adobe

A Day in the Life of an Illustrator

First off I should say that I always find it quite uneasy calling myself an Illustrator. To me illustrator conjurs up images of amazing artefact and reconstruction drawings; I am not one of those, I deal with plans, sections, maps using CAD, GIS and Adobe Illustrator, as well as carrying out graphic design and web design.

Today I have three main tasks to deal with:

1. Carry out edits to the illustrations for a site that AOC excavated a while ago, and is now ready to be published.
2. Finish designing a pair of interpretation boards that will eventually be placed by a Neolithic cairn.
3. Produce some maps using GIS for our York office so that they have them ready for carrying out a heritage assessment

On top of this I normally have lots of small tasks given to me over the course of a working day. These can be to place a news item on our website and then tweet a link to all of our followers, to design & produce a trenching plan for evaluations, to edit/enhance photographs, to PDF documents ready to be sent to clients (my machine is one of the few capable of producing PDFs) and so on.

7:15 I’m in the office, cup of tea made as the computer boots up and logs in. Straight away there’s an email asking me to produce some plates for an HBR report. A small job that will only take 10-15 minutes. Time to load up InDesign and make some plates!

A museum archaeologist

As the archaeologist and curator for the Lost City Museum every day is different for me.  One day I might be entering the museum’s catalog records into the computer and the next I am doing research on trash middens or getting down and dirty while restoring the museum’s adobe pueblos.  The museum where I work is an archaeology museum devoted to the study of the Virgin River branch of the Ancestral Puebloans (you might know them as the Anasazi). As a museum archaeologist I don’t get into the field as much as I would like, but the trade off is that I get to handle some pretty awesome Ancestral Puebloan artifacts.

Pueblo restoration

Giving the Lost City Museum's adobe pueblos a facelift.

My predecessors conducted more fieldwork than I have been able to for two reasons. One is that the valley where the museum is located experienced a lot of growth over the past 25 years, and often the places where people wanted to build their houses were located on archaeological sites. The landowners would sometimes grant the museum archaeologist permission to excavate as much of the site as possible before construction began.  The excavation of these sites has led to a backlog of artifacts to be processed and cataloged because as is often the case in archaeological fieldwork, the excavation of the site is the easy part, and the processing of artifacts is the tedious (and unglamorous) part of the process. I would guess that most museums with archaeological collections have some sort of backlog of collections that were excavated and essentially forgotten without an analysis or formal report on the findings of the site.

This backlog has led to the second reason why I am not currently conducting field research. There has been a shift in the past five or ten years towards analyzing what is already present in a museum’s collection to obtain information about a site or a culture because the information is already available. Excavations are expensive, and there are perfectly good artifacts sitting in museum storage waiting to be analyzed. Another reason for this shift is connected to the realization that archaeological sites can be better preserved by not excavating them and waiting for technological advances that make archaeology a less destructive process. Advances in technology already allow archaeologists to “see” what is at a site through the use of ground penetrating radar, which means archaeologists can make better informed decisions on when, where, and how much of a site to excavate.

The great thing about my job as a museum archaeologist is that I get the best of both worlds. I can help out on the projects of other archaeologists, do site visits with site stewards, or conduct research on rock art sites when I need to get out into the field, and I have the satisifaction of knowing that I am helping to protect prehistoric artifacts that are over one thousand years old. Plus, as a museum archaeologist I get to see all of the great stuff that isn’t out on display!

Cleaning a pot on display at the museum.

 

A Day in Japanese Archaeological Laboratory

I’m an archaeologist living and working in Japan. I’m a researcher of Meiji University Archaeological Investigation Unit. This unit is organized for preventive excavation within university campus.

In Japan, all archaeological sites are conserved under the national law. Local governments develop a registration map of archaeological sites and check all land development. In order to keep to the law, all developer and constructor – not only commercial sector but also public/administrative sector- must make an effort to conserve archaeological sites within their development/ construction area. If they cannot change their plans, they must do excavation. More than 95% of excavations carried out in Japan are this type – preventive excavation…documentation before destruction of sites for those 40yrs.

As you know Japan has large population- about 120 million- in small land. Most parts of our landscape are hilly or mountainous, so our living spaces are definitely limited and overlaid on ancestor’s lived space. This is the cause of so many excavations – more than 8,000 in average/year and the peak was about 12,000 in 1996…- have done every year.

In 2004, our project was started. It was for the construction of new buildings of the university affiliated junior-high and high school. At first we did survey and sounding in total 40,000 sq-meters area, then begun excavation in 18,000 sq-meters area. The excavation continued for 2 years and 5 months – more than 800 days. We unveiled Modern Age (including Imperial Japanese Army and occupation Allied Force sites during WWII ), Jomon Age (mostly Middle Jomon, 6-4.5ka) and the Upper Palaeolithic Age (32-16ka). Now I’m constructing web-site for our excavation (https://sites.google.com/site/japarchresources/ :it’s not completed) .

aerial view of our excavation area in 2005

aerial view of our excavation area in 2005

excavation of the Upper Palaeolithic living floor

excavation of the Upper Palaeolithic living floor

excavation of a shelter for air fighter of Imperial Japanese Army during WWII

excavation of a shelter for air fighter of Imperial Japanese Army during WWII

documentation of the Late Pleistocene staratigraphy

documentation of the Late Pleistocene staratigraphy

Our excavation was finished in Dec,2007. However it means finishing just the first step only in the field… we have more than 500 containers filled with artefacts such as: 5,000 potsherd and 40,000 pebbles of Jomon, 25,000 lithics and 90,000 pebbles of the Upper Palaeolithic, more than 200GB of digital images and measurement datum by total station system… and so on.

Since 2008, we’re engaging with the post-excavation procedure and it will continue until 2015. We have published the 1st volume of our excavation report this May and will publish other 5 volumes over 5 years.

This is our background. And here I show our habitual day in post-excavation laboratory of our investigation unit. Now we’re tackling with Jomon and the Upper Palaeolithic materials.

The first section is for Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting work. We uncovered more than 300 stone heaps composed with 90,000 pebbles. Most of pebbles are burnt and fragments. These stone heaps are assumed for cooking, as in the Pacific ethnography.

This work has started in 2010 and will continue for the next 2 years. There are many pebbles in containers waiting for their turn…

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting(2)

Upper Palaeolithic pebble refitting(2)

These workers are from the commercial company engaging in preventive archaeology.

more pebbles are waiting their turn...

more pebbles are waiting their turn...

all containers are fulfilled with material

all containers are fulfilled with material

The second section is for Upper Palaeolithic stone tools (lithic technology) refitting. This work has started in 2007 and will finished this year.

Basically we start from distinguishing chipped stone tools and debitages into petrological classification and making sub-divisions acording to their colour, texture, micro-structure and other characteristics. This is very empiric but very efficient method. Up to now we have documented more than 6,000 cases of refitting in 25,000 specimens of lithic material. In some cases, we can reconstruct original shape of nodule and decode total sequence of knapping technology. Of course, to determine source of raw material, we apply archaeo-scientific analysis.

Lithic refitting work(1)

Lithic refitting work(1)

Lithic refitting work(2)

Lithic refitting work(2)

arrange debitages with raw material, texture and other character

arrange debitages with raw material, texture and other character

documenting which pieces are and how they are refitting in sequence

documenting which pieces are and how they are refitting in sequence

The third section is computer application for managing the database, drawing maps and artefacts, geo-spatial analysing and editing publications. We use Microsoft(R) Access(2007)(R) for database managing; Inteli CAD(6.0J) for arranging and original drawings measurement survey datum, 3-dimensional distribution maps of artefacts; Adobe(R) Illustrator(CS5)(R) for drawing artefacts and finising maps and other figures for publication; Arc GIS<sup>(R)</sup>10 for geo-spatial analysing; Adobe(R) InDesign(CS4)(R) for editing publications. Some part of these computer works are put out to commercial companies, those which have specific technique and systems.

computers in our laboratory

computers in our laboratory

a drawing of stone tool (Upper Palaeolithic backed blade)

a drawing of stone tool (Upper Palaeolithic backed blade)

drawing distribution map of Upper Palaeolithic lithic concentration

drawing distribution map of Upper Palaeolithic lithic concentration

database for chipped stone tools of Upper Palaeolithic

database for chipped stone tools of Upper Palaeolithic

geo-spatial analysing of Jomon inter-site components

geo-spatial analysing of Jomon inter-site components

Post-excavation laboratory working continues…however I hope to go back to the field…yep I should!!!!

Archaeology Remixed: The History of El Presidio de San Francisco, California Goes Digital

Ruth Tringham (professor) – “Busy day today at the SF Presidio. Usual San Francisco fog, then sunny with wind – lovely summer… Today we started off the discussion of how we are going to share our project to create microhistories about archaeology and cultural heritage at the SF Presidio. Since this is a class on Digital Documentation, it’s no surprise that we chose digital on-line platforms. We started off with Erica’s [Pallo] experience of her yummy foody blogs and do’s and dont’s of blogging. This was followed by Elena’s [Toffalori] technical guide through the ins and outs of WordPress. What a coincidence – unplanned – with the Day of Archaeology. Pure serendipity. There are no coincidences, you say; well maybe not…….Then plotting with dreams and realistic visions of what our tour of El Presidio, Funston Ave and El Polin will look like on the Web, on an iPad, and/or iPhone. Michael [Ashley] and I brainstorming very constructively and loudly as usual, making dreams come true.”

Michael Ashley (instructor) – “I was psyched about a ‘day in the life of’ archaeologists worldwide’ since I first heard about it from Lorna and friends. We spend the day digging deep into digital archaeology in our course at the Presidio of San Francisco. The student team had fabulous ideas on how to put together a virtual visit of past Presidio life with new technologies such as gigapixel imaging and Google Earth. I was pulled into a great discussion with Presidio staff about how to plan a 3-way documentation of the Officer’s Club, originally an adobe structure that’s spent most of its modern life shrouded in wood and sheetrock. Cyark will laser scan the interior, and CoDA will work with Presidio staff to produce color accurate photogrammetry and gigapixel imaging. We are working to meld practical digital techniques with real world archaeological problems, and have a lot of fun in the process. Thanks, Lorna and all for getting the Day of Archaeology rolling, and congratulations!

Instructors and students shooting a gigapan panorama in the SF Presidio Park  - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Instructors and students shooting a gigapan panorama in the SF Presidio Park - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Erica Pallo (CoDA intern) – “Digital Documentation for Archaeology: Documenting, Representing, and Interpreting Cultural Heritage at the San Francisco, California Presidio. So much is said in a name, and this one just so happens to be the title of the academic course we are hosting at the University of California in Berkeley. Teaching students of Archaeology the nitty gritty of the discipline, carrying out our official work-related projects both past and present, and in general just being excited about the implications and applications archaeology has to offer are all in a day’s work for us, so heck, we here at CoDA are chuck full of bright ideas for making archaeology happen habitually. Organizing our class for a special undertaking such as today’s – though it was a complete coincidence that this occasion fell on a pre-scheduled class day – where all of us Archaeo types can get together via the World Wide Web to celebrate all the ideals we hold dear, sounds like sweet success to our virtual ears!

UC Berkeley Anthro 136e Summer 2011 course at the Presidio de San Francisco National Park - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Michael Ashley (standing) gives instruction to the UC Berkeley Anthro 136e Summer 2011 course at El Presidio de San Francisco National Park - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

As a constant way to chronicle our class’s documentation of El Presidio de San Francisco , I write a weekly blog that assesses the skills learned, trials and tribulations of making archaeology digital, and feedback from the voices of the students themselves as they enter (sometimes with trepidation) into the multi-faceted world of cultural heritage preservation. Today I gave a crash course on blogging as a way to educate, but also to ease some fears and stir up excitement for future possibilities in the field. Below I carry on with my routine methodology of having the class participants – students, interns, professors, other CoDA staff – share a little insight into their stance on digital documentation of cultural heritage, only this time I am pleased to say it includes their general enthusiasm for the Day of Archaeology. Welcome to the class!”

Elena Toffalori (CoDA staff) – “Today I had the chance to cut in on the conversation about blogging and archaeology in this amazing course. Based on my experience of web development with the CoDA Website I followed Ruth Tringham and Erica Pallo and gave a first introduction to Content Management Systems and more “geeky-technical” details involved in blogging and publishing contents on the web, as I have done already in a series of posts on our blog section. Having to work with media and building narratives, and especially when handling cultural heritage-related data, it is particularly important to take care of our data and metadata, so that details such as copyright attribution, contextual information, and tracking to the original file are made possible and lawfully pursued. This is one of the major challenges young cultural heritage specialists have to face to help dragging the discipline into the XXI century!”

Ioan Chelu (student)“We’ve all been in that class with the instructor who’s lectures consist of reciting monotonously from dry, old textbooks. BORING. How do you make archaeology interesting for the greater public? How do you form connections with them, at large? How do we connect this dry, old subject of archaeology with new, modern technology? These are the questions we’ve been asking and answering today.”

Chris Fussell (student) – “Organizing multiple angles of history via interactive multimedia feels a bit daunting and exciting. Using Google Earth to generate a tour of the Presidio with images, text stories, movies all while placing all of this information spatially with the ability to travel vast distances will allow one to virtually travel to the past. There is so little of the original Presidio left at the site in San Francisco. Most of it is sealed under a parking lot or a part of the WWI era officers club. I think what we are doing is allowing as much accesses to the past as possible at this time and perhaps more. A historic place or artifact cannot simply speak for itself; it needs a touch of humanity, a story, something that makes it relevant to today, a connection that unites current residents of San Francisco and visitors from around the world. People generate history through events, through action. We are often left with the result but not the need, the idea, the planning, the consequences, the effort and use of what was made in the past. How do we bring this out in our project for the Presidio? I guess that is what I will be finding out through my and my teamates efforts and actions.”

UC Berkeley Anthro 136e Summer 2011 course at the Presidio de San Francisco National Park - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Discussions among the students of UC Berkeley Anthro 136e Summer 2011 course at El Presidio de San Francisco National Park about the uses of digital technology in Archaeology - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Cyrena Giordano (student) – “What did I do today? I learned about blogging and how intricate and interlaced blogging communities can be. Also, how blogging can be a faster and semi-professional way to get one’s writing out to the public. Moreover how blogging can be, in a sense, a replacement for a resume or even a book.  This was really interesting to me.”

Luke Morris (student) – “Determination of blogging value, enhancing dissemination of digital data and its interpretation: clearly the future of archaeology.”

Adam Grab (student) – “Today was an informative session in digitally codifying archaeological information. We experienced the benefits and disadvantages of proprietary versus open source blogging, as far as customization and access to data is concerned. It’s amazing how much free reign is possible when you know the right kinds of editing.”

Francesca Favila (student) – “My mind was BLOWN by the discussions of html and php and blogging that took place in class today. My capabilities using the internet are limited, to say the least.”

Nicholas Joy (student) “Today was a great class. We learned about how to digitize our data in either a blog, html, or .org format. Today was important because not only does this information pertain to just archeology, but with so many digital links we learn they can be used in many areas out in life. Happy Archeology Day to all.”

UC Berkeley Anthro 136e Summer 2011 course at the Presidio de San Francisco National Park - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

(Non-techy) tools of the trade for students in UC Berkeley Anthro 136e Summer 2011 course at El Presidio de San Francisco National Park as they plot areas on a map for their upcoming class project - ©2011 Center for Digital Archaeology, Berkeley CA. Creative Commons creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

Debbie James (student) – “Hml, css, php…what? Okay, I understand what a blog is…sort of. Very interesting, but still need to catch up with the modern world. Happy Archaeology Day!”

Cheryl Guerrero (student) – “Acronyms flying fast and furious today, but think I was able to hang on to a few of them…HTML, CSS, and PHP, which used to be ‘personal home page’ but I don’t think that applies anymore.  Still learning about techie terms, hosting sites and blogging, but seems to be a slow process…”

Connor Rowe (CoDA staff) – “Well, today was a lovely day experimenting in the latest panorama viewing technologies coming out of the German-speaking world. Trying to get around the Apple/Adobe wars and get our panorama to view in the iOS Safari is so far unsuccessful, but we will persevere! In a side note, I came across a neat little trick that allows those of us running Macs to turn our desktop Safari into an iPad/iPhone Safari emulator. Try Safari > Preferences > Advanced and check the box that says “Show Develop menu in menu bar,” then, at the top of the screen you should see Develop, from which you will change your User Agent. For the good news, we finally remembered to bring the Magic Gold Cable (DV/FireWire 800) from our Berkeley lab out to the Presidio so that we can finally get started on the log&capture&compression process for the student vids.”