The iPad is an ideal tool for field archaeology.

This blog sets out to bring together experiences of archaeologists using iPads.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tracing our footsteps: archaeology in the digital age




Human ancestors that walked the earth left few traces of their passage. Some of their footprints have lithified, or turned to stone, but some survive to this day, unlithified, in soft sediment such as silt. These fragile records of ancient footprints pose a sizable challenge to archaeologists today: how do you preserve the ephemeral? According to new research published in PLOS ONE, the answer may be to “record and digitally rescue” these footprint sites.
The authors explored two methods in this study: digital photogrammetry, where researchers strategically photograph an object in order to derive measurements; and optical laser scanning, where light is used to measure the object’s physical properties. To begin, the authors filled trays with mixtures of sand, cement, and plaster and instructed a participant to walk through these samples. Four wooden 1 cm cubes were then placed beside a select number of footprints and photographs were taken. A laser scanner was then used to measure the same footprints. This simple procedure was also replicated outside of the lab, at a beach in North West England.

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