The Application of Traditional and Innovative Documentation Techniques in Nautical Archaeology

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2017

In the field of nautical archaeology, the interpretation of shipwrecks is intrinsically tied to the efficient and accurate recording of the degraded watercraft structure its context and its contents. With the introduction and advancement of new technologies, the methodology for documenting the many aspects of archaeological watercraft, both in situ and during post-excavation evaluation continue to offer new ways to improve interpretation, communication, and materials stabilization of the assorted collection. This session aims to outline many of the past, present, and future documentation methods associated with nautical archaeology and the conservation of materials recovered from marine environments.

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  • Documents (7)

  • The 3D Digitization of the World Trade Center Wreck (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Dostal.

    Accurate documentation of cultural heritage materials is the lynchpin for all aspects of archaeological investigation. When it comes to the reconstruction and interpretation of shipwrecks, this is especially true. The more accurate and true to life the documentation is, the more accurate the interpretation and reconstruction of a ship will be. The methods by which ships have been documented have evolved rapidly over the years, though each new and innovative method is tied to foundational...

  • Documenting and Reconstructing the Hull Remains of Queen Anne's Revenge (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Annaliese Dempsey.

    The wreck site of Blackbeard’s flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge, found in 1996, yielded a section of surviving hull structure that has yet to be fully studied.  The first stage in a long term research project was conducted in 2016, and involved the detailed recording of the framing timbers so far recovered from the wreck site.  The goal of this in-depth study is a full reconstruction of the vessel’s hull and rig, with a set of lines, construction drawings, and sail plans.  The preliminary results...

  • La Belle: Lessons Learned and Applied in Order to Restructure the Use of Watercraft Data (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peter D. Fix.

    Although the archaeological team excavating La Belle performed an extraordinary job at timber recording, all 1:1 drawings were traced by hand on Mylar and then digitized into AutoCAD. That data was later assembled into lines drawings, profile and plan-view scale drawings.  In advance of freeze-drying individual components of La Belle, there was an immediate need for precision measurements from drawings that were already two generations removed from the original source. The pain-staking process...

  • Lake Champlain’s Steamboat Phoenix II: Mixing New and Traditional Underwater Archaeological Methods for Reconstruction (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Carolyn Kennedy.

    Built in 1820, the passenger sidewheel steamboat Phoenix II ran the length of Lake Champlain for 17 years until the worn-out hull was retired in Shelburne Shipyard. With no known existing ship plans, the sole method of reconstructing the hull is through accurate measurements and documentation of the wreck itself. Since June 2014, archaeological divers from Texas A&M University used traditional recording tools including tape measures, rulers and digital levels to measure the submerged ship’s...

  • Photogrammetric Texture Mapping: A methodology of applying photorealistic textures on scanned dense points cloud data (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kotaro Yamafune. Christopher Dostal.

    The biggest technological improvement to archaeological documentation techniques in recent years has been the implementation of various 3D digitization technologies, such as Computer Vision Photogrammetry and 3D laser scanning. Laser scanning produces the most accurate geometrical data available today, but it lacks the ability to accurately capture textures and diagnostic coloration information. Photogrammetric data produces highly accurate photographic textures, but the geometric data tends to...

  • Ship Scanners II: This Time, It's Technical (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher P. Morris. Jimmie Crider.

    In a world after the wrath of Superstorm Sandy, recovery efforts lead to an accidental run-in with a mysterious historic shipwreck. Now with a powerful gang of state and federal agencies breathing down their necks, can a rag tag team of maritime archaeologists, conservators, surveyors,  and deep core drillers use 3D laser scanning, and computer modeling to make sense of this mess before the task order runs out ?!

  • Tri-Closure: A Quick And Easy Way To Create A Local Coordinate System For Underwater Photogrammetric Recording (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Daniel E. Bishop. Kotaro Yamafune. Dan Bishop. Alex Burford.

    To use 3-D photogrammetric models as scientific data, it is essential for archaeologists to use local coordinate systems to constrain their photogrammetric models to 1:1 scale. This enables archaeologists to take measurements directly from their models. Direct Survey Methods (DSM) are often used to create local coordinate systems; however, DSM often requires several days of diving operations, which may become problematic when recording large or deep-water sites. As a quick alternative method,...