University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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Comprehensive Digital Recording and Analysis: iPads, Photogrammetry, Geophysics and GIS.
Eric E. Poehler

Last modified: 2011-12-15


While the practice of archaeological recording has rapidly joined the digital age and the media we use have changed from objects (paper and mylar) to software (databases and drafting programs), the methods of recordation have changed only in relatively minor ways to take advantage of these dynamic new environments. What archaeologists do in the field tends towards the expediency of fieldwork, with less emphasis on the essential synthesizing interpretive acts that build from it. Specifically, the process of advancing a study from observation to interpretation – from a single trench or wall to an entire site or building – remains one of slowly toggling between the data contained in different programs, which is a change only in kind from shuffling context (SU) sheets and trench or wall drawings. The combination of the flexibility and the brute force of digital environments offers the promise of a solution.

The Pompeii Quadriporticus Project is developing its campaign of complete digital recording of one of Pompeii’s largest and longest ignored monumental structures into a process for conceiving and constructing the essential arguments and narratives that are the point of archaeological practice. Our comprehensive digital recording strategy involves on-site observation documentation (database entry, drawing and graphical matrices) and overlapping and integrated 3D imaging procedures (laser scanning, photogrammetry and subsurface prospection). These individual components are merged so that the spatial data can be used to scaffold the observational data within a single GIS environment. In this manner, all the necessary data are instantly available in a format that also preserves and visualizes the essential physical relationships among the data, something databases alone cannot do. Finally, beyond storing, accessing and visualizing the data, our GIS platform is designed to provide the most intuitive landscape in which to conduct the hierarchical, analytical procedures of moving from the stratigraphic unit to the phase. Underlying this new interpretive schema, however, is the complete digital recording of both observational and spatial data. 


Pompeii, iPads, Photogrammetry, Geophysics, GIS