3-D Digging at Çatalhöyük
The title of the project "3D-[D]igging" (three-dimensional digging) recalls the main goal of the project: to interpret an archaeological excavation in 3D using advanced technologies for visualizing structures, objects and stratigraphic layers; in short "to think" archaeology in 3D. This project is aimed to reproduce virtually the entire archaeological process of excavation using 3D technologies (laser scanners, 3D photogrammetry) on site and 3D Virtual Reality collaborative systems during the interpretation process in lab. Digging is a destructive technique: how can we re-analyze and interpret what we excavate? How to simulate an archaeological excavation with all the stratigraphy? And if we simulate virtually an excavation, how can different archaeologists collaborate in the same virtual space from different locations but sharing the same archaeological data? This research project will face all these issues in a multidisciplinary context.
Key issues in archaeological fieldwork and research are: the reversibility of the excavation process, the accessibility and elaboration of data during the interpretation process, and the final representation and communication of the data-knowledge. The interpretation phase uses a bottom-up and top-down approach. The bottom-up regards the interpretation and documentation during the excavation, layer by layer, or by units or contexts; the top-down phase is related with the reconstruction process after the excavation, by cultural comparisons, study of the state of the art and re-contextualization of the knowledge of the past. Both phases are typically separated and not contextualized in one single research workflow. The documentation process of excavation is segmented in different reports, pictures, meta-data and archives; the interpretation comes from comparative studies and analyses of all the documentation recorded in different files and archives. In addition, it is very difficult for a multidisciplinary research team to work together in the same place and with the same information and models.
Therefore the goal of this project is to create a virtual collaborative space where it is possible to make the excavation process virtually reversible, and where to share 3D data related to the bottom-up phase (the input) with the top-down phase (the output). For this goal it is necessary to record all the archaeological data at the highest possible resolution--and in a 3-dimensional form -- and to re-elaborate models and hypotheses in a specific interactive collaborative environment, where different users can operate in real time in a simulation space. The case study is the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey which can be considered, for many reasons, ideal in facing complex research methodological questions. The Catalhoyuk project is international with 120 participants from 22 countries. The team excavates at the site over the summer but much of the analysis and interpretation and writing are done in home universities and research centers, necessitating global discussion and interaction. The aim of the project is to take four of the participating institutions that also have a track record in virtual environments in order to evaluate the potential for a 3D immersive dialogue. The four institutions are UC Berkeley, UC Merced, Stanford University, and Southampton University.
Contact: Maurizio Forte, firstname.lastname@example.org