Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a Salvage Archaeologist who became a Computer Animator 20 years ago and now I’m using both my archaeology and computer animation skills to reimagine archaeological landscapes in virtual reality! Most of my days are now spent in front of a computer working in Autodesk Maya, Unity or Unreal game engines, but today we are with our friends at ASI | Archaeological and Cultural Heritage Services to see what archaeologists think about our recent virtual reality (VR) (re)imagination of a 16th century Wendat (Iroquoian) Longhouse.
Today, I coordinated the activities of two groups of faculty and students working on archaeological related projects at the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA USA. One project supervised by Erik Sundquist, Director of the Westphal Hybrid Lab and being produced by Riley Stewart, a Digital Media sophomore is an 11 ft. replica of a cheval de frise, an American Revolution era underwater weapon used to prevent British warships from sailing into Philadelphia. The artifact was recovered in the Delaware River in 2007 by maritime archaeologist J. Lee Cox Jr. and donated to the Independence Seaport Museum. Shortly after the artifact was recovered, Craig Bruns, Chief Curator, Independence Seaport Museum, asked if my team of faculty and students could make a 3D scan of the cheval as part of the Museum’s effort to preserve it. Then Digital Media faculty member Chris Redmann and Digital Media sophomore Mark Petrovich scanned the artifact and produced a 3D model. Recently, Craig asked if we could produce a replica of the cheval from our scan data. Craig plans to use the replica as a proxy for the actual artifact as the Museum prepares to exhibit the cheval de frise. Before producing the full scale replica, Erik and Riley printed a miniature replica of the cheval to test the integrity of the scan data. Satisfied with the model Erik and Riley plan to produce the replica next week.
For the second project I reviewed storyboards for two Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that will be used in October to alert the public to two archaeology events. The first entitled, “Explore Philadelphia’s Buried Past” is a one day celebration where archeologists explain to the public ongoing archaeological work being conducted in Philadelphia. The free event is held at the National Constitution Center and is sponsored by the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum and Independence National Historical Park (INHP) Archaeology lab. The other PSA will announce that October is Pennsylvania Archaeology Month. The storyboards are being produced by Digital Media freshman, Ryan Rasing. Both PSA’s will feature 3D models of archaeological artifacts from the INHP’s archaeology collection. The artifacts were scanned last week at INHP’s Archaeology Lab by Digital Media graduate student Jonnathan Mercado assisted by Ryan. Both are working to produce the PSAs that will appear on the upper floors of the Pennsylvania Energy Company (PECO) Building high above the city of Philadelphia for all to see.
This short documentary about the first archaeological park in R. Macedonia “Arheo Park Brazda” was recorded for the celebration of international day of archaeology “Day of Archaeology 2014” by association “Archaeologica” ‘with the support of Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia, Archaeological Museum of Macedonia, Cultural heritage protection office and Via Magna.
Goran Sanev, MA
Irena Kolistrkovska Nasteva
Camera, Assembling, Music, Graphics:
Author – Screenwriter – Producer
Skopje, July 2014
New York State was the location of many violent battles and skirmishes during the American Revolution. Campaigns, such as the British invasion of New York City and Long Island (1776), the Burgoyne Campaign (1777), and the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign (1779) scorched New York’s landscape. Raids and skirmishes also divided communities pitting Loyalists against American friends and families. The British and American’s call for Native American groups, such as the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), to choose a side led to a civil war within the Iroquois Confederacy. The impact of the conflict was felt immediately in the loss of homes and lives; these impacts lasted well beyond the end of the war.
The Public Archaeology Facility has conducted studies of Revolutionary War battles associated with both the Burgoyne and Sullivan-Clinton Campaigns. These studies have helped to remap these battlefields by determining the boundaries’ of battlefields and identify landscape features associated with the battles. The ultimate goal of this research is to better comprehend the experience of those involved in the American Revolution in New York State. We hope that our research can be used to preserve these battlefields and provide the public with an understanding of the conflict.
Our studies begin with extensive research of historic documents. To identify the location of the battlefield and its landscape features we review the writings or oral histories of a battle’s combatants. Journals, official reports, letters, and veteran pension applications can all provide valuable information for us. Although sometimes mentioned incidentally in these documents, references to landscape features, such as roads, villages, mountains, and rivers, provide us with valuable information on where battle related actions took place. In a way, combatants tell us where they were during the battle and how they used the battlefield’s landscape.
We map this historic data using a Geographic Information System or GIS allowing us to perform various analyses and comparisons of data. We overlay historic maps and accounts of the battle onto present day maps to determine where the battle occurred and what remains of the battlefield. We refine the locations of battlefield features using viewshed and range of fire analyses. This information is used to conduct a military terrain analysis of the battlefield. We can identify how combatants used a portion of the battlefield- a path to advance or retreat, a place to seek cover or concealment, an observation post, an obstacle that restricted advance, or a post to defend or take. Taken together, these pieces of the landscape provide us with the battlefield’s boundaries and multi-scale view of how the battle unfolded.
With a GIS map to guide us, we perform a systematic inventory or survey of battlefield features. The identification of musket and rifle balls and personal belongings of soldiers tells us that the battlefield’s landscape and the material remains of the battle are still intact. We can also use the locations of these material remains to better determine troop positions and movements.
The historical background and the results of archaeological investigation provide a basis for preserving the battlefield. Working with local groups and descendent communities, we can present the history of the battle to the public with presentations, signage, or digital media. This information can also help to advise agencies and developers on how best to avoid impacts to the battlefield so that the history of the American Revolution can be seen by future generations.
I couldn’t blog on Friday as we were packing up at the end of month of excavation in Jersey, but I was pretty sure what I was going to write about. I was in the midst of making sure we ended well and anticipating what I knew was about to come, that moment when everyone starts to grab their lifts, planes, ferrys and leave the dig. You’d think, after 25 or so years in the field I’d be used to it, but it doesn’t work like that, maybe age has made me realize how precious these times in the field are or maybe you get less used to transitioning as you get older but the days after a project has ended are a little weird and I think we should think about why that is.
Archaeologists, like other field scientists and researchers, get to experience one of the most fulfilling of human experiences, working with others as a team sharing everything together from the time you wake up to the time you sleep (often with little in between). Depending on the length of time in the field, and the degree to which a project has been around enough to have it’s own culture, this experience exists in a totally immersive and idiosyncratic world of it’s own. Dig cultures vary from the Utopian to the dysfunctional, they develop languages, traditions, myths and protocols which mean nothing outside the world of that dig. Members of a dig society co-op into rules, systems and responses which out of context might seem strange, draconian or institutionalized, and yet when it works amazing things can be achieved. While I’ve worked on digs which vary from the dull to those which are some kind of re-run of the Standford Prison experiment, most have been wonderful, positive experiences in which I’ve grown through meeting life-long colleagues, dear friends and partners. For any archaeologist the dig will be the arena for so much growth and shaping as a person that getting the culture right is important.
I personally find the intensity of a 24/7 endevour and its contrast with the professional/social separation of the 9 to 5 ‘real’ world a genuine peak experience. Being in the position now of helping to make digs work, guiding and structuring these short-lived, single-minded societies, the experience seems even more intense.
These days I see getting the end of the dig right as being pretty imprtant. We’ve learned some practical tips like 1. never have your End Of Dig Party actually right at the end of the dig and 2. make sure you know exactly when everyone is leaving so you don’t end up cleaning the toilets alone, but actually getting the end right depends on how people feel at that point of departure, when every hole is filled and every tent packed. You only really know you’ve got it right when leaving seems like the most unnatural thing to do.
This year our Ice Age Island project did finish well and our wonderful team of staff and students recorded and back-filled without desperate haste or despondency. The base was cleaned and goodbyes were heartfelt. Dismantling and packing away your dig societies seems hard sometimes. They are precious because they can’t last more than the season, the next year will always be different and you can never be sure it will keep getting better.
But because the right ingredients of discipline, play, nuture and tough-love can result in great archaeology and great science spending a bit of that back-filling time thinking about how to do it better next time is never wasted.
Connor Rowe, Center for Digital Archaeology, Mukurtu CMS. Today is the Day of Archaeology, in which archaeologists around the world blog about this day in the life of an archaeologist. Now my background is in cultural anthropology and digital media, but I happen to work with a team of archaeologists at the Center for Digital Archaeology here at UC Berkeley, so I tend to jump on the archaeological wagon, especially when it intersects with the digital world. Hence my participation in #DayofArch 2013.
My current project is Mukurtu CMS, an open-source digital archive originally intended for (and created by) indigenous communities to collect and share their (digital, digitized, and intangible) cultural heritage, on their own terms. It is built on Drupal 7, and attempts to remain community-based in its development process (yes, this is as hard as it sounds). We’ve been supported by generous NEH, IMLS, and university grants, which help us, first, eat, and, second, continue this project for little or no cost to interested communities (notwithstanding Congressional budget cuts…). These grants have allowed us to produce complementary tools, e.g., Mukurtu Mobile, an iOS (and soon, Android) app, and work on projects as varied as museum exhibits and school science curricula. My work consists primarily of community support, software and installation upkeep, and facilitation of internal and external communication. I also get to fly around the continents and help communities implement digital preservation workflows on site.
Today, however, I am in our sunny Berkeley treehouse office, listening to the quiet chirping of birds, leaf blowers, and jack hammers (the archaeological offices surround BP’s new capital investment), staring at lines of code trying, somewhat successfully, to fix a problem reported by a community using Mukurtu in New Zealand. Time zones make it a little difficult to collaborate in real time, but it adds to the sense that the work I’m doing is globally worthwhile. My work in this aspect of digital archaeology, what might be termed digital cultural heritage preservation and management, is a rewarding niche of archaeological work. It allows me to empower others in the face of expectations of steep digital learning curves, manage their own heritage, and make sure that history is not lost, but rather shared. It allows me to build and learn code, while also paying attention to cultural relevancy. There is responsibility tied to certain knowledge, sacred stories, and ancestors. By building, maintaining, and supporting Mukurtu, I help communities retain control over how their heritage is distributed. As Kim of Team Mukurtu (below) would say it, “does all information want to be free?”
Kim Christen, Project Director and persona behind @mukurtu
Michael Ashley, Development Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Center for Digital Archaeology, @lifeisnotstill
Chacha Sikes, Lead Engineer, @chachasikes
and me, Connor Rowe, Service Manager, @mrthebutler
I am a Digital Media student in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA. I am currently interning in a six month Research Co-op under Dr. Glen Muschio. He and I are engaged in multiple projects aimed at preserving Philadelphia’s rich cultural heritage through the use of current and next-gen digital media technologies. This is a unique opportunity for me, as the Co-Op allows me to combine my passion for digital art and animation with my interest in history.
On Monday, June 25th, I finalized preparation of a 3D digital model and animated fly through of the James Oronoco Dexter House. The archaeological remains of the house were discovered during archaeological excavation of the grounds now occupied by the National Constitutional Center in Independence National Historical Park. Dexter, a manumitted slave, occupied the house in the 1790’s. The house was used as the meeting place for discussions that led to the formation of the African Episcopal Church, one of the first two Black Churches founded in Philadelphia.
The 3D digital model of the house is based on the archeological record, public tax and insurance records and historical photographs of similar houses. The animation showcases the exterior of the property as well as portions of the unfinished interior. This is the third iteration of the model developed by Drexel Digital Media students including Sean Brown, Chester Cunanan, Jake Nichols, Christian Adams, Rachel Young and Colin Wagner.
Jason Kir, Digital Media junior Westphal College
Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
It’s been a typically diverse summer day for me. One of my ongoing projects deals with understanding the initial adoption of pottery technology by the Indian peoples of the Delaware Valley (between roughly 1600 BC and 1000 BC) and subsequent trends in the manufacture and use of pots. Today I reviewed a number of recently published articles on the subject and made arrangements to see collections of pottery from archaeological sites in New Jersey (Gloucester County) and Pennsylvania (Philadelphia). I also continued my review and organization of data from an ongoing excavation project I direct, along with graduate student Jeremy Koch, in the Lehigh River Gorge of Pennsylvania. This location is a fantastic layer cake of deposits left by Indian groups beginning around 11,300 years ago and ending in colonial times. The site was brought to our attention by amateur archaeologist, Del Beck, who was concerned about the site being looted. Del remains an important member of our research team along with my old friend and amateur archaeologist, Tommy Davies, and colleagues from the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Clarion and Baylor universities. We are currently into our 5th year of investigations at the site and are collecting evidence of native cultures that is rarely seen in buried and undisturbed contexts in Pennsylvania. I’m looking forward to my next trip to the site later this week.
Michael Stewart, archaeologist in the Department of Anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
For the record, I’m not an archaeologist. I manage the regional historic preservation program for the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. General Services Administration. The regional headquarters is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania although the region covers six states from New Jersey to Virginia. We undertake a number of projects for the federal government that involve ground disturbing activities and I manage the regional regulatory compliance, including archaeological investigations. On June 25, 26, and 27 I reported to a customer agency about the ongoing investigation of two historic archaeological sites at their project site in southern Virginia, sent copies of correspondence and archaeological resource identification reports to a couple of Native American tribes who expressed interest in being consulting parties to a Section 106 consultation, prepared a scope of work to direct an archaeological contractor to undertake a survey to identify whether or not there are archaeological resources present in a planned project area, and worked on slides describing how to incorporate archaeology into project planning for a training presentation I’ll be giving in a few months.
Donna Andrews, Regional Historic Preservation Officer, GSA Mid-Atlantic Region, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
In the evening of June 25, 2012, I edited a draft of a publication being prepared regarding a multi-component prehistoric site (28GL228) located in New Jersey immediately east of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA). The article will be published in the journal entitled Archaeology of Eastern North America and presented at the 2012 Eastern States Archaeological Federation meeting in Ohio (USA). The data from 28GL228 provides insight into Native American culture in the Philadelphia region. This project is being conducted on a volunteer basis.
Jesse Walker, MA, RPA
I, Poul Erik Graversen, MA (Masters), RPA (Registered Professional Archaeologist), spent most of my Monday, June 25, 2012, doing research for my PhD/Doctorate Degree. I am currently living and working in New Jersey (USA), not far from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where I grew up; however I attend the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Literature on free African Americans in the antebellum northeastern United States is sparse. The literature that can be found on this very important topic has had little focus on the placement, layout, settlement patterns, and the archaeological record of these people. My PhD dissertation aims to fill in the gaps of current scholarship focused on African American archaeology in the northeastern United States by means of an in depth analysis of both enslaved and free African American settlements in not only the northeastern United States, but in the southern United States and West Africa as well. By analyzing the settlement patterns and socio-economic reasons behind the settlement patterns in other parts of the United States and the world, a clearer and more concise picture of the reasons behind the settlement patterns of free and enslaved African Americans in the northeastern United States will emerge. Most of the information amassed in this regard up to this point stems from a historical perspective, with archaeological contributions and content lacking. The new information gathered in this dissertation will shed light on the life-ways of these people via the archaeological record of both enslaved and free African American Diaspora in the northeastern United States of America and the ramifications of their extended exposure to European influence in North America.
Poul Erik Graversen, MA, RPA PhD/Doctoral Candidate University of Leicester
Principle Investigator/Instructor Monmouth University New Jersey USA
Worked in the morning on several writing projects including my material culture based memoir: “Some Things of Value: A Childhood Through Objects”, my essay with my colleague Julie Steele on Valley Forge and Petersburg National Park Service sites, and some new stuff on American Mortuary practices inspired by my attendance and paper presentation at last week’s national meeting of the Association for Gravestone Studies held in Monmouth, New Jersey (USA). At about 10:30 am left Temple University (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and went to Elfreth’s Alley [the oldest street in the USA) and discussed the excavations now underway, directed by my graduate student Deirdre Kelleher, ably assisted by two energetic volunteers and fellow student Matt Kalos. Three foundations have appeared (not the expected two) and need to be sorted out. Lots of stuff to think about there: the growth of 18th century Philadelphia, perhaps the first settlements there, the 19th century immigration and its impacts, all to be read through material culture; especially the remarkable surviving architecture. Greatly relieved not to get a speeding ticket as I journeyed back to Delaware City (Delaware, USA) where I answered some queries and agreed to some talks; including one on the Fourth of July!! My local historical society is busy trying to save a magnificent mid-18th century farmhouse on an imposing knoll surrounded by lowland farm ground and wetlands. Approved a draft to hopefully speed the preservation process along. Also reviewed the National Register nomination crafted by a group of us working at the Plank Log House in Marcus Hook, Pa., another early structure in the Delaware Valley. Regretfully decided that I could not attend the Fields of Conflict 7th Annual Meeting in Hungary this October. The day ended with a group response, led by my next door neighbor, to save an injured Great Blue Heron which found itself in front of our house. By 8:00 pm the heron was revived and taken care of at a friend’s animal hospital!
David G. Orr, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I spent the day doing fieldwork at Elfreth’s Alley in Old City Philadelphia (Pennsylvania, USA) as part of my doctoral research. Elfreth’s Alley, designated as a National Historical Landmark, is credited with being one of the oldest residential streets in the nation. My research seeks to illuminate the lives of the inhabitants on the Alley, especially the many European immigrants who resided on the small street during the nineteenth century. This summer, I am working behind 124 and 126 Elfreth’s Alley which house a small museum and gift shop. During the day I worked with volunteers from the local community who came out to learn about and participate in the excavation. I also spent time discussing my project with the many visitors who came to the Museum of Elfreth’s Alley.
Deirdre Kelleher, Doctoral Student, Temple University, Department of Anthropology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I am a Rutgers University (New Jersey, USA) lecturer who teaches in three programs (Anthropology, Art History, Cultural Heritage); I also am a sole proprietor archaeological consultant with 25 years of archaeological experience – every day is always busy, diverse in the tasks and projects I work on, and linked with archaeology and anthropology. Today I: 1. Finished and submitted a review for a textbook on on Native American history and culture to a major publisher of archaeology and anthropology texts 2. Submitted an application to be listed as an independent archaeological consultant for the state of Pennsylvania 3. Gathered material for, and started writing a draft of, a syllabus for one of three courses I will be teaching next fall (“Cemeteries, Monuments, and Memorials: Cultural Heritage and Remembering the Dead”) 4. Wrote a short draft of an invited book contribution on the topic of an Alaskan archaeological site I helped to excavate in 1987 and 1994.
I just returned from a visit to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, where I viewed the traveling Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Franklin Institute in which the accompanying artifacts of everyday life illuminate the scrolls themselves. I also was privileged to enjoy a preview of reconstructed transfer-printed creamware pitchers that will be included in an exhibit commemorating the War of 1812. Curiosity about the images of naval engagements on these Philadelphia artifacts led me to explore similar prints offered on the websites of antique print dealers as well as on the Library of Congress Guide to the War of 1812. Researching Melungeons in aid of a relative’s family history quest, I examined Kenneth B. Tankersley’s work about the Red Bird River Shelter petroglyphs in Clay County, KY.
K. L. Brauer, Maryland, USA
June 26, 2012
Today, at Drexel University (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA), I met with two Digital Media undergraduates developing digital assets representing the James Oronoco Dexter House, the site of which was excavated in Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia. The 3D model will eventually serve as a virtual environment in which users interact with avatars and take part in “possible” conversations that led to the formation of the African Church, later known as, The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, which are known to have occurred in this home. Jason Kirk, a junior who received a Steinbright Career Development Center Research Co-op Award to work on the project, is completing the latest digital model. Jason and I met with freshman Joseph Tomasso who received a Pennoni Honor’s College STAR (Students Tracking Advanced Research) Fellowship to work on the project. Today is Joe’s first day on the summer term Fellowship. He will develop digital 3D models of appropriate furniture and furnishings that will be used to populate the house. Virtual artifacts will include ceramics recovered from the archaeological site that are believed to be associated with Dexter’s occupation. The purpose of the meeting was to prepare for a session with Independence National Historical Park representatives on Wednesday, June 27th. At that Park meeting we will review the house model and will discuss appropriate virtual furnishings with Park experts. The model has been prepared with advice from archaeologists Jed Levin and Doug Mooney (who excavated and interpreted the Dexter House site) and guidance from Public Archaeologist, Patrice Jeppson and Karie Diethorn, Chief Curator Independence National Historical Park.
Glen Muschio, Associate Professor, Digital Media, Westphal College, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Doing archaeology today has entailed a wide range of activities, some not always associated in the public’s mind with archaeology. I work for a cultural resource management firm. Today’s work has included such mundane activities as reviewing contracts to perform archaeology in Bucks County and the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, USA; firming up logistical efforts to meet with a geomorphologist tomorrow in Delaware County (Pennsylvania); and checking time statements. Fortunately, the day also included putting the finishing touches on an archaeological monitoring report for work in Bucks County. This required nailing down dates for two artifacts found in association with a house foundation. I learned that Pennsylvania in the 1920s and 1930s stamped out automobile license plates with the year that they were issued. I also learned, through a historical marker database on the internet, that the Trenton Brewing company was incorporated in 1891 as a side line business of an ice company and stopped using the name by 1899. These two objects helped to bracket the date of the foundation that had been encountered. In comparison to the mundane business aspect of doing archaeology, the historical information about the two artifacts, brightened my day.
Kenneth J. Basalik, Ph.D. Pennsylvania USA
I work for an engineering company in Pennsylvania (USA) and serve as the Vice President of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania). In the course of the day I went over plans for field and laboratory work for a Phase II bridge replacement project that will be starting shortly outside of Philadelphia. I spent time researching the status of industrial archaeological sites in the city for an encyclopedia article. Indications are that in some neighborhoods in the city, between 1990 and 2007, as many of 50% of the documented and listed industrial archaeological sites were completely or partially demolished, or were abandoned or fell into disrepair. In other neighborhoods with higher property values, more sites were preserved by adaptive reuse. In addition, I spent a portion of the day reviewing and proofreading comments on a visit to a laboratory for a major urban archaeological project in Philadelphia. In the evening, I attended the monthly meeting of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum (PAF), an organization that works to promote archaeology in the City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia). After the meeting, I began reviewing the report summary for Phase IB/II testing and the data recovery plan for a major highway project in the city. The goal will be to prepare comments on the documents for submission to the agency that is sponsoring the project, on behalf of the Philadelphia Archaeological Forum.
Lauren Cook, Registered Professional Archaeologist, Philadelphia, PA
Behind The Archaeology Channel (www.archaeologychannel.org) are real people. These are people who are really excited about telling the human story with digital media on the Internet. Every piece of video or audio content that we put out has an enormous amount of human legwork behind it. Normally, you don’t get to see that. But now, we’ve patched together a short video to give you a “sneak peek” into the goings-on in our office on a typical day. We’ve posted it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Htz9_Z44gCg.
Enjoy! (But maybe we shouldn’t have revealed ourselves so shamelessly!)
Rick Pettigrew, Executive Director
Archaeological Legacy Institute