Friday, January 27, 2012

Athens Association of Friends Winter/Spring Program and Digital Heritage Redux

Save the dates! Our Athens Association of Friends Winter/Spring Program is now available! Once again we have a stimulating mixture of topics for our Friends Association members to enjoy. This coming Wednesday, the 1st, at 7:30 pm is our annual Canadian film night. We have a comedy, “The Trotsky,” that should not only make the audience chuckle but laugh heartily. Set in Montreal, it is about the consequences of a high school student, thinking he is the reincarnation of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who tries to change the world, or at least his high school. Our second annual Friends Association Pita will be cut for our collective health and happiness in 2012 before the film begins. Who will find the flouri???

On February 29th, Mark Walley, our graduate intern from Memorial University of Newfoundland, will attempt to demystify for us the conceptions and the use of magic in Classical Athens. We are in for witches, spells and drugs! So beware! Then for the Pascha observances, on April 4th, Gerasimos Pagoulatos (Hellenic-American Educational Foundation/Hellenic Open University) will discuss the issue of historicism and a-historicism in the Hellenic world by analyzing the iconographic evidence of Christ’s Nativity and Baptism.

For members of our Friends Association in Athens and those who wish to join I wish to remind you that it is time to renew your membership for 2012. Jonathan will be happy to accept your donation on the 1st as well as at any other Friends event or CIG lecture.

Book of the Blog
Let’s continue where I left off last week when I examined the general topic of “digital archaeology” in 2002 by looking at the state of affairs of the closely related field of “digital heritage” in 2008. The Directorate of the National Archive of Monuments of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture has been responsible since 2003 for the electronic cataloguing and digitization of the archive of monuments and the documentation of all listed monuments in Greece, including movable and non-movable monuments for all periods. As part of an European Union grant to support this work the Directorate organized an international conference in the fall of 2008. The aim was to push the edge of the existing envelope on what is and what could be the available cultural content in a Web 2.0 world.

The then Director and lead organizer, Metaxia Tsipopoulou, published at the same time as the conference a stimulating edited volume entitled, Digital Heritage in the New Knowledge Environment. Shared spaces & open paths to cultural content (Athens: Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Directorate of the National Archives, 2008). What is significant here is that of the 46 papers' and 11 posters' abstracts, the majority are by our Greek colleagues relating to excavations, research and museums in Greece.

In order to make this conference on digital applications relating to cultural management different, the organizing committee chose five thematic units that dealt with global issues. By accepting papers from individuals with positions in museums, archaeological units, research institutions and universities, they created a dynamic and stimulating atmosphere to advance the dissemination of cultural heritage in the New Knowledge Environment. The thematic sessions focused on central, pressing concerns for digital heritage. Having attended the conference I found it most informative and thought-provoking. It is amazing what is happening in this field!

In “Redefining the Research Field” the 13 papers plumbed the breadth and depth of what is being done. The approaches ranged from multimedia applications, to the use of ground-based laser scanning for recording, to interrogative digital archives, to visual recognition, to electronic publication. The “Exploring the Potential of Web 2.0” session had 7 papers dealing with topics such as Second Life, Virtual Reality and mash-ups. The 11 papers presented in “Widening the Audience” discussed ways to expand the accessibility of cultural heritage via digital applications. In the “Seeking a Common Language” session the 8 papers grappled with the issues of speaking with one voice and the transportability of data across platforms. The final session, “Theorizing Digital Heritage”, the 7 papers sought to find acceptable theoretical foundations for a digital heritage. They addresses such basic questions as “Why digitize?” and “Should one present reality or realism in Virtual Reality?” It should be said, however, that many of the papers in the other sessions referred to the theoretical background. The 11 posters dealt with more practical applications and approaches relating to digitization of cultural heritage. The CD-ROM that accompanies the volume has the complete texts, references and illustrative materials contained in 30 B/W plates of the papers and the poster abstracts in .pdf format for sharing or printing. If the terms and approaches mentioned here and in last week’s blog are from a foreign country then you should come to the Library immediately and start to travel so you can expand your horizons and enlighten yourself!

What would a conference held this year on the expanding digital universes of archaeology and of cultural heritage management have that was the same or similar and what would be new and edgy? Stay tuned!

David Rupp

Friday, January 20, 2012

We Welcome Two New Interns and the Digital Heritage of Archaeology

Kyle Campbell and Mark Walley
Another January has rolled around and we have two new interns to welcome into the warm fold of the Institute. From Memorial University of Newfoundland, where he is working on his M.A. in Classics, comes Mark Walley. A Calgary boy, he received his Honours B.A. in Classics from Bishop's University. He is currently working on his thesis dealing with magic in Classical Athens. We’ll have the chance to learn about what he has gleaned from his research when he gives a lecture to the Institute’s Friends Association later in the winter. So look for the announcement! The University of Waterloo Intern this winter is Kyle Campbell. He is pursuing a double Honours Major in Classical Studies and Biomedical Sciences. Kyle is interested in Hellenistic political and military history. Our Library will benefit greatly from their hard work! At the end of their sojourn with us they will join the ranks of guest bloggers, regaling you with their experiences in Greece. Jonathan and I look forward to working with them.

Book of the Blog
A recent addition to our Library is a volume from 2003 that is the publication of a conference held ten years ago in Herakeion as the Proceedings of the 30th such conference sponsored by Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology or CAA. Reading CAA 2002. The Digital Heritage of Archaeology, edited by Martin Doerr and Apostolos Sarris (Athens: Director of Monuments and Publications, Hellenic Ministry of Culture) is an exercise in time travel – both backwards and forwards. The central topics under discussion and analytical approaches in the papers are now common place in many respects but were still then in the early stages of development and adoption. These include Virtual Reality (for research and education), GIS (spatial analysis, data management and presentation), various visualization techniques and photogrammetry (3D, X3D), remote sensing (from low level aerial photography to satellite imagery), various statistical approaches (fuzzy logic, spatial analysis, typology), documentation and digitalization of archival materials, cultural resource management (in the field and in the museums), electronic data sharing publication (internet) and cultural heritage access (researchers and general public). Our Greek colleagues are well-represented in these 64 short, succinct and informative papers with frequently excellent illustrative materials and adequate referencing. There are also the abstracts of the 20 posters that were presented.

What is really striking (but not such a surprise, really) is how much of this research, analysis and dissemination in the Greek milieu has not advanced much further in the intervening decade. Having just attended the annual AIA meeting in Philadelphia I am taken by the fact that the papers that I attended there and the others listed in the program how limited was the use of the topics and research approaches mentioned above. In essence the “digital archaeology package” in the Aegean basin is still very much a superficial add-on to traditional approaches and strategies. Yes, certainly digital imagery, total stations, relational databases, websites, etc. are de rigueur to contemporary projects and archival efforts. What most projects and initiatives lack, however, is the integral use of digital archaeology in its broadest and most conceptual senses in the creation of the research, in the execution of the cultural heritage management, in the delivery of the educational programs or in the dissemination of the results. In this age of economic crisis, with much reduced financial resources available, a truly digital archaeology makes sense from all perspectives. The long-term sustainability of basic research, analysis, data management, and presentation is a critical factor here, especially in such an economically challenged country as Greece.

Systematically perusing the CAA volumes, many of which our Library has on the shleves, is an effective and efficient strategy to learn through reading these case studies what other archaeologists and scientists are doing with “computer applications” as well as the salient trends in the constellations of related sub-disciplines. Even existing research and fieldwork projects can be “retrofitted” to embrace fully a holistic digital archaeology.

David Rupp

Friday, January 13, 2012

CIG at AIA and the Peloponnesos in the Ottoman Period

Margriet Haagsma and Laura Surtees
First, a hardy Xronia Polla and a Kali Xronia to all of the readers of the Institute’s blog!!! The Institute is open and Jonathan and I will reveal to you our winter/spring lecture and Association of Friends programs very shortly.

Angus Smith
I spent four interesting days in Philadelphia last week attending the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. Besides giving a paper on an aspect of the floor mosaics of the Early Byzantine Eustolios Complex at ancient Kourion in southern Cyprus I listened to many papers, attended some meetings, perused the book exhibition for purchases for our Library and saw many members as well as former interns and fellows of CIG. Many of these papers related to fieldwork conducted under the aegis of the Institute. Brenden Burke (University of Victoria) was a co-author of two papers; one on their results of the first season at ancient Eleon in eastern Boiotia and the other on the political geography of LH eastern Boiotia. Margriet Haagsma (University of Alberta) discussed New Halos in Thessaly. The urbanization of Kastro Kallithea in Thessaly was analyzed by Laura Surtees (Bryn Mawr College). Angus Smith (Brock University) was a co-author of a paper on burial practices at Agia Sotira. Matt Buell (SUNY Buffalo) presented new information on LM IB Gournia. Rod Fitzsimons (Trent University) co-authored a paper on aspects of the North Bastion at Ayia Irini on Kea. Matt Maher (University of British Columbia) discussed the dating of the fortification walls at ancient Alea in Arcadia. Minoan-Egyptian relations were assessed by Tristan Carter (McMaster University). In the Poster Session CIG had two representatives. Laura Gagne (University of Toronto) speculated on “student potters” in Middle Bronze Age Cyprus. The origin of the name of the Cistercian Abbey at Zaraka at Stymphalos was examined by Robert Stark (McMaster University). A frequent visitor to the Institute, Ally Glazebrook (Brock University) was spotted too.

Matt Maher
The number of individuals present and the diversity of the papers and posters presented brought great pride to me! Bravo sas paidia!!!

A Lecture on the Peloponnesos in the Ottoman period
The Association of the Friends of the Historical Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Service (of which I am the President of the Board of Directors) is holding its first lecture of 2012 on Monday evening January 16th. The speaker will be Prof. Jack L. Davis, the Director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. The title of his illustrated lecture is, “Restoring History to a Dark Age of Greece: The Peloponnesos Under the Turks, 1500-1828”. The lecture will be in English.

Until very recently, there were few contemporary primary sources for life in Greece during the Ottoman occupation besides the limited accounts of a few European travelers. In the past two decades, however, this bleak situation has begun to change with the opening to researchers of the Ottoman archives in Istanbul. These archives provide very detailed and spatially continuous information about the nature of life of Greeks and others living under the Ottoman yoke between 1500 and 1828.

Professor Davis’ own investigations, which provide one example of what is possible, have succeeded in restoring a social as well as an economic history of the area of Pylos in the 17th and 18th centuries. Further, it also defines more general political trends in Laconia and Messenia that presage the Greek Revolution.

The lecture will be held at 7:00 pm at the Historical Archive of the Hellenic Archaeological Servce on Psaromylingou 22 on the border of Theseio and Pysrri, near Peireos Street. The Association will cut its 2012 pita as well that evening! Maybe you’ll find the flouri in your piece?

Here’s an excellent opportunity to learn of the many treasures that each archive has for investigating the past. Everyone is welcome!

David Rupp