Archaeological Representation Through New Digital Techniques

This blog post is in regards to the newest form of public engagement in archaeology through digital techniques. Articles referenced will be to Kevin Garstki’s ‘Virtual Representation: the Production of 3D Digital Artifacts‘ and Chiara Bonacchi’s chapter on ‘Digital media in public archaeology’.

Acknowledging that society today has evolved rapidly in the advancement of technology for many reasons such as communication, representation, storage facilitation, and most importantly the consistency to live with the guidance of web knowledge. In the recent decades, a new theme has emerged in the analytical and representation of archaeological finding through this form of technology via web interactivity. Archaeologists today are choosing to communicate with other peers and large audiences through web layouts that allow them to present research, analysis, and advocate new  knowledge for the purpose of networking.

As shown, this very website is a product of this modern form of communal engagement focused to reach out and educate those affected by the Hidalgo County Pauper Cemetery Project directly. By communicating and sharing ideas on how to approach this project in collaborative measures allows you, the reader, as well as the team members of this project to stay engaged and relative to the initiatives we must take in performing this research and community development.

Another component to digital technique as mentioned by Dr. Rowe is 3D representation of artifacts. This modern form of visual representation is, in my opinion, pivotal to the community of archaeology as well as to the world. Photographs were, for the longest time, our best form of visual representation of artifacts; next to video recording. So, why is there doubt in regards to this new form of recording data (i.e. archaeological remain)?

As stated by Garstki, the record of photographs are limited when realizing that a photograph in barred with a single viewpoint that in dictated by the photographer. Also, the quality of the photograph can also alter the experience even more for the viewer when analyzing this form of archaeological record. Do 3D models inquire the same issues as photographs? No. But that does not mean 3D models unveil complete accuracy to the archaeological record. The model is captured through a mechanism that can be compared to that of a camera, cycling around the target to digitally capture its every angle. Elements of movement, lighting, and also quality involving the mechanism capturing the 3D model can dictate the accuracy of the model portrayed onto the website for the viewer to analyze.

I believe the project should involve 3D models of the graves we are collecting data from to give the community a better look onto the conditions of these grave site burials. The site we initially began recording data from located on a website provided as a data base for graves in Texas. This site listed each grave noting details and descriptions crucial for the analysis of this project but the photographs provided which in many cases were just a front-faced photo of the headstone/marker was limiting. After going on site to the cemetery and manually entering in grave descriptions for each of these graves has lead me to believe that 3D scans of these graves is necessary for the sake of representation and delivery of research onto the community in order for the accuracy to truly deliver.

3D scans may contain some inaccuracies but when compared to our latest form of visual representation (photography), it appears to take it at least one step closer to better interpretation.

“mimetic fidelity……archaeology’s consistent adoption of new media is directly tied to how well it can “mimic” what it is trying to represent” (pg.727Garstki)



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