Friday, June 02, 2006
From now on, all new content will be posted on the new domain, but this site will be kept around for the archives and for anyone who has bookmarks linked to here.
Please stop in and check out the new site!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
As seen on the CAA: Cartography Blog this morning, the World Wild Life Fund is partnering with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR) of the University of Kassel, Germany to make available HydroSHEDS, a world wide watershed based hydrologic database.
As of now, only data for South America is available, but I would imagine this is the first time such data is made available in a consistent format for such a broad area. The data, served by the USGS, is downloadable in ESRI Shapefile format for vector data and ESRI GRID format for raster data.
“HydroSHEDS is a mapping product that provides hydrographic information for regional and global-scale applications in a consistent format. It offers a suite of geo-referenced data sets (vector and raster) at various scales, including river networks, watershed boundaries, drainage directions, and flow accumulations. HydroSHEDS is based on high-resolution elevation data obtained during a Space Shuttle flight for NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM).”
Archaeologists, at least in the US, often use watershed boundaries as a base unit of analysis, especially in constructing settlement models. Interestingly, I was once told (please help me out if this is dead wrong) that in US archaeology, watershed studies focus on the river and the watershed is the boundary, whereas in European archaeology, the topographic divide is the focus and the rivers are the boundary. This thought opens up a number of avenues for discussion. Does this relate to the types of archaeology, ie. Roman outlooks vs. Late Woodland Villages, or the types of analysis. Chances are, it is a bit of both and everything in between.
Watersheds, as with environmental studies, offer the archaeologists a non-political boundary for which to contextualize there data. It can, and has, been argued that such thinking is just archaeological environmental determinism. Seen as, a way of stripping Native Americans of social creations and complexities that would extend their influence and accessibility beyond a topographic divide. And I agree, it does at times limit our analysis to say this watershed is one way and this one is another, but especially in the Eastern United States, most of the time this is all out data resolution will allow. The watershed of a major river is a large chunk of land, but the great thing about sheds is that they are conglomerations of smaller sheds and build into larger sheds. Although an imperfect unit of analysis for socially active agents of any time period, the natural fractal nature of watershed boundaries works well. This is not to mention the ethnographic data, both from contact America and elsewhere that show that watersheds boundaries were quite important.
Back to the topic at hand, this data set should be helpful not only to hydrologists, ecologists, and other environmental studies, but to archaeologists as well.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The Bosnian Pyramid [site link, GE Link ] finally got a Google Earth model. I guess when visual suggestion is the only evidence in your favor; you use all the tools in the shed. (please pardon the cynicism)
If you are unfamiliar with the topic, the Bosnian Pyramid is the latest and greatest of Indiana Jones meets the Underwater World of Atlantis archaeological mysteries. Headed by Sam Semir Osmanagich, a Bosnian native Texas businessman, the government backed 5 year excavation seeks to prove that the 700 foot hill towering over the town of Visoko, Bosnia (43.98889, 18.17806), is indeed the world’s largest manmade pyramid.
According to Osmanagich, the truth is self evident and undeniable. According to the vast majority of archaeologists, in both Bosnia and elsewhere, the pyramids are a hoax of mammoth proportions. The evidence presented by Osmanagich and his team consists of the pyramid like shape of Visocica Hill and the “man made” blocks that have been found through relatively shallow excavations. He supports this claim with the backing of “leading” geologists and archaeologists. Against Osmanagich are geologic studies demonstrating that the shape of Visocica is defined by faulting and uplift; very common geologic processes. Furthermore, world archaeological history offers no evidence for such monumental architecture at this place and time, as well as, a lack of archaeological artifacts from the excavations. Osmanagich likes to compare his pyramid to those of Central and South America, but compare the typical artifact assemblage of a large pyramid on the Yucatan Peninsula to that of Visoko and it is entirely clear that these are not the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a hater of anything that goes against the grain. I am not discounting this because it is the cool thing to do. And I do support the nationalistic sense of hope that this is providing many Bosnians, but the evidence simply is not there. I have read the geologic reports that are provided by Osmanagich and they do not in any way provide any geologic evidence for the possibility of a non-natural structure. Saying that something looks “man made” is not geologic support.Time will tell whether Osamagich’s excavations turn out to be a wild goose chase or the next wonder of the world. If it turns out to be the latter, I am all for it, but at this point, the evidence is nil. Until then, decide for yourself. Check out the Google Earth model of the pyramid and the other Google Earth overlays provided at the excavation’s site.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
ArcGIS and Archaeology: Practical Tutorials for the Use of ArcGIS in Archaeology is a cool site I ran across last week. Born out of the need to use GIS for research and the want to help other archaeologists who may be put into the GIS chair, this site provides background info on both GIS and ESRI ArcGIS products. Further, this site has a small collection of tutorials for some more common GIS/Archaeology applications, such as, creating contour lines, terrain modeling, and viewsheds. A nice looking site with a cool idea; I hope the author continues to add to the tutorial collection.
As a side note, I found this site with going through the large number of links at: Archaeological Research Resources. This is, courtesy of Historic Archaeological Research, has a ton of links for many aspects of archaeology, both research and field.
Monday, May 15, 2006
At the end of last week, the Google Earth Blog wrote about a ver cool KML of the tomb of Tutankhamen. The underground tomb is designed with a very cool box model technique. Frank Taylor at the GEB has posted a good deal on the use of techniques such as this in Google Earth. Notably, Frank points to the work of Valery Hronusov from Russia’s Academy of Science in Perm. Valery has created a set of tools to integrate GIS data with Google Earth. From a look at the institute’s site and example projects, the software (KMLer) looks very powerful and quite affordable.
Back to Egypt… After reading the GEB post about the tomb of Tutankhamen model, created by ‘atf’ at the Google Earth Community, I went on a small hunt for other Egyptian archaeological KML examples.
There are a number of renditions of the Pyramids at Giza. Most that I have seen are pretty general and not at the proper elevation. Though, this model that only contains the Pyramid of Khfare is quite detailed and correctly placed.
Also, here is a great model of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. This lighthouse is estimated as having stood nearly 450 feet tall. For many millennia, this was the tallest structure on earth. This world wonder was constructed on the island of Pharos just off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt. Underwater archaeology is still going on today to try and solve the mystery of where the lighthouse precisely stood and how it met its demise.
Keep and eye on the Google Earth Community for more Egyptian models as well as numerous place marks and imagery overlays of Egyptian sights both past and present.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Google Earth Link to Area (sorry, no models)
Friday, May 12, 2006
"Mapchester will generate a new kind map of Manchester - produced by collective, community effort that will be completely copyright-free."Aside from creating license free data from this project, Mapchester is also driven by the initiative to get people to participate in their local geography and empower them to take an active role in their 'places'.
This event will be held Saturday 13th and Sunday the 14th of May (This weekend!). Mapchester HQ is on the Lower Ground Floor, 117-119 Portland Street, Manchester M1 6ED, see http://manchesterdda.com/article/12/ or this Google Map
(The space has been generously provided by the Manchester Digital Development Agency and they are also helping in signing people up to take part.)
Here is a link to the online invite.
Sorry for the delay; I will try to have the site back on it's feet as soon as possible.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
From Space to Place
December 4-7, Rome Italy. The 2nd International Conference on Remote Sensing in Archaeology deadline for abstracts is just around the corner (May 30th). Along with the entitled topic of Remote Sensing, the issues covered by this conference run the gamut of technology used in Archaeology. Landscape, environment, ecosystem, image processing, virtual reality, 3D visualization, conservation, geophysics, photogrammetry, open source and Web-GIS are all topics fit for this conference.
“Sense of place is also sense of time, difference between space and place, between ‘global’ and ‘local’. The world process of globalization is removing places and multiplying spaces, reducing the cultural differences. In particular the dissemination of not-places, stations, hypermarkets, hotels, etc. risks to make uniform our perception, reducing what we perceive of the world to a few mental maps. Therefore we want to highlight one the fundamental tasks of remote sensing archaeology, namely, the capacity to use spatial technologies for recovering and identifying places and the sense of place in collaboration with the local communities.”
As described in this text from the conference abstract, the organizers intend to demonstrate how various technologies can be used to bring a sense of place back to archaeological data and interpretation. In my humble opinion, this is a fantastic goal and something that all archaeological technologists should be thinking about.
Being that a snow ball has a better chance in Death Valley than I do of making it to this conference; I hope that the proceedings will be offered online, as is the case with the 3D Imaging and Modeling conference in the previous post.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Posted by Jeff Thurston at Vector One, here are the full-text [pdf] proceedings from the 2005, Italy-Canada workshop on 3D Digital Imaging and Modeling Applications of Heritage, Industry, Medicine and Land” held in Padova, Italy, May 17th and 18th.
Taking a quick look at the keywords and paper titles, there are no less than 10 references to Cultural Heritage and 5 each for Archaeology and Architecture. There are also a handful of papers discussing 3D techniques with Geomorphology.
Reading back a few posts to my coverage of the CAA conference, there were a few references to the presence of the 3D community at the conference. One observation that struck me is that the all of the companies (~6 to 8 ) in the exhibitor’s hall served some aspect of 3D data collection or visualization. Mostly, these companies focused on 3D laser scanning. Further, the conference CAA program had a symposium on 3D data acquisition. This symposium functioned as a kind of Q&A showcase for the 3D companies.
The strong presence of the commercial 3D laser camp got me thinking. Is there a huge demand from Cultural Heritage and Archaeology that draws in these companies? Companies that are more traditionally focused on mechanical, medial, and industrial applications; projects that generally have bigger budgets that an archaeology dig. Or, do the 3D companies see a fertile ground for broadening their application base? Perhaps the heavy 3D marketing in Cultural Heritage is just the 3D companies getting their foot in the door, something that is plenty common at other industries, but not as much so in Archaeology and Heritage Management.
This is a topic to keep an eye on. If the 3D acquisition technology continues to become more affordable, or CR project’s budgets make room for these technologies, it is certainly something of use. The industry behind it has a good history and is full of really smart and innovative people.
Coincidently, I am working on a project this week that involves 3D laser scanned data and archaeology. This is my first project that integrates 3D laser data, archaeological field data, traditional GIS data, and interpretative visualization. There have been some bumpy paths leading to the coherent integration of all these data sets. When finished I plan to share some of the results.Point cloud image from: http://www.lupos3d.de/
Friday, May 05, 2006
"He [Burt Rutan] likened NASA’s efforts to archeology.”
- author Leonard Spitzer, Space.com
How exactly do you compare NASA to archaeology?
The context of this quote is Burt Rutan, head of California based, Scaled Composites, a privately funded space exploration design and construction firm, commenting on the current state of technology at NASA’s Crew Exploration Vehicle project. This project is the key to NASA’s moon and mars initiatives as outlined by President Bush’s “Vision for Space Exploration.” As stated by Rutan, the comparison to archaeology follows that:
“They [NASA] are forcing the program to be done with technology that we already know works. They are not creating an environment where it is possible to have a breakthrough … It doesn’t make sense,” Following this, Rutan argued that the NASA program needs to take risks in order to come upon a breakthrough.”
Now, unless Rutan is experienced in the world of Cultural Resource Management (CRM), the comparison is a bit foggy. Perhaps he is saying that NASA is using old stuff, archaeologists like old stuff, therefore NASA is like archaeologists. That interpretation seems a bit weak for a rocket scientist like Rutan.
I would like to think that the comparison is a good bit deeper and quite accurate from my perspective of working in the CRM industry. As with NASA, most of the work I do for a CRM company is funded, in one way or another, by a government agency. Also, as is the case with NASA, funding dictates the degree to which technology and innovation can be brought into a project. So as Rutan said, the perceived risk of loosing money to technology stifles new breakthroughs and in the end, costs more money.
Although I do get to work on some very cool and techy projects, in CRM in general, there is a lack of technological applications. Don’t get me wrong, technology is applied in some very cool ways and by very smart people, but the run of the mill phaseI/II investigation, which a huge portion of projects are, are relatively devoid of technology more recent than the trowel and shovel.
“So what” you say, the trowel and shovel work just fine and get the job done. I agree, but the point is, try and step out of the box and chances are you will be shot down. Whereas archaeology will always need the shovel and trowel, usually as a precursor to a bulldozer and grader, there is a host of technology that can work with the process to make the end product more accessible, accurate, and cheaper.
A creative environment is a hard thing to fund is CRM. The trickle down of process and methodology from the academy is a good, but implementing is in a quick and cost effective way, quickly and cost effectively, can be a challenge. I’m sure NASA faces many of the same hurdles. If this is what Rutan meant, then I whole heartedly agree.
Whereas Rutan said he would not want NASA Chief, Mike Griffin’s job of making President Bush’s space vision work give “only pennies to do it.” As an archaeologist in CRM, I truly enjoy the challenge.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
The new site http://www.gisarch.com is up and running. There are a handful of cosmetic changes to be made, but the content is there. The RSS feed from Feedburner has been moved. If anyone is subscribed via anything but feedburner, please visit the new site and reconnect. Sorry for the inconvenience.
I hope that the new publishing platform, WordPress, will give me more flexibility in layout and content features. Also, I hope having a more relevant domain name will help create an audience.
I will continue to post on both site for the time being. This is for folks who arrive here via established links or bookmarks, as well as, keep up the archives that readers may be linked to.
Feel free to email me ( admin /at/ gisarch /d0t/ com) with any issues about the move or any problems with the new site. I would appreciate it. Thanks!
This morning, OpenStreetMap was covered on the hugely popular Boing Boing blog. The post, linked to a full story at digital-lifestyles, describes the critical mass like effort of 30+ mapping enthusiasts who plan to map the Isle of Wight off the UK coast. The effort will produce a spectrum of spatial data that will be distributed under the Creative Commons license.
The intention, beyond gathering good data, is to show that is does not take a government entity, e.g. the Ordnance Survey, to bring spatial data to the people. Great project, I can't wait to see the results.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
On April 3rd, 1945, 12 men escaped from the Eastern State Pennitentary in Philadelphia. Among them, was the notorius bank robber, "Slick" Willie Sutton. Sutton, as well as the tunnels engineer, Clarence Klinedinst were caught very shortly after the escape. Within 2 days, all then men were back in the prison.
On April 1st, 2006, the tunnel was cleary seen again for the first time in 61 years.
Although, I am late to the game, since this story has been covered by ArchaeologyNews, the AP, NPR, and a slew of newspapers and blog, I figured I should tell my side of the story since it was my companies job to find it.
The story goes, prior to the escape, Clarence Klinedinst, being a mason, was tasked with replastering the walls of cell block 7 (SW arm in this live.com view). After completing this task, he bargained with the officials to give him his choice of cells, he chose cell #68. Incarcerated by him self, he began a project that would take him over a year to complete. Beginning with a specially placed thin plaster wall, which he created during his replastering duty, he began his dig to freedom.
Cell #68 is located at the distal end of cell block 7, with nothing but 100ft of courtyard, and a 30 foot wall between it and the outside. Clarence Klinedinst (aka Kliney), began to dig, at first by himself then later with a cell mate, into the wall and straight down to the sand sediment below. Once Kliney was into the wall and through the footer, there were no obstructions until he would encounter the 12 foot deep base of the prison wall.
Digging for close to a year and a half, Kliney and his cell mate alluded suspicion. Taking turns digging at night, one prisoner would sleep while the other dug. Paper Mache heads were constructed to fool the ever watchful guards. At first, the prisoners disposed of the rock and soil in the cell toilet and in the yard. After a number of feet was dug from the tunnel, a brick sewer pipe was encountered and used to discard the dirt.
The tunnel was well planned and equipped with an electrical lighting system and wooden bracing. to help keep its integrity. Heading level across the yard, the tunnel was dug to the base of the outer wall and then dug down ~5 feet to get below the walls footing. At this point, the tunnel was excavated through the water table of an old stream that used to flow across the area, before it received 15 feet of fill to level the prison yard.
This stream was part of the escape undoing. On the morning of April 3rd, Kliney, his cell mate, Slick Willey, and 9 other opportunists made a mad dash through the tunnel and out the tiny exit hole on the corner of 22nd and Fairmount. With clothes wet and muddied from crawling though the water filled depression under the wall, the police had little difficulty following the tracks and capturing the crooks. All were hauled back to jail, and one of
In the second part of this post, I'll go over the technology and archaeology that were used to find the tunnel... stay tuned
I'll be sure to keep you posted...
Monday, May 01, 2006
What are the chances of the world’s tallest man-made pyramid being found in
A little background on this site tells quite an interesting story. The 2,120 ft
In comes Semir "Sam" Osmanagic, a
The website dedicated to the Bosnian Pyramid Archaeological Park, with a clean 3-column design, provides updated content, stories, relevant research aspects (geology, remote sensing, etc…), and a section of maps and KLM downloads ( Sun Pyramid). Fitting well with the Indiana Jones feel to this project, the Google Earth links quickly transport the viewer to the location of the alleged pyramid. Also, there are links to other “pyramids” and a rubbersheeted topo map that gives a decent indication of the topography. How long before someone places a Google SketchUp model on the spot?
Although the technology is nothing fancy and the presentation is simple, the 595 views of the pyramids GE placemark on the keyhole site is probably more looks, virtual or actual, than most archaeology sites will ever see. Certainly, it is the highly controversial and compelling story that created the media frenzy around this “find”, but the availability of data in the form of flying into and around GE placemarks and raster overlays helps get the point across.
Cover this morning at The Map Room blog, the Minnesota Historical Society has scanned and made available a large collection of historic maps ranging from 1848 to 1907. The online collection is drawn from the society’s archive of 19,000 maps and 2000 atlas volumes. The main archive contains map dating back to 1581.
The online version of this amazing catalog contains plat maps and atlases created by the General Land Office and the Bureau for Land Management. The plat collection is searchable by county or township/range. The scanned atlas editions include a statewide coverage, as well as, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, and
I am not sure how recent the addition of the online map resources is, but I thought it may be useful to the handful of
Thursday, April 27, 2006
The 3D warehouse, as described in the post below, it Google/SketchUps new 3D data housing format and model search portal. As described by Google:
"Click here to download the 3D Warehouse network link. With this file Geo-referenced SketchUp models in the 3D Warehouse become available for viewing within Google Earth. Virtual world builders, start modeling!"Virtual World Builders... Very cool.
In a days work, I was able to take CAD footprints, photos, and a hand drawn archaeology map and produce a georeferenced, downloadable, and sharable models of insitu archaeological structural components (walls) and detailed surrounding standing structures. I hope my boss does not find out how productive I can be when Google does cool things like this.
Okay, here is a rundown of the online end of the 3D Warehouse. By clicking the "Share Model" icon, a Google window pops up that ties into your own Google account. (What else did you think you were going to do with those 2 gigs for each of the 10 Gmail accounts you have?). Type in a bunch of info about your model, including the Tags, and the upload begins.
You model is loaded in to your "My Models" page. From here, you can search the tags and filename of others people models. For instance, this is the return from the search for "Building".
When you find a model you like, you can download to either Sketchup or Google Earth. Simple as that.
It seems pretty obvious that Google wants a copy of Google Earth and SketchUp installed onto every able bodied computer. They want to see a legion of modelers "SketchIng" their favorite places, tagging them, and sharing them. Content of the world, built by the world, for the world. (or at least the 20% that have access to computers.)
Yup, you heard it correctly, the recently acquired @Last team has worked with Google to produce a free version of their very popular 3D architecture and landscape program, SketchUp. (FREE download Here) As of now, SketchUp is the most commonly used program to create 3D models to be placed in Google Earth.
The free Google SketchUp version is windows only. There is also a Pro version which can be purchased for $495. This is much more like the original and at the original SketchUp price.
SO what are the new features!? Well, the Free version appears to have a similar tool selection as the original without some features like realtime shadow modeling and, most noteably, the ability to export in formates other than the Google 3D warehouse. What? Did you say Google 3D warehouse?
Yes, there is a new Kml housing format called a 3D warehouse. Although my download has not completed yet, I have messed with it a little from a link on the ogle earth blog. Save your models to a 3D warehouse and when put on a server, you point people to a 3D warehouse network link, much like a KMZ. When the link is opened in Google Earth, the Places menu will display the locations of the 3D models. Also, on the virtual globe itself, a icon appears at the location of the model or a icon will appear for an "object collection", a group of models.
The models are not directly downloaded with the 3D warehouse network link. By clicking on a model name/location in the Places menu or clicking on the icon, a popup window will give you details about the model and ask if you would like to download it.
On this popup, details such as model name, size, and complexity are given. Also TAGS!!! Yes, Google has employed tags into the models. Let the Metaverse begin!!!! From here, you may download the model to either Google Earth of Google Sketchup.
At this moment, textures are still not supported in Google Earth. I suspect, as well as many others, that this will change soon.
Here is a list of features the separate the Pro version from the Free version:
|Print and export raster images at higher-than-screen resolution.|
|Access to the following 3D export formats: DWG, DXF, 3DS, OBJ, XSI, VRML and FBX.|
|Export animations and walkthroughs as MOV (Mac) or AVI (Windows) files.|
|Use the Sandbox Tools (for organic modeling of terrain, etc) and the Film & Stage Tools (for pre-viz work).|
|Have access to free email tech support for two years from purchase.|
This story has been scooped this morning on a number of other blogs (Cartography, Google Earth Blog, All Points Blog, ogle Earth). Get out there and make some models!!!!
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Covered this morning in the Google Earth Blog is the introduction of a series of geologic maps for Northern California in Google Earth KMZ format. Produced and distributed by the United States Geologic Survey (USGS), these maps depict the bedrock geology for 12 counties.
The network link from the USGS includes the geologic units and their abbreviated formation name as a label. Interestingly, the link also includes place markers for faults, in this case all 710 faults in Santa Cruz County, geologic contacts, and water contacts. If course the transparency can be adjusted to merge the geology with the underlying imagery or you can add your own imagery to start some analysis.
Digital bedrock geology maps can sometimes be a pain to find for a study area and unless yours is in North California, this may not help you. But the direction that the USGS is taking here is clear. Data in Google Earth format is very easy to use, free or cheap, readily available, and fun to explore. Given the abilities of Google Earth to add your own imagery and the number of converters that can put GIS and 3D data into Google Earth (KML Home Companion(ArcGIS), Arc2Earth, Maya2GoogleEarth, to name a few) archaeological, Heritage management, and conservation groups should be taking full advantage of this technology. Although the analysis capabilities are simple (ArcGIS Explorer may change this) the data exploration, display, and dissemination aspects are tremendous. With a little bit of conversion and rubber sheeting, specialized information can be deployed to nearly any audience. It seems pretty apparent that with so many people realizing that maps make a fantastic vehicle for all kinds of information, spatial thinking will prevail and the technology will follow.
These maps are in an effort to disseminate geologic information and awareness in light of the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earth Quake.
After learning that my RSS feed was broken for a long time (thanks Tijl), I implemented a new Feedburner feed. By clicking on the RSS icon on the right hand column, you can add my feed to your favorite aggregator. Alternately, if you are using FireFox/Mozilla, you can click on the same icon in the location bar of your browser and add it as a live bookmark.
To anyone who tried to subscribe before, sorry for the inconvenience.
Monday, April 24, 2006
I know this post is long, sorry for the inconvenience. Click on my Flickr badge (under my links) for a few more CAA pictures.
First time to my blog? Please continue past this post and read on about the excellent papers and topics discussed at the CAA.
Seated dinner with great band!
Stephen Stead (CIDOC) and Mark Mudge (CHI)
A series of images of the Ojibwa dancers.
I wish I had the names of these folks. They were fantastic to watch and extremely nice and open to talk to. This was a definite high point for the conference.
The esteemed Dr. Frederick A. Cooper and grad student Melissa Geppert.
and again, this fun filled cast of characters!
Including Tijl Vereenooghe at the far left.