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Archive | Digital Archaeology

Working with information or digital technologies in archaeology

Tinkering with the machine and linking data

This post is rather belated, I’ve had a lot of things on over the last week. Family, server hardware problems, filming a short make believe piece for a children’s video conferencing workshop, editing and publishing posts for this website and developing new things for the Portable Antiquities Scheme website that I develop and manage. The actual ‘Day’ for me was an interesting affair that started the night before working till midnight with some tinkering with the site to iron out some bugs that has pre-released over 20 posts from RCAHMS (these were fantastic) and then rescheduling them following the discovery of the problem (an incompatible plugin) and then started again at around 5am when my son woke me up:

Then a fast cycle into work at the British Museum. Little glitches were identified in some of the plugins and these were fixed, probably without anyone noticing and the workflow for getting posts seems to work  well. Throughout the day load and activity on the server was monitored, we had no real problems and Tom Goskar asked for a cache to be enabled in case we had a surge in activity.

Whilst not editing and publishing posts via the scheduling feature, I was working on my current development work, which is an extension of the LAWDI summer school programme I participated in. I’m modelling Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) data to the CIDOC-CRM mappings that the British Museum have used to allow our data to be harmonised by the ResearchSpace project. I’ve been linking PAS records to the URIs that exist in the BM system, in the Ordnance Survey data endpoint, to Geonames, to Nomisma, to the thesauri exposed via Seneschal (see this post by Michael Charno at the ADS for more insight into what they are doing there). I think I’m getting there and you can see this N3 view of one of the records linked here (it might take a while to load as this is an external service), if you see problems with what I am doing tell me as I’m tinkering in the dark, some URIs are missing their identifier off the end of the URI string as I haven’t updated the search index on that server – for example OS ones. Once I get this working properly, we’ll have over 560,000 records in RDF format, who knows what people might do with the data – serendipity is king as my good friend Vuk is wont to say.

Enjoying the outputs

Running through the posts, many caught my eye. The content was fantastic (over 300 posts), the images (over 1,100) amazing and some of the commentary coming in (not the pingbacks) was insightful. For me, some stand out posts:

There’s too many to mention, and the LAARC ones were excellent, INRAP’s contributions ace. Every entry is superb in its own right and Janet Davis summed up the event succintly:

Back Channel

As usual, we tried as a collective to maintain a healthy presence or back channel (you can read more on this idea in this pdf by Ross, Terras, Warwick and Welsh) on social media using two platforms – Facebook and Twitter. In my eyes, the Twitter platform has been more productive (even though we gained fans/likes on Facebook). It was easy to measure whether links were being clicked on as I set up a plugin that automatically tweeted the majority of posts (except for when we exceeded the rate limit for daily photos being posted – I didn’t even know this was limited) and shortened them to a goo.gl url. Over 5,500 tweets (inc retweets) were sent using the #dayofarch hashtag – to put this into perspective, the British Museum #pompeiilive archive that I collected showed 18,000 tweets relating to their cinema extravaganza. These tweets were collected using Martin Hawksey’s  Tags Version 5 tool which is easy to set up and the only tricky bit is setting up the authorisation with Twitter, and then the conversation could be analysed. For example we could see how many people used the hashtag in their output (696) and who the top tweeters were and how many interactions or @ were made to them using the hashtag:

Top Tweeters Volume of tweets @’s % RT
dayofarch 619 4917
AdamCorsini 132 180 17%
lornarichardson 124 209 31%
portableant 122 164 32%
rcahms 121 170 13%
m_law 83 90 33%
tharrosinfo 81 3 81%
JaimeAlmansa 78 32 23%
TRArchaeology 75 8 67%
TinctureOfMuse 69 11 61%
VitaEmilia 67 48 10%

And then we could see what the network graph looked like (this one is with mentions clicked in the bottom right corner):

TAGSExplorer  Interactive archive of twitter conversations from a Google Spreadsheet for  dayofarch

And what the timeline looked like for posting frequency:

TAGS Searchable Twitter Archive

I’ll be doing some more analysis of the Twitter archive using the programming language R shortly.

Running the project

The ‘Day’ as a concept has definitely been fun to help co-organise with a fantastic team of people over the life time of the project; for 2011-12 iterations we comprised the collective of Lorna, Matt, Jess, Stu, Tom and Andrew and myself and then this year we changed slightly with the inclusion of Jaime (who made great efforts to branch out into multi-lingual contributions), and Monty Dobson. We lost Jess, who has just got married to Leif (congrats you two) and Stu along the way. The team has functioned really well. If you’re interested in how we’ve managed to keep this show on the road, a combination of tools have been used:

  • Basecamp
  • Google+ hangouts
  • Skype
  • Twitter
  • Gmail
  • Very infrequent vis-a-vis interactions as we’re a team divided by oceans

The site itself is quite straightforward. We run on:

  • a wordpress installation (even though if you look at the HTML code under the hood, you think spaghetti code) using the latest version (at all times!)
  • search is provided by the solr for wordpress plugin (which is pretty powerful and allows the faceted search)
  • the theme (overseen by Tom Goskar) is from WooThemes and is the Canvas version
  • we use OpenCalais for generating tag suggestions for post (by analysing what you have written in your contribution)
  • for posts submitted by email, we use the Postie plugin (this is superb, but you do need an account first before your post will be accepted.)
  • tweets, vimeo and youtube video links were easily converted just by placing the url in the text of a post (no need for embed)
  • Akismet stops spam comments coming through (there’s so much spam out there.)
  • A linked data view of the posts can be generated via the wp-linked-data plugin

If you’ve got any questions about the technical side, do email me (I’m easy to find on Google).

Reflection – my opinion (not the collective)

But, have we made a major impact? Reflecting on the ‘Day’ as a project, yes, we have made an impact in some ways. Readership has not been massive, the Google Analytics figures show interaction magnitude of 1000s rather then 10s of 1000s (5,818 visitors on the day). However, the people that have taken part have made a concious effort to participate and I hope that everyone that has participated has enjoyed it? Myself, I’ve been flamed on blogs for my contribution to running the site and my integrity questioned, and the author of those offered nothing to the site about his archaeological day or any positivity at all. You’ll know where to find them if you’re associated with archaeology and metal detecting debates.

I’m disappointed that more of my colleagues from the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the British Museum haven’t contributed to this project (thank you to Julie Spencer, Jonathan Taylor,  Ian Richardson and  Peter Reavill for taking the time out of your working day to join in), seeing as both of these organisations were supporters of the project. I believe that this is a good project and hope that it continues for a few more years at least. The resource created, by you, the contributor, is amazing. An insight into the world of archaeology that isn’t available anywhere else in a searchable, discoverable format. It is even available as linked data.

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Nimrud for Museums and Mobiles

“Just as this bug stinks, so may your breath stink before god, king and mankind!”
– one of the chilling curses invoked in the treaty between King Esarhaddon of Assyria and his vassals in 672 BC.

I’m curator of cuneiform collections in the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum. No two days are the same for me. One of the more predictable parts of my schedule is project work. Today I’ve been working on a collaborative project called Nimrud: Materialities of Assyrian Knowledge Production, funded by the AHRC and directed by Eleanor Robson at the University of Cambridge.

The Nimrud project explores how scientific and historical knowledge is made from archaeological objects. We’re tracing the biographies of inscribed artefacts from their manufacture and use to their current locations in museum collections and their virtual representations on the web. As part of the project, we’re assembling online resources related to the ancient Assyrian capital city of Nimrud (Kalhu/Calah), especially the finds from excavations by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq in 1950’s and 1960’s. We’ll also be hosting several related events throughout 2013.

Our resources are designed and licensed for re-use by museums in mobile gallery guides. The technical focus is on the development of Linked Data, to encourage meaningful connectivity between previously isolated resources, and to bridge the gap between the museum case and the online world.

Today I’ve been writing web pages about the “Vassal Treaties of Esarhaddon”. King Esarhaddon drew up a remarkable treaty to ensure that his chosen son would succeed him on the throne. His own experience showed that a smooth succession could not be taken for granted. My biography of this object will go live on the Nimrud website in August. In the meantime, you can read the text – and all the fun curses – on the SAA website (it’s no. 6).

BM 132548. The treaty between Esarhaddon and Humbaresh.

The treaty between Esarhaddon and Humbaresh, ruler of the city of Nashimarta. BM 132548. Copyright Trustees of the British Museum.


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A day of spatial semantics, digital excavation data and other things

Archaeologists tools: The laptop is now very much part of this armoury.

Archaeologists tools: The laptop is now very much part of this armoury.

Following on from my previous posts in 2011 (here and here) and 2012 (here), this year it’s a bit different. I’ve left the world of commercial archaeology to return to academia, starting a PhD in geosemantic technologies for archaeological research (GSTAR) based in the Hypermedia Research Unit at the University of South Wales with input from the Geographical Information Systems Research Unit. I also now undertake freelance digital heritage consultancy work for various clients in the public, commercial and charitable sectors through my business Archaeogeomancy.

Last Friday, the Day of Archaeology, was a fairly typical day involving some research and a bit of commercial work. I have a number of ongoing projects, a number of which required some input last Friday. And spending a bit of time with my latest daughter, three week old Florence (who has yet to show any interest in archaeology, unlike her big sister Amelia who loves ruins). One thing I rarely get to do these days is dig, my time being almost entirely filled with research, writing and other desk/computer based activities. But I still very much consider myself an archaeologist, it’s just that my tools are different. The photos I’ve used all come from my Flickr stream and are of archaeological sites, hopefully just a bit more interesting than photos of my computers…

Research

Finds bags

Finds bags containing instances of the class Physical Object, discovered through a Finding Event

I am currently wrapping up the literature review section of my PhD and heard last Thursday that my three month review has been accepted so full steam ahead. I’ve been looking at the range of Semantic Web and Linked Data technologies out there with particular reference to archaeological and heritage applications. Within this subject area, the GSTAR project is focussing on spatial data and geosemantic techniques and builds on the preceding STAR and STELLAR projects, collaborations between the University of South Wales, English Heritage and the Archaeology Data Service.

I’ve also been working on some refinements of an ontological model, the CRM-EH, further clarifying aspects relating to the formation of archaeological features, deposits and the deposition of artefacts. Preliminary results are posted here on my blog, which I use to talk about my work in digital heritage and interesting things I come across.

Consultancy

In addition to my research, I am currently working on a number of exciting projects for clients. I have just deployed an archaeological information system to facilitate the interpretation of marine geophysics data based around Microsoft Access and Esri ArcGIS; this is currently in beta testing which gives me an opportunity to complete other projects including some tools, again built using Esri ArcGIS, to support data collation, synthesis and reporting/cartography for Desk Based Assessments (DBAs) including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs).

Digging

Digging, the activity which reveals archaeological features, deposits and the stratigraphic relationships between them.

Another interesting project I was working on last Friday involves the creation of a Linked Data resource relating to the recent excavations at Silbury Hill, near Avebury, Wiltshire. This site is very dear to me, having featured in my undergraduate and masters dissertations which investigated the formation of landscapes in prehistory and the spatial patterning of archaeological remains by means of movement and perception of human scale actors. This Linked Data resource relates to the later Roman activity at the site and currently comprises c.40K assertions about contexts, stratigraphy, finds and samples all held in a triple store which will be published in due course to further add to the growing number of Linked Data resources online.

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LIPCAP Team – why we do what we do!

(Investigating C19 – C20 everyday life: creating community connections through standing buildings and garden finds)

A previous post outlines our community and public ‘DIY’ house and garden surveys. This post briefly discusses why the project has been developed, and what we hope will be some of the benefits. More information about LIPCAP (Living in the Past Community Archaeology Project) can be found via these links:

Websitewww.livinginthepast.org.uk

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/UrbArc20

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/

Flickrhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/living-in-the-past/sets/

YouTubehttp://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcy3KUXbjyFdaCodnHRy6lQ

Kirst (Project Director)

teaching_ox_uni

I started to develop what has become LIPCAP a few years ago, when confined to the house by illness and consequently prevented from pursuing my usual archaeological research and fieldwork. Unable to contemplate not ‘doing’ archaeology for any length of time, my immediate surroundings – a house built in the late 1920s – early 30s – inevitably drew my attention. I began to think about how those without archaeological knowledge or experience might be enabled to recognise the numerous traces of past domestic life just waiting to be discovered – and to record and share this information, potentially making a valuable contribution to studies of histories of the home.

Although specialising in the Roman to early medieval transition (c. AD 350-600), I’d been interested in early 20th century housing and domestic material culture for some time; my research and fieldwork into early historic (for my studies, 1st century BC – AD 7th century) households often inspired me to investigate late historic contexts to ask comparable questions. More usually associated in the public imagination with the excavation of ancient remains, the role of archaeology is to investigate the material traces human behaviour in the past – whether prehistoric or historic. And similar techniques can be applied to standing buildings or buried sites to examine, record, and interpret relationships in time and place between people and the material world. Historical Archaeologists commonly analyse archaeological evidence in conjunction with other historical sources, such as documents, in order to understanding of past life in more depth. When studying earlier periods, I often consulted texts in an attempt to explore the interaction of material culture and beliefs; in this way, I was able to investigate social and cultural identity – particularly ethnicity, ‘tribal’ identity, and ‘national’ identity. By adapting approaches developed within sociology, anthropology, and psychology, archaeologists may begin to consider how material evidence both creates and reproduces ideologies, such as those fundamental to religious, social, and political organisation.

My tentative archaeological investigations into the archaeology of early 20th century domestic life (some of which I have shared on a blog elsewhere) made me aware of several issues. Firstly, that many old standing buildings – not ‘listed’ as being of historic worth, due to their commonplace survival – are likely to retain traces of everyday life in the past; the extent to which such traces do survive – even within substantially altered (‘gutted’) houses – may surprise some. Secondly, that DIY is probably eroding and erasing those traces at an unprecedented pace; conversely, renovation and modernisation provide excellent opportunities to explore these remains. And thirdly, that archaeological analysis may reveal information that will enhance interpretations of the domestic historic environment.

The most exciting aspect of these realisations was that such traces are accessible to many, with no need for destructive and expensive explorations: by adopting basic archaeological methods, anyone living in an old house might begin to explore the material histories of their homes – and contribute towards the historical record in the process. Being an industrial centre, hundreds (probably thousands) of small terraced houses, built mostly in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods for workers of local mills and factories, form line upon line of Derby streets (LIPCAP’s base); most are still lived in today. These houses are an untapped historical resource – not least for the children who occupy them, who may ‘get more out of’ history taught at school through practical investigations or their surroundings. But also, outside formal education, such houses provide opportunities for inhabitant to ‘make’ history through their own explorations, and find out about how previous generations of their own families (who perhaps occupied similar houses) may have lived.

In themselves, the findings made at individual houses might seem to be so fragmentary and divorced from wider society and culture that they are of little use or meaning. However, when studied with and compared to findings from other, similar, houses, analysis has greater potential to yield valuable information (perhaps revealing significant patterns), particularly if examined alongside other historical sources (such as documents and maps, photos and oral history), and in combination with the findings of individual and group Local History and Family History research.

My main objective for the project is to provide easy (and hopefully fun) opportunities for engagement with Derby’s rich historic environment; I intend to (and hope others will also) assess the findings from family homes in relationship to wider social and cultural networks. Each household was (and is) an integral component of a neighbourhood, several of which together made the town, which with other towns and villages comprised the region, which in turn combined with other regions to make up the country as a whole. The decisions and movements of the powerful few that controlled and managed the affairs of the nation (as well as those leading more local authorities), through this network of local communities, effected – and often were affected by – the individuals and families inhabiting each household. Therefore, in coming together through the project to pioneer new ways of exploring very specific and localised histories, our investigations may contribute towards understanding the wider and varied pasts of those outside and beyond the individual home, as well as providing a picture of life in the past in our own home.

A couple of members of the project team will now say a few words for the DoA about the project, and why archaeology appeals to them:

Debra (Secretary and Family History Co-ordinator)

debra

I have always been interested and fascinated in archaeology and when asked to become part of the project, I was both grateful and excited. As a child, I was always fascinated in ‘how we used to live’. What also excites me about the project is the possibility of sharing oral and family histories (adopting an ‘archaeological ethnographic’ approach), which enables a wider range of historical resources to be expanded to give meaningful interpretations and accounts to local communities.

Sarah (Youth Rep.)

Sarah K

It is very hard for me to explain why I love archaeology, I just enjoy it extremely. One of the things that interests me about archaeology is finding out how people in the past survived in the conditions they lived in, I also enjoy discovering new and exciting artefacts when excavating. I think that it is fascinating to discover how our ancestors used to live.

I am looking forward to this project because I would like to experience what it is like to do fascinating archaeological fieldwork and get some idea of what it is like to be an archaeologist. I really want to be involved with this project because history is my passion and I want to do as much history related things as possible.


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Living in the Past Community Archaeology Project: DIY House and Garden Archaeology

Living in the Past Community Archaeology Project (LIPCAP) is developing ways to enable public participation in exploring the historical environment amongst which many live and work today. We are based in Derby – a town (now city) with a long history, which particularly came to prominence, substantially growing in size, during (and especially after) the 18th century, as an important centre of industrialisation.

LIPCAP_Fig_1_Silk Mill

Derby Silk Mill (much rebuilt after early 20th century fire): one of the earliest factories in the world – part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site

Though much of the older housing once occupied by industrial workers has since been demolished, most of the late 19th and early 20th century small terraced houses built for the increasing workforce – many of whom were employed in the numerous local mills and factories – remain, and continue to provide homes for modern families.

LIPCAP_Fig_2_Rykneld_Mill

Rykneld Mill behind housing within West End study area

LIPCAP_Fig_3_Terraced_Street

Late 19th – early 20th century terraced housing within LIPCAP study area

LIPCAP aims, in partnership with local communities, to discover more about the daily lives of ‘ordinary’ people in the past by investigating the history of these houses (in particular), examining the traces of earlier domestic activities through standing building surveys and surveys of artefacts found in the associated gardens and yards. We provide guidance for investigating the surfaces of gardens and houses: this is to broaden access through ‘DIY’ surveys and recording, which are designed to be of low or no cost, and to prevent damage to the historical environment; at present, there are no plans for excavations, but may consider this in the future.

LIPCAP_Fig_4_Study_Areas

Project study Areas

In order to make fieldwork manageable, to make best use of resources, due to the existing evidence, and to enable comparisons, the project incorporates four study areas: Allestree Village, Little Chester, West End, and Friar Gate area; due to the opportunity to carry out detailed surveys, one property provides an interesting case study.

LIPCAP_Fig_5_eC2O_Outdoor_Toilets

The remains of early toilets investigated at one property outside Derby

We hope that this will provide opportunities for participation by those that neither inhabit  old housing, nor live in houses built upon the plots of demolished earlier housing, by investigating the remains of Victorian and Edwardian rubbish ‘dumps’ in and around the town.

LIPCAP_Fig_6_Victorian_Tip

Spread of surface finds: probable Victorian and early 20th century rubbish tip on the outskirts of Derby that LIPCAP is applying to investigate

However, by taking opportunities to investigate house interiors, we also record other remains that provide clues for home life in the past: close investigation often reveals (even in houses that have been much modernised) remains for earlier décor, utilities, and use of household space.

LIPCAP_Fig_7_lC19_eC20_Woodwork_Paint

Chips to later white paint revealing remains of early finishes within LIPCAP case study: late 19th – early 20th century ‘grained’ varnish beneath dark early – mid 20th century paint, within project case study, No. 8

LIPCAP_Fig_8_Wall Paint

Wall paint (probable early 20th century) within bedroom at No. 8 (below)

One task that has held particular interest for the project (and others) is recording of graffiti – through which we have gained insights into childhood attitudes and behaviour.

LIPCAP_Fig_9_'C19_eC20_Graffiti

Graffiti discovered during a survey of ‘No. 8’

We look at the material evidence alongside documentary records (such as census returns and trade directories), photos and maps, and oral histories and memoirs, and in this way are beginning to build up a more complete picture of everyday life at this point in time (c. 1880 – 1940) when the modern world comes into being.

Name

Relation

Condition/
Yrs married

Sex

Age

Birth Year

Occupation

Where Born

ELEY, Thomas

Head

Married

M

45

1866

Smith Striker Railway

Derby Derbyshire

ELEY, Maria Jane

Wife

Married
15 years

F

43

1868

Derby Derbyshire

RIPPIN, William

Stepson

Single

M

19

1892

Cotton Winder

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Harry

Son

Single

M

19

1892

Fruiterer’s Salesman

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Selina

Daughter

Single

F

18

1893

Cotton Winder

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Lily

Daughter

F

14

1897

Tent Maker Canvass

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Jane

Daughter

F

12

1899

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Eva

Daughter

F

9

1902

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Mabel

Daughter

F

7

1904

Derbyshire Derby

ELEY, Doris

Daughter

F

1

1910

Derbyshire Derby

No. 8 Census evidence for 1911

We will soon make guidance publicly available, to support local communities in carrying out garden surveys; over the next few days, we will test the step-by-step instructions for public participation that have been recently devised, which we will describe in a following post.

LIPCAP_Fig_10_Test_Garden_Finds

Finds discovered during a test survey of a garden outside Derby

LIPCAP_Fig_11_Test_Garden

Test Garden: location of above finds

The pilot stage of the project – testing new ways of integrating public and professional research and fieldwork – will run until 2015. LIPCAP is currently run by volunteers, and funded by donations; at present, our project team is small, and led by local historical archaeologist Dr Kirsten Jarrett. We would welcome further volunteers who would like to get involved in running the project and more sustained and detailed research and fieldwork – particularly those experienced in archaeology or local history, but this is not essential. A forthcoming post will hear from other members of the project team.

LIPCAP_Fig_12_No 8

Project case study, No. 8

If you would like to know more about the project, see our website; follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and see our Flickr and YouTube channels; we are also in the process of developing a History Pin channel. The Journal of Victorian Culture Online has also published a short article on the project.

LIPCAP_Fig_13_3D_No 8_Progress

No. 8 3D reconstruction in progress: to be ‘redecorated’ and furnished in late Victorian, Edwardian, and 1920s – 30s style

Project Social Media

Website: www.livinginthepast.org.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UrbArc20

Twitter: https://twitter.com/

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/living-in-the-past/sets/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcy3KUXbjyFdaCodnHRy6lQ

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CRM Archaeology Podcast – DayofArch Edition

CRM Archaeology PodcastEpisode 13 of the CRM Archaeology Podcast is all about the Day of Archaeology and includes discussions of some of the posts we read. Check out the show notes page here to listen to the show and for links to topics mentioned on the show. There are also links to the Day of Archaeology posts from the podcast panelists.

If you’d like to listen in iTunes then click here.

We’re also on Stitcher Radio.

Thanks for listening and have another great year of archaeology! See you next year!

Chris Webster, Podcast Host

DIGTECH LLC

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African American Archaeology and 3D modeling

By Glen Muschio Associate Professor, Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA  (Posted by the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum webmaster)

Wednesday July 24, 2013

I am a media producer and cultural anthropologist teaching Digital Media at Drexel University. Today I met with Zachary Stockmal and Justin Wu Digital Media STAR (Students Tackling Advanced Research) students preparing a 3D digital modeling project that will reconstruct a barn, a silo and other structures that once stood on the Dennis Farm (see http://thedennisfarm.org/).  Work is underway with guidance from archaeologists Dr. Patrice Jeppson, Cheyney University and West Chester University, Wade Catts, John Milner Associates, and in consultation with Denise Dennis. The long range plan is to develop a 3D interactive environment that will help tell the story of the farm founded by a free African American family in the Endless Mountains of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 1793.  The farm has remained in the family for 8 generations and family plans are underway to develop it as an educational and cultural center.


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A summer of Archaeology, Animation and Visual Effects

By Justin Wu
Students Tracking Advanced Research Program
Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA (Posted by the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum webmaster)

I am a freshman studying at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design of Drexel University (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) with a focus in Animation & Visual Effects. This summer I am participating in Drexel’s STARS (Students Tracking Advanced Research) program, working under Digital Media professor Dr. Glen Muschio to digitally revitalize and recreate archaeological sites for virtual preservation. This is quite the special opportunity for me to explore the digital media realm beyond animated films and video games, and into an important part of American history.

Our focus today is on the Dennis Farm, a historical site that was owned by a free African-American family since 1793 and remains with the Perkins-Dennis family. We are working with Denise Dennis, the 1st child of the 8th generation of the Perkins-Dennis’, archaeologist Dr. Patrice Jeppson, and archaeologist Wade Catts of John Milner Associates (JMA) to acquire information for digital preservation. Today, July 24th, my fellow student researcher, Zachary Stockmal and I analyzed the feature map of the Dennis Farm’s barn, which was provided by McVarish and Catts of JMA, for the scale and proposed layout of the barn. We compared the layout to photographs of the area we took two weeks prior on-site in preparation for accurate digital modeling and restoration. We hope to have a model in progress by the end of the summer.


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Karen Thomas (MOLA): Another musical day from the Archive

Started the day by walking from Liverpool Street to the office as part of my new fitness regime

First job was to finish the digital archiving for a small but, hitherto lost, archive under the Jubilee Line extension project in the 1990’s – LBG95.  Yesterday I spent ages trying to understand why there was a box of finds for this site with no archaeology (and therefore no contexts!) until the penny dropped and I realised that the finds belonged to LGB95.  Note to all archaeologists: make sure you put the correct site code on all your records including the finds labels!!!

Media meeting discussing all the great projects MOLA is working on and how we are publicising them via blogs, Facebook, Twitter and any other media outlet we can think of.  I think this is brilliant for getting the message out there however, I’m a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to technology which is why Stephanie is going to be ‘posting’ this for me (I hope I got the right word there!)

Back to some spreadsheet compiling for a project to digitise all our site reports – a bit dull but a very worthwhile project to free up some space and make the reports much more accessible.

LUNCH – actually escaped my desk today and had lunch with the girls.

After lunch, more spreadsheet stuff but with the happy distraction of listening to JB next door regaling a visitor from Argentina on the archaeology of Shakespeare’s London.

Had enough of the spreadsheet so moved on to another site archive that is nearly ready to microfilm.  Change of scenery and temperature with a trip to the Drawing Office (where the air conditioning actually works) to convert some report figures from coreldraw to pdf/a.  Nice and quick now there is a new W7 computer to use.

Back to the tropical conditions of the Archive to finish off the metadata – always a good thing to fry your brains on a hot Friday afternoon!

Now time to go home and enjoy the weekend.  Hope you’ve all had a good day.

 

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