Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

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Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:19 am

Hi -

The recent discovery that Romans used lead in their ink, which has made the imaging of the Herculaneum papyri possible,
has led me to some thoughts which I feel I need to make note of and share.

First off, David Packard, heir to the Hewlett Packard fortune, has long been interested in having these papyri read,
and searching the rest of the Villa of the Papyri for more of them.
From what I can make out, the Italian authorities lead him along for several years,
promising that the Villa of the Papyri would be excavated, if only he would pay for some other work at Pompei first.
I believe that Packard has now set up a fund which can only be used on the Villa of the Papyri.

Earlier, Packard had worked on Linear A, and more centrally,
developed Ibycus, a computer system for working on Greek texts.
I believe that Ibycus was later ported over, and now underlies the Thesaurus Lingua Graecae.

One thing I am wondering is if the new Massive Artificial Intelligences,
such as IBM's Watson, could be put to work reconstructing lost ancient Greek texts.

I do not know if something similar to TLG exists for Latin texts.
I was right impressed that Pliny used many Greek sources for his "Natural History".
Perhaps machine translations of Latin texts could also be used as in put into this AI system.

It seems to me that the new technologies used to read the Villa of the Papyri's papyri
may be useful in recovering the palimpest Mixtec text of the Codex Seldane.

Along these lines, clearly a ground penetrating radar survey of Cholula is a very high priority.
One good site there would likely provide enough texts to solve many of the problems in reading the Mixtec toponyms,
and in establishing the fundamental history of the Valley of Mexico.

end of first note.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:23 am

Another thought that I wish to share is that with the advent of YouTube,
The Archaeology Channel should change to take advantage of it.
It is clear that there is a demand for this type of programming.

But there is no need to host it now, but simply to port it to YouTube in the highest definition possible,
and to set up play lists and other locating aids.

end second note.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:34 am

I received notice of a new North American site excavation report database, which principally appears to be run out of Indiana.
Think of the use of the Paleo Indian database of points, but more.

This database now only covers some states, and it is clear that it need to cover all of them.
Further, one of the real problems in North American archaeology is the neglect of cataloguing and usually ignoring sites which have been entirely lost or destroyed.
These were often key sites in locations that later became major population centers.
The information on these sites will have to be recovered and put into this database.

(For example does anyone have any images of the Mound at Mound City, Illinois?
There is now no mound in Mound City, nor any city there either, for that matter.
All in all you will see many current maps not showing the site,
and many analysis not showing it,
although it was likely the third largest mound in North America.)

end third note
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:51 am

I am seeing large amounts of money being spent to build rigid structures to protect sites in earthquake zones.
Thera and Gobekli Tepe come immediately to mind.

No one seems to be aware of the uses of inflatable structures, such as the former Toso Center:
https://structurae.net/structures/leavey-center

Not only are these extremely earthquake resistant,
they can easily be modified as excavations progress.

Perhaps portable inflatable structures may also prove of use in the excavation of sites in extremely hot environments.

end note four
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby kbs2244 » Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:14 pm

Inflateables are nice, but they need constant power to keep the fans blowing.
Circus tents are a multi thousand year technology that needs no power and is intuitive to work crews world wide.
It is now un-usual to see them used in the winter at construction sites.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby circumspice » Thu Jul 28, 2016 4:22 pm

C'mon boys... Step into the 21st century...

http://www.clamshell.com/

Clamshell tents are a great alternative to permanent buildings, far stronger & more wind resistant than traditional tents. I worked in one that was the size of a standard aircraft hangar. It had electric end doors that rolled up. But, if I recall correctly, it also had manual hydraulic pumps that could raise & lower the doors. We always had power, so I never saw that used.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby Minimalist » Thu Jul 28, 2016 5:07 pm

A big enough earthquake is not going to care about a tent.

In reply to part I, E.P.

I don't know if the problem would be the computer as much as who could write the program to do what you wish. But it is an interesting idea.

Sadly, it seems as if Lucius Calpurnius Piso, the owner of the villa and apparent collector of the library, was a patron of a minor Greek philosopher named Philodemus. So far, much of what has been deciphered is Philodemus' work. Which is not to say that they should not continue because perhaps Philodemus refers to other writers but it would be great to recover some of the missing books of Livy or plays of Euripides! In fact, "great" is an understatement. It would be the 21st century equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls or Nag Hamadi.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philodemus
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:37 am

Image

I like your clamshell tents, spice. Very inexpensive.
Image

But this is my favorite tent structure, though these photos do not really do it full justice:

Image

Image

Image

located at Vicksburg (Guachoya), right across from Mounds, Louisiana.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:10 am

Minimalist wrote:A big enough earthquake is not going to care about a tent.


min, a tent is not going to care about any size earthquake.


Minimalist wrote:I don't know if the problem would be the computer as much as who could write the program to do what you wish. But it is an interesting idea.


While I am not familiar with the Watson "language",
I have little doubt that there are both people who can code in it,
and people who could code in it.

Minimalist wrote:Sadly, it seems as if Lucius Calpurnius Piso, the owner of the villa and apparent collector of the library, was a patron of a minor Greek philosopher named Philodemus. So far, much of what has been deciphered is Philodemus' work. Which is not to say that they should not continue because perhaps Philodemus refers to other writers but it would be great to recover some of the missing books of Livy or plays of Euripides! In fact, "great" is an understatement. It would be the 21st century equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls or Nag Hamadi.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philodemus


Yes, Livy's second book of his History - the conquest of Etruria.
I entirely agree with Packard and others that there are very likely the remains of texts from other authors in the Villa of the Papyri.
Perhaps Hesiod... or Orphic works.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby Minimalist » Fri Jul 29, 2016 2:30 pm

I have little doubt that there are both people who can code in it,



I suppose with enough money. There is always that problem in archaeology, though. Coming up with the money.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby Minimalist » Fri Jul 29, 2016 2:30 pm

min, a tent is not going to care about any size earthquake.



What good is the tent if what's under it is leveled?
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:10 am

Minimalist wrote:
I have little doubt that there are both people who can code in it,



I suppose with enough money. There is always that problem in archaeology, though. Coming up with the money.



Yes, money is always a problem.

Given that, I am deeply disappointed to see money wasted (some $8 million per year) here in Ohio
by the Ohio Historical Society, also known as the Ohio History Connection.

In my view, Ohio's cultural resources are being very badly managed.

I myself need to set up a 501-3C.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Sat Jul 30, 2016 7:15 am

Minimalist wrote:
min, a tent is not going to care about any size earthquake.



What good is the tent if what's under it is leveled?


The tent can both protect the remains from weathering,
and provide visitors with a climate controlled environment in which to enjoy them.

I suppose earthquake damage to the remains can be repaired, although it is costly.

I have often wondered if the pillars of some ancient temples should be hollowed out, and steel beams inserted inside.
I suppose one could also construct a steel structure under them as well, in some cases.
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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby Minimalist » Sat Jul 30, 2016 12:03 pm

although it is costly.


Indeed... and you are largely talking about countries which cannot afford it (Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, ) or which are suffering intense political instability ( Syria, Iraq ) to boot.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Re: Some thoughts on new technologies in archaeology

Postby E.P. Grondine » Fri Aug 26, 2016 9:50 am

Hi min -

One of the worst archaeological engineering failures occurred at the site of Germanna, a very early colonial estate in Virginia.

The local archaeological society built a wood framed corrugated plastic roofed structure over the remains,
only to have it immediately collapsed by a 200 year snow storm.

It was devastating to them.
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