Computer Applications in Archaeology UK Conference- Presentations, now in HD video

Posted on September 9, 2014


A while ago, I recorded the presentations at the 2013 CAAUK (Computer Applications in Archaeology UK Chapter) conference hosted by L-P Archaeology in London. I recently upgrade both my video editing skills and software. Because of that I decided to re-edit the videos or as Disney likes to call it “digitally remastered”. Basically, cleaned up the sound, did a better job of splicing in the slides, and increased the quality of the videos (HD now). Hope you enjoy (in no particular order, because I forgot who presented when and the website is no longer up– so I can’t check the order):

Keynote: Open Archaeology [Updated version]

The keynote speech from Mark Lake (University College London)

This paper will discuss some of the key themes raised in the recent ‘World Archaeology’ issue on the theme of Open Archaeology. It seems indisputable that there is now very real momentum towards greater willingness to share interpretations, data and software, but although technological developments are a major part of the story, the speaker will instead ask a series of questions about the social, cultural, political and economic ramifications of the Open Movement. Along the way he will reflect on the irony of publishing a collection of papers on Open archaeology in a conventional academic journal.

Introduction and welcome from Guy Hunt to CAAUK 2013 [Updated version]

Digital Tabletops & Collaborative Learning for Archaeology [Updated version]

Helena Demetriou (University of Southampton)

This paper looks at how we can use current interactive touch screen technologies to help bridge the gap between archaeological artefacts and the viewer, enabling us to move towards a new educational paradigm. By developing a digital object handling session that runs on a multi-touch user interface, we can create immersive, intuitive and collaborative learning experiences and environments for users to engage with the archaeological past. This is particularly useful for situations when artefacts are not physically accessible to be studied, including when they are still in situ, are too fragile to be handled or a collection is dispersed over a number of locations.
Within this research, we have designed and implemented a GUI to contain archaeological objects which is interacted with through physical touch gestures and can be run either in an internet browser or as an executable file. By studying learning theory, HCI and CSCL theories, alongside observing archaeological object handling sessions, I have created a GUI that is specifically designed for digital object handling sessions. These sessions allows a group of participants to simultaneously interact with a set of digital artefacts through touch and thus allowing them to learn as a collaborative collocated group which enhances the learning process.

The findings from this research show that by allowing a small group of participants to interact together around a digital table-top, manipulating digital artefacts simultaneously, allows for natural and intuitive enquiry based learning to take place. The characteristics of the digital session run very closely to those observed within a real artefact handling session. Here we are able to disseminate the archaeological past to the public in an intuitive, interactive and collaborative manner.

Game Issues for Scholarly Discourse or for Public Understanding [Updated version]

From the CAAUK conference, Erik via Google Hangouts:

Erik Champion (DIGHUMLAB DK and Aarhus University)

Academic discourse presupposes a vast domain of related background knowledge, a certain learnt yet creative technique of extrapolation, and they do not cover the experiential detective work of experts that visit the real site.

Virtual environment technology could perhaps help fill this experiential lacuna, but typically, virtual environments are not complex in their interactional history, the past and the present do not intermingle as they do in real places, the many conscious and subconscious ways that people leave traces in the world are not conveyed in static 3D models. Digitally mediated technology can attempt to reproduce existing data but they can also modify the learning experience of the user through augmentation, filtering, or constraining. Game engines allow cheap modelling packages that include editors, are accessible and engaging for students, contain built in scripts and resources, are optimised for personal computers (and also for consoles), with powerful physics engines. The graphics can include a surprisingly high amount of detail, import from professional or free 3D modellers, and show a large amount of terrain and sometimes even dynamic weather or lighting.

They can also allow modification of the visual overlaid interface, the Heads Up Display (HUD). They often include avatars with triggered and re-scriptable behaviours and path-finding, but they can also feature maps that demonstrate location, orientation, or the social attitude of non-playing characters in relation to the player. However, it is their imaginative use of technical constraints that add to the thematic fantasy, goal-direction and challenge necessary for an entertaining game. How can games and interactive digital media in general help learning about archaeology? I suggest that there are many methods one can use, but that strategies tend to be deductive, explorative, augmented or ambient, counterfactual, instrumental, performative (role-playing), or diegetic.

Integrating excavation and analysis on urban excavations [Updated version]

For the last 40 years the excavation of urban sites has increasingly been characterised by the use of single context recording; for the last 25 years the post-excavation analysis of these sites has been increasingly characterised by a system of aggregation into larger stratigraphic groups (context-subgroup-group-anduse). These systems have been increasingly integrated with digital recording systems, databases and GIS systems. It is a testament to the logic and rigour of the original processes that they generally work very well within the digital systems that have been developed.

This paper will outline some current approaches to excavation and post-excavation used within London. It will highlight the role of databases and GIS, and will explore how we can integrate the excavation processes and recording systems to achieve better results on site and in post-excavation. The paper will also outline how we may increasingly utilise modern technology on site to facilitate these systems and enable the archaeologists on site make better use of their time, and make more informed decisions about the excavation process

Practical Augmented Visualization on Handheld Devices for Cultural Heritage [Updated Version]

Giovanni Murru, Marco Fratarcangeli and Tommaso Empler (Sapienza University of Rome)

We present a framework for the interactive 3D visualization of archaeological sites on handheld devices using fast augmented reality techniques. The user interface allows for the ubiquitous, personalized and context-aware browsing of complex digital contents, such like 3D models and videos.

The system 1) tracks and locates the real environment scenes based on predefined images already deposited in the system, 2) displays the virtual information and 3) aligns and superimposes the virtual data on to the real environment scenes. The framework implements context-aware tracking, 3D alignment and visualization of graphical models at interactive rate. Using this framework, the user is free to roam around archaeological sites using not-invasive and already in use devices such as modern smartphones and tablets. The framework is composed by free, cross-platform software modules, making it easier to reproduce.

Our framework allows for visualizing different historical versions of an ancient artifact directly where it was placed originally. The user points the camera of the device towards the on-site ruins, the software tracks the video feed and superimpose an interactive virtual 3D model of the artifact.

Some of the most meaningful parts of the model can be selected and magnified to be observed in detail. Special areas of the user interface are devised as 3D video buttons embedded into the model. The user can watch the related video together with the 3D model, or in full-screen mode.

The applicability of the framework is tested by providing an augmented view of the Ancient Forum of Nerva, a part of the Imperial forums in the Roman Empire age. The 3D model has been built according to the information acquired from previous archaeological studies.

ADSeasy: Developing a system for data deposition [Updated Version]

Michael Charno (Archaeology Data Service)

Funded by JISC, the SWORD-ARM project enhances the ADS’s ingest process through the creation of the ADSeasy system which streamlines data management, contributes to the creation of more efficient workflows, and allows for more effective project and archive management. Through ADSeasy depositors can more effectively create and manage projects, create project metadata, upload files directly to the ADS, and more effectively capture file-level metadata. An e-licensing system assists in the streamlining of the process, reducing the time interval between deposition, archiving and appearance of data on the website. Responding to the current economic concerns the system incorporates a costing tool which lets depositors evaluate the financial outlay for archiving on a project by project basis, whilst allowing budget control on a file by file basis. This at once passes greater financial control to the depositor, whilst simultaneously allowing much greater transparency on charging policy. Internally, the system is integrated within the existing ADS infrastructure streamlining the archiving process, so that both project and file-level metadata can be uploaded directly to the collections management system. ADSeasy assists in the creation of a more sustainable preservation infrastructure within archaeology and facilitates the development of preservation policies within both the academic and commercial environments. On a day-to-day level ADSeasy allows users much greater control of data throughout the project life, from initial project planning down to final deposition. It is the integration of these facets which makes ADSeasy a significant development within digital preservation.

SkOSifying an Archaeological Thesaurus [Updated Version]

Matteo Romanello (German Archaeological Institute, Berlin / Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London)

In this paper I will present an interoperability use case that was developed in the framework of DARIAH-DE, the German branch of the EU-funded Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH). The use case consisted in transforming the openly available thesaurus of the German Archeological Institute, currently encoded in Marc21XML and accessible via an OAI-PMH end-point, into an RDF representation of the same data encoded in SKOS, the W3C standard to publish Knowledge Organization Systems in the Semantic Web.

On the technical side such a transformation was made possible by the Stellar Console, an open source tool developed by Ceri Binding and Doug Tudhope (Keith et al. 2012) in the framework of the AHRC-funded project “Semantic Technologies Enhancing Links and Linked Data for Archaeological Resources” (STELLAR). The 80,00 Marc21 records of the thesaurus, after being harvested via the OAI-PMH interface, were transformed into an intermediate CSV file, which is in turn fed into the Stellar Console in order to produce a SKOS/RDF output consisting of slightly less than 1 million triples. What it took to implement this transformation is a Python script of approximately 150 lines which ties the OAI-PMH interface and the Stellar Console together.

What this paper aims to show is that some interoperability can be achieved–or at least enabled–also by “simply” 1) providing machine-actionable interfaces, such as OAI-PMH, to collections of electronic resources; 2) using open licenses, such as Creative Commons or the GNU General Public License, to publish data and software as this enables other people to manipulate available data in various ways including migrating them from one (less interoperable) format to another (more interoperable) one.

The application of applications: The bump and grind of commercial archaeology [Updated version]

Peter Rauxloh (Museum of London Archaeology)

This paper takes the Day of Archaeology held in 2012 and the hosting of CAA by a commercial unit for the first time as its stimulus, to present a whistle-stop tour of some of the smaller and large challenges faced when applying computer systems to the doing of commercial archaeology in the realm of data management and capture. It will consider the asymmetrical benefit of small incremental managed changes to system which allow us to fully exploit the bigger step-change technologies we adopt, the need to continually examine our processes, and fully consider the cost model for new technologies for robust metrics such that the benefits of new investments are actually reflected in project costs or increased capacity.

Digital documentation through laser scanning of a cultural heritage site [Updated version]

Rebeka Vital (Shenkar College of Design and Engineering, Department of Interior Building and Environment Design, Ramat Gan, Israel)

Architectural survey is an evolving field in architecture that has been affected the past decade by the technological advancements in the field of 3D laser scanning. In order to document a building of cultural importance, one needs to record information about its three-dimensional geometry, its color, material, location, orientation and context. In addition, the cultural and historical background is what gives the architecture meaning and also needs to be part of the database. Digital documentation through laser scanning allows for the recording of maximum amount of data (quantity and quality) of all the various parameters that compose the existence of the building. The database that results from such a process gives a basis for representation, reconstruction and preservation of the building. At the same time it provides for a very detailed database that could allow for the retraction of additional information in the future. This paper presents the digital documentation process and the potential of the post-processing of the information through a case study of a residential building of one of the prime ministers’ of Israel, namely David Ben-Gurion. The building is currently tagged “for preservation” and is located in Ramat Gan, Israel.

Cloud computing and Cultural Heritage IT [Updated Version]

Stephen Stead (Southampton University and Paveprime Ltd)

Cloud computing has become the common term used by many manufacturers to describe their products and services. Everything is now “Cloud” or “Cloud ready” but what exactly does this mean and what are the implications to cultural heritage computing? Many organisations are looking to Cloud computing to reduce their Information Technology costs. Is this a realistic goal? Certainly the Sunday colour supplements are trumpeting this as the great benefit. This paper defines the key cloud computing concepts and examines the implications of cloud computing to the heritage sector. In particular, it outlines the organizational and policy changes that heritage
organisations must consider.

We will cover the five Cloud tenents (Broad Network Access, Resource Pooling, Rapid Elasticity, Metered Service and On Demand Self Service), the 3 service models (Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS)), the four deployment models (Private Cloud, Public Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and Community Cloud), Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and the generic Information Technology as a Service (ItaaS) concept. It will look at the generic management structures, policies and charge back and/or show back mechanisms that need to be implemented within organisations hoping to work with Cloud computing.

The movements of the Teuchitlán people [Updated Version]

Armando Trujillo, Université de Paris

The Teuchitlán people are one of the oldest known cultures in western Mexico and their beginnings date back to the Preclassic period (400 B.C.E. to 200 C.E.). This civilisation was regional in size, and its societal structure allowed for the implementation of spatial analysis with the use of Geographical Information Systems. The aim of this paper is to give a panoramic regional view of movements, and the possible network of paths that stretched across the landscape of the Tequila Valley, in the region of Jalisco, Mexico. To this end, GIS systems were used. Our work centred upon the search for LCPs (least-cost paths) with the help of satellite imaging and digital elevation models. This study demonstrates that the Teuchitlán people interacted with their environment through the means of a network of paths.

Can we share? — current status for sharing heritage data online! [Updated version]

Henriette Roued-Cunliffe (Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich)

I was inspired by the call for papers asking for practical uses of data sharing which show how researchers are actually using large collections of data to move archaeological knowledge forward. In 2007 I researched data interoperability for my MSc dissertation under the title ‘Heritage Portals and Cross-Border Data Interoperability’ (Roued Olsen 2007). For me this was the beginning of a deep interest in accessibility and sharing of heritage data.

I have now revisited this subject with a personal research project, where I will discuss how accessible heritage data actually is at this current point in time.

The hypothesis is that there is so much data available online after many years of digitisation and online publishing projects that I am able to research a subject thoroughly through the Internet. By thorough research I mean that I will be able to not only search and find data about my subject, but also analyse different types of data (e.g. spatial, textual and numerical data) from several different data sources in order to draw conclusions. It is my impression that the last five years has provided more and more data sources that not only make their data available online for searching, but which also make it available through different types of Web Services and other export functionalities. A good example of this is the Portable Antiquities Scheme (, which gives registered researchers the option of exporting both textual and spatial data for further research. The two subjects I plan to research are chosen out of personal interest and for the sake of variety. These are Bronze Age palstaves and knitted sock. The research will be conducted online and published on my blog (

Digital Outreach and the Thames Discovery Programme: What Next? [Updated version]

Nathalie Cohen and Courtney Nimura (Thames Discovery Programme)

In 2010, the Thames Discovery Programme website, designed and hosted by L — P : Archaeology, won the British Archaeological Award for ‘Best Representation of Archaeology in the Media’. This short presentation will examine the development of the project website, discuss the evaluation of the website and the volunteers’ experience (undertaken at the end of the Heritage Lottery Funded phase of the project by Nicola Bell), and examine our use of social media, including Facebook and Twitter. The paper will also discuss the members only FROG Network (which uses NING) and outline possible directions for future development of this resource

Analysing and visualising the ceramiscene of Roman Nepi [Updated Version]

Ulla Rajala (University of Cambridge)
Philip Mills (University of Leicester)

This paper builds on the theoretical tools labelled the ‘ceramiscene’ in Mills and Rajala (2011a). This is a means of characterising a ceramic landscape utilising a hierarchical version of the elements (Nodes, Pathways, Edges, Districts and Landmarks) defined by Lynch (1960). This has been applied to the Roman ceramic material recovered from field walking around Nepi, Italy, showing the identification of Node (site) type and status (Mills and Rajala 2011b), and the utilisation of off-site material (Mills and Rajala forthcoming) for exploring Districts through GIS and statistical methods, if not the identification of estates belonging to Nodes. This paper examines how these elements can be combined to determine the legibility of the landscape at particular points in time during the Roman period, and how this theoretical framework together with methodology combining landscape archaeology, finds work and GIS can help us to consider how actors negotiated the landscape.


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