SocArXiv Papers | How to align disciplinary ideals with actual practices: Transparency and openness in archaeological science

Abstract:  Archaeology is a highly diverse community of researchers without universally adopted methods,concepts, or theoretical perspectives. One ideal that unites us is that we typically perceive of ourselves as contributing to the public good by helping to understand and preserve the past (Chippindale 1994). We act as stewards for archaeological sites and artefacts, and we work to correct misinformed views of the past that might have sinister motives. However, many of the current norms of archaeological practice are at odds with these ideals of archaeology. We share relatively little of our research with each other or the public. Typically we produce a journal article or monograph as a final product, but we rarely share the data files or computational methods that generated those final products, nor do we share our written work in ways that are readily accessible to the public. This suggests a gap between current practice and ideals. It also limits the reproducibility of our research, and the efficiency with which new methods can spread through the discipline. We show that an exploration of this mismatch between ideals and practice can reveal untapped potential for digital tools in archaeology to improve its sustainability as a research domain, and indicate new ways to engage with the public. We describe emerging norms in archaeology, and some new digital tools that archaeologists are using, that are helping to close the gap between ideals and current practices.

Ancient history – modern lessons: Can a new wave of Classics scholars save the world? (Paid Content by University of Warwick from The Chronicle of Higher Education) – The Chronicle of Higher Education

[Note that this piece is not a news piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education, but “Paid for and created by University of Warwick.”]

“This is an incredibly exciting time to study the ancient world Scott argues. Because now new technologies are enabling the advance of research and teaching techniques in classics and ancient history and the subject is shooting off into exciting new areas of study and ways of understanding the people of the ancient world. He explains: “The digital revolution allows us to explore these worlds in more depth or in ways we hadn’t imagined before. Virtual reality brings places and situations to life for us, if we can’t get there in person. 3D printing allows us to recreate artefacts and from there we can recreate scenes from ancient history.” …”

Ancient history – modern lessons: Can a new wave of Classics scholars save the world? (Paid Content by University of Warwick from The Chronicle of Higher Education) – The Chronicle of Higher Education

[Note that this piece is not a news piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education, but “Paid for and created by University of Warwick.”]

“This is an incredibly exciting time to study the ancient world Scott argues. Because now new technologies are enabling the advance of research and teaching techniques in classics and ancient history and the subject is shooting off into exciting new areas of study and ways of understanding the people of the ancient world. He explains: “The digital revolution allows us to explore these worlds in more depth or in ways we hadn’t imagined before. Virtual reality brings places and situations to life for us, if we can’t get there in person. 3D printing allows us to recreate artefacts and from there we can recreate scenes from ancient history.” …”

ZooArchNet: Connecting zooarchaeological specimens to the biodiversity and archaeology data networks

Abstract:  Interdisciplinary collaborations and data sharing are essential to addressing the long history of human-environmental interactions underlying the modern biodiversity crisis. Such collaborations are increasingly facilitated by, and dependent upon, sharing open access data from a variety of disciplinary communities and data sources, including those within biology, paleontology, and archaeology. Significant advances in biodiversity open data sharing have focused on neontological and paleontological specimen records, making available over a billion records through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. But to date, less effort has been placed on the integration of important archaeological sources of biodiversity, such as zooarchaeological specimens. Zooarchaeological specimens are rich with both biological and cultural heritage data documenting nearly all phases of human interaction with animals and the surrounding environment through time, filling a critical gap between paleontological and neontological sources of data within biodiversity networks. Here we describe technical advances for mobilizing zooarchaeological specimen-specific biological and cultural data. In particular, we demonstrate adaptations in the workflow used by biodiversity publisher VertNet to mobilize Darwin Core formatted zooarchaeological data to the GBIF network. We also show how a linked open data approach can be used to connect existing biodiversity publishing mechanisms with archaeoinformatics publishing mechanisms through collaboration with the Open Context platform. Examples of ZooArchNet published datasets are used to show the efficacy of creating this critically needed bridge between biological and archaeological sources of open access data. These technical advances and efforts to support data publication are placed in the larger context of ZooarchNet, a new project meant to build community around new approaches to interconnect zoorchaeological data and knowledge across disciplines.

‘Historical Google Earth’ project captures a changing Britain | Culture | The Guardian

A “historical Google Earth” featuring aerial photographs of Britain going back to 1945 has been made freely available by Cambridge University.

The vast archive captures 70 years of change across urban and rural landscapes, from the bomb-scarred postwar period to the emergence of motorways and skyscrapers.

The aerial photographs, showing Britain from the air from the 1940s up to 2009, were taken by former wartime RAF pilots at the instruction of the Cambridge archaeologist Kenneth St Joseph.

The first 1,500 photographs, covering almost every corner of the UK, were published on Friday, the first batch from an archive of almost 500,000….”

3D-printed reconstructions provide clues to ancient site | EurekAlert! Science News

“Part of the ancient archaeological site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia, believed by Incans to be where the world was created has been reconstructed using 3D printed models of fragments of an ancient building. The results are presented in a study published in the open access journal Heritage Science.

Researchers at UC Berkeley, USA, created accurate, 3D-printed miniature models of architectural fragments to reconstruct the Pumapunku building in the Tiwanaku site. Considered to be an architectural wonder of its time (AD 500-950), Pumapunku has been ransacked over the last 500 years to a point where none of the remaining 150 blocks that comprised the original building remain in their original place….”

Digitizing the vast “dark data” in museum fossil collections | Salon.com

“The uniqueness of each museum collection means that scientists routinely make pilgrimages worldwide to visit them. It also means that the loss of a collection, as in the recent heart-wrenching fire in Rio de Janeiro, represents an irreplaceable loss of knowledge. It’s akin to the loss of family history when a family elder passes away. In Rio, these losses included one-of-a-kind dinosaurs, perhaps the oldest human remains ever found in South America, and the only audio recordings and documents of indigenous languages, including many that no longer have native speakers. Things we once knew, we know no longer; things we might have known can no longer be known.

But now digital technologies — including the internet, interoperable databases and rapid imaging techniques — make it possible to electronically aggregate museum data. Researchers, including a multi-institutional team I am leading, are laying the foundation for the coherent use of these millions of specimens. Across the globe, teams are working to bring these “dark data” — currently inaccessible via the web — into the digital light….

The sheer size of fossil collections, and the fact that most of their contents were collected before the invention of computers and the internet, make it very difficult to aggregate the data associated with museum specimens. From a digital point of view, most of the world’s fossil collections represent “dark data.” …

The Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio) site hosts all the major museum digitization efforts in the United States funded by the current NSF initiative that began in 2011….

Our group, called EPICC for Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoicquantified just how much “dark data” are present in our joint collections. We found that our 10 museums contain fossils from 23 times the number of collection sites in California, Oregon and Washington than are currently documented in a leading online electronic database of the paleontological scientific literature, the Paleobiology Database….”

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Google, CyArk to Build VR Models of World’s Endangered Heritage Sites | Technology News

Google has joined hands with CyArk, a California-based 3D laser scanning non-profit, to build virtual reality (VR)representations of historical sites around the world that are at risk of destruction due to human conflict or natural disasters, media reports said.

The joint effort – called the Open Heritage project – will use CyArk’s (short for cyber archive) laser-scanning technology to capture and archive the imperiled archaeological wonders from all over the world…”