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Digitizing World Cultural Heritage


IGERT-TEECH Co-PI Prof. Tom Levy led a field school in Jordan in Fall 2012 Jordan, where many of the IGERT-TEECH Trainees and Associates participated, deploying and testing new technologies and methodologies developed over the past year. Grad students participating in this year’s Cyber-Archaeology Field School in Faynan, Jordan included Trainees Matt Vincent, Ashley Richter, Aaron Gidding, Ian Jones, David Vanoni, and Vid Petrovic; and Associates Matt Howland and Kathleen Bennallack. As part of a collaborative project to create a working field methodology to capture and enhance diagnostic data digitally from cultural heritage and archaeological sites, three CISA3 graduate students used terrestrial laser scanning (LiDAR), high-resolution photography, augmented reality, structure from motion, and other tools. IGERT-TEECH Trainees Vid Petrovic and David Vanoni, Ph.D. students in the Computer Science and Engineering Department working with PI Prof. Kuester, joined IGERT Trainee Ashley M. Richter, a Ph.D. student in Archaeology, on the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeological Project (ELRAP) in southern Jordan. The series of captured point clouds represent the archaeological sites under excavation by ELRAP in Jordan (including Khirbat Faynan, the ancient Biblical city of Punon (Roman Phaino), as well as a Roman- Nabataean aqueduct system, and two of the most exciting monuments at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra: the Petra Mosaic Church, and the Temple of the Winged Lion (in conjunction with the American Center for Oriental Research’s Temple of the Winged Lion Project).

The students’ collaboration provided a field test for their ongoing work, including Vid’s point-cloud software and Ashley’s Rescue LiDAR strategies. Of special note is David’s testing of ARtifact, his augmented-reality Android application, which recognizes its real or virtual surroundings and allows users to view the real or digital space with layers of annotated information overlaid upon it. The team is currently working to consolidate the data collected from the field and to refine the methodologies of combining their data sets to make them available not just for cultural heritage diagnostics and virtual tourism beyond the field, but for archaeologists to use in the field as investigative tools. The fall expedition to Jordan has also added new aspects to their work, including a new investigation by Vid and Ashley into further data capture methodologies, which can be combined with LiDAR data to provide higher resolution towards detailed areas within landscape point clouds, such as mosaics and sections of stratigraphy.

Address Goals

This highly interdisciplinary, international project, allowed the IGERT-TEECH team to take research from the controlled laboratory environment into the wild, applying research under extreme, real-life conditions, while tackling fundamental scientific question in a “living laboratory” uniquely combining discovery and learning.