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….”

Sketchfab – Your 3D content on web, mobile, AR, and VR.

“Sketchfab is empowering a new era of creativity by making it easy for anyone to publish and find 3D content online. With a community of millions of creators who have published millions of models, we are the largest platform for immersive and interactive 3D. Additionally, our store allows thousands of buyers and sellers to transact in confidence using our realtime 3D viewer and model inspector. 

Our technology is integrated with every major 3D creation tool and publishing platform, and is compatible with every browser and most VR headsets. Our player is embeddable anywhere on the web, and lets you view and share 3D and VR content on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.”

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…”

Preserving endangered wonders of the world, for generations to come

“When Ben Kacyra watched on TV as the Taliban destroyed 1,500 year-old Buddhist statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in 2001, he felt compelled to do something. Mr. Kacyra, who happens to be one of the creators of the world’s first three-dimensional laser scanning system, realized that his technology could be used to record monuments at risk of damage due to natural disasters, war, or tourism, so that they could be preserved for future generations.

He founded CyArk, a non-profit that has created the world’s largest and most detailed 3D digital archive of endangered wonders of the world—a lasting record of monuments at risk of disappearing. Now, Google Arts & Culture has partnered with CyArk to open up access to their virtual wonders and share their stories with everyone. …”

Connecting to the past in a digital environment | CyArk

“Conveying a sense of wonder and intimacy for the past has been both the most challenging and yet most rewarding part of my work as an archaeologist. Before recently joining CyArk, I worked as the Co-Field Director of the Catalhoyuk Research Project. The newly concluded 25-year research program led under Ian Hodder at the 9000-year old Neolithic site produced a plethora of information on the everyday lives of the original inhabitants of the site. Details, such as the connection between a geometric wall painting and a child’s burial, or that knowing that each stone, found in a cluster by the chest of a buried woman, were distinctively different in colour, were the things that always sparked wonder in me.”