At the Intersection of Past and Future

Digital Archaeology in CYA

When exploring programs abroad, CYA initially sparked my interest due to its unique course offerings. One of the courses I was most excited about taking was Introduction to Digital Archaeology and Virtual Reality.

Digital methods in archaeology are quickly gaining popularity in the discipline, yet not many universities or programs offer coursework in this area. Luckily, CYA has Dr. Hüseyin Öztürk to teach us both the theoretical and practical side of Digital Archaeology.

The goal of the class is to acquaint us with the most recent digital tools and methods, but it also helps us develop a practical skill set. To begin to accomplish this, our first assignment was a 3D model of a small object of our choice. For about a week, the Academic Center here at CYA was full of makeshift little studios, where students of all photography skill levels were attempting to take hundreds of technically perfect photographs. We then ran these photographs through photogrammetry 3D modeling software.

Austin Starley and professor Oztürk working on the small object model.

From potatoes to matchboxes to souvenir owls, we all tried and tried again to get our little models perfect.

Below are some final models made by students. Click and drag to see all sides.

Upon completing the models of our trinkets, we got some more hands-on experience on a school field trip to the Peloponnese. While in Nafplio, CYA professor Öztürk took the class to Karathonas Beach to practice drone photography. After a brief introduction, all of us got to fly the drone as well as control the picture taking software through an app on a cell phone. It was a lovely sunset at a beautiful beach, the perfect setting to learn a new skill. Check out some of our photographs from the drone as well as of the students flying it!

Now we are working on either a large object 3D model or an area model in the same program. Many pictures and a few hours of processing later, most of our models are finished and will be up online soon. In the meantime, here’s a little screen grab that shows what the larger models look like.

For archaeology students like myself, spending countless hours in the lab getting actual practical experience in an up-and-coming subfield is a priceless experience. The same goes for Kyle Doney, a computer science and classics double major, who says he gets the best of both worlds, as this class is “the perfect way to combine these two majors”.

Many of us have additionally been volunteering at the Wiener Lab in the American School of Classical Studies, where we also get to see scientific and digital methods being employed in archaeology.

I’m so glad to have these opportunities and I think all of us are proud of the results we have gotten from our work.

Thank you professor Öztürk!

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Written by Kalei Oliver
Kalei Oliver is a Fall '18 CYA student and an intern for the CYA MediaLab. She is a junior at Wellesley College. Kalei studies Anthropology with a focus in South American Indigenous Archaeology as well as a minor in Cinema and Media Studies.