The iPad is an ideal tool for field archaeology.

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Is the future for archaeological site information boards?

I have just watched the TED video by Matt Mills which demonstrates the amazing Aurasma Virtual Reality software.

The free, simple to use software allows a video to be displayed over a ‘target’ image.  For example, a photograph on an information board can be used to trigger a video overlay, allowing detailed, animated information to be bundled with a standard notice board.

You can find out more information, and download the software, at:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

CyArk is digitally documenting World Heritage Sites in 3D with a little help from Microsoft

The new site taps “advanced hardware acceleration and WebGL,” which basically helps bring powerful 3D capabilities to the browser.
From Microsoft’s perspective, this move represents part of its Rethink campaign, as it looks to convince the world that Internet Explorer is still worth your time.
Interestingly, Nokia is also teaming up with CyArk, lending its HERE True mapping vehicles to help create detailed models of roads and cities using LiDAR. You can see a short skit here of HERE’s work with CyArk in Philadelphia.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Digital Archaeology changes exploration of the past

An archaeologist in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is exploring the past using the tools of the 21st century. 

Anthropology doctoral student Kevin Gartski takes notes on his iPad at Malloura,  while students work on site [Credit: Jody M. Gordon] 

Derek Counts, professor and chair of art history, and his team are looking at how new tools like iPads and 3D scanners can replace dusty notebooks, sketchpads, pencils and cameras at archaeological sites and museums. 

Paperless Archaeology 

Mobile computing (for example, with tablets, even smart phones) is becoming more and more the normal way of collecting, mapping and archiving information, says Counts. For the past several summers, Counts's archaeological project at the site of Athienou-Malloura on the island of Cyprus, has implemented protocols for using tablets in the field.

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Beyond Angkor: How lasers revealed a lost city

Deep in the Cambodian jungle lie the remains of a vast medieval city, which was hidden for centuries. New archaeological techniques are now revealing its secrets - including an elaborate network of temples and boulevards, and sophisticated engineering.
In April 1858 a young French explorer, Henri Mouhot, sailed from London to south-east Asia. For the next three years he travelled widely, discovering exotic jungle insects that still bear his name.
Today he would be all but forgotten were it not for his journal, published in 1863, two years after he died of fever in Laos, aged just 35.
Mouhot's account captured the public imagination, but not because of the beetles and spiders he found.
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Viking Ireland - the Videos

In order to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Battle of Clontarf, the National Museum of Ireland have produced a superb set of videos depicting various aspects of Viking Age Ireland.

You can find the Museum’s Website for these videos here…

Or you can find the individual videos on Youtube:
Viking Ireland 1 – Weapons – The Axe

Viking Ireland 2 – Weapons – The Sword

Viking Ireland 3 – Viking Wealth and Trade

Viking Ireland 4 – Viking Women in Ireland

Viking Ireland 5 – Arrival of Vikings and Beliefs

Viking Ireland 6 – The Irish and the Vikings

Viking Ireland 7 – Daily Life in Viking Ireland

Viking Ireland 8 – Legacy of the Vikings in Ireland

TAG 2014: OK Computer? Digital Public Archaeologies in Practice

Call for Papers

Community or public archaeology has often emphasised communities defined by an attachment to place, often defined by the archaeological site (cf. Simpson 2008); increasingly digital technologies allow a breakdown of this privileging of physical place and the concept of ‘community’ (cf. Waterton 2005; 2010), to connect geographically disparate populations. Digital public archaeology projects have emphasised crowd-sourcing, engagment, dissemination, and publicity using blogs, social media, webfeeds and so on (e.g. Richardson 2012, 2013; Bonacchi et al. 2012). As well as the challenges and opportunities relevant to other public archaeology projects, work which includes a significant digital public archaeology component has a series of more specific concerns. Increasingly the need for archaeologists to engage thoughtfully with digitally technologies has been recognised by a number of organisations (Archaeological Data Service 2010; Heritage Lottery Fund 2012; Institute of Archaeologists 2012), and greater numbers of projects are defined by their predominantly digital work. As a result there are implications both for local site-specific practice by people working as archaeologists — where we are “…progressively transforming a ‘‘world of scarcity’’ into one of ‘‘saturation’’, where space is no more an issue…” (Bonacchi 2012); the wider political context in which people interested in heritage operate (Richardson 2012, 2014); and how different interest groups including intelligent and critical consumers work in the historic environment “…without any professional or academic input whatsoever…” (Moshenka 2008).

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Digital Epigraphy

The Oriental Institute has released a new book titled Digital Epigraphy, a manual for the methods that they are using to record items found in their Epigraphic Survey.
During the past several decades the Epigraphic Survey has refined its conventions and recording methodologies to fit with the widely divergent nature of the inscribed surfaces we record and the changing conditions in Egypt that are resulting in the accelerating decay of those inscribed surfaces. For the past two years we have been experimenting with new digital tools, software, and equipment that have allowed us to streamline our recording process while still achieving the highest degree of accuracy, the bottom line of any scientific documentation. It has always been our aim to share these conventions and methodologies with our friends and colleagues, and it is our great pleasure to present the initial results here now. The digital formats in which this manual is made available are particularly appropriate and will be updated and changed regularly, since the manual will always be a work in progress. The possibilities are limitless.
The free volume is available from their website as either a PDF or ePub book.

Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Two weeks ago now saw the return of the OSGIS conference in Nottingham, after a year off in 2013 for FOSS4G. I think there had been mixed feelings about this event; those of us heavily involved in the organisation of FOSS4G 2013 had taken a back seat this year, and with FOSS4G 2014 imminent in Portland, it was clearly going to be a smaller scale get together.
I have to say that overall, my impression is that small is good! Small allows you to chat to everyone, see everything you want to see, and generally enjoy, rather than rush around like a mad man or woman. It was nice to see some new faces, and to see a number of papers from local government and business, belying the idea that OSGIS is primarily an academic event. Thanks as always to the chaps at Nottingham for organising.
Astun had a strong showing at the event, with two workshops and two presentations. My colleague Matt Walker did a workshop on OpenLayers3 and Leaflet, and I did one on WPS and PgRouting (a beginners guide). I did a quick introduction to Portable GIS, and another colleague Antony Scott did a comparison to web servers. You can see the workshops at the Astun Technology GitHub pages. As a slight techy aside, Matt and I collectively decided to try GitBookfor preparing our workshops, and we’re both very impressed. If you’re interested in a cheeky workflow for pushing a gitbook directly to GitHub gh-pages, see this gist.
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Friday, May 23, 2014

GIS technology verifies Caesar and Helvetii history

According to Caesar, more than a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they decided to abandon their territory and invade Gaul in 58 BCE.

According to Caesar, more than a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they decided to abandon their territory and invade Gaul in 58 BCE

AN INTERNATIONAL team is using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modelling to assess Julius Caesar’s account of his war with a Celtic tribe.
According to Caesar, more than a quarter of a million Helvetii were settled in the Swiss plateau before they decided to abandon their territory and invade Gaul in 58 BCE.
In his Gallic Wars he says the Helvitii were running out of food.
UWA archaeologist Tom Whitley is developing a GIS model to test Caesar’s population estimate and is testing geophysical techniques to see if they can detect signs of the migration and war.
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Mit dem Multicopter auf archäologischer Spurensuche

»Unmanned Aerial Vehicle« (UAV), hier ein Hexacopter, im Einsatz. 
Foto: AlejandroLinaresGarcia, CC-BY-SA

Der Einsatz von unbemannten Luftfahrzeugen, sogenannten Multicoptern, in Archäologie und Denkmalpflege ist Thema einer internationalen Tagung des Exzellenzclusters Topoi und des EU-Projekts "ArcheoLandscapes Europe", die derzeit an der Freien Universität Berlin stattfindet.

Teil des Expertentreffens ist eine öffentliche Flugvorführung im Thielpark in Berlin-Dahlem am Samstag, den 24. Mai von 10 bis 12 Uhr, bei der die verschiedenen Luftfahrzeuge im Einsatz zu erleben sind. Von 13 bis 15 Uhr können sich Interessierte außerdem über die Auswertung der aufgenommenen Landschaftsdaten in dreidimensionalen Modellen informieren.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scans bring new insights into lives of Egyptian mummies

Never before has anyone seen mummy hair, muscles and bone at such fine resolution.
It is enabling scientists for the first time to tell their age of the mummies, what they ate, the diseases they suffered from, and how they died.
Each mummy was put into a state-of-the-art CT scanner. Researchers probed them layer by layer to build up a high-definition 3D picture of each one. Once digitised, British Museum staff were then able to peel away each layer, to see the face of the person underneath the bandages.
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Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Point of View: Is the archaeological dig a thing of the past?

Archaeological discoveries are more likely to be found by technology than with a trowel and a torch, writes classical historian Mary Beard.
If you want a vivid glimpse of ancient Roman life, the best place to go - after the more famous Pompeii - is the town of Ostia, a 30-minute train ride from the centre of Rome, near the coast. It's one of my very favourite sites. Beautifully peaceful, surrounded by shady umbrella pines, and, quite unlike Pompeii, you often have it almost to yourself.
It wasn't so peaceful 2,000 years ago. From the end of the 1st Century AD, Ostia was one the two main ports of the city of Rome. It's where many of the supplies needed to keep the million or so inhabitants of the capital alive were hauled ashore. And it had then the seedy reputation that most big ports have even now. In the early 2nd Century, the satirist Juvenal (admittedly one of the grumpiest old men of the ancient world) bemoaned the kind of clientele you'd meet in an Ostian bar: "Thugs, thieves, runaway slaves, hangmen, coffin makers", and, not so common in a modern port, maybe, "eunuch priests".
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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Vikings Online Course

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers 

12 May to 25 July 2014

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers is an online archaeology course run by the University of Oxford's Department of Continuing Education.
The course runs for ten weeks and successful completion carries an award of ten CATS points. Students write two short assignments as part of the course.
Online forums for each unit enable students to discuss the topic being studied, and help from the online tutor is always available
You can find more details here...
You can find details of other online archaeology courses here...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Visit Stonehenge in 3D on Your iPhone/iPad with Apple Maps

If you’re strapped for cash but dying to check out Stonehenge up close, there’s now an easy way to visit the prehistoric monument right from the comfort of your couch and provided that you own one of Apple’s fancy iDevices.

Stonehenge is now accessible from Apple Maps in 3D Flyover, which means you can hover over the mysterious ring of standing stones, pinch to zoom, and rotate at will to check it out from all angles.

Don’t expect to see the pores in the monoliths, though (not that they’d let you even if you were there in person). In case you’re a stranger to Apple Maps (nobody blames you), all you need to do is launch the app, tap the search bar at the top, type in “Stonehenge,” and then select the 3D Flyover view from the row of options at the bottom (represented by a trio of skyscrapers in space view).

Go ahead and give it a try on your device, then come back to read some more about Stonehenge if you’re hungry for a late history lesson on Britain’s heritage.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Microsoft unveils iPad Office suite

BBC's Richard Taylor takes a first look at Office for iPad

Microsoft has started offering an iPad edition of its Office software suite.
It was announced at the first launch event hosted by Satya Nadella since he became chief executive of the firm.
Three separate productivity apps are available - Word, Excel and Powerpoint - each of which has been optimised for touch-based controls.
Within hours of the launch, Word became the most downloaded application for iPads in Apple's app store.
The Excel and Powerpoint apps were the third and fourth most popular free app downloads, respectively, in the store.
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Protecting Your iPad

For the last two years I have been using the Drop Tech Case for iPad to protect my iPad in the field.  This is a very rugged case although, as I mentioned in my post, not waterproof.  I had got over this problem by using an Aquapac waterproof case but, although the combination worked, it was not an ideal solution.

I was therefore delighted to discover the Griffin Survivor Military-Duty Case which, as its name suggests, is manufactured to comply with the MIL-STD 810G testing protocols.

The case has been tested for a drop of 6 feet, and is proof against wind-driven rain, sand and dust.  In short, it should protect against the type of conditions that field archaeologists will encounter.

You can find a review of the Griffin Survivor case here...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

1,300 year-old mummy and her intimate tattoo

Wrapped in bandages and caricatured as figures of terror in Hollywood movies, Egypt’s mummies have long captivated and bewildered scientists and children alike.
Now a new exhibition at the British Museum will disclose the human side of the mummies of the Nile.
Eight have been – scientifically speaking – stripped bare revealing secrets taken to the grave thousands of years ago.
Subjecting the corpses to the most advanced scientific techniques, including sending the mummies to hospitals around London for CAT scans – the museum’s Egyptologists have been able to build up the most detailed picture yet of what lies beneath the sarcophagi and bandage-wrapped bodies.
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The digital unwrapping of the Egyptian priest Neswaiu

How visitors to Stockholm's Medelhavsmuseet can now digitally unwrap the mummy of an Egyptian priest

In the 19th century and even later, there was no shortage of people eager to watch the unwrapping of an Egyptian mummy.
In 1908 in Manchester, some 500 people gathered in a lecture theatre to see prominent Egyptologist Margaret Murray supervise the unwrapping of a body from the Tomb of the Two Brothers from Manchester Museum's mummy collection.
As Egyptology and archaeology evolved, the destructive practise came to an end, but it didn't mean researchers and the public were any less curious about what lies within a mummy.
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Vatican library plans to digitise 82,000 of its most valuable manuscripts

A 1,600-year-old manuscript featuring the poems of Virgil is among the collection being digitised by the Vatican Apostolic Library with the help of a Japanese IT firm

An illustration of the Dante's Divina Commedia realized by artist Sandro Botticelli in the XV century recently digitalised Photo: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana/Reuters

A rare Roman manuscript featuring the poems of Virgil dating back to 400AD is among thousands of historic items the Vatican’s library plans to publish online.
Vatican Apostolic Library, founded in 1451 and considered one of the world’s most important research libraries, is hoping in the next four years to archive its entire collection of 82,000 manuscripts, comprising more than 41 million pages.
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Win a Free App from our Friends at Touch Press

Win The Pyramids for iPad! 

We would like to offer you the exciting chance to win a free copy of the app The Pyramids from our friends at Touch Press

With this stunning and stimulating app, you can explore the incredible pyramids and tombs of ancient Egypt. Fly around the plateau where the pyramids and the Sphinx are located at Giza near Cairo. Enter and wander around the labyrinthine tombs and passageways. Examine stunning wall paintings in incredible detail, rotate royal statues and spin 3D objects. Everything has been painstakingly recreated from ultra high-resolution digital imagery captured on location in Egypt by Sandro Vannini, the world’s greatest photographer of archaeological sites and antiquities.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Roman 'gladiator school' recreated virtually

The gladiator school was on a scale to rival Rome's famous ludus magnus, archaeologists say

Archaeologists have made a virtual reconstruction of a Roman gladiator school discovered on the banks of the River Danube in Austria.
The so-called ludus was on a scale to rival the famous ludus magnus, the gladiatorial school behind the Colosseum in Rome.
The remains at Carnuntum were mapped using sophisticated aerial surveys and ground-penetrating radar.
Carnuntum was the capital of Upper Pannonia in Roman times and a major trading centre for amber.
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

18th Century Paintings of London, Remixed With Google Street View

A new series of visual mash-ups proves that in London, history is alive in every corner.
Reddit user shystone recently mashed up paintings of London from the 18th and 19th centuries with their modern-day settings in Google Street View. The results encompass several popular landmarks, including Westminster Abbey and the River Thames. Like the film rendition of "London, Then and Now," shystone’s work offers clever insight into how much (or little) London has changed.
Read shystone’s knowledgeable analysis of each remix here.
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rbutr makes it easier for anyone to flag misinformation on the Web

Rbutr has been working away for a number of years already, serving as a ‘peer review’ system for the Internet, letting users follow rebuttals for information contained within certain Web pages.
In a nutshell, Rbutr lets you follow inter-website disagreements. Found great evidence or counter-arguments to an online article? Rbutr helps you connects the dots.
Though Rbutr in its original guise was available for Chrome only, it has since been added to Firefox too. And now, Rbutr is making it easier to for anyone to access the service with a platform-independent toolbar, which is accessed simply by adding to the start of any URL. No plugins needed.
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Lost Change: mapping coins from the Portable Antiquities Scheme

Today sees the launch of Lost Change, an innovative and experimental application that allows coins found within England and Wales and recorded through the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), to be visualised on an interactive, dual-mapping interface. This tool enables people to interrogate a huge dataset (over 300,000 coin records can be manipulated) and discover links between coins’ place of origin (the issuing mint or a more vague attribution if this location is uncertain) and where they were discovered and then subsequently reported to the PAS Finds Liaison Officers.
While much of the the data is made available for re-use on the PAS website under a Creative Commons licence, some details are closely guarded to prevent illicit activity (for example night-hawking or detecting without landowner permission) and so this application has been developed with these restrictions in mind. An object’s coordinates are only mapped to an Ordnance Survey four-figure National Grid Reference (which equates to a point within a 1km square), and only if the landowner or finder has not requested these to be hidden from the public.
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Google unveils smartphone with 3D sensors

Google has offered a limited number of prototype phones as part of a development kit to software companies

Google has unveiled a prototype smartphone with "customised hardware and software" that enables it to create 3D maps of a user's surroundings.
The device's sensors allow it make over 250,000 3D measurements every second and update its position in real-time.
Google said potential applications may include indoor mapping, helping the visually-impaired navigate unfamiliar indoor places unassisted and gaming.
It has offered 200 prototypes to developers keen to make apps for it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Capturing Windsor Castle - a free app for iPhone and iPad

A new app is giving visitors to Windsor Castle's an enhanced experience of Capturing the Castle: Watercolours of Windsor by Paul and Thomas Sandby, a new exhibition opening tomorrow.
Aimer Media created an app with Royal Collection Trust to support the Capturing the Castle exhibition at Windsor Castle, featuring the watercolours of Paul and Thomas Sandby. Capturing Windsor Castle helps you get the most from the exhibition at Windsor Castle from 7 February - 5 May.
Download the free iOS app to see forty-five of Sandby's finest views of Windsor Castle and town, paired with photographs of the same views as they appear today. With retina-quality images of the watercolours at your fingertips, all helpfully geo-located, users can navigate around the different views during, and after, their visit.
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Summer Courses in Archaeology

The Oxford Experience Summer School

Courses in Archaeology

The Oxford Experience Summer School is held at Christ Church, Oxford

The Oxford Experience Summer School offers a number of one-week courses in archaeology as part of its programme.

Participants live in Christ Church - the largest of the Oxford Colleges - and take their meals in the Great Hall, which is the hall that inspired the Hogwarts Hall in the Harry Potter films.

Courses are limited to a maximum of twelve participants and tend to fill up rather quickly, so early application is advised.

Youcan find out more about the Oxford Experience here...

Training Digs for 2014

Now is the time to start thinking about training digs for the summer.

If you are planning to go on a training dig, take a look at our list here...

If you would like to submit details of a training dig (or any other archaeological event), please use the contact form here...

2013-Transform your smartphone into a mobile 3D scanner

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s (ETH Zurich) Computer Vision and Geometry Group presented its latest research results on mobile 3D scanning technology at this year’s IEEE conference in Sydney, Australia. The researchers transformed the smartphone into a portable digital scanner. In the form of an app, the technology allows users to snap pictures on the fly and scan objects, from a statue to a piece of furniture, or even a person. It also enables scanning in outdoor environments to model arbitrary objects or scenes.

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Smartphone wird zum 3D-Scanner

Dreidimensionale Scans in Echtzeit
Wissenschaftler der ETH Zürich haben eine App für das Smartphone-Betriebssystem Android entwickelt, mit der das dreidimensionale Scannen von Objekten fast so einfach wie das Fotografieren wird. Das Programm setzt keine besondere technische Ausrüstung voraus: es nutzt Sensoren und Kamera, die ohnehin in handelsüblichen Smartphones eingebaut sind. Damit lassen sich kostengünstig und ohne besondere Vorkenntnisse 3D-Modelle etwa von Skulpturen oder allgemein archäologischen Funden erstellen.
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hilary Term Online Courses in Archaeology

Hillary Term begins tomorrow at Oxford, but there is still time to enrol for one of the online courses in archaeology.

Cave paintings, castles and pyramids, Neanderthals, Romans and Vikings - archaeology is about the excitement of discovery, finding out about our ancestors, exploring landscape through time, piecing together puzzles of the past from material remains.

These courses enable you to experience all this through online archaeological resources based on primary evidence from excavations and artefacts and from complex scientific processes and current thinking. Together with guided reading, discussion and activities you can experience how archaeologists work today to increase our knowledge of people and societies from the past.

The following courses are available:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Interesting aside from the Virtual Curation Laboratory

Interesting aside from the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University (Selden and Means)

Recently, a former student of the late Dr. James E. Corbin (Dr. John Hart, now Director of the Research and Collections Division at the New York State Museum) put me in touch with Dr. Bernard K. Means, the Director of the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University. In what I’m hoping will grow into a long-term collaborative research effort, we have begun to share ideas, methods, and yes – data. Some of you will no doubt recognize the image below as FIN-S7 from the Vanderpool collection. Means used a series of screenshots of the vessel to create this 3D representation.

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Virtually Educating People about the Past

This second week of January 2014 is start of the spring semester at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and we will continue our scanning of archaeological objects and animal bones.  Our 3D scanning efforts are designed to help us create virtual type collections, which can be used for identification, analysis, and public education.  Toward the last goal, I would like to highlight an article I received in the mail yesterday, written by Ashley McCuistion, our Digital Curation Supervisor and currently an undergraduate student at VCU.  Her article, entitled “Promoting the Past: The Educational Applications of 3D Scanning Technology in Archaeology” was published in the Journal of Middle Atlantic Archaeology 29:35-42. From her abstract,

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Google Earth Zooms in on Ancient Trade Routes

Using Google Earth software, researchers can track changes in Antioch as the ancient city was absorbed by the Roman Empire.

Google Earth may be a fun way to bring the far reaches of the present-day globe to people's fingertips, but archaeologists are now using the high-tech software to recreate maps of ancient civilizations. The endeavor is opening a window for researchers to the political and geographical changes that have shaped history.

Kristina Neumann, a doctoral candidate in the department of classics at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, used Google Earth to track trade around the ancient city of Antioch, located in present-day southeastern Turkey, near the Syrian border, at the beginning of its takeover by the Roman Empire in 64 B.C. Neumann found the use of Antioch's civic coins was more widespread than was previously thought, suggesting the city had developed broad political authority within the region before being absorbed into the Roman Empire.

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