High-Tech Storytelling in Archaeology

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Recent advances in technology have dramatically transformed how archaeologists study and interpret the past. Techniques such as LiDAR, drone photography, and ground-penetrating radar are readily becoming standard components of an archaeologist’s toolkit alongside trowels, brushes, and picks. GIS software has become more powerful and easier to use, allowing archaeologists new ways of collecting, analyzing, managing, and communicating their data. Although these methodologies provide extraordinary potential, they also require a critical examination of their limitations. Furthermore, as archaeologists adopt more high-tech methodologies, they must negotiate challenges with data storage and visualization as well as the attention-grabbing headlines that often accompany the use of cutting-edge tools. This symposium highlights attempts to use 21st-century technology to explore ancient societies across the globe. Participants not only will demonstrate how various technologies have advanced our understanding of the past, but also they will reveal how they have (or have not) overcome difficulties using those technologies. In addition, participants will engage in a discussion of how to use high-tech storytelling in order to bring to life the stories of ancient peoples and cultures for a generation bred on tweets and viral videos.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-13 of 13)

  • Documents (13)

  • Accelerating the "Maddeningly Slow Work of Archaeology" in the Forested Maya Lowlands (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Francisco Estrada-Belli.

    Investigations in the thickly forested Peten region is complicated by lack of roads, water, communications, visibility and other things we often take for granted even in archaeology. In most cases the time it takes for results of such field work to reach a general audience can be measured in years. Many of us have turned to technology to alleviate this situation but the gains can be less than what is expected. The advent of GPS handheld devices have been useful to locate sites (and ourselves)...

  • Cyber-Archaeology, Scientific Story-telling and the GIS Nexus (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Thomas E. Levy. Neil G. Smith.

    Since 1999, UC San Diego Levantine Archaeology Laboratory excavations have been ‘paperless’ with the aim of developing digital data acquisition, curation, and 2D and 3D dissemination tools for archaeological and cultural heritage data. GIS provides the nexus for our data flow because all archaeological data collected in the field has a geospatial footprint. The X, Y and Z coordinates of the archaeological data provides the organizational and visualization principle of the archaeological...

  • Digital History and Digital Storytelling: the Future of Geospatial Technologies in the Study of the Past (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Tiffany Earley-Spadoni.

    Geospatial technologies are revolutionizing the practice of the Digital Humanities, and these developments have direct relevance to the practice of archaeology. The most recent "spatial turn" among digital humanists can be attributed to the emergence of tools like ArcGIS that facilitate such investigations as well as an interdisciplinary convergence upon theoretical models that conceive of socially-constructed space. This paper will briefly review the current state-of-the-art in the sub-field...

  • Does technology hinder or assist story-telling? A critical theory approach to archaeological representation and relational data (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Steve Kosiba.

    Advances in archaeological science are throwing new light on old concerns about representations of the past. Methods such as GIS allow archaeologists systematically to analyze multiple variables at once and rapidly to view data from various vantage points. Critics argue that such methods lose sight of the experiential aspects of history—the cultural differences that influenced how different people participated in social life and told stories about their past. This paper argues that this critique...

  • Drones, Photogrammetry and 3d Modeling in Peruvian Archaeology (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Luis Castillo Butters. Aldo Watanabe.

    Air photography, using Drones and 2D/3D Models produced with Photogramettry, is changing the way we do field archaeology. This technology also can be a powerful tool in telling a story about the sites and the work that we, as archaeologists, do there. However, several technological adaptations have to be developed in order to take full advantage of these new technologies. In this paper, we will walk you through the process of combining air and ground based 3D modeling along the North Coast of...

  • Finding Buddha: Hi-tech approach to the study of Buddhist transition at the Angkorian center of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, Cambodia (10th to 16th c. CE) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christian Fischer. Mitch Hendrickson.

    The Two Buddhist Towers Project seeks to identify material culture evidence of the important shift from Mahayana to Theravada Buddhism during the decline of the Angkorian Khmer Empire. At the regional center of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay, also known as Bakan, the most representative iconography, found for example at the Tower of Preah Thkol and the temple of Prasat Stoeng, shows the religious foundations of Mahayana Buddhism, which was probably practiced at the site since its inception. On the...

  • A Hot New Technology: Advancing Methodologies for Archaeological Aerial Thermography (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jesse Casana.

    Since the 1970s, archaeologists have known that a wide range of features, including subsurface architecture, pits and ditches, pathways, and surface artifacts should theoretically be visible in an aerial thermal image, but technological hurdles largely prevented thermography from being deployed in most field settings. Recent research has begun to take advantage of new lightweight, uncooled thermal cameras, increasingly reliable drones, and photogrammetric image processing software,...

  • Integrating Satellite Imagery and Ground-Based Remote Sensing to Reconstruct a Neolithic Village (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only William Parkinson. Apostolos Sarris. Rebecca Seifried. Nikos Papadopoulos. Cristina Manzetti.

    As part of a long-term project aimed at modeling the emergence of large, nucleated, Neolithic villages in the Carpathian Basin, the Körös Regional Archaeological Project (KRAP) collaborated with the Institute of Mediterranean Studies at the Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas (IMS-FORTH), to integrate multi-spectral satellite imagery and ground-based remote sensing techniques to reconstruct the spatial organization of the Szeghalom-Kovácshalom settlement, which covered more than 100...

  • Mapping Caves: Telling the Story (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Holley Moyes.

    Maps are symbols. While we often think of them as representations of the real world, they are in fact interpretations of the space no matter how accurately and precisely produced. Maps tell a story-YOUR story. Maps make an argument. No two people will map a space in exactly the same way and no two stories will be completely alike. While some researchers are primarily concerned about precision and accuracy in representation, others focus on more humanistic, sensory, or phenomenological elements....

  • Radar, LiDAR, Drones, and Donkeys: the Evolution of Archaeological Mapping Technologies in the South Central Andes (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Patrick Ryan Williams. Donna Nash.

    In this paper, we review our use of digital technologies to model archaeological landscapes over the past two decades in Peru and Bolivia. We focus on three scales of analysis in four thematic areas that leverage state of the art technology and GIS modeling as a means for understanding the archaeological record. Our scales run from the built environment of local sites and monuments to regional agricultural landscapes to subcontinental interaction spheres. We look thematically at modeling...

  • The rapid generation and visualization of 3D timelapse reconstructions of the excavation at the Paleolithic site Arma Veirana in Italy. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dominique Meyer. Eric Lo. Sabrina Trinh. Emily Zheng. Falko Kuester.

    Arma Veirana is a Middle/Upper Paleolithic cave site of the Maritime Alps of Liguria, Italy, which has the potential to offer insight into the interaction between Modern Humans and the Neandertals. Preliminary excavations have shown a continuous occupation between the Middle and Upper Paleolithic time periods, yet the complexity of the cave morphology and geology have made it difficult to isolate erosion as well as environmental and non-natural factors to understand the full image of hominin...

  • Terra Cognita: Technological approaches along the High Mountain Silk Road (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Frachetti. Edward Henry. Taylor Hermes. Elissa Bullion. Farhod Maksudov.

    Using remote sensing techniques along with standard archaeological survey in 2011 our collaborative team discovered the Silk Road city of Tashbulak, located at roughly 2000m elevation, in the mountains of Uzbekistan. The modern environmental and political particulars of this high-altitude city made the use of aerial photography and Geophysics essential tools for documenting this unexpected mountain site and allowing for clear documentation and targeted research in a (geographically) restricted...

  • Where condors reign: Methodological challenges in the bioarchaeology of Chachapoya cliff tombs in Peru (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jennifer Marla Toyne.

    Traditional archaeological practice involves horizontal mapping and excavations of ancient settlements and cemeteries, but bioarchaeological research of mortuary practices in the Chachapoyas region of northeastern Peru is stymied by the challenging vertical slopes, almost constant rain, and the placement of burial structures on seemingly impossible to reach ledges on exposed rock escarpments. Exploring and registering archaeological vestiges of these cliff cemeteries requires the combination of...