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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Information Revolution In Archaeology

Archaeology’s Information Revolution

In the near future, every archaeological artifact could be digitally connected to every other artifact.

Adrienne LaFrance | March 3, 2016

Archaeology, as a way of examining the material world, has always required a certain deftness in scale. You have to be able to zoom in very close—at the level of, say, a single dirt-encrusted button—then zoom out again to appreciate why that one ancient button is meaningful.
Any given artifact is simultaneously at the center of its own history, and representative of a much larger story, too.
“Chipped-stone hand axes made hundreds of thousands of years ago and porcelain teacups from the 18th century carry messages from their makers and users,” wrote the archaeologist and historian James Deetz in his book, In Small Things Forgotten. “It is the archaeologist’s task to decode those messages and apply them to our understanding of the human experience.”

Photo of Archaeologist Tom Levy
Archaeologist Tom Levy, associate director of CISA3, expects 3-D informatics to become a widely used methodology for archaeologists worldwide. Source:

<more at; related articles and links: (CISA3 Archaeologists Develop 3-D Images of Artifacts for DigitalPottery Informatics Database. August 25, 2008) and (Excavation is Destruction Digitization: Advances in Archaeological Practice. Christopher H. Roosevelt, Peter Cobb, Emanuel Moss, Brandon R. Olson and Sinan Ünlüsoy. Journal of Field ArchaeologyVolume 40, Issue 3, 2015, pages 325-346. DOI:10.1179/2042458215Y.0000000004. [Abstract: This article modifies an old archaeological adage—“excavation is destruction”—to demonstrate how advances in archaeological practice suggest a new iteration: “excavation is digitization.” Digitization, in a fully digital paradigm, refers to practices that leverage advances in onsite, image-based modeling and volumetric recording, integrated databases, and data sharing. Such practices were implemented in 2014 during the inaugural season of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) in western Turkey. The KAP recording system, developed from inception before excavation as a digital workflow, increases accuracy and efficiency as well as simplicity and consistency. The system also encourages both practical and conceptual advances in archaeological practice. These involve benefits associated with thinking volumetrically, rather than in two dimensions, and a connectivity that allows for group decision-making regardless of group location. Additionally, it is hoped that the system's use of almost entirely “off-the-shelf” solutions will encourage its adoption or at least its imitation by other projects.])>

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