Documentation interpretation and communication of Digital Archaeological Heritage

Posted on October 28, 2016


With movies I always thought 3D was a bit of a con. Pay extra money to experience those cheap 3D effects you would see at the state fair… meh. 3D in archaeology- oh, I am not sure we have scratched the surface of what it can do for both recording or disseminating. Here is the last of the CAA sessions (today is the last day to submit an abstract to next year’s CAA) I video recorded on the topic of 3D in heritage:

Session Abstract:

Any comprehensive knowledge concerning Archaeological Heritage can be reached only through the development of different investigation activities belonging to a very wide range of disciplines: archaeology of course, but also history, chemistry, physics, architecture, and so on. In the last two decades, this whole research field has experienced (like the majority of human activities) a massive transition from analogic to digital tools, data, information. While this transition can be considered by now almost concluded, nevertheless many problems remain unsolved especially concerning the way Archaeology is digitally documented, how this information is elaborated and finally how it is communicated. For instance, digital surveying technologies have produced important changes in the study, analysis, and interpretation of archaeological elements and the growing demand for realistic 3D models enabling the cognition and popularization of archaeology represents one of the most clear consequences of this process. Furthermore the opportunities disclosed by the digital revolution are deeply influencing even the management and preservation of Archaeological Heritage by now inextricably connected with the innovative processes of acquiring, organising and using digital information. In this framework, the multidisciplinary and multilevel approach that allows us to document, study, interpret, manage, preserve, and popularize archaeology implies the structuring of an innovative system of knowledge where all these phases are not only connected but also balanced among each other enlightening in this way a new image for Digital Archaeology itself. This session will thus not aim at focusing on a specific technique/technology but instead on state-of- the-art projects and investigations showing the integration of digital techniques, tools and methodologies necessary to understand, represent, spread, communicate and explore Archaeological Heritage. Contributions to this session will discuss the use of integrated and multidisciplinary approaches in archaeology, use of digital data acquisition technologies, data processing and communication. The focus will be on: 2D and 3D data capture methodologies and data processing in archaeology, 3D GIS, BIM, use of different system to document and explore archaeology, archaeological and historical research, standards, metadata, ontologies and semantic processing in cultural heritage, data management, archiving and presentation of archaeology content, innovative topics related to the current and future implementation, use, development and exploitation of the innovative technologies, on-site and remotely sensed data collection, innovative graphics applications and techniques, libraries and archives in archaeology, diagnoses and monitoring for the preventive conservation and maintenance of archaeology, information management systems in archaeology.

Carlo Bianchini, Alfonso Ippolito, Carlo Inglese, Luca James Senatore

A new approach for the study and presentation of an archaeological context not traditionally exploitable. Applying a fast but extensive 3D survey to the Bisarcio case study, a Medieval and Post-Medieval cemetery (Sardinia)
Paola Derudas, Maria Carla Sgarella
For some time, photogrammetry and 3D modelling have imposed themselves as prominent among the modern technologies applied to archaeology. Nevertheless, three-dimensional survey of the archaeological heritage hasn’t reached, yet, its informative potential in the study phase, due to the fact that its use has been generally restricted to those cases characterized by their exceptionality and monumentality. Digging the Bisarcio (Sardinia) late- and post-medieval cemetery was an important opportunity to 3D survey experimentation as a daily instrument for documenting the stratigraphic sequence. Differently from what happens in the most common practical cases (where it is focused on specific findings or areas, or to a specific time frame of the excavation), the 3D survey has been carried out extensively with respect to both space (covering the entire excavation area) and time (daily, throughout the excavation), with the main aim to totally substitute the two-dimensional survey.
3D modeling, which allows a very accurate and complete recording of the archaeological context, has been useful both in the documentation and analysis stage, and also in the interpretation stage. It has been complemented by the use of the 3DHOP presenter, a helpful tool for the visualization and web publishing of high resolution 3D models, connecting them to the large amount of data collected and interpreted during and after the excavation process. This tool gets an added value for the case study here presented: a cemetery context, for which it’s not possible to imagine and define a “classic” musealization. Thanks to the presence of the 3D models, and the use of 3DHOP, it was possible to “re-use” the survey data to create an interactive web-based presentation aimed, this time, to the public, to provide a viable way to present and disseminate the results of the excavation to non-experts.

Digital Archaeological Dissemination: Eleniana Domus in Rome
Tommaso Empler
The research project has the aim of a virtual reconstruction and dissemination of Eleniana Domus in Rome through the use of Digital Technologies. The historical site, associated to the excellent state of preservation and the musealization process, makes the Eleniana Domus a great subject for developing innovative research and applications of virtual reconstruction and interactive dissemination directly on the site. 3D modeling is done with Blender, an Open Source 3D modeling software, which has in its structure of programming a “game engine”, that can simultaneously handle multiple events, which allow a display/navigation in “real time” of the Domus. Interaction enables new ways to visit and learn, through the use of instruments that can detect the actions and movements of the visitor/scholar himself, turning them into human/machine instructions. The procedure, developed in a digital way, allows multiple exploratory permutations/variations of informations on a single object, for a better understanding of the phenomena and/or nature of the object itself. The procedure at the base of this pipeline includes a series of transactions that are connected one to the other: 1) detection of the object or area of interest using a 3D laser scanning survey. In this way it is possible to obtain a 3D model with the double function of representing the object itself and, at the same time, allow the use of Cartesian coordinates (x, y, z), of each point of the model, to plan the mode of interaction of the scholar on the site; 2) development of an interactive design application and set up an effective interface of interaction man/machine; 3) creation of human/machine interaction by the use of tools created for video game, as a Kinect or a leap motion; 4) preparation of a stage where occurs the release of the interactive information, defining the interactive area (box, corner, wall) and placing in tools of input/output (projector, kinect, Leap 3D motion).

Integrated methodologies for knowledge and valorisation of the Roman Casinum city
Michela Cigola, Arturo Gallozzi, Leonardo Paris, Emanuela Chiavoni
Focus of this article is the documentation, interpretation, valorisation and communication of Archaelogical Heritage of roman Casinum city site. Nowadays this important archaeological area is little known and appreciated. The city of Casinun is particularly flourishing in Republican and Imperial Roman period. From this period are the remains of the Roman via Appia, the Theatre (27 BC.─14 AC), the amphitheater (I century AC), the nymphaeum (I century BC-I century AC.) and the tomb of Ummidia Quadratilla (I century BC-I century AC) Casinum Archaelogical Heritage includes tangible and intangible goods. Keeping this site from the present for the future is connected with actions such as Identification, Analysis, Preservation, and Restoration, with specific technical meaning. Each of this area of intervention includes not only technical actions and expertise but require also of more cultural evaluations as in respect of the concept of Archeological heritage. Summarizing in short, Casinum Archaelogical Area can be also understood as a complexity of activities in a very wide range of disciplines whose aim is to identify, evaluate, and preserve past achievements for the benefit of next generation in having memory of the past and inspiration from it for future enhancements and appreciation of current results. Our research includes several integrated methodologies. The main part involves a laser scanner survey of the whole area. There are many others steps that include digital processing about documentation, interpretation and communication of Casinum Archaeological Area. The research group is formed by DART: Laboratory of Documentation, Analysis, Survey of Architecture and Territory of University of Cassino and by LRA Laboratory of Architectural Survey, CRITEVAT Center in Riety, Sapienza University f Rome. The Cassino National Archaeological Museum “G. Carettoni” and the “Archaeological Park of Casinum” are involved and collaborate in the research.

An exploratory use of 3D for investigating a prehistoric stratigraphic sequence
Giacomo Landeschi, Jan Apel, Stefan Lindgren, Nicolò Dell’Unto Re-interpreting documentation that has been produced in the course of an archaeological excavation is always a challenging and tricky task. Several problems occur when archaeologists are dealing with datasets created by different authors at a different time in the past. As Shanks and Tilley recall (1992) the fullest understanding of an archaeological dataset is totally related to the context being investigated. The purpose of a research recently started at Lund University was to test the use of 3D technology as an exploratory tool for data analysis. The combination of advanced 3D acquiring techniques and the setup of GIS systems capable to deal with geometrically-complex 3D information has been tested to investigate one of the most outstanding archaeological sites in Scandinavia, the cave of Stora Förvar in Stora Karlsö, Gotland (Sweden). The main part of the cave sequence was excavated between 1888 and 1894 but in the summer of 2013 the project conducted a small excavation of the cave floor and undisturbed cultural layers with flint tools, fish and marine mammal bones were recovered. We also recovered human remains in the form of a tooth, skull fragments and a foot bone. Unfortunately the original field report of the 19th-century excavation was written 50 years after the excavation by archaeologists not involved in the field work. However, unpublished photos and field documentation material is available at Antikvarisk Topografiska Arkivet in Stockholm. During the excavation in 2013 we collaborated with the Lund University Humanities Laboratory and 3D-scanned the complete cave with a high resolution scanner. The idea that has been developed was to integrate the 3D models of the cave in the GIS platform and to combine it with hand-made drawings made by archaeologists in the early 20th century. As a result, digital layers (that were excavated with the arbitrary layer method) were reconstructed in the form of three-dimensional vector features and the original stratigraphic sequence integrated in GIS based on the geometrical reference provided by the cave 3D model. As a future development, part of the artefacts documented during the early 20th Century excavation will be connected to their original stratigraphy. Hopefully, it will be possible to recreate a three-dimensional archaeological sequence in which the original spatial relations among the artifacts will be highlighted and possible patterns related to the Mesolithic occupation of the site put in light through the use of advanced analytic tools available in GIS environment.

The building survey of Kaasan Church
James Miles, Hembo Pagi, Andres Uueni, Jüri Pärtna
Kaasan Church, in Tallinn, Estonia was built during the time of Peter the Great (1721) and is the oldest wooden sacral building in Tallinn. A building survey was conducted in January 2015 where a laser scan and photogrammetric survey was completed. One of the aims of the recording was to document the current situation of the building including the structure’s interiors and exterior. The end product being a spatially georeferenced point cloud which was used for plans and drawings, as well as 3D modelling and other interactive outputs. The paper will discuss the advantages that laser scanning and photogrammetry offer when compared to traditional survey techniques. With both types of recording taking place, the combination of the data has allowed for a precise and accurate representation of the church that goes beyond any form of recording that has previously taken place. The paper will therefore discuss the digital applications that these different methods provide when combined and it will show their usefulness in recording historical structures for Building Information Model (BIM) extraction. Using digital frameworks has provided sufficient and adequate information for further reconstruction and conservation planning and has been used in addition to the previous work carried out on site, such as dendrochronological recording. As our models were combined, the results gathered were used as a basis for a BIM, CAD model, drawings, cross-sections and a video animation as well as panoramic photography to enable 360 degree views. Rather than limit ourselves to one technique, the combination of various methods has allowed all aspects of the church to be recorded and the data gathered will be used for future renovations. Each of the stages used will be discussed as will the difficulties associated with merging these data types. Particular attention will be given within the discussion of the production of the BIM model. This will develop into a further explanation of how BIM can be used within cultural heritage and it will point out the advantages that can be gained for future archaeological research. The paper will not only highlight the end results produced but it will also discuss the workflow methodology used in combining the different data types to extract the BIM.

A virtual reconstruction of the sun temple of Niuserra: From scans to BIM
Angela Bosco, Andrea D’Andrea, Massimiliano Nuzzolo, Rosanna Pirelli, Patrizia Zanfagna
In 2010 an Italian team started new investigations in the Sun Temple of Niuserra at Abu Ghurab, south of Cairo, Egypt. The archaeological survey of the site was planned in order to re-examine the temple more than one hundred years on from the discovery by German archaeologist L. Borchardt in 1898. The investigation is mainly aimed at a general re-evaluation of the archaeological data still available on the site in order to establish a new plan of the temple by means of laser scanner and photogrammetry. The sun temple of Niuserra, sixth ruler of the fifth dynasty (about 2400 BC), covers an area of about 8800 sq m. More than 130 scans of the temple have been acquired so far. Some parts of the area have also been rendered by un-calibrate photogrammetry. At the beginning of the project a Zoller and Froilich Imager 5003 was used, while in 2014 the scans were acquired by Faro Focus 3D X130. In the last campaign also an image-based technique was tested. All data have been aligned and merged. The model has been referenced, firstly according to a local grid and then geo- referenced. In order to check the hypothesis made by Borchardt, the digital replica of the still visible rests of the monument have been processed by BIM (Build Information Modelling), an approach currently underdeveloped in archaeology. Thanks to this new methodology, it is possible to produce categories of environmental and technological objects and sub-systems, which represent the 3D semantic of the acquired model. The paper deals with all the recent achievements and technological issue, especially as concerns the analysis of the orientation, sun positioning and wind. Furthermore, the paper focuses on the analysis of the bearing structure and its components.

Virtual Cilicia Project: Digital globes for communicating digital archaeological heritage
Susanne Rutishauser, Ralph Rosenbauer, Tim Arni, Fabienne Kilchör, Alexander Sollee
Surrounded by the Taurus and Amanus mountain ranges, the fertile alluvial plain of Cilicia Pedias in modern Turkey is a true treasury of important monuments from numerous ages. Hittite and Assyrian rock reliefs serve as representations of power at this connection between Anatolia and the Levant. Since it relies on Google Earth, the Virtual Cilicia Project is able to show these monuments as well as the ruins of Bronze and Iron Age settlements like e.g. Karatepe with its world-famous carved orthostats in their natural environments.
To visualize the development of this region during different epochs and to provide a better understanding for laypersons, new approaches are necessary. Virtual globes give users the chance to interactively explore different sites and the interplay between environment and settlement patters. Since Google Earth uses KML 2.2, an open standard XML notation, it is simple to add one’s own content. In addition, KML became an increasingly common standard within geographic information systems and online tools, therefore becoming a well-documented future-proof solution. The integration of a timeline directly into Google Earth makes it a perfect instrument for the visualization of historical developments.
The Virtual Cilicia Project’s goal is to document the vast diversity of Cilicia’s history and to present this cultural heritage in the context of its ancient and modern landscape to the expert and the layman.

Representing Archaeological Architecture―RAA
Carlo Inglese, Mario Docci, Alfonso Ippolito
Representation analysis and interpretation of elements of archaeological heritage is a painstaking activity. It also includes a wide range of interdisciplinary subjects and competences. Innovative tools which are constantly being developed make it possible for the researcher to adopt an integrative approach favorable to all the figures involved in the whole process of documentation. Close collaboration of architects and archaeologists made it possible to understand the key elements of archaeological heritage based on considerations extracted from historical analysis and to have at disposal a large quantity of information gathered by taking advantage of the potentialities of technologically advances tools (3d laser scanner, systems of massive acquisition of photographic data, modeling systems of image based, etc). The significance of constructing digital models in the domain of archaeology is already a well-established idea and only reinforces the theoretical bases of survey and representation. Unlike archaeologists – whose research is mainly aimed at reconstructing the historical process and collocating artifacts within a precise frame of reference – architects investigate the form, reconstruct the process of designing, and study formal, proportional laws and spacial aggregations of various elements. The interrelation between the two disciplines opens up the possibility to achieve complete results as far as documentation, analysis and interpretation of the so called archaeological architecture (AA) are concerned. On one hand, archaeologist can use explorable and measurable 2D and 3D high precision models, which realistically show surface qualities; on the other hand, architects can turn to advantage archaeologists’ extensive knowledge to interpret correctly data in their historical and metric framework and to verify interpretative hypotheses. The proposed paper, starting with the integrated survey of archaeological structures of high historical and artistic importance, like Colosseum, Pantheon and Arch of Janus in Rome, analyzes the possibilities offered by the survey of archaeological architecture at different scales.

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