Archaeological documentation is limited by its media, and has traditionally been shaped by the constraints of the two-dimensional page. Despite the fact that archaeological entities are often very complex, we draw, we take photos, and write stuff down on various pieces of paper. Among other things, that means we either make the sides of our excavations vertical and flat so we can draw and photograph profiles, or make flat slices through our sites so we can draw and photograph plans, or we make do with some form of hybrid which, through some mixture of hachures, contour lines, etc., is somehow meant to represent the complex shapes of real world archaeology. The closest we have come to doing real 3D documentation has been through the use of either point-clouds or some variation on 3D photogrammetry. And, although these represent an advance over paper, applications to date have still been... superficial. As with photos and drawings, have largely been used to record surfaces; they don't seem to have been used to help record, for example, the distribution of finds and/or charcoal particles within a given stratum. Archaeological documentation also continues to be largely visual, focussing mainly on soil colour and/or composition, despite the potential significance of soil hardness, or occasionally even the different sounds the ground makes while you're digging. There are any number of other examples, but in the end the only real question is, what are we going to do? Continue to use modern technology to record the same stuff we used to do on paper (maybe more accurately or faster but the input still basically stays the same), or let our imaginations run wild and try to think up some creative solutions to traditional problems? I know what I want. Do you?
Archäologisches Institut | | Universität Göttingen
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