much help there :P, but maybe I can be helpful when they get to the programming of the FishPi. Do you have any engineering knowledge? Go to the Brain Stew forum and give some ideas.

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October News in Computational Archaeology

Here’s this month’s collection of computational archaeology articles:


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We don’t find computers, or do we?

No, computational archaeologists don’t dig computers out of the ground nor do they find them in ancient shipwrecks…oh wait… it seems that with the help of some super diving suits they actually do (it all depends on what you define as a computer).

Archaeologists have found what they refer to as an Antikythera mechanism, or “world’s oldest computer”, in a shipwreck off a remote Greek island. The “computer” was used by the Greeks to track the cycles of the solar system. These archaeologists used a special diving suit that allows them to reach depths of 150m and are soon to use robot mapping equipment to map the site :)

Check out the News 24 article for more information (sent to me by a colleague also interested in archaeology).


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Computational Archaeology News – August

It’s been  while since one of my news posts, so here are some exciting articles with news about the field.



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