Portus Project

A view from above: aerial photography at Portus

This year’s Day of Archaeology coincides with the final day of the 2014 Portus Project field school excavations. This is the second year that the University of Southampton (www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology) and the British School at Rome have run this training course for students from throughout the world. What brings us together is our interest in the maritime trade of Rome in the Mediterranean, the hub of which was the Imperial port of Rome, now a few kilometres inland from the coastline next to Rome’s international airport at Fiumicino.

The final day of excavation for the students was all about recording and checking excavation documentation, as there always seems to be 1 or 2 outstanding context sheets, however hard you try! My role within the project is to support the excavation through surveying, for which we use a range of techniques.

One recording technique that has become fundamental to the excavation, due to its size and complexity, is low level aerial photography. This Friday we were using a cherry picker in order to take oblique photographs of the excavation as well as vertical photographs, both of which are fundamental for standard recording as well as photogrammetry.

Portus Project Cherry Picker photography

Simon Keay (Portus Project Director) and Renato Sebastiani (Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma) viewing the 2014 excavations from a cherry picker

We’ve been using a range of photographic techniques on site this season (see James Milespost. As the project was running an online MOOC at the same time as the excavation, we’ve tried to help participants by providing located 360 panoramic photographs (using a Motrr).

Aerial Photograph using a Motrr

Panoramic aerial photograph of 2014 Portus Project Excavations (taken using a Motrr)

One area that we are exploring is regular low level site photography using a drone. We’re now using a DJI Innovations S800 Spreading Wings for our photography, mounted with a Sony DS-HSX300.

Portus Project DJI Innovations drone

The DJI Innovations Spreading Wings S800 being used to record the Opus Spicatum floor of the Palazzo Imperiale

We’ll be do more recording this forthcoming week, using the drone to photograph the new findings in the shipyard and the Imperial Palace.

DoA, Digi-Arch, and Geofizz

Jess' Desk

Jess' Desk

After much delay, I’ve finally sat down to write my Day of Archaeology post. Yay! As some of you might already know, I’m one of the co-organizers of the event along with Andy, Stu, Tom, Matt, Lorna and Dan. We’ve been working hard on the event for many months now, so it’s been totally amazing to see everything go so well! I’m still in the process of reading over the many many posts from around the world – it’s truly exciting to see that so many archaeologists turn out to share their experiences.

Today (yesterday!), as many of you can probably guess, I spent the majority of the day 9am – 9pm holding down the DoA inbox. We were still issuing logins at 9pm, which is a testament to the entire event I think. In the words of Lorna, “We done good”.

But when I’m not doing the DoA, I’m actually a partner and archaeologist at L – P : Archaeology, a commercial archaeology partnership based in the UK. My work at L – P usually entails being a jack of all trades, but mostly with a technological spin. I’m very involved with our open-source archaeological recording kit (ARK) and provide support for many of the projects which are using it in the field (as mentioned in Andy Dufton’s post!). We also do lots of work with HLF funded projects which often involves creating websites for community groups wishing to branch out into the digital engagement side of archaeology. Most of this is usually done from my desk in our London Office.. featured left!

Portus Hyperbola

Portus Hyperbolas

On top of that, I’m also in charge of geophysical surveys for L – P and can often be seen pushing a pram (GPRrrr!), stylishly wearing no metal, or yelling at my computer screen full of black and white blobs.. :-S I’m very grateful that the geophysics gets me out of the office once and a while, that’s for sure! Currently I’m processing a load of GPR data for the Portus Project, which is (as always) turning up lots of interesting results for the team. (See lovely hyperbola(s) on right)

But I guess that’s about it for now. I’m pretty shattered from the last few days of helping with the DoA and juggling my work responsibilities. And now I shall shoot off for an afternoon in the pub to celebrate everyone’s hard work. Many, many thanks to everyone who made it such a great day. If anything I really hope that these sorts of events will not only raise awareness about the true (and diverse!) nature of archaeology as a discipline, but also highlight the sorts of things that are possible when we all just open up and share what makes us all passionate about archaeology. Thanks again!