Untapping the value of old fieldwork records

Monday, March 19, 2018 - 08:00 to Friday, March 23, 2018 - 21:00

Session at Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) 2018 in Tübingen with Dorina Moullou, Costis Dallas, Arianna Traviglia, Antonia Davidovic, Rimvydas Lauzikas, Henriette Roued-Cunliffe and Colin Wallace.


In recent years an increasing number of new discoveries have taken place due to the re-examination of previous archaeological finds and documentation. The purpose of this session is to examine how, with new technologies and methodologies, archival data (including photographs and drawings), artifacts and other materials from past excavations and fieldwork in general can be analysed in order to glean information that was either not recorded or was unavailable due to previous limitations in the technologies and knowledge of the time. Because some excavations and/or structures are either not available now (backfilled/collapsed etc.) or have degraded severely through time, the ability to examine them and their materials as they were when excavated can breath new life into old digs. Approaches such as photogrammetric 3D modelling of past excavation data, geophysical prospection, archaeometric analysis and crowd sourcing based solutions can serve to “virtually restore” the excavation, the monuments and the context of artifacts. Presenters are invited to reflect on the use of these technologies, what are their benefits and implications and whether they enhance the overall archaeological process with a more holistic record. The session will follow a standard format for the first half with papers being presented on. The second half of the session will involve four 15 minute flash discussions on ideas and approaches to prepared questions. Each discussion is open to audience input and finishes with a panel summary. Discussion One: What purposes can revisited materials be used for? This discussion will revolve around possible uses and benefits of new data produced from legacy data and materials. What is currently being done in the reexamination of materials as well as proposals of other possibilities for newer technologies or the repurposing of existing methods? How can their application benefit both archaeological research and its presentation and promotion to the public? Discussion Two: Crowdsourcing based solutions Unfortunately many archaeological sites have not been adequately documented either at the time of their excavation or prior to changes or even their destruction. While “Virtual restoration” can be augmented using internet sourced materials, crowd sourcing may yield a greater selection and quality of materials as in the example of the NewPalmyra project. The discussion will focus on what kind of results can be achieved through this method as well as ways to maximize public input. Discussion Three: Digital preservation and curation of legacy datasets Digital preservation and curation of legacy datasets in archaeological archives such as ADS are aimed at maintaining such datasets in a form amenable for further access, analysis and research. Discussion will include how to make such datasets (and artefact databases) amenable to information integration, i.e. to consolidate such data across different excavations and the possibilities of using NLP and semantic technologies. Discussion Four: Solutions in Using Archival data This discussion will focus on the problems involved using archival photos, plans and data and what solutions participants have succeeded with or suggest in order to achieve best results in “virtual reconstructions” of past excavations.

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