Voices from the Field (2019-06-10)

Our future is bright, our future is in three-dimensions! 

Gary Nobles, Aleyna Çalışkan, Orkun Şimşek, and Volkan Artan

The team processing the data fresh from the excavation.

The Kaymakçı 3D spatial team are always hard at work processing the photographs from the excavation team to create truly three-dimensional volumes of each excavated archaeological context. This process starts after we have generated the 3D models for each context’s upper and lower surfaces; along with other files like an orthophoto and a DEM (digital elevation model), we create a file containing data for the (potentially millions) of points in each model. We then use a mix of established software as well as our own bespoke solutions specifically designed for cleaning the 3D outputs.

Visual results from our filtering algorithm. This one needs cropping!

Using software still in development (being developed by Gary), we isolate the 3D points of any particular object or soil volume we have recorded. Since we know their exact position in each excavation area, we can accurately reconstruct the digital picture of the space.

Our first results are emerging from the mass of information we have collected over the past years as we incorporate the new data from this year’s excavation.

Contexts 515 and 499 from trench 99.526 showing the complexities we face.

We are excited to see how the excavated soils will take on a second life in digital form as the season continues.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2019-06-04)

Using Digital Tools to Understand New Excavation Areas

Catherine Scott

Excavation area 97.541 is a good example of the potential history of an excavation area at Kaymakçı. It was first excavated in 2015 by Emily Wilson, then continued in 2016 by Haley Chasteene. Emily returned for the study season in 2017 to reassess the area in advance of our recent summary publication. Now I will be excavating this area again in 2019. 

A drone photograph of area 97.541 from the beginning of this season.

The extensive digital documentation that results from our workflow at Kaymakçı facilitates the transfer of an excavation area from one area supervisor to another, as well as research during the off-season or during study seasons. 


An excavator or researcher will generally start with the available reports; at Kaymakçı, we write regular interim and final reports that include both a narrative of what occurred during the season and the excavator’s interpretations. The report also includes a Harris matrix, a form of representation very common to archaeologists that helps visualize stratigraphic sequences (or, the physical relationships between deposits and features). 

Part of the Harris matrix from 97.541.

We also create other forms of digital documentation that are extremely helpful in understanding the work that has been done to date.

Excavation journals are written in Evernote and archived on the project data server; excavators can easily take pictures and annotate them to explain how they are excavating or to highlight features of interest.

A section of Emily’s notes from 2015.

Our networked project database allows for easy access to data on contexts and samples. It pulls together information from all participants, including excavators and specialists.

The Excavation database form. We currently use Microsoft Access, but are in the process of developing a web-based platform!

Spatial data recorded in ESRI’s ArcMap (a Geographic Information System, or GIS) are also easily available. We archive all files from previous years, so researchers can access plans from each day of excavation to see how they were recorded by the excavator at the time. These “day plans” show the state of the excavation area at the end of each day.

A day plan from 2015.

We also have access to the 3D models produced for every context, which provide all the spatial data from the excavations. Because these models are detailed and dynamic, they can often provide much more clarity than traditional photographs. These models help us to “relive” the excavation, in a way, by allowing us to see what each context looked like before and after it was removed, in all of its three-dimensional complexity. We also continue to develop 3D volumes of each context using these models, which allow us to virtually reconstruct and re-excavate each area in different ways.

The 3D model from a 2016 context, shown in Agisoft Photoscan.

All these resources are available via our networked data server, and therefore directly on each area supervisor’s computer via a remote desktop connection. With all these tools at our disposal, we are able to get up to speed quickly on previously unfamiliar excavation areas!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-07-05)

Precision drawings made fast with lasers

Peter Demján

Understanding the development of pottery shapes and forms plays an important role in reconstructing ancient living and making. Each fragment has to be carefully studied and precisely documented, including a drawing reconstruction of the original vessel based on the profile and estimated diameter. This process is usually quite time-consuming and involves either drawing by hand or creating a digital drawing based on a 3D scan.

Caption: Pottery processing team from the Charles University in Prague at work. From left to right: Peter Pavúk, Lucia Šušková, and Kristina Jarošová (not pictured: Peter Demján and Miloš Roháček).

The inventor of the Laser Aided Profiler (Peter Demján), processing a fragment.

 

 

 

 

During this season of the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project, the pottery processing team got new reinforcement in the form of a prototype Laser Aided Profiler (LAP), developed specifically for measuring the profiles and circumferences of pottery fragments.

The Profiler enables us to produce a high-quality digital drawing of a ceramic vessel based on a fragment in a matter of minutes. Such drawings can then be used to analyze various vessel types in traditional ways or to compare the shapes of profiles digitally and calculate their similarity. This process, called morphometrics, enables us to analyze thousands of fragments from different parts of the site, or even different sites, without having to go over every single one by hand.

The Laser Aided Profiler in action.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2017-06-16)

An exchange

Christina Luke

Last week, the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project (KAP) and the Fen Bilimleri School in Salihli had the opportunity to spend the day together. After tea, fresh apricots and homemade pastries, the students were split into three groups.


  • Project and school leadership meet.


  • Beautiful apricots from the Şener's garden.


 

In the ceramic lab, they were shown recording methods and 3D scanning. In the conservation lab, students learned about objects and science, and they tried to mend broken plates (from the local department store Kipa). It was hard!

In the zooarchaeology lab, they discussed the details of studying bones from the archaeological record to understand food patterns but also arts – wool and leather especially. KAP team members introduced students to using 3D images and virtual reality to determine the difference between sheep and goat bones.







In the afternoon, KAP members visited the school in Salihli. During a lovely poolside lunch, we met the director and talked with teachers and students about their school and future collaborations with KAP. We were impressed by their English and felt ashamed that we didn’t speak more Turkish!  

 

We were then shown the lower school, including the terrific chess room. We toured the main building to see classrooms as well as the wonderful café on the upper floor. Our time ended with a visit to the horses. We learned that this part of the curriculum promotes civil engagement and appreciation of animals.




Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2016-07-10)

Newcomers at Kaymakçı!

Haley Chasteene and József Puskás

Newcomers to an archaeological project usually have a period of adjustment. Luckily, here at Kaymakçı, a fast-paced learning environment and very friendly team and staff can help alleviate newbie stress. Haley is a recent graduate from San Diego State University and has a background in the archaeology of California. Joska received a MA degree from BBU from Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and has experience in excavating Bronze Age sites in Transylvania. We both decided to join this project to widen our knowledge of digital archaeological technologies and to experience a new environment.

Teamwork: Haley Chasteene recording coordinates with the RTK GPS, while Joska Puskas holds digital photogrammetry target in place.

Teamwork: Haley Chasteene recording coordinates with the RTK GPS, while Joska Puskas holds a digital photogrammetry target in place.

We enjoy the opportunity to learn and use a more digitally based recording system.

Recording new features in our excavation area.

Recording new features in our excavation area.

Our staff lives in villages surrounding Kaymakçı. Having daily exposures to local culture and language is just another perk of this already rewarding archaeological experience.

Çay mola. One of our favorite times of the day.

Çay mola. One of our favorite times of the day.

Every day we continue to widen our knowledge of a paperless digital recording system, while also spanning our view of Turkish culture and language. We are very thankful to be a part of the team.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2016-06-24)

Going 3D at Koç

Tunç Kaner

 

 

During my two years with the Kaymakçı Archeological Project (KAP), I have worked closely with Peter Cobb to develop a holistic recording system for ceramics from Kaymakçı. Related to this work, I have also recently begun to help with the 3D digital recording of ceramics from the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey (CLAS), directed by Christina and Chris between 2005 and 2014.

I live and study in Izmir at Ege University, but I travelled to Istanbul a few times during the 2015–2016 academic year to work with the CLAS material in the Archaeology Lab at Koc University. I worked with Christina Luke and Chris Roosevelt in person, and Peter Cobb virtually, to train a team of MA and PhD students in 3D recording methods. I also set-up the project’s NextEngine 3D Scanner as well as photography and Pantone Capsure (Munsell) stations in the lab, where they will be set up again in the fall for the next academic year. The training took two weeks; later I monitored Koç students from Izmir and visited Istanbul again for intensive periods of work.

We are continuing the same procedures now in our field lab, where we are working with a larger team on classifying and documenting ceramics that have just been excavated.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2016-03-09)

The word is getting out! Gygaia Projects directors present on various aspects of the project

Christina Luke and Chris Roosevelt

Scholarly conversation takes place in many venues, one of which is through the presentation of new data and ideas at conferences and as part of lecture series. Such presentations offer an exciting opportunity to collaborate with and get feedback from colleagues around the world.

In mid-February, Christina Luke attended a terrific conference and workshop entitled: “New Approaches to Historic Landscapes.” Her presentation focused on the construction of "heritage and history" through the lens of sovereignty in the Gediz Valley. The title of her paper was "Deep Time: Cultural Landscapes from Antiquity to Modernism in the Gediz Valley, western Turkey”. Christina asked how "the right heritage" is often celebrated at the expense of other historical narratives. She argued that historical landscape analysis offers one way forward in understanding change over time. The sessions were supported by a British Academy Newton Fund Advanced Fellowship, and led by Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University (Turkey) and Newcastle University (UK). It is our hope to collaborate with various new colleagues to begin a historic landscape analysis of the Gediz Valley.

Photo Credit: Néhémie Strupler, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut

 

Chris Roosevelt recently spoke on two occasions about the ongoing work of Gygaia Projects. His first talk took place at the German Archaeological Institute as part of their ongoing lecture series. The title of his paper was “A Forgotten Capital in Late Bronze Age Central Western Anatolia: Kaymakçı in the Marmara Lake Basin.” Chris talked briefly about the results of the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey, which found a network of second-millennium BCE citadels around Lake Marmara, and presented some initial results of the ongoing excavations at Kaymakçı under the Kaymakçı Archaeological Project. His talk was well attended by members of the archaeological community in Istanbul.

At the Turkish Art and Culture Lecture Series of the Turkish Cultural Foundation, Chris’s talk “Archaeology, Technology, and Sustainability: Approaches to the Past in the Gediz Valley, Western Turkey” addressed the sustainability of archaeological practice and data. He discussed various non-invasive archaeological techniques, including aerial photography and remote sensing, and also explained the digital recording system of the project as a way of making it possible to "re-excavate" sites digitally. (See Chris’s open-source article with fellow project members Peter Cobb, Manny Moss, Brandon Olson, and Sinan Ünlüsoy, titled “Excavation is Destruction Digitization: Advances in Archaeological Practice” for more information on the latter topic!)

Photo Credit: Jana Mokrisova

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2016-01-21)

Gygaia Projects Presents at the AIA conference in San Francisco

Dan Plekhov

I recently had the opportunity to travel to and present at the 117th annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, held in rainy San Francisco. These conferences are often quite overwhelming, with many wonderful sessions to attend and people to meet who are engaged in exciting new research. This year was no exception, and I was happy to present my work to other archaeologists working on similar projects and to compare methods and results.

The research I presented took the form of a poster, coauthored by me, Chris Roosevelt, and Christina Luke, titled “Assessment of Iron Age Lydian Tumulus Distributions through GIS-Based Spatial Analysis.” The underlying question of this research was to determine what features of the Bin Tepe landscape influenced the placement of the burial mounds, which appear to follow certain patterns and form clusters.

By combining various spatial datasets into a Geographic Information System (GIS), representing such features as Lake Marmara, the Gediz River, streams, water features, and contemporary archaeological materials, we were able to measure the distance between each tumulus and the nearest of these features to measure proximity. Additionally, using digital elevation models, we were able to measure the visibility from each of the mounds to other features on the landscape, such as Kaymakçı, the Lydian city of Sardis, the three most prominent mounds, and all other mounds. Altogether, these measurements give us a sense of how the tumuli relate to the landscape in respect to their placement.

(Here we see the distribution of elevation values for the tumuli (dashed red line) in contrast to the distribution expected from a random pattern (black line). The gray polygon represents a 95% confidence envelope around the random pattern, achieved through bootstrap resampling.)

 

While this is useful information, we were interested in determining which of these landscape features may actually have been considered by Lydians when they chose sites for the mounds. To test this, we generated a set of random points equal to the number of mounds within Bin Tepe (137), and we did this 100 times. For each simulation, we again measured all these variables to get a distribution of values that reflected a random pattern representative of the landscape. By comparing this distribution to those of our real tumuli, we were then able to determine where our pattern significantly departed from the pattern we would expect if the mounds were placed randomly.

We found that there was a notable subgroup of tumuli that showed a clear preference for ridges and that intervisibility between the mounds was significantly greater than what we would expect from a random pattern. This suggests that proximity and visibility to other mounds was more important than proximity to natural features such as Lake Marmara or the Gediz River.

 

We received great feedback on these methods and results, which will factor into further analysis of the mounds to be presented at the Society for American Archaeology conference in early April. Stay tuned for more results then!

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2015-10-19)

Conservation Research at the University of Delaware

Remy Kneski and Adrienne Gendron

While working with KAP during the 2015 excavation season, Remy and Adrienne conducted research on conservation problems pertaining to material culture in archaeological settings. They are continuing to expand these research projects during the 2015–2016 academic year, after which their conclusions will be discussed in their senior theses.

Currently, Remy is working on aging of adhesives on a brick substrate. The four adhesives selected (Paraloid B-44, Paraloid B-72, Ground Hide Glue, and Derby) were naturally aged outside for 6 weeks over the summer and will be artificially aged this fall. The results of her research will determine which adhesive would be best for reconstruction of ceramics at an archaeological site in conditions of high temperature and relative humidity.

Adrienne is performing artificial aging on copper-alloy samples under different conditions to determine the effects of certain variables on their degradation. She hopes to obtain a more complete understanding of the chemical processes that cause degradation of copper-alloy (bronze) artifacts in situ in order to further characterize conservation concerns with metal artifacts excavated from Kaymakçi and propose effective solutions to ensure their long-term preservation.

In September, Remy and Adrienne also presented an outline of their summer experiences at KAP to the Art Conservation Freshmen Seminar at the University of Delaware. Because many art conservation students at the university have a wide range of interests in related fields, they spoke about the many components of fieldwork as well as their experiences performing conservation treatments on archaeological materials.

Look forward to more posts from Gygaia Projects over the course of the year!

Voices from the Field (2015-07-05)

Kaymakçı from Above!

Manny Moss

Eyes in the Sky: a new UAV is providing fresh perspectives on the site and surrounding landscape, and changing the way archaeology happens.

20150621_133545

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have recently become affordable, reliable, and powerful enough to join the archaeological toolkit. Here at Kaymakçı, we’re using the camera mounted on our new DJI Phantom to document ongoing excavation activities, explore the surrounding landscape, and aid in our efforts to construct 3D, volumetric models of archaeological deposits.

Capable of taking video and still imagery, precision-guided by GPS, and with flight times exceeding twenty minutes, our new UAV allows for shadow-free, top-down shots from ten, twenty, or even 100 meters above the ground.

 

The images from the UAV have also proven to be an excellent addition to the mapping and 3D spatial components of the project. The UAV’s photographs can be pieced together in a photogrammetry program to produce a hyper-accurate digital elevation model of the site, the landform on which it sits, and the surrounding hills, valleys, and waterways. This landscape model can be used by many of the other specialists on the project to make inferences about past and present land use, hydrology, agriculture, and human occupation.

 


Taking aerial photographs, and shooting HD video early in the morning takes advantage of the raking light to reveal subtle topographical details.

 

New perspectives offered by the UAV have aided in understanding spatial relationships difficult to see from ground level, and have given those of us working on the ground a fresh eye on Kaymakçı’s neighborhood. We look forward to applying this tool in new ways in the near future!