How 3-D Scanning Is Reinventing Paleoanthropology – Scientific American

“My principal job on site is to reconstruct fossils, and so I was tasked with putting together the DNH 155 skull. It took around a week to fully remove the skull fragments and all the sediment gluing the pieces together from their original resting place within the Drimolen Main Quarry. As each of the roughly 300 fragments were painstakingly removed, they were digitized with an Artec Space Spider, a professional handheld 3-D scanner. The scanner shoots patterns of light that distort based on the geography of the object it is hitting and bounce back to the scanner—like a bat using sonar, but in this case, light rather than sound is what’s bouncing back and forth. This technology was used to create high-resolution digital records of each piece of the cranium’s location within the sediment in case any pieces unexpectedly dislodged….

The first phase of reconstruction was completed by manually putting the pieces together. But, even after manual reconstruction, there were some elements of the cranium that couldn’t be placed because the contact point was too small, or a tiny part of the edges had been lost. In these cases, the Artec software was used to digitally situate the parts in relation to one another. Specifically, the face of DNH 155 cannot safely be attached to the rest of the cranium. This fusion was achieved digitally. Although it could have been glued, joining the pieces in this fashion would have been risky and would likely have caused permanent damage to the fossil. The published reconstruction of the DNH 155 cranium would not have been possible without 3-D technology, which would have been a huge blow to the ability of other researchers to assess the fossil in the future….

Reconstruction was only one part of the research program designed to reveal the secrets of this rare skull. Many of the researchers who work on fossils from South Africa are unable to travel to Johannesburg to work on the originals. This is especially true for researchers who are not based at wealthy institutions, and for cash-strapped students in general. It is for this reason that the Drimolen team have invested significant capital to digitize the DNH 155 cranium and most of the Drimolen fossil assemblage. As a Ph.D. student myself, I am particularly interested in the potential for high quality 3-D scanners such as the Space Spider to democratize research by allowing free and easy access to research-quality data. While permissions and access to such data are controlled by the University of the Witswatersrand (in the case of the Drimolen fossils) it is our ultimate intention to share our data with researchers, particularly early-career researchers, who are pursuing a topic related to the South African hominin fossils…..”

IsoArcH: Open Science in Archaeology

“This event provides archaeologists with an overview of the latest Open Science developments in the field. The event features presentations about open access to publications and databases, open review of papers, as well as open sharing of data/codes/methods.

Talks will be given by Prof. Ben Marwick (Univ. of Washington), Prof. Trudy Turner (Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; American Journal of Physical Anthropology) and Prof. Connie Mulligan (Univ. of Florida; American Journal of Physical Anthropology), Dr. Emma Ganley (Protocols.io), Alain Queffelec (Univ. of Bordeaux; Peer Community in Archaeology), as well as Dr. Kevin Salesse (Univ. Libre de Bruxelles; IsoArcH)….”

Open Context: Web-based research data publishing

“Open Context reviews, edits, annotates, publishes and archives research data and digital documentation. We publish your data and preserve it with leading digital libraries. We take steps beyond archiving to richly annotate and integrate your analyses, maps and media. This links your data to the wider world and broadens the impact of your ideas….”

Home – The Alexandria Archive Institute

“The Alexandria Archive Institute is a non-profit technology company that preserves and shares world heritage on the Web, free of charge. Through advocacy, education, research, and technology programs like Open Context, we pioneer ways to open up archaeology and related fields for all….”

Ancient Hittite cuneiform scripts will soon be accessible online

“Now, the Hittites’ texts, which were written in cuneiform, are being made fully accessible online. The collection will be based on around 30,000 documents, most of which are written in the Hittite language, but other languages such as Luwian and Palaic will also be represented to a lesser extent. Participating in the joint project are researchers from the universities of Mainz, Marburg, and Würzburg, as well as of the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. The Thesaurus Linguarum Hethaeorum digitalis (TLHdig) project will receive about EUR 520,000 in funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG) over the next three years….”

Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe (DALME)

“The DALME project and team are based in the Department of History at Harvard University with collaborations extending across North America and Europe. Working in the interests of documentary archaeology, we transcribe and publish archival documents that identify ordinary household objects, tools, equipment, commodities, and other elements of material culture. Team members and collaborators include archaeologists, art historians, historians, and literary scholars. We are eager to extend our collaborations with all scholars interested in the material culture of late medieval Europe; please reach out to us.

Our work is currently sorted into two major research initiatives or documentary corpora. Households and Things in Medieval Europe features household or estate inventories from a number of regions of Europe. The Object as Commodity presents information relative to object values and the role that objects can serve as commodities or economic goods. Within each corpus, members of the DALME team and project associates have created individual collections defined either by geography or theme.

The existing collections include records in Latin and a number of vernaculars. These collections are fully searchable in their original languages; our Search page offers suggestions on how to search, filter, or browse the collection.”

Documentary Archaeology of Late Medieval Europe (DALME)

“The DALME project and team are based in the Department of History at Harvard University with collaborations extending across North America and Europe. Working in the interests of documentary archaeology, we transcribe and publish archival documents that identify ordinary household objects, tools, equipment, commodities, and other elements of material culture. Team members and collaborators include archaeologists, art historians, historians, and literary scholars. We are eager to extend our collaborations with all scholars interested in the material culture of late medieval Europe; please reach out to us.

Our work is currently sorted into two major research initiatives or documentary corpora. Households and Things in Medieval Europe features household or estate inventories from a number of regions of Europe. The Object as Commodity presents information relative to object values and the role that objects can serve as commodities or economic goods. Within each corpus, members of the DALME team and project associates have created individual collections defined either by geography or theme.

The existing collections include records in Latin and a number of vernaculars. These collections are fully searchable in their original languages; our Search page offers suggestions on how to search, filter, or browse the collection.”

Destroyed Ancient Temple Now Open for Virtual Exploration

“Five years after its destruction, the ancient Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria has been digitally reconstructed by the UC San Diego Library’s Digital Media Lab (DML) using cutting-edge 3D methods and artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Inspired by a past collaboration between the Library and UC San Diego’s Levantine Archaeology Laboratory, this project has resulted in the digital preservation of more than a dozen lost reliefs, sculptures, frescos and paintings, all made publicly available on the Library’s Digital Collections website….”

3D Printing and the Murky Ethics of Replicating Bones

“TEN YEARS AGO, it wasn’t possible for most people to use 3D technology to print authentic copies of human bones. Today, using a 3D printer and digital scans of actual bones, it is possible to create unlimited numbers of replica bones — each curve and break and tiny imperfection intact — relatively inexpensively. The technology is increasingly allowing researchers to build repositories of bone data, which they can use to improve medical procedures, map how humans have evolved, and even help show a courtroom how someone died.

But the proliferation of faux bones also poses an ethical dilemma — and one that, prior to the advent of accessible 3D printing, was mostly limited to museum collections containing skeletons of dubious provenance. Laws governing how real human remains of any kind may be obtained and used for research, after all — as well as whether individuals can buy and sell such remains —  are already uneven worldwide. Add to that the new ability to traffic in digital data representing these remains, and the ethical minefield becomes infinitely more fraught. “When someone downloads these skulls and reconstructs them,” says Ericka L’Abbé, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, “it becomes their data, their property.”…”

SocArXiv Papers | How to align disciplinary ideals with actual practices: Transparency and openness in archaeological science

Abstract:  Archaeology is a highly diverse community of researchers without universally adopted methods,concepts, or theoretical perspectives. One ideal that unites us is that we typically perceive of ourselves as contributing to the public good by helping to understand and preserve the past (Chippindale 1994). We act as stewards for archaeological sites and artefacts, and we work to correct misinformed views of the past that might have sinister motives. However, many of the current norms of archaeological practice are at odds with these ideals of archaeology. We share relatively little of our research with each other or the public. Typically we produce a journal article or monograph as a final product, but we rarely share the data files or computational methods that generated those final products, nor do we share our written work in ways that are readily accessible to the public. This suggests a gap between current practice and ideals. It also limits the reproducibility of our research, and the efficiency with which new methods can spread through the discipline. We show that an exploration of this mismatch between ideals and practice can reveal untapped potential for digital tools in archaeology to improve its sustainability as a research domain, and indicate new ways to engage with the public. We describe emerging norms in archaeology, and some new digital tools that archaeologists are using, that are helping to close the gap between ideals and current practices.

Ancient history – modern lessons: Can a new wave of Classics scholars save the world? (Paid Content by University of Warwick from The Chronicle of Higher Education) – The Chronicle of Higher Education

[Note that this piece is not a news piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education, but “Paid for and created by University of Warwick.”]

“This is an incredibly exciting time to study the ancient world Scott argues. Because now new technologies are enabling the advance of research and teaching techniques in classics and ancient history and the subject is shooting off into exciting new areas of study and ways of understanding the people of the ancient world. He explains: “The digital revolution allows us to explore these worlds in more depth or in ways we hadn’t imagined before. Virtual reality brings places and situations to life for us, if we can’t get there in person. 3D printing allows us to recreate artefacts and from there we can recreate scenes from ancient history.” …”

Ancient history – modern lessons: Can a new wave of Classics scholars save the world? (Paid Content by University of Warwick from The Chronicle of Higher Education) – The Chronicle of Higher Education

[Note that this piece is not a news piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education, but “Paid for and created by University of Warwick.”]

“This is an incredibly exciting time to study the ancient world Scott argues. Because now new technologies are enabling the advance of research and teaching techniques in classics and ancient history and the subject is shooting off into exciting new areas of study and ways of understanding the people of the ancient world. He explains: “The digital revolution allows us to explore these worlds in more depth or in ways we hadn’t imagined before. Virtual reality brings places and situations to life for us, if we can’t get there in person. 3D printing allows us to recreate artefacts and from there we can recreate scenes from ancient history.” …”

ZooArchNet: Connecting zooarchaeological specimens to the biodiversity and archaeology data networks

Abstract:  Interdisciplinary collaborations and data sharing are essential to addressing the long history of human-environmental interactions underlying the modern biodiversity crisis. Such collaborations are increasingly facilitated by, and dependent upon, sharing open access data from a variety of disciplinary communities and data sources, including those within biology, paleontology, and archaeology. Significant advances in biodiversity open data sharing have focused on neontological and paleontological specimen records, making available over a billion records through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. But to date, less effort has been placed on the integration of important archaeological sources of biodiversity, such as zooarchaeological specimens. Zooarchaeological specimens are rich with both biological and cultural heritage data documenting nearly all phases of human interaction with animals and the surrounding environment through time, filling a critical gap between paleontological and neontological sources of data within biodiversity networks. Here we describe technical advances for mobilizing zooarchaeological specimen-specific biological and cultural data. In particular, we demonstrate adaptations in the workflow used by biodiversity publisher VertNet to mobilize Darwin Core formatted zooarchaeological data to the GBIF network. We also show how a linked open data approach can be used to connect existing biodiversity publishing mechanisms with archaeoinformatics publishing mechanisms through collaboration with the Open Context platform. Examples of ZooArchNet published datasets are used to show the efficacy of creating this critically needed bridge between biological and archaeological sources of open access data. These technical advances and efforts to support data publication are placed in the larger context of ZooarchNet, a new project meant to build community around new approaches to interconnect zoorchaeological data and knowledge across disciplines.

‘Historical Google Earth’ project captures a changing Britain | Culture | The Guardian

A “historical Google Earth” featuring aerial photographs of Britain going back to 1945 has been made freely available by Cambridge University.

The vast archive captures 70 years of change across urban and rural landscapes, from the bomb-scarred postwar period to the emergence of motorways and skyscrapers.

The aerial photographs, showing Britain from the air from the 1940s up to 2009, were taken by former wartime RAF pilots at the instruction of the Cambridge archaeologist Kenneth St Joseph.

The first 1,500 photographs, covering almost every corner of the UK, were published on Friday, the first batch from an archive of almost 500,000….”