The Use of 3D Models for Intra-Site Investigation in Archaeology

In the last few decades, the development of technology to aid in documenting, analysing and communicating information regarding archaeological sites has strongly affected the way scholars and researchers use and perceive the archaeological information retrieved during the field investigation process. Currently digital instruments are used in archaeology at every level and their employment during field activities increases the possibilities to document and visualize, with high accuracy of details, information detected in the field. In the frame of excavation practice, the development of powerful visualisation platforms, such as the Geographic Information System (GIS), and the introduction of digital acquisition tools, have provided archaeologists with the opportunity to fully reconstruct and study the spatial and temporal relations between the different strata detected on site in three dimensions (3D). This innovative new approach allows defining new field documentation strategies, through which it is possible to achieve a more accurate and detailed overview of the investigation process and to perform different new typologies of analysis in support of the site interpretation.

Bio – Nicoló Dell’Unto is a senior lecturer at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University, Sweden. He studied archaeology at the University of Rome, La Sapienza. Upon completion of his Masters, he had a joint appointment as a research assistant at the Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, ITABC-CNR, Italy. There he took part in several international projects for 3D documentation and visualization of archaeological sites through the use of digital techniques. Later he obtained a PhD in Technologies and Management of Cultural Heritage at the Institute for Advanced Studies -IMT Lucca, Italy. He also worked as a postdoc at the University of California Merced before his current position at Lund University. His research is focused on the investigation of new methodologies for 3D documentation, visualization and analysis of intra-site excavation activities. Dell’Unto is currently working in different archaeological sites; including Uppåkra, (Sweden), Catalhoyuk (Turkey), and Pompeii (Italy) where he is studying how the use of 3D models, in support of the field investigation activities, affects the way archaeologists interpret archaeological sites.


The Digital Mind: towards a new Framework for Neuro-Archaeology

The digital revolution in archaeology has involved a very broad and massive use of different technologies at different scales and levels of accuracy with an exponential number of 3D applications. This has somehow generated a new digital positivism with an exaggerate emphasis on quantitative information rather than an adequate attention to the semantics of data, the cognitive impact, the meaning of the methodological approach, the effects of the simulation. For example, the inferential model used in virtual archaeology was mainly discussed in terms of evocative imagination of the past and models validation; on the contrary few attention was paid to the evaluation of the inferential method. The evolution of virtual archaeology in cyber-archaeology reflects the relevance/dynamics of interaction-simulation-performance vs the pre-determined static reconstructive process. The current problem is that we continue to classify, study and interpret 3D interactive models and virtual environments with the same methodological approach we used for 2D data, maps, metadata and so on. Is that sufficient and what’s the next step? The computer simulation creates feedback, affordances and interactions otherwise not achievable and this might be recognizable as “digital mind”, a combination of ancient (simulation) and modern mind (interaction). At this stage of research how can we study the digital mind? How can we study cognitive universals in the ancient mind? A new methodological approach is necessary and it should be at the intersection of the brain sciences, humanities, archaeology, anthropology, art, philosophy, aesthetics and visual studies. Cross-disciplinary contributions concerning embodiment and enaction in visual models, the interpretation of visual patterns and memes in cultural transmission should entangle a neuroscientific approach: we need to know what happens in the brain during a virtual simulation of the ancient world.

Bio – Maurizio Forte, PhD, is William and Sue Gross Professor of Classical Studies Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. He is also the founder and director of the DIG@Lab (for a digital knowledge of the past) at Duke. His main research topics are: digital archaeology, classical archaeology and neuro-archaeology. He was professor of World Heritage at the University of California, Merced, (School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts) and Director of the Virtual Heritage Lab. He was Chief of Research at CNR (Italian National Research Council) of “Virtual Heritage: integrated digital technologies for knowledge and communication of cultural heritage through virtual reality systems”, Senior Scientist at CNR’s Institute for Technologies Applied to the Cultural Heritage (ITABC), and Professor of “Virtual Environments for Cultural Heritage” in the “Master of Science in Communication Technology-Enhanced Communication for Cultural Heritage”at the University of Lugano. He received his bachelor’s degree in Ancient History (archaeology), and a Diploma of specialization in Archaeology, from the University of Bologna, and his PhD in Archaeology from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”. He has coordinated archaeological fieldwork and research projects in Italy as well as Ethiopia, Egypt, Syria, Kazakhstan, Peru, China, Oman, India, Honduras, Turkey, USA and Mexico. Since 2010 he is director of the 3D-Digging project at Çatalhöyük.


Towards a new landscape archaeology?

There can be no doubt that advances in the methods for archaeological remote sensing in the last few years have revolutionized what we can see of past landscapes. Technology now allows us to see buried landscapes more clearly, with greater resolution and over larger areas than had hitherto seemed conceivable. Furthermore, the complementary use of different techniques for survey and the improvement in computer software has generated excellent results both at individual sites and increasingly across broader landscape.  We can and do learn more and more, but this raises a doubt in my mind, triggered by a discussion at a conference a couple of years ago about ‘ground truthing’. Have our technologies moved beyond the intellectual framework within which we are working?  And do we not need to start to re-think the whole idea of landscape archaeology in the light of the new technology. This paper will explore this question, even if it cannot provide an answer.

Bio – Laurence Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Cambridge. He developed interests in the Classical World and thence moved into Classics. His research is concerned with understanding how the lives of different indigenous peoples were altered through their encounters with the Roman Empire, and how their cultures in turn altered the nature of the Roman world itself. He currently undertakes fieldwork in two contrasting regions. In the first, in Northern England, near the margins of the Roman Empire we have been undertaking a long-term study of settlement and economy, focusing in particular on patterns of local variation. Currently this work focuses on the Roman town of Isurium Brigantium (Aldborough). In the other, at the centre of the Empire, he is a member of two research groups, one investigating the archaeology of Portus – the principal port of imperial Rome, the other looking at early Roman colonization in southern Lazio, focused on the town of Interamna Lirenas.


Computer Graphics Techniques for Analysis

For the past two decades there has been extensive work using computer graphics in cultural heritage. The field of computer graphics offers powerful techniques for communication and documentation.  Public communication is still the major use of computer graphics, with still images, movies and interactive displays being used to render views of the past to modern audiences. In the area of documentation, computer graphics researchers have contributed to the development of 3D scanning techniques and novel imaging approaches such as reflectance transformation imaging. In the course of pursing these applications however, researchers have found that computer graphics techniques can be used for analysis as well. Several types of analysis will be presented including understanding material properties and shape to inform physical conservation, understanding how artifacts were manufactured, and understanding how artifacts were meant to be viewed and used. Examples will be drawn from the speakers projects at IBM and at Yale, as well as from other computer graphics projects from around the world. Open challenges such as organizing massive visual collections associated with an archaeological site will be described.

Bio – Holly Rushmeier is a professor of Computer Science at Yale University. She received the BS, MS and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1977, 1986 and 1988 respectively. Between receiving the BS and returning to graduate school in 1983 she worked as an engineer at the Boeing Commercial Airplane Company and at Washington Natural Gas Company. After receiving the PhD she served on the Mechanical Engineering faculty at Georgia Tech, the computing and mathematics staff of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and was a research staff member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center before taking her current position at Yale. She has  worked on a variety of data visualization problems in applications ranging from engineering to finance. She also worked in the area of acquisition of data required for generating realistic computer graphics models, including a project to create a digital model of MichelangeloŒs Florence Pieta, and the development of a scanning system to capture shape and appearance data for presenting Egyptian cultural artifacts on the World Wide Web. At Yale Prof. RushmeierŒs research includes model the appearance of materials for graphics rendering and industrial design, sketching techniques for conceptual design, and shape and spectral data capture for applications in evolutionary biology and cultural heritage. Dr. Rushmeier has served as Editor-in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Graphics, as  co-Editor in chief Computer Graphics Forum, and as well as the chair of numerous conferences and workshop committees. She is an ACM Distinguished Engineer, a fellow of the Eurographics Association, and received the 2013 ACM SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics Achievement Award.

Comments are closed.